We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about the red flags that tend to pop up months (or even years) into a relationship. The submissions we received ranged from helpful tips to lengthy, cautionary tales of relationships gone wrong. Here are the most eye-opening responses:
***Warning: Post contains mentions of animal abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse.***
1. "Communication styles are really evident after six months, especially when arguments start to be a little more real. If the person shuts down any chance for communication in an argument, chooses the silent treatment over discussion, or accuses you of being annoying/frustrating for wanting to communicate, then it's time to call it quits."
2. "Look for their actual expectations of gender roles — not what they say they believe, but what they *actually* believe. Sometimes, men express egalitarian/feminist beliefs and act on those ideals when you first start dating, but after you spend more time together, you start to realize they have no idea how to manage their own life — no grasp on how to cook, do laundry, make doctor’s appointments, etc. These guys have not yet come to the 'shocking' realization that if they don’t pick up after themselves, there isn’t someone else to do it, or if they don’t wash their towels, there aren’t going to be clean ones.
"It’s not just guys I’ve dated, but male friends, too — from all kinds of backgrounds — who somehow make it to their mid-20s (or older!) and spend waaay too much money on eating out all the time and/or living in squalor because it hasn’t occurred to them that maintaining their home/life is a skillset that takes time, effort, and learning. I definitely found some satisfaction when I was younger in 'helping around the house' for seemingly hapless guys, but once I realized that they really had no idea the kind of effort they needed to put in to keep their lives in order…oof, no thank you. To be fair, I’ve met a lot of women who've had the same issues once living on their own, but it seems like they got a hold of the situation a lot quicker than the men I knew during that phase of life."
3. "Abusers tend to wait several months, sometimes years, to start the abuse. It usually begins with them pushing small boundaries, but then they get bigger over time. Suddenly, one day you don't recognize your life or the person you've been molded into."
4. "It's problematic if they start isolating you from friends and family. At first, they want your friends to like them, but watch out if they start monopolizing your time or bringing up things they don’t like about the people in your life."
5. "He became a master of deflecting every attempt I made to get to know him on a deeper level. We lived in different states and communicated mostly by phone or letter (yep, travel with me back to the early '90s). He was in the Army, and I was a senior in high school in an abusive situation. Being the person I am (too nice), I made excuses for it. I thought maybe it was bad timing or that my questions were hurting him, but the joke was on me. He was never the person he pretended to be, and he never had any intention of letting me get to know the REAL him because I would have run away screaming. I believe the correct term for him is 'covert narcissist.'
"He intentionally impregnated me (there were medical reasons why I couldn't use birth control) to speed up our marriage plans (from five years to right away). I didn't find out until after we got married a year into our relationship that he was the exact opposite, in every way, than the person he pretended to be. One marriage by fraud, four babies (two forced on me without my consent), and 29 years of me tap dancing around the flames of hell. I am still suffering for it. The lesson: If he can't share, neither should you. Run."
6. "If they're in a hurry to marry you or have a baby, that's usually a red flag, They're trying to 'trap' you so you feel stuck, and they don't have to waste any more energy on pretending to be the charming person you think they are. If someone is right for you, they'll be right for you in a few years. You shouldn't need to rush. If they're wrong for you, you'll usually start to realize that shortly after making a major life change with them."
7. "You might realize a little too late that even though your partner is broken up with their ex, the two of them aren't actually done with each other. In my experience, they still talk, they make excuses for the ex's behavior, and pay their ex's phone bill claiming it's so the ex can talk to the kids. I realized this four months into the relationship and left."
8. "You can’t put a deadline on it, and not everyone has a great relationship with their family, but you should at least be talking about meeting the other people in your partner's life. If they put it off, don’t bring it up, have no desire to meet your friends or family, something is up. I know people get nervous, but totally avoiding that step is a red flag."
9. "One time, a guy I was dating for over six months started constantly implying that I was cheating on him if I didn't answer my phone while at work. He thought I was lying to him because HE was lying to ME! HE was talking to his ex! One day, he asked if the two of us could hang out with his ex-girlfriend, who he apparently kept a framed photo of in his bathroom that I wasn't allowed to use.
"The BIGGEST red flag was that he bought pet rats for his kid. We lived in a desert. When his kid was at his mom's house during the week (a different ex than the one he wanted to hang out with), this guy put the rats in the garage with NO AIR CONDITIONING in 100+ DEGREE WEATHER and rarely fed them or gave them water. When they died, he expected me to think he was some great guy for supposedly holding them until they stopped breathing. I wasn't there. I doubt that's how it actually happened because he treated them with such apathy. I RAN after that!"
10. "This sounds obvious and dumb, but borrowing money and not paying it back is a bad sign. I had an ex do that a few months into what ended up being a 12-year relationship. He never paid me back and was always broke. I got my financial freedom later when I left his sorry ass."
11. "ANGER ISSUES! Anger issues often present themselves pretty quickly in a relationship, but they can easily remain hidden, too. Sometimes, partners are able to control their reactiveness, or bigger issues don't rise to the surface until you start spending more time together. I dated a guy for about seven months. We had minor disagreements here and there, but in those instances, he remained calm and level-headed for the most part. Days after our seven-month mark, we got in an argument about spending more time together. We were in a semi-long distance relationship with him living about an hour away. In the weeks leading up to the argument, I was the one arranging every meet up and begging him for his work schedule so we could find time to be together. I felt like he wasn't even trying to make time for me, so I brought up how I was feeling in person. He BLEW UP, got in my face, started screaming, slammed the front door, and sped out of the neighborhood.
"His reaction really scared me. After a few days of the silent treatment, I reached out to him because I wanted to work things out. He didn't immediately apologize for his outburst, which should have been a huge red flag for me. But he had been under a lot of pressure at work while simultaneously trying to establish his own side business, so I chalked up his outburst to the stress he was under and chose to forgive him. As it turned out, this MINOR argument was only the beginning of his explosiveness. It only got worse from there, and we broke up a few weeks later. Sometimes, it takes time to see someone's true colors. But as the old saying goes, when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."
12. "It's a bad sign if you're willing to try the things they're interested in, but they pay no mind to any of your interests, even the small ones."
13. "I once dated a guy who never wanted to hang out with either of our friends when we were together. I thought it was sweet at first and that he was doing it so we could get to know each other better. After six months, it started getting weird because we spent all of our free time together, but then when we would hang out with friends, I wasn’t the girlfriend. I was just the 'friend with benefits.' Major red flag! Turns out he was sleeping with his guy friends, too. That was a deal breaker."
14. "He constantly looked (gawked) at other women — even years into our relationship. I was in a constant state of insecurity and jealousy. He ended it eventually because I was not strong enough to face the truth about him. It took a lot of self-help books and time for me to get over the experience."
15. "Narcissistic personality disorders. They're usually masked by love-bombing or an overly-charming facade. This can be really damaging if you are already suffering from low self-worth."
16. "Not being able to hold a job, or constantly job hopping. My ex was fired from a few jobs in the course of a year, and he would claim the establishment would fall apart without him. Another red flag is the inability to stand up for you as a partner. My ex would just put a hand on my shoulder if someone harassed or catcalled me, then insult them to me."
17. "Being OVERLY honest about some things but completely SECRETIVE about other mundane things is a major warning sign. So is talking about doing shady things that don't seem like a big deal, but gradually become a bigger deal over time. My ex was practically throwing his state license for his career in my face on our first date. Later, he told me about looking over his supervisor's shoulder to get the password to go into his employee records and erase some of his sick days so that he wouldn't get written-up or fired for excessive absences. I was younger. I saw it as more of a prank at the time, but it was actually a breach of trust, an ethical failure, and an irresponsible act that could have gotten him fired. I should have seen it as a reason that *I* should never have trusted him.
"Over time, after my friends were all gone. He had me compose a letter from a fake person so he could get a certification for a job in a new field. I felt like shit for doing that. I eventually shredded the certificate because I was so angry and embarrassed that I helped him get something he didn't deserve. I hated myself every time I looked at it. He also faked government and company letters WITHOUT MY HELP to do things like get a loan or to take leave from work when he didn't feel like working. The thing is, he didn't need to fake most of this stuff. He was so impulsive and impatient that he refused to wait and do things the right way. In addition, I found out he was a compulsive liar. He was a MASSIVELY insecure person who was smart enough and good looking enough to have whatever he wanted. He didn't need to be shady, but his insecurities and his fears of being exposed ruled his life.
"He also alienated me from all of my friends, lying about his job. He said his side job involved busting drug dealers after I told him my friends were doing ecstasy every time we went out. I was adamantly against illegal drugs, and he convinced me that my friends' drug use could get him fired or he'd have to arrest them if he saw them using drugs. So, the majority of my friends never even met him. My friends weren't that great, but I think he was worse. They weren't lying to me or manipulating me for their personal gain. I really hate him. I wish I never met him."
18. "Pay attention to their response to conflict. My first boyfriend and I didn't have arguments for a long time, but then after about eight months, we had our first big argument. He physically withdrew from me and gave me the silent treatment. I called him out on his behavior, but he made zero effort to try and change it, nor did he ever truly apologize. Needless to say, things didn't work out. It's a cliché, but proper communication really is the make-or-break of a good relationship. If they respond to conflict with negative techniques like the silent treatment, criticism, or false apologies, RUN! Your partner should be tackling problems with you, even when the issue isn't interpersonal."
19. "I've found that when someone says they're looking for somebody who 'gets' sarcasm and their sense of humor, it usually means they are going to make jokes at your expense/ put you and others down in the name of 'a joke.'"
20. "We were in the military and dating overseas. I thought it was great that he was so family-oriented and was especially good to his mom. We quickly got married for colocation, and because I felt obligated since my daughter was so close to him, and he had already enlisted for another year at sea. Lesson learned. We barely knew each other (and there were red flags), and I didn't know until we had been discharged and moved back stateside (and I met her for the first time) that he, as the youngest, jumped every time his mother threw a tearful hissy fit over the smallest thing. Thirty years later, when it comes to her, I'm still always the one in the wrong, and now his sister jumps into the mix. If I ever get out of this marriage, I am not having so much as a cup of coffee with a man. Done."
21. "Emotional abuse. Looking back, there were extremely subtle signs in the beginning. Almost exactly around the six-month mark, the fights started getting worse. Nothing he was saying made sense. I’m more of a logical person than an emotional person, and I just couldn’t logically understand some of what he was saying. His emotions were so big and intense that I would find myself apologizing and trying to work through the nonsense. I felt crazy all the time. The breaking point was when he was mad at me for being sick. I lost my voice, so I literally couldn’t talk on the phone that night. In the moment, he said everything was fine, then he iced me out for days. When he finally told me he was mad because we didn’t talk that night, it all clicked. Suddenly, everything shifted into focus, and I was done.
"He has been impossible to get away from, though. He still keeps trying to contact me and is being obviously manipulative with the things he says. If you find yourself feeling 'crazy'…RUN."
22. "Many years ago, I was in an abusive marriage with a man who only had one friend. I had several friends who were supportive and important to me. After my divorce, I dated a man for about two months. We saw each other quite a few times, and I wanted to continue seeing him. On our last date, I asked him about his friends. He said, 'I think friends are for when you're in elementary school through high school. Once you have a mate, you don't need friends. They interfere with marriages.' I lost interest."
23. Finally: "Everything you do is faulty. Everything that goes wrong is your fault. KFC forgot to add large fries and sent a medium instead? It's somehow your fault, although you placed the correct order. And when they lose their shit, it's always: 'Look what you made me do.'"
What are some other noteworthy red flags that creep into a relationship after some time has passed? What should people watch out for when dating a new partner? Share your advice or your story in the comments below.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.