In the early days, weeks, and months of a relationship, everything is a little lighter, brighter, and more lovely. Life feels good, and you don’t want that feeling to stop. Who would?
But this dreamy walk on cloud nine can muddle our thinking, making it all too easy to miss or dismiss signs that a person is anything from an imperfect match to not exactly who they claim to be. While it’s hardly possible to know a person 100% in the first three months, most people will at least flash their true colors in that time. If you see any of these red flags in that time, it may be best to move on sooner rather than later.
1. They always wait for you to make plans.
If you’re constantly doing the asking and scheduling, consider why that is. Is it because you like to take the reins or because you know you’ll be waiting forever otherwise? Whatever the reason, you want to strive for balance. “It’s important that each partner shows enthusiasm toward spending time together,” says breakup coach Nancy Ruth Deen. “If it feels one-sided, it [is] possible that your partner has different feelings altogether.” You don’t need to play hard to get, but you also don’t want to be in an unbalanced relationship.
2. They get intense, fast.
It’s flattering when someone is certain they want to be with you, but beware of anyone who comes on too strong too fast. “If they’re saying over-the-top words about their feelings and want to be exclusive after a few dates, it’s generally a red flag,” says says relationship coach Claire Byrne. Be extra wary if this intensity is coupled with flakiness or hot-and-cold behavior.
3. They blame you for whatever goes wrong.
Shifting blame could mean a person is unwilling to take responsibility for their actions, and — even worse — it could be a harbinger of the mind games to come. “You might be used to this relationship dynamic and not even notice at first, but pay attention to what your friends say. Often they will notice this before you do,” says Amy McManus, LMFT. “If this is happening in your relationship, stop defending yourself and calmly state what you know to be true.” Never let anyone make you question your sanity.
4. They make fun of you.
Whether it’s lighthearted kidding that goes too far or something that’s blatantly mean-spirited, you should not tolerate name-calling, mockery, or mimicking that makes you uncomfortable. “Be careful not to excuse this behavior in fear of being perceived as ‘too sensitive,’” says clinical psychologist Carly Claney, Ph.D. “If you’ve communicated that you don’t want to be called names or made fun of, and your partner doesn’t stop, this may be a demonstration of contempt.” One thing it definitely is? Your cue to run — no other signs necessary.
5. They don’t listen to you.
If you notice your partner is bored or distracted during conversations, replies to texts infrequently and monosyllabically, or regularly forgets conversations, they may not be invested in what you’re saying. “Especially if you don’t get acknowledgement for things that are important to you, move on. Cut your losses. They are not your people,” says sex and relationship therapist Cyndi Darnell. The good thing about this sign (if you can call it that) is you can usually spot it early, like first-date early.
6. They can’t control their emotions.
Pay attention to how someone you’re dating handles minor inconveniences. “If someone spills something on them, are they irritated because their clothes are wet and show their frustration? Or do they scream and swear at the person? Notice how they direct that energy,” says relationship coach Crystal Irom. Remember, people are typically on their best behavior early in a relationship, so if you observe questionable words or actions now, imagine them magnified down the road.
7. They don’t know how to talk about their feelings.
We don’t need to have sky-high EQs to be in a relationship, but we do need to be able to communicate what we’re feeling and why. “If someone gets mad and cannot explain what they are frustrated about, think about how many days that can ruin,” says wellness coach Olyvia DuSold. “Being able to talk about emotions gives relationships true stability because there is understanding, both of ourselves and our partner.” While struggling with this is okay, you should cut your losses if the person isn’t willing to work on it.