Therapists, Psychologists, And Other Mental Health Experts Are Sharing "Red Flags" To Look For In The First Six Months Of A Relationship

Note: This post contains mentions of abuse.

Have you ever dated someone and realized within the first couple of months they're not the person you thought they were?

David saying "wow, who are you"

Maybe they lied, changed their stance on an important topic, or simply gave subtle hints about their personality but you might've missed them (which is completely normal, BTW).

A woman saying, "Oh, no."

Since missing these "red flags" is more common than we like to admit, we asked psychologists and relationship experts from the BuzzFeed Community to share "what are the red flags people should look out for within the first six months of a relationship and why?"

And, boy, did they deliver some wisdom. So, we gathered some of the most helpful answers below.

1."Deflecting responsibility for choices, both small and large — from where to eat to every challenge in past and current relationships."

—Anonymous, 55, Virginia, Psychotherapist

2."Inability to regulate emotions. If your partner can’t regulate their own emotions, they don’t have the tools to do so. Unfortunately, so many of us are raised without those skills, and if you’re considering having a family, it can continue the cycle with children. Finding someone who can identify what their own thoughts and emotions are, and they can regulate emotions so they can listen to another person and respond rather than react is key. I’m a therapist, and I’m guilty of marrying someone (now my ex) that was unable to communicate when he was dis-regulated, and it often ended in feeling scared/invalidated/intense anxiety and eventually PTSD. There are a lot of specific skills that can be taught to help people feel their emotions effectively, without harming others."


3."Minor, very subtle attempts at control. Weird comments about your friends, which is building up to them wanting you to cut off your friends. Weird patterns with money, like never letting you pay even if you insist (or always making you pay), or making comments about money that make you feel uncomfortable. Not being okay with you spending time alone. Not being okay with you not answering them right away (especially as time goes on). Blowing up and then apologizing profusely. Freezing you out when they’re upset (i.e., using silence as a weapon). All of these are signs that down the road there are going to be much larger patterns of manipulation and attempts at control."

—Anonymous, 30, New York, Clinical Psychologist

4."A grown person with no close friends."

—Treasure Wilde, 40, Michigan, Therapist

5."Three main points of a relationship are BCE: Boundaries, Expectations, and Communications. If you are not able to verbalize your boundaries in a new relationship or they are crossed and not respected, that is a huge red flag. If you have difficulty communicating, finding yourself altering your true feelings or true meaning of what you want to say, this is also a red flag. If you do not have matching expectations of a relationship, be prepared for a long, painful road."

A man and woman talking on the sofa

6."One glowing hot red flag is when one or both partners do not feel safe or comfortable sharing hurts, needs, or wants in the relationship. Ignoring individual needs in order to maintain status quo will only work for so long. Six months in, you should be able to feel safe emotionally, and if not, find out why before spending any more time building/sustaining your relationship."

a couple talking outside while they drink coffee

—Anonymous, 49, Washington, Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Goodboy Picture Company / Via Getty

7."1. Poor conflict resolution skills. They always blame the other person or you, and take zero accountability. They never apologize or never apologize unless prompted to. They have explosive rage. 2. They do not ask for what they want or need but instead get angry and resentful later. They may even act out later. 3. You ask for what you want or need in a relationship and they seem to ignore your needs or requests. This includes respecting your boundaries."

a couple fighting inside their home

8."I’m a mental health clinician in training, but anything that potentially signals poor communication skills or an unwillingness to communicate is a huge red flag. For instance, if you're always the person to text or call your partner first, if you're always the one to start serious conversations, if your partner is quick to avoid or brush off arguments, that’s definitely a red flag. Relationships are a two-way street, and without good communication, conflict and resentment are more likely to build up."


9."When a man casually puts his hand over the front of your neck. (Imagine you’re standing next to each other, and he puts his arm around you and rests his hand over the front of your neck). This is a major sign that he may violate you physically at some point. Similarly, men that grab you by your wrist to have you follow them somewhere. Again, a sign that there is no respect of your bodily autonomy, and he is likely going to physically violate you."

A woman showing her wrist

—Anonymous, 30, New York, Clinical Psychologist

Nicoletaionescu / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

10."Possessiveness. It might seem cute that a new partner is always calling you, always wanting to see you and spend time with you. But a manipulative and possessive partner will begin to drain you as they start to control your time and the people with whom you want to spend time. Be careful, and be firm! It’s okay to say, 'No, I have other plans.' A healthy partner will understand that and give you space."

a person on their phone

—Anonymous, 34, Texas, Psychologist

Aleksandr Zubkov / Via Getty Images

11."Love bombs. Showering you with a ton of affection, gifts, time, excessive validation. Seems so nice, but it's just a way to get you to depend on them and turn a blind eye on the things that they really want to do. This could be just wanting you to depend on them so you never leave, which is unresolved attachment issues and will just lead to controlling behaviors. Or, it can be more insidious — allowing them to engage in sneaky or abusive behaviors. Think of it as adult grooming. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Love bombers play on our naive hope to find the perfect partner."

—Max, 33, Utah, Therapist

12."Pay attention to how the relationship started. If your S.O. cheated on their previous S.O. with you, they will cheat on you as well. It may not be right away; it may even be years down the line, but they will do it again. I'm not just talking cheating in the physical way. I'm talking emotionally as well. Many of my clients have had this issue, and from what I have seen, the only ones who stop cheating are the ones who finally seek help to figure out what the underlying reason is that makes them cheat. Of course, there are always exceptions, but they are very few and far between."

A man on his phone with his wife in the background
Stefanamer / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

13."If he is unavailable on a regular schedule. So, if you only see him Tuesday to Friday, he may be in another relationship. His family seems a bit cool toward you and not really interested in you. Leaves his phone in his car if he spends the night or turns it off completely every time you are together."

—Jamie, 59, Montana, Psychologist

14."Pushing their wants on you to the point of making you responsible for their happiness. Their feelings are valid, but delivery, tone, and the ability to let just some of the little things go takes a level of maturity that many do not try to have."

a couple fighting inside their home
Iurii Krasilnikov / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

15."When a partner uses attacking language at any point in the relationship. When you disagree, the goal is to talk through the issue, not argue. When one partner attacks the other (name calling, using absolutes, blaming), that is a huge red flag. Indicates an unwillingness to listen, lack of empathy, and poor emotional regulation."

—Mike, 44, Ohio, Social Worker

Are you a mental health or relationship expert? If so, tell us the major red flags people should look out for within the first six months of a relationship and your title (i.e. psychologist, relationship expert, etc.), so we may be able to feature you in future BuzzFeed articles!

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger as a result of domestic violence, call 911. For anonymous, confidential help, you can call the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or chat with an advocate via the website.

Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.