The early stages of dating are always the most exciting. You're getting to know each other, finding out about each other's quirks, and basking in the blossoming romance. But this early stage can make or break your relationship, especially if you're ignoring the red flags after 3 months of dating. So don't be blind while your relationship is still in its early stages!
There are many red flags to look out for after 3 months, especially once the rose-tinted glasses are gone. But the 10 main ones are:
- Inconsistent Communication
- Avoidance of Deep Conversations
- Secretive Behavior
- Frequent Cancellation of Plans
- Disrespectful Behavior
- Avoiding Introductions
- Differing Values
- Jealous or Controlling Behavior
- Lack of Effort
- Past Relationships
We’ll cover a description of the red flag and what signs you should look for. Also, to help you understand what these behaviors look like in a real-world context, I’ll share some of my own experiences that can help you relate to similar situations
Red Flags to Look Out for After 3 Months of Dating
While every relationship is unique, there are common warning signs or "red flags" that might indicate potential issues in the near future. After about three months of dating, which is often considered the "honeymoon phase," it's especially important to be aware of these signs as the relationship starts to settle into a more stable pattern. Here are 10 red flags to consider:
1. Inconsistent Communication
Long-term relationships thrive on consistent and frequent communication. If they suddenly become distant or their communication becomes irregular without explanation, it could be a sign they're not as invested in the relationship.
Communication can mean lots of things in the course of the relationship, but the idea is that a long-term relationship builds open lines of dialogue. This means that your partner is incorporating you as an important person in their life–both for practical decision-making and emotional support.
Signs of Inconsistent Communication include:
- Delayed Response: Taking an unusually long time to reply to texts or calls without any explanation, especially if they were previously responsive.
- Vague Plans: Making plans without clear details or continuously postponing dates without valid reasons.
- Erratic Texting Patterns: Sending a barrage of messages one day and then going silent for several days.
- Last Minute Cancellations: Consistently canceling plans at the last minute without a genuine reason.
- Mixed Signals: Being affectionate and attentive one day and distant the next, leading to confusion about their feelings or intentions.
- Inconsistent Social Media Behavior: Posting frequently and interacting with others on social media but not responding to your messages or interactions.
- Lack of Future Plans: Avoiding or being non-committal when discussing any future plans or events beyond the immediate week.
- Frequent Changes in Communication Mode: Switching from texting to calling or vice versa without any apparent reason or pattern.
My experience: I had a girlfriend that was difficult to reach by phone. She said she didn’t like to talk on the phone and was “bad at charging [her] phone”. Instead, she insisted that we should keep our way of reaching each other to just texting unless it was an emergency. She was busy with school and work, after all...
Once we established text-only communication for when to meet up in our free time, texting became being left on “unread” for days at a time. Then the short answers followed, not even bothering to spell out the words. And then just disappearing altogether.
It wasn’t until months later that I realized she was carrying on an affair with multiple men and women while we “dated”—which explained the refusal to chat on a semi-regular basis… I realized that if I was to phone call her, her other trysts might be interrupted.
2. Avoidance of Deep Conversations
One red flag in women that’s proven to be an indicator of a failing relationship is avoiding deep conversations. An unwillingness to engage in meaningful conversations about feelings, future plans, or past experiences might indicate a fear of intimacy or commitment.
When it comes to red flags after 3 months of dating, you’ll want to pay attention to surface-level conversations. Even if it’s about tedious topics, glossing over events in their life should raise your alarm bells. If you decide, for example, to dive a little deeper about her career and she dismisses it, you can see that your girlfriend just might be getting her emotional support elsewhere.
Signs of Avoidance of Deep Conversations include:
- Surface-Level Chat: Sticking to small talk or general topics and avoiding discussing feelings, fears, or aspirations.
- Topic Diversion: Changing the subject quickly when a deeper topic emerges or when asked personal questions.
- Visible Discomfort: Displaying physical signs of discomfort, like fidgeting, looking away, or becoming restless when deeper topics are broached.
- Using Humor as a Defense: Making jokes or using humor to deflect when a serious topic comes up.
- Avoiding Time Alone: Always preferring group hangouts or public places, which can deter intimate conversations.
- Expressed Disinterest: Stating or implying that such conversations are unnecessary, too heavy, or not their kind of thing.
- Digital Avoidance: Sending shorter texts or messages, especially if a deeper topic is brought up in a digital conversation.
My experience: A girlfriend I had was an intellectually curious type. You know, museums, a sense of real wonder in nature, and a sense of the spontaneous. Despite all of these good qualities, she had also neglected to tell me she had gotten back with her ex. Not a good scene, in my opinion.
However, what I should have noticed was how our conversation a month prior seemed to run out of steam and even seemed forced. Even when I brought up a topic I knew she loved—welded sculpture art—she just seemed distant.
If I had understood the drastic change in the tone of our conversations, it would have been easy to avoid some heartache (and complications with the ex).
3. Secretive Behavior
If they're overly private about their personal life, phone, or social media, it may be a sign they're probably hiding something. This is certainly one of the more noticeable red flags after 3 months of dating, as 90+ days of getting to know someone should be more open and intimate.
Signs of Secretive Behavior include:
- Guarded Phone Usage: Being overly protective of their phone, turning it face-down, or stepping away to take calls.
- Vague Descriptions: Providing ambiguous details about their day, whereabouts, or the people they've met.
- Changing Stories: Giving different accounts of the same event or situation when discussing it at different times.
- Hesitation to Share Personal Details: Being reluctant to share basic personal information that typically comes up in the early stages of dating, such as past experiences or family details.
- Deleting Browsing History: Regularly clearing browser history or being overly cautious about sharing their computer or devices.
- Avoiding Social Media Connections: Being hesitant to connect on social media platforms or keeping their profiles excessively private.
- Unexpected Disappearances: Going offline or being unreachable for extended periods without any prior notice or satisfactory explanation afterward.
- Avoiding Certain Places or People: Expressing a strong preference to avoid certain places or people without giving a clear reason.
- Hidden Bills or Expenses: Discovering unexplained bills, receipts, or expenses that they're reluctant to discuss.
My experience: While at the apartment of a new girl in my life, she mentioned that she needed to check some emails. We chatted while she did this but then she had to use the bathroom for a moment.
“Don’t look at my monitor when I’m gone.” Classic reverse psychology.
Curiosity got the best of me, and I saw that she was messaging another man and planning a date for that evening, something that apparently was more important than spending a few moments before I got back to class. She caught me looking at the monitor and we had a decent argument.
“You don’t just look into a girl's private monitor!! How dare you?!” she shouted. That was the last time I spoke with her.
4. Frequent Cancellation of Plans
This is one of the surefire red flags after 3 months of dating: Consistently canceling dates or avoiding making future plans can indicate a lack of serious interest or commitment.
As a heuristic, if she’s not showing up, you’re not the biggest priority in her life. Whether this is from school, work, family issues, her living situation, and more, her attention is focused elsewhere–and you’d be better off doing the same.
Signs of Frequent Cancellation of Plans include:
- Last-Minute Excuses: Consistently canceling plans at the eleventh hour with reasons that seem avoidable or non-urgent.
- Lack of Rescheduling Initiative: When canceling, showing little to no effort to reschedule or make up for the missed plans.
- Avoidance of Specific Activities or Places: Repeatedly canceling plans that involve certain activities, venues, or social settings, without clear or consistent reasoning.
- Unreachable During Cancelled Plans: Becoming unresponsive or hard to reach during the time you both initially set aside, often without explanation.
- Pattern of Prioritizing Other Activities: Frequently canceling plans in favor of other activities or people, signaling that the relationship might not be a priority.
My experience: One girlfriend I had for a while was notorious for showing up late or canceling last minute. I had hoped she would change her behavior when I invited her to check out a local show I had tickets for (I worked as a doorman). When she didn’t show up, I knew that I had to find more reliable women.
It was only months later that my other friend told me that she was out at other parties. In other words, I wasn’t the greatest priority in her life. zOuch. Eventually, we just became a friends-with-benefits arrangement that stopped when she started looking for new boyfriends…
5. Disrespectful Behavior
At three months, you’ve probably had enough chats about where your boundaries actually stand. If the toxicity levels of her behavior are off the charts–especially after you’ve talked about it–you can be sure that you’re dealing with some major red flags after 3 months of dating.
Any form of disrespect, whether it's towards you, service workers, friends, or family, can be a sign of deeper character flaws.
Remember: One time is forgivable, but twice shows a pattern of behavior that could be terminal for the future of your time together.
Signs of Disrespectful Behavior include:
- Frequent Belittling or Mocking: Regularly making fun of, belittling, or demeaning you, especially in front of others, undermining your confidence or self-worth.
- Ignoring Boundaries: Repeatedly crossing personal, emotional, or physical boundaries you've set, indicating a lack of regard for your feelings or needs.
- Constant Interruptions: Regularly interrupting you while you speak, dismissing your opinions, or not valuing your input in conversations.
- Public Embarrassment: Deliberately embarrassing or humiliating you in public situations, using information or actions against you to make you feel inferior.
- Inconsiderate Actions: Consistently making decisions that affect both of you without consulting or considering your feelings or perspectives.
My experience: Having dinner at a fancy bar, my girlfriend and I decided to have a few beers and some tapas to close out the night. After a few beers, my girlfriend decided to let out a fairly audible belch in an otherwise empty restaurant.
I was mortified, as it was a low-class behavior and I had made it clear that being in public meant that we should conduct ourselves with some restraint. Plus, I felt that it was unnecessary and frankly pretty gross.
This occurred during the 3-month period, so it’ll come as no surprise that her personal grooming habits started to become “optional” and her apartment was always in a state of chaos. Our relationship ended shortly after this and I’m glad to say I dodged a bullet. Even just breaking an obvious boundary should have been the first clue. Still, I hung on with the relationship to see her standards even further devolve over time. Yuck!
6. Avoiding Introductions
If they're reluctant to introduce you to friends or family, it might suggest they're not viewing the relationship as long-term or important in their lives. Move on if you’re looking for a serious relationship, as insisting on meeting people on a formal basis can lead to unnecessary complications.
Signs of Avoiding Introductions include:
- Always Meeting One-on-One: Preferring to always spend time alone and avoiding group hangouts, events, or places where mutual introductions might naturally occur.
- Postponing Key Introductions: Consistently delaying or making excuses for not introducing you to close friends, family, or even roommates.
- Vague about Important People: Speaking ambiguously about significant people in their life, such as parents, siblings, or close friends, without ever suggesting an introduction.
- Avoiding Public Places: Often choosing remote or less frequented spots for dates to minimize the chance of bumping into someone they know.
- Downplaying the Relationship: Describing your relationship in a way that downplays its significance when in the company of others, which can be a reason for not making formal introductions.
My experience: Family is always difficult to deal with within the first three months, but if there hasn’t been an occasion where you’ve formally met her parents or friends–I’ve never seen any relationship get beyond an FWB.
As a side note, if a girl avoids introductions because she doesn’t like her family, you should use some discretion. Some women do legitimately come from poor circumstances and an unstable home life, whereas others are the black sheep of the family (or the only “normal” one in the household.)
A better test for these relationships as an indicator of a quality woman is to look to see if she introduces you to her close friends. Many introductions I’ve had with friends that were positive gave me clear indicators of how she chooses to spend her time and create a more welcoming family.
7. Differing Values
Everyone puts in a virtuous facade when we first get to know one another. It’s only over time that these masks begin to slide off and reveal what the other person actually values in life.
Fundamental differences in morals, ethics, and life goals can become major issues down the line. You can try to resolve these issues, but deeply-held beliefs are very difficult to change and WILL become an issue as the relationship continues.
Signs of Differing Values include:
- Conflict Over Core Beliefs: Regular disagreements or conflicts arising from fundamental beliefs, such as religious, cultural, or moral standpoints.
- Different Life Goals: Having contrasting visions for the future, such as one person prioritizing career advancement while the other values family and settling down.
- Varied Financial Perspectives: Disagreements over financial priorities, with one person maybe being frugal and saving-oriented, and the other valuing spending and experiences.
- Differing Social and Political Views: Holding opposing views on social issues, politics, or global events, leading to heated debates or a feeling of disconnect.
- Incompatible Lifestyle Choices: Dissonance arising from lifestyle preferences, such as one person valuing a healthy lifestyle and the other not prioritizing health, or differing views on substance use.
My experience: I had a girlfriend who had diametrically opposed political beliefs that I didn’t agree with. However, for the sake of the relationship, I just kept it between both of us.
After dealing with a homeless person who was begging for change outside of a convenience store, we argued outside about something tiny about the person. This eventually spiraled into a full-blown battle of what we valued and how we treated others in our community. I said my piece, she said hers, and I could immediately tell that this was going to be a long-term issue. She started to cry.
Instead of trying to patch things up, pragmatism won the day. We agreed to disagree by never seeing each other again. So it goes…
8. Jealous or Controlling Behavior
If they're overly possessive or try to control aspects of your life, it's a serious red flag that can lead to an unhealthy relationship and serious consequences.
And as a final footnote on jealous and controlling behavior, you need to understand that jealous and controlling behavior NEVER gets better. You’ll find that the more of this behavior you tolerate, the worse it will be for the health of your relationship—or even your mental health.
Signs of Jealous or Controlling Behavior include:
- Monitoring Activities: Constantly checking or questioning the other person's whereabouts, activities, or interactions, including regularly checking their phone or social media without permission.
- Isolating from Others: Actively discouraging or preventing them from spending time with friends, family, or colleagues, often out of unfounded fears or suspicions.
- Frequent Accusations: Regularly accusing the other person of flirting, cheating, or being too friendly with others, even in the absence of concrete evidence or justifiable reasons.
- Dictating Choices: Trying to control or dictate personal choices, such as what to wear, where to go, or whom to interact with, based on possessiveness rather than genuine concern.
- Emotional Manipulation: Using guilt, blame, or emotional outbursts to ensure compliance or to deter certain behaviors, often making the other person feel they're walking on eggshells.
My experience: When I worked as a journalist, I managed to get my girlfriend a position as an editor in the monthly newspaper. It was a great arrangement, as we both were working together. However, things started to turn sour when my girlfriend noticed that other writers–female writers–were praising my work.
Each time I had a feature piece that was widely read, my girlfriend would sulk and hide her behavior. I realized that my success was going to be an issue going forward. Worse, I had a sneaking suspicion that my girlfriend also felt in competition with me. Luckily, my time at the newspaper was up and I left her to work there by herself.
However, this behavior started to rear its head at a concert that we saw. I was having a great time enjoying the music but she claimed that the bass was making her stomach hurt. “I’m going back to the car. You can join me when you’re done…”
This meant that I had to choose between something that had my full attention or give it to her–which implied that I’d be a “bad boyfriend” if I had stayed. Our relationship after this meant that we didn’t go out to public events without her pulling the same behavior. If I had spotted this red flag, I may have been able to find a better girlfriend at the time…
9. Lack of Effort
If they stop putting effort into the relationship, whether it's planning dates or just engaging in conversations, it might show a lack of interest or commitment.
Don’t mistake a lack of effort in place of when someone is legitimately busy. For example, you may have gotten together during the summer and were inseparable, only to find that going back to college just leaves both of you drained. If she isn’t making plans to accommodate you, it’s probably time to find someone who has more energy for you.
Signs of Lack of Effort include:
- Rarely Initiating Plans: Waiting for the other person to make plans or show initiative consistently.
- Low Enthusiasm: Displaying a lack of enthusiasm or excitement about dates, conversations, or shared activities.
- Lack of Thoughtfulness: Rarely or never doing thoughtful things, like remembering important dates, preferences, or small gestures of appreciation.
- Unwillingness to Compromise: Always insist on their preferences or decisions without considering the other person's feelings or desires.
- Not Integrating in Each Other’s Lives: Showing no interest in meeting or getting to know each other's friends, family, or participating in shared hobbies or activities.
- Physical Distancing: Limited physical affection or intimacy, without a discussed reason for the distance.
My experience: I had a girlfriend who recently moved back to Upstate NY for college. We had hit it off during the summer, but her moving three hours away was a bit of an obstacle. Nevertheless, I hadn’t seen her in two weeks and had a weekend off–what better time to visit?
When I finally saw her in her “natural” habitat, I finally saw what lay in store for me. This girl was in a shared dorm with her friend and their dorm room was FILTHY. Left open containers of food, laundry on the floor, and unmade beds. Not exactly the most romantic setting.
What made this a particularly painful experience was that I was willing to make a long drive, bought her flowers, and made sure my hygiene was on point. Her? She barely could get out of bed when I arrived, berated me when she couldn’t be bothered to tell me where to park and looked like a mess. The sex was terrible, her roommate was afraid of her, and she ended up snoring through a John Waters flick. TERRIBLE!
After arriving back from the long drive experience, I broke it off with her and she wrote a scathing Myspace blog about how much I had inconvenienced her…(yep, it was THAT far back!).
For the sake of schadenfreude, I decided to look her up years later. What was she up to? Putting on weight, single mother working at Pep Boys, and she lived in a dangerous part of town. Phew!! Dodged another bullet!
10. Past Relationships
Being in a relationship with another person should be between you and her. Frequently talking about ex-partners, comparing you to them, or not being over a past relationship can indicate unresolved issues.
When someone displays behaviors related to their past relationships that seem evasive or atypical, it can raise questions about their readiness or transparency in the current relationship. She may be using you as a secret affair on someone she’s “on hiatus” with without your knowledge–not a good sign!
Signs of Past Relationships include:
- Vague Descriptions: When they talk about past relationships, their descriptions are often ambiguous, lacking detail, or always surface-level.
- Oversharing: On the flip side, constantly talking about an ex or past relationship to the point where it feels dominating or overshadowing the current relationship.
- Changing Stories: Giving inconsistent accounts about why a past relationship ended or about significant events within that relationship.
- Hidden Photos or Memorabilia: Discovering old photos, gifts, or keepsakes that they haven't disclosed or discussed, especially if they're kept in easily accessible or frequently used places.
- Comparing to Exes: Making frequent comparisons between the current partner and past partners, either positively or negatively.
- Avoiding Places or Mutual Friends: Expressing a desire to avoid certain places, events, or mutual friends associated with an ex without a clear explanation.
- Not Acknowledging Major Relationships: Completely omitting or failing to mention significant relationships from their past, especially if discovered accidentally or through mutual acquaintances.
- Overemphasis on Past Baggage: Continuously emphasizing how hurt they were in the past, to the point where it seems like a justification for current behavior or decisions.
My experience: The start of my relationship with a long-term girlfriend began with a belligerent ex-boyfriend and a former fling. Both of these guys would later become a nuisance in my girlfriend’s well-being as they both engaged in persistent stalker behavior–or at least attempted to reach out for late-night hookups.
Still, she never gave up the emotional connection to these men—even if it was her anger or plans for revenge (huge red flags). She managed to shake the aggro guy, but the other guy she said she “needed to talk to” about all this.
You know where this is going. Let’s just say she had to do some explaining why she had poison ivy on all her erogenous zones…
If you’ve read this article about the many red flags after 3 months of dating and felt that more than a few applied to your significant other, your relationship may be in bad shape. In most cases, you should seek to exit the relationship and find someone who gives you the time you need. As you can tell from my own life experiences with women, ignore red flags at your own peril.
The trick is to learn to screen women better and pay attention to your intuition. And full disclosure: I’ve had great relationships that lasted well beyond the 3-month mark since then. If you approach your dating life as a learning process, it’s a lot easier to identify legitimate partners and laugh off the bad times!
Despite all of these red flags, there’s plenty more you should know about today’s modern dating landscape. BeyondAges has a vast archive of guides and how-to’s to enhance your dating IQ. Whether you are looking for The Top 10 Reasons Why You Can't Get a Girlfriend (And How To Change That), 13 Critical Pieces For Learning How To Talk To Girls Online (Proven Tips), and more, BeyondAges is at your service to help you succeed in today’s modern dating landscape.