Certain red flags will warn you if your new relationship will be a difficult one. Here are the 10 worst early dating red flags you should always look out for:
- Overly Controlling Behavior
- Disrespect for Boundaries
- Frequent and Unnecessary Check-ins
- Prioritizing Themselves Over Everything
- Violence and Threats
- Jealousy and Possessiveness
- Poor Communication
- Negatively Affecting Your Relationship with Family and Friends
- Lack of Social Connection or Friends
Let's look at these early red flags in a relationship, why they're bad news, what they look like, and what to do about them.
Beware These 10 Red Flags Early On in Dating
Red Flag #1: Overly Controlling Behavior
Is your girlfriend trying to micromanage your life? Overly controlling behavior isn't just a quirky trait. It's a big, waving red flag in women.
A study from the Journal of Interpersonal Violence even backs this up, linking controlling behavior to some pretty serious issues down the line. Here are a few more examples of overly controlling behavior:
- Phone Monitoring: Insisting on accessing your phone, checking your messages, or questioning you about specific contacts, especially female friends or acquaintances.
- Limiting Social Interactions: Discouraging or forbidding you from hanging out with certain friends, especially female friends, or insisting on being present at all your social gatherings.
- Questioning Your Motives: Regularly doubting your intentions or actions, like asking why you came home late, why you talked to a particular person, or why you didn't answer her call immediately.
Why is overly controlling behavior such a problem? It boils down to respect. If your girlfriend tries to puppeteer your every move, she doesn't respect your autonomy. And everyone deserves respect, especially from someone who's supposed to care about them.
So, what should you do if your girlfriend is overly controlling? It's essential to set clear boundaries.
Let her know how you feel. If things still don't change, consider whether this relationship is healthy for you.
Remember, you deserve someone who values and trusts you, not someone trying to script your life.
Red Flag #2: Love Bombing
Imagine this: You've just started dating this girl, and suddenly, you're the star in her sky. She sends gifts tailored to your interests, compliments everything you do, and makes you feel like you're the only guy in the world. It's heady stuff.
But here's the twist: it's all too much, too fast—like she's "bombing you with love," hence the name.
When your girlfriend lovebombs you, she's not just showering you with affection. It's a strategy to make you feel so special, so quickly, that you don't have time to think straight. While you're dazzled, it becomes easier for her to control you.
Lovebombing is one of the most well-known early dating red flags. So, while your girlfriend's actions might seem flattering, she could have hidden motives.
How can you know for sure? Here are five ways your girlfriend might exhibit "love bombing":
- Surprise Visits: She's constantly popping by unexpectedly, often with gifts or treats, just because she "missed you."
- Rapid Future Planning: Talking about moving in together, vacations, or even meeting the family, all within the first few weeks.
- Excessive Social Media Posts: Every moment you share is instantly on her social media, showcasing the "perfect" relationship.
- Jealousy of Your Time: She gets upset if you have plans without her, even if it's a regular guys' night out.
Here's some seasoned advice: Slow it down. Reflect on your girlfriend's actions and what's driving them. Genuine love takes time to grow and doesn't need to be rushed.
Enjoy the affection, but always keep a pulse on your instincts. If it feels too much, too soon, there's a good chance she's up to something.
Red Flag #3: Disrespect for Boundaries
What exactly are boundaries? Think of them as invisible lines we draw around ourselves. They're our personal "do not cross" signs.
In a dream relationship, your girlfriend would see and respect these lines. It's a sign of mutual understanding.
But what if she keeps stepping over those lines? Maybe she brushes it off with a laugh or tells you you're "making a big deal out of nothing." Ring a bell?
That's one of the most glaring early dating red flags right there. It's called disrespecting boundaries, not something to take lightly.
When your girlfriend disregards your boundaries, she's sidelining your feelings or needs. Here are a few signs to watch out for:
- Unwanted Physical Touch: Even if it's something seemingly innocent like playing with your hair or hugging if you've expressed discomfort and she continues, it's a boundary violation.
- Going Through Personal Items: Whether scrolling through your phone without permission, reading your diary, or going through personal belongings in your room, these actions show a lack of respect for your privacy.
- Pushing Personal Topics: If she constantly brings up topics you've expressed discomfort discussing (like past traumas or sensitive family issues) and doesn't let them go, she's disregarding your emotional boundaries.
- Ignoring Your "Alone Time" Requests: If you've expressed the need for some alone time or space and she insists on spending every moment together or gets upset when you want time for yourself, she's not respecting your personal boundaries.
So, what should you do? First, trust that gut feeling.
Speak up. Let your girlfriend know where you stand. If she genuinely cares, she'll take a step back and adjust.
If she doesn't, you should reconsider the relationship.
Remember, boundaries aren't just lines; they're shields. They keep us safe. And the right person, the one truly worth your time, will honor them.
Red Flag #4: Frequent and Unnecessary Check-ins
You know that feeling when your girlfriend won't give you a moment's peace? Texting you non-stop, calling when you're chilling with the guys, or getting too worked up if you don't pick up right away?
It's heartwarming to know she's thinking of you. A sweet text asking about your day or a quick call to say she misses you? That's the good stuff.
But there's a limit. And when your girlfriend pings you so often it feels like she's got a GPS on your life? That's one of the more egregious early red flags in a relationship.
As with love bombing, frequent and unnecessary check-ins are all about control. It hints that she doesn't fully trust you or is trying to monitor your every move. And that's yet another one of the most glaring early dating red flags you can get.
Here's what to watch out for:
- Overreacting to Missed Calls: If you miss a call and she sends a flurry of texts or calls multiple times in a row, it's a sign.
- Asking for Your Whereabouts Constantly: Needing to know where you are, who you're with, and what you're doing every time she texts.
- Getting Upset Over Social Media: If she sees you online but you’re not replying to her, or if she questions why you liked someone else's post.
- Expecting Immediate Replies: Getting anxious or upset if you don't respond to her messages within minutes.
- Questioning Your Plans: Wanting to know every detail of your plans, especially if they don't involve her.
So, what should you do? Sit her down and have a chat. Let her know you need some breathing room.
If she genuinely cares, she'll get the hint. If she doesn't, remember you deserve a partner who trusts you and gives you the space you need.
Red Flag #5: Prioritizing Themselves Over Everything
It's like you're part of a duo, but she's always taking center stage, leaving you playing backup.
Everyone enjoys the limelight now and then. But in a relationship? It should be a shared spotlight.
If your girlfriend expects you to drop your plans, leave your buddies, or be at her side whenever she wants, that's one of the biggest early dating red flags of all. She's not just self-centered; she also doesn't see you as her equal.
Here are five ways a girlfriend might exhibit this red-flag behavior:
- Always Choosing the Activity: She always decides without considering your preferences, whether it's a movie night or a dinner date.
- Expecting You to Cancel Plans: If you've made plans with friends or family, she expects you to cancel them if she wants to do something else.
- Frequent Monologues: Conversations often revolve around her day, problems, and achievements, with little interest in hearing about yours.
- Not Acknowledging Important Dates: She forgets or downplays significant dates or events in your life but expects grand gestures for hers.
So, what's the next step? Speak out. Let her know you're not just here to play a supporting role in her drama.
If that doesn't work, heed one of the most suffocating early red flags in a relationship and leave.
Red Flag #6: Violence and Threats
This is a line that should never be crossed.
Ever notice your girlfriend raising her voice more than seems necessary? Or maybe she throws out a threat, even if she claims she's "just joking"?
That's not a simple misunderstanding. It's a loud and clear warning. It's your girlfriend showing a side that could become far more dangerous.
Here are typical examples of how a girlfriend might exhibit violent/threatening behavior:
- Physical Intimidation: Using her body language to aggressively corner you or invade your personal space.
- Verbal Threats: Making veiled threats about what she might do if you ever leave or upset her.
- Destructive Behavior: Breaking or throwing things during arguments to intimidate or express anger.
- Emotional Manipulation: Using phrases like "You'll regret this" or "You haven't seen my bad side yet" to instill fear.
Love is built on respect, understanding, and trust. It shouldn't be built on fear. If your girlfriend makes you feel unsafe or slightly uneasy with her words or actions, that's a huge red flag.
Confronting violence and threats is daunting. But always remember, your safety and well-being are paramount. If you find yourself in a relationship with unreasonably high toxicity levels, don't keep it to yourself.
Talk to someone you trust. And if things escalate, don't second-guess calling for help.
You've got the strength in you. And sometimes, the bravest thing you can do is walk away.
Red Flag #7. Jealousy and Possessiveness
Is your girlfriend overly interested in every detail of your day? Or perhaps she looks suspiciously at every friend you hang out with, bombarding you with endless questions?
That's not just her being "sweet" or "concerned." It's a warning sign and not one to be ignored.
True love thrives on trust. It means giving your partner room to breathe, confident they'll always find their way back to you.
But if your girlfriend is constantly second-guessing and always prying? That's not affection. That's insecurity masquerading as love.
Here are five signs your girlfriend might be jealous and possessive:
- Overanalyzing Social Media: She might comb through your likes and comments, questioning you about every interaction, especially with other women.
- Uncomfortable with Your Female Friends: She's uneasy or disapproving when you hang out with female friends, even if they've been in your life for years.
- Frequent Check-ins: She wants constant updates when you're out without her, asking who you're with and what you're doing.
- Disliking Your Solo Activities: She's unhappy when you pursue hobbies or activities that don't involve her, making you feel guilty for having independent interests.
- Comparing to Past Relationships: She often brings up your exes or past relationships, seeking reassurance or making unfavorable comparisons.
It's easy to brush it off, thinking, "She's just really into me." But there's a fine line between being attentive and being possessive, and jealousy blurs that line.
Red Flag #8: Poor Communication
Let's dive into something that's the heartbeat of any lasting relationship: communication. Genuine conversation is the key to a healthy, long-lasting relationship.
Ever been with a girlfriend who goes radio silent when the waters get choppy? Or perhaps she blows up over the slightest mistake? That's a glaring signal that communication is off the rails.
Here are a few other ways your girlfriend might show signs of poor communication:
- Avoiding Difficult Topics: She changes the subject or goes quiet when specific topics arise, avoiding confrontation.
- Overreacting: She gets overly defensive or aggressive over minor disagreements or misunderstandings.
- Not Actively Listening: You often feel like she's not genuinely hearing you or frequently forgets or dismisses what you've shared.
- Using the Silent Treatment: Instead of discussing issues, she gives you the cold shoulder, leaving you wondering what's wrong.
- Making Assumptions: Instead of asking for clarity, she jumps to conclusions, leading to unnecessary conflicts.
Remember, your voice matters. Make it heard. If your girlfriend is turning a deaf ear, then the relationship probably won't last much longer.
Let's get real: Every relationship has its cloudy days. But when the thunder rolls in, you both need to be in a place to hash things out.
Not every conversation needs to be deep and meaningful, but you should at least feel acknowledged, cherished, and understood in your relationship. If that's missing, it's time to recalibrate.
You may need a sit-down chat. You may need to seek guidance together. But never let the problem of poor communication fester.
Red Flag #9: Negatively Affecting Your Relationship with Family and Friends
Our bonds with family and friends are precious. They're our safety net in many different ways.
So, when a new girlfriend steps into the picture and starts pulling you away from those who've had your back all this time, that's a red flag waving right in front of you.
If your girlfriend's dropping sarcastic comments about your childhood buddy or sighing heavily every time you bring up a family gathering, hit the brakes – that's one of the most serious early dating red flags of all.
Ask yourself: What's causing this? True love should open your horizons, not limit them.
If your girlfriend is sidelining your close ones, deliberately or subtly, it's not just about her wanting more "us" time. It's a play for dominance.
If this is the case in your relationship, have a heart-to-heart with your girlfriend. Lay out your feelings and tell her what you want to change.
If the pattern persists, sometimes the right move is to safeguard your tribe and your own well-being. A loving girlfriend will want to join and enrich your world, not pull you out of it.
Red Flag #10: Lack of Social Connection or Friends
Ever notice your girlfriend seems to exist in her own world? No close friends, no nights out with the girls, just... solitude? It's worth a second thought.
Our friendships are our lifelines and confidants. It's a bit puzzling when your girlfriend doesn't have that circle.
It's not about pointing fingers but instead about seeking clarity. Is your girlfriend new in town? Is she naturally reserved? Or is she just plainly antisocial?
But if this has been her norm, it's a potential red flag. She might become too reliant on you, or there may be hidden issues she's not confronting.
Here are other signs your girlfriend might lack social connection:
- Avoiding Group Outings: She consistently declines invitations to group events or gatherings, preferring to be just with you.
- Not Mentioning Friends: You rarely, if ever, hear stories or mentions of friends from her past or present.
- Reluctance to Socialize: She seems anxious or dismissive about making new friends or joining social groups.
- Depending on You for Social Interaction: You're her primary source of social interaction, and she gets upset if you have other plans.
If you spot this pattern, talk to her. Maybe she needs encouragement to branch out.
But if there's a more complex issue underneath it all, remember you shouldn't be her only anchor. It'll be a heavy load for both of you.
Are You in a "Red Flag" Relationship?
If your relationship shows any of these early dating red flags, understand that things will turn sour in the future unless you address the problems now. It doesn't matter how good things may be with your girlfriend now—let the issues fester, and they'll spoil things quickly.
You may be tempted to avoid "rattling the cage" and not bring it up, and that's fine if you don't see your relationship with her lasting very long. Meanwhile, if you genuinely love her and want your relationship to last, talk with her as soon as possible—it's the kind thing to do.