Saying i love you too soon red flag

What Are the Red Flags in a Relationship You Should Never Ignore?

Despite what tweeters waving their red-flag emojis across the internet may suggest, red flags in a relationship aren’t merely (hilarious) pet peeves or conflicting preferences—leaving used floss around the house, hating dessert, not liking cats, really liking cats. But they’re not always obvious deal-breakers, either. Yes, some red flags are redder than others, and certain signals always mean you should stay far, far away (more on that below), but a lot of red flags can be hard to spot.

Red flags are behaviors that give you serious pause (or should give you serious pause)—and that could sometimes indicate a larger pattern, Philadelphia-based practicing couples counselor Folashade Adekunle, M.Ed., tells SELF. A partner who forgets your birthday once? Irritating, yes, but a red flag? Not necessarily. The partner who repeatedly forgets important dates, however, is likely revealing something about who they are and what they value. One reason red flags can be tricky to identify is that so much else in the relationship could be going well. On top of that, it can be hard to pinpoint what, exactly, is making us feel uncomfortable, Adekunle says. Along with noting repeated behaviors, she recommends paying attention to your gut feeling when certain behaviors arise and asking yourself these questions for deeper reflection: Does this behavior make me feel unsafe, uncared for, or bad about myself? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you’re in red flag territory.

Dulcinea Pitagora, Ph.D., New York City-based psychotherapist and sex therapist, agrees that red flags in a relationship typically show up first as feelings. They recommend checking in with your body to see what physical sensations arise when you contemplate a potential red flag situation—for example, maybe you feel tightness in your chest or your heart rate increases. “It’s also okay if you’re not sure why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling,” Dr. Pitagora tells SELF. “It’s enough to know that something doesn’t feel right and needs to change.”

The bottom line: If your partner’s behavior makes you feel iffy, it’s a sign that something needs to be addressed—either with yourself, with them, or with a therapist. (Or some combination of those options.) Regardless of whether that process leads to a breakup or a breakthrough, it’s important to honor your feelings in order to build self-trust, Dr. Pitagora says. So, on the topic of listening to and trusting yourself, we asked therapists for common relationship red flags worth paying attention to. (If you're looking to get in a relationship, check out some of the best dating apps).  

1. They rush a new relationship forward too quickly.

Popularly referred to as “love bombing,” this red flag isn’t necessarily about the new partner who says “I love you” too soon or who wants to move in together after five dates. Love bombing becomes worrying when “one person is trying to manipulate the other into a situation of dependency,” Adekunle says. If your person is saying things like, “I can’t live without you,” or seeking to isolate you with the fierceness of their affections, those are very concerning signs. Adekunle points out that a fast-moving relationship can be fine so long as it feels right. Remember to check in with your body: If you feel anxious about your partner moving at warp speed, it’s probably a sign to pump the brakes and examine where your feeling is coming from.

2. They describe all of their exes as “crazy.”

Some relationships end so badly that we’re still sour about an ex years down the line—but if your new partner spews vitriol at any and all of their “crazy” former lovers every chance they get, it’s a good clue that they are the problem. When your new partner can’t identify some way that they caused some of their past breakups, that is reason to use “extreme caution,” Gina Senarighi, Ph.D., couples counselor and dating coach tells SELF. “The odds are good that they’re going to lack that same kind of insight now with you,” Dr. Senarighi says. In other words, if you end up dating them, you’ll likely one day join the ranks of those “crazy exes” too. Knowing how to get over a breakup is helpful before moving forward in a new relationship. 

3. They’re rude to people in the service industry.

The good news is that this one should be clear early on before you’re invested in a relationship. Dr. Senarighi explains that because our culture undervalues service industry workers, the way your date talks to the waiter or the Lyft driver will give you great information about their views on social structure, their sense of entitlement, and how they respond when they’re in positions of power. In short, do you want to be with someone who feels it’s their right to be rude to the bartender? If not, order your martini to go.

4. Their dating profile doesn’t match who they really are.

In dating, we all want to put our best foot forward, but “there’s a difference between presenting your best self and being inauthentic,” Dr. Senarighi says. If your date calls himself “an avid hiker” but it turns out that he only wants to walk the paved paths along the golf course, it’s worth taking note. Does he lack self-awareness? Is he trying to present an idealized version of himself because he really wants to be that person? Either way, it’s worth exploring because a lack of self-awareness combined with incongruence between words and actions can cause problems when it comes to conflict resolution down the line, Dr. Senarighi says.

5. The way they express anger makes you feel unsafe.

Anger is normal and if you’re in a relationship, it’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be times when you want to bury your face in the nearest pillow and scream. That said, if your partner gets so angry they punch a wall or break household items, Adekunle notes that they have the potential to escalate those behaviors in the future. Because anger management issues can segue into abuse, Adekunles says that they are often surefire signs to end the relationship immediately.

6. They don’t listen to you.

And we’re not talking about your partner forgetting to pick up eggs or needing to be reminded of the name of your Aunt Beverly’s new husband again. This is about those significant aspects of yourself that you share with your partner, like your interests, your traditions, and the people in your life who make you feel whole. Adekunle says a good question to ask yourself is, “How does this person show care about my interests and the things that are important to me?” She also notes that this red flag can “become yellow” if your partner exhibits change. Communication is key: If you feel like you’re not being seen or heard, Adekunle advises asking your partner, “Do you understand how important this is to me?” If that leads to improvement, great! If not remember that someone who isn’t willing to grow isn’t worth your time.

7. They push your physical boundaries, even in “innocent” ways.

Does your partner refuse to stop tickling you when you tell them to knock it off? Do they continue to touch you in seemingly innocent ways (like hugs, shoulder rubs, or even repeatedly poking you in the arm like a sibling) when you ask for personal space? “Like with all boundaries, we want to ensure that someone is respecting the ways in which we tell them how to treat us,” Adekunle says. The concern here is around escalation. If a partner is pushing physical boundaries, Adekunle advises that it “might be a sign that this person won’t respect these boundaries over time. We want people to be able to hear ‘no’ and ‘stop’ and take us seriously.”

8. You’re hesitant to introduce them to your friends.

Being nervous to introduce your new partner to the other people in your life is normal, but if the thought of bringing everybody together makes you want to hide in the bathtub, that’s worth exploring, Adekunle says. She notes that red flags aren’t always immediately “definable” and that it’s okay if you have to sit with your feelings for a while before you identify what’s making you feel uncomfortable. Why are you avoiding introducing your person to your friends? The answer might help you pinpoint some deeper trouble or concern. You should also consider whether your hesitation really has to do with your partner. Maybe it’s more about your own insecurities or superficial concerns (“What if he wears cargo shorts to brunch?”)—a sign that you may need to work on these issues.

9. Your friends don’t want to spend time with them.

Love can be unobservant, so if your friends aren’t wild about your new partner, that can be a great reality check, Adekunle says. She recommends asking the people who know you best: “What are you seeing about this person that’s giving you pause on wanting to spend time with them or getting to know them?” Be prepared: The answers might be hard to hear, but ultimately important to know.

10. They put you down, even in a teasing way.

“It was only a joke” are not magical words that erase hurtful insults. Excessive sarcasm, a mean sense of humor, or jokes that regularly point out your flaws can represent “a nonconsensual way to leverage power in the relationship,” Dr. Pitagora explains. Adekunle agrees and says there is an important difference between couples who “roast” each other in a consensual, fun way and a partner whose jokes make you feel bad about yourself. Especially concerning: If you tell your partner, “This hurts my feelings,” and their behavior doesn’t change. In that case, this red flag becomes a “non-negotiable,” Adekunle says.

11. They gaslight you.

Gaslighting is emotional manipulation where your partner twists reality, making you doubt your perceptions through denial (“I never said that”) or by blaming you (“You’re too sensitive”). Not only is it abusive, but it’s also very difficult to identify. “The partner waving this red flag may use the other partner’s vulnerabilities against them, making the gaslit partner believe that they are to blame for whatever the problem is, and making it difficult to know whether they’re actually seeing a red flag or not,” Dr. Pitagora says. Because gaslighting can leave you second-guessing yourself, Dr. Pitagora advises seeking the support of people who make you feel safe—like a therapist or trusted loved one—to discuss what you’re feeling and get more clarity on your partner’s behavior.

12. They’re prejudiced.

Whether your date peppers you with microaggressions (“What are you?”) or expresses more overtly racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic views, this red flag can fall into the category of abusive behaviors, Dr. Pitagora notes. How you choose to respond in the moment depends on the situation and how safe you feel. Dr. Pitagora advises that those “without the comfort, energy, resources, or support to speak up about someone’s offensive behavior” can end the interaction and should not feel beholden to explain why. You can say something like, “This isn’t working for me” and leave it at that. “With unsafe folks, it’s okay to ghost them,” Dr. Senarighi says. If you’re comfortable with the other person, however, you can tell them that their comments are harmful and see if they’re willing to address and correct their behavior. If they’re defensive and unwilling to grow, yep, that’s another red flag.

13. They respond poorly when you take time away from them.

We’ve all been in that fluttery stage of a relationship when spending every moment together feels like you’re living inside the “Crazy in Love” music video (remember those?). But what happens when that fades? Dr. Senarighi notes that spending too much time with your partner can make you lose your sense of self and your support systems. Taking space for yourself in a relationship is healthy, as is paying attention to how your partner responds when you do. If they pout or guilt-trip you or get angry, Dr. Senarighi says those behaviors could represent an inability to manage discomfort, or point to possessiveness. Your partner could also simply struggle with meeting their own emotional needs, which isn’t a crime but is something they’ll have to resolve if they want to be in a healthy relationship in the long term.

14. They rely on you as their sole support for serious mental health issues or past traumas.

“It’s not that people with trauma can’t have great relationships, they absolutely can,” Dr. Senarighi notes. The same goes for people with mental illness. And, to be clear, it’s not that people with trauma or mental health issues can only have wonderful relationships when they’re completely “healed,” or some other similar and potentially unattainable benchmark. It’s more about aspects like: Are they self-aware about how their trauma or mental health issues affect themselves and others? Are they receiving some kind of support or otherwise trying to heal? Seeking this kind of help can look like going to therapy, attending support groups, progressing through mental health workbooks, or even forging strong friendships outside of your relationship.  

He Said “I Love You” Too Soon (9 Subtle Signs)

Are you wondering whether the man in your life said: ‘I Love You’ too soon?

Perhaps it feels like he did, but maybe it’s you being too guarded?

In this guide, we’ll explain when it’s too soon to say ‘I Love You’ and what might be going through a guy’s head when this happens. 

First though, I want to tell you about this awesome new tool I discovered. 

This online communications tracker tool is the perfect device if your partner (or anyone) is up to something dodgy behind your back. 

If you’re able to enter a few of their basic personal details into this tool, it will be able to track their web-connected devices and deliver vital information about their communications. 

Wondering who he’s calling? Who he’s texting? What apps and online services he’s using? This tool will tell you – and it’s 100% discreet. 

This tool will reveal whether there’s something fishy in your relationship – and there’s no way for him to find out he’s being tracked.  Of course, it’s usually a good thing if your man says ‘I Love You’ too quickly, so there’s rarely a need to be too suspicious. Let’s explore what it might mean when he does this.


  • 1 He Said ‘I Love You’ Too Soon
  • 2 How Soon Is Too Soon?
    • 2.1 1. He has never been emotionally vulnerable with you
    • 2.2 2. You have never been annoyed by him
    • 2.3 3. You don't know any of his friends
    • 2.4 4. You haven’t spent enough time together
    • 2.5 5. It was said in the heat of the moment
    • 2.6 6. You have never had sex 
    • 2.7 7. He doesn't just say it after sex
    • 2.8 8. He says it on his own
    • 2.9 9. He says it more than once 
  • 3 FAQs
  • 4 In A Nutshell

He Said ‘I Love You’ Too Soon

When in doubt, it can sometimes be better to tell someone “I love you too” with gestures instead of words because that is not quite so direct. A special gift, introduce your partner to an important person such as your mum or best friend or accompany him to an unpleasant medical appointment. All of these are ways of slowly telling him how you feel. 

That said, the following signs in most cases speak very well for holding your thoughts for a moment. Remember that if you don’t feel the same way, you don’t have to tell him that you love him back. 

How Soon Is Too Soon?

1. He has never been emotionally vulnerable with you

It may sound silly, but being vulnerable is (for many) proof of trust and intimacy and, therefore, a good prerequisite for confessing your love for someone Conversely, the following also applies, if he has never been vulnerable emotionally with you, it may not be the right time for him to tell you that he loves you. 

2. You have never been annoyed by him

Your sweetheart is perfect and doesn't have a single negative quirk or quality that you've ever noticed. This is a strong indication that there are still butterflies in your stomach when you are around him and that you are under the influence of rose-tinted glasses! In a nutshell, love means choosing a person for all of his weaknesses and mistakes as well as the positives.

On the other hand, if you think someone is flawless, you are probably in love. You can only really assess a person and your relationship with him if you have already argued with him and managed conflict together, because what if he argues about the smallest thing and becomes disrespectful of you? 

3. You don't know any of his friends

Not only do his friends tell you something about him, if he introduces them to you, it also shows that he is probably serious about you. On the other hand, if he keeps you away from them, he doesn't seem to be quite sure of you yet, and an “I love you” might not be real. Get to know his friends and family before you can be sure how much you like him. 

4. You haven’t spent enough time together

The magic three words should not be uttered lightly. You may be wondering whether he said I love you too soon and what to do when he has. In a fresh partnership, you usually want to express your love early, but it is worth waiting and waiting for the right moment. Because if the words are said too early, it can be a sign that something is wrong.

You have spent too little time together. If the relationship is still very fresh, it is definitely too early to speak of love after a few weeks, especially if you only see each other two to three times a week. First, solidify the foundation of your partnership. Get to know each other properly and take the pressure off before the big admission of love comes. This shows you that you truly are in love.

It is usually advisable to always treat an “I love you” with skepticism at the beginning of a relationship. Get to know him better before you can really tell how much you like him. 

5. It was said in the heat of the moment

If an opportunity has just opened up for you or if something personal happened, you are emotionally charged. In such a situation, saying the magic three words can happen in the heat of the moment. But this does not automatically mean that you really feel that way. When normality returns there is a possibility that you are still unsure. Try to talk to your partner about the situation. You may really like him but you are not ready to yet fall in love. 

6. You have never had sex 

If your partner already says “I love you” without you both sleeping together, you should be careful. In the worst case, he is trying to get you to bed in this way and isn't really interested in a long-term partnership. Ask him what exactly he loves about you. If he doesn't find the right words and beats around the bush, you should question his motivation

Do not let yourself be pushed into something that you don’t want to do. It is all the more important to spend enough time together. In general, everyone has their own pace when it comes to loving someone. You have to decide for yourself what is too early or too late. If you are feeling too fast, you should tell your partner and vice versa.

Especially at the beginning of a relationship, you can never be sure how much you can trust your partner's words. After all, you can only really assess someone after months together. However, if you cannot wait this long and need to know immediately whether his “I love you” should be taken seriously, consider this.

7. He doesn't just say it after sex

In particular, men who otherwise cannot speak openly about their feelings often slip an “I love you” thoughtlessly. Behind this expression of love is no day-long consideration about the perfect time. Rather, a spontaneous “I love you” in a romantic or passionate situation only testifies to his feelings at that moment. 

That doesn't mean you can never take him seriously after sex, but it's a bad sign if he's only able to say it then. 

8. He says it on his own

Whether an “I love you” comes from the bottom of his heart or not also depends on how it came about. Did you say it first and maybe his words were said because he thought he had to say it? 

After all, it can be quite uncomfortable if a partner does not answer “I love you” when you said it first. So you should be honest with yourself and ask yourself whether you put pressure on your partner or whether the expression of love really came about freely. 

9. He says it more than once 

It takes some people so much effort to say “I love you” that they rarely, say it in a relationship. An “I love you” in a partnership is a little easier because your expectations are less dependent on this statement then. 

You won't be able to tell whether he really loves you or not based on the timing or frequency of his expressions of love, but you will simply feel it but you can never be sure. Women are particularly inclined to analyze fresh relationships from all aspects. Otherwise, you would hardly have come across this article, would you? Our clues can give you suggestions, but they cannot give you any certainty. 


What does it mean when a guy says I love you too soon?

If he says he loves you too soon it can cause harm so it is important to be careful about when you tell someone this. When I guy says I love you too early on in the partnership, it may cause confusion and misunderstanding. Don’t be pressured into saying it back because he might no mean what he says. 

How soon is too soon to say LOVE YOU?

If you have only been with someone for a few weeks then saying it might be too premature. Be careful that you don’t feel pressured into saying something unless you know exactly how you feel about someone. 

What happens if you say I love you too soon?

You may want to tell someone that you love them but it is important to make sure that you are certain about how you feel. If you have never had an argument and you have never been vulnerable with this person it is likely too early and it might harm your partnership. 

Is saying I love you too early a red flag?

Saying that you love someone too early can be a red flag. This is especially true if you have never slept together yet as he might be telling you that he loves you just so that he can try and get you into bed with him, so be careful that you are never pressured into doing anything that you are not comfortable with. 

How do you test a guy to see if he really loves you?

If you want to know whether he really loves you or not, it might be a good idea to pay attention to his actions as well as his words. If he has only said that he loves you once, he may not have really meant it before. 

In A Nutshell

Saying I love you in a partnership can be scary as you may not always know that they will say it back to you. However, if your partner has said I love you too soon in your relationship, it might be a red flag as it takes a while to fall in love. It is not always clear when to say I love you when you are dating someone and sometimes it can be a bad sign. 

Let us know what you thought in the comments and don’t forget to share this article!

Sarah Mayfield

As hopeless romantic I struggled tremendously in my love life. After many years of searching, trial & error, and countless failed relationships, I finally found my Mr. Right. It wasn't an easy road, but one that has taught me an incredible amount about the workings of relationships between men and women, and this is what I hope to share through my writing on this blog.

Signs of Possession 14 Signs of Obsessed Love You Can't Ignore / Sofa of Love

Maybe you are obsessed or they are obsessed with you. Until you know the signs of possession, you won't understand it.

Sometimes love and obsession become vague. You must understand the signs of possession in order to know how you feel. Of course, if you say you love Justin Bieber, then it's most likely an obsession *sorry Beliebers* and is pretty easy to understand. You cannot love someone you don't know. If you haven't met Justin and had dinner with him, then I'm sorry.

However, sometimes when we get to know someone and start to love them, our feelings start to get a little. .. intense... Too Edward Cullen, if you understand me. Obsession with someone or obsession with you is dramatic. It's like living in a teen drama. But is this really love? Of course it isn't.

Signs of obsession to watch out for

Maybe you don't think you're being obsessive, maybe you think it's okay to call them 50 times a day, it's not. If you think getting approved for what you're wearing tonight is that they use their styling techniques, it's not. So, if you are obsessed or someone is obsessed about you, you should be aware of the signs.

Possession is perfect for pictures... in the beginning. Pay attention to these signs of possession and take care of your heart.

#1 You feel something is wrong. If you are reading this, you already know something is wrong. You already feel a little out of your element, which is great. If you feel it, then you know it's happening. Now all you have to do is pull yourself out of it because this feeling won't go away.

#2 You don't have personal space. In a healthy relationship, you don't need to see this person every day. Sometimes you just want to go to the beach or read a book in the bathroom for a day. But they should be by your side at all times. They need to know everything you do and make sure it doesn't interfere with their plan.

#3 Privacy? What kind of privacy? They have your passwords for your social networks and email because they need to know what you are doing at all times. They need to make sure you're not cheating on them. You no longer have a personal life, they belong to you. Your privacy, if you're lucky, goes to the bathroom alone.

# 4 Jealousy to the max. Jealousy is an understatement of how they feel. They don't like it when people look at you, they don't like it when you dress too sexy. To be honest, they just want you locked up in a potato sack at home. If you have friends of the opposite sex, this won't work for them. They are insecure and cannot deal with any threats.

#5 They distract you from friends and family. They are cool with friends and family at first, but after a while they start to push you away. They don't like your friends, your family annoys them, or they feel like your parents don't like them. It's all an act. They are just playing the victim to make you feel bad and be on their side. It means giving up your friends for them.

# 6 They assume you are cheating on them. If you don't reply to their text in fifteen minutes, you are cheating them. If you call them back an hour after work is over, you are cheating. They don't trust what you say, really.

They are great in the beginning. Everything is fine, but after a while they start asking you for your passwords, start asking who you are talking to. They don't trust you.

# 7 Saying "I love you" too soon. Oh yes, of course they are in love. It's been a day, but they know it. They feel that this is true love. You don't even know how much they love their eggs in the morning, but they love you.

If they spit it out like it's nothing, that's a problem. Some people really feel love. However, if you're on the edge, then it's probably not true love.

#8 It's all about protecting you. All they want to do is protect you. They don't want you to go with your friend tonight because they want you to be safe. They should go to the mall with you because they don't want to be disturbed. This all sounds very nice, but it's bullshit. You can do whatever you want and you don't have to defend yourself unless you ask for their help.

# 9 You are perfect...but. There is always a but. They tell you all the time about how perfect you are and also criticize you for the little things. You may be beautiful, but you must lose ten pounds. These people are looking for your weaknesses. Once they find them, they use them against you to control you and make you insecure so you won't leave them.

# 10 You feel like you are going crazy. This shows that they are trying to manipulate and control you. If you feel that you are no longer yourself, it is because you are not. They are trying to suck everything out of you and turn you into their personal slave.

# 11 They "will never let you go." A guy sent me this text when I first met him. He said, "I'll never let you go." I met him twenty minutes before and he ended up being completely obsessed with me after one date. You might think that phrases like this are sweet, and of course they can be, but not after one date. Trust me.

# 12 Their dating history is blurred. Usually, when you ask them about their dating history, they always say that their exes are crazy. Don't fall for it. I mean, they were probably crazy because this person literally drove them crazy with his manipulative behavior. If that's the only word they use to describe their partner, it's a huge red flag. In other words... run.

# 13 They are after you. On social media, they know every single thing about you. They know who commented on your profile picture, who likes your pictures the most, what you post when you post stuff - they know it all. This is one of those big signs of obsession that shouldn't be ignored.

Personally, they go to classes where you go, eat in places where they know you will be. You somehow see them everywhere, even if you never told them.

# 14 They threaten you or themselves. Because they are insecure, they feel they can't do anything without you. If you try to break up with this person, instead of saying, "Okay, I understand," they switch over and talk about how they want to kill themselves, or they'll never let you break up with them. This is not love. If it were, they would certainly be sad and embarrassed, but they would let you go.

Now you know the signs of possession, are you possessed or in love? Is your partner obsessed or in love? If you or your partner is obsessed, you need to take steps to get out of the relationship because it won't end for anyone.

Stories of the finalists of the second season of the competition

Dudko Maria. Keys

So... Tick... So...

The voice of the old grandfather clock from the hallway already met me, but I could not open the door. Well, where are these keys?... Really lost? Only this was not enough, and so the day didn't work out!.. Ah, no, here it is...

The clock struck eight when I stepped on the creaky parquet of the hallway. How I missed the quietness of my apartment! I just wanted to fall apart on a shabby sofa, and lie there until the morning ... But instead, I trudged to the computer. While the old unit, inherited from the dinosaurs, turned on, I made myself coffee. Today you will need more than one mug. Article for the night, and inspiration from gulkin's nose. They also threaten to make layoffs at work. You can not delay, otherwise the dismissal cannot be avoided. And it would not be bad to update the blog, otherwise the last subscribers will soon scatter. Eh…

I worked in the editorial office of a magazine, which in our district, and in the city in general, was quite in demand. The editor - Fedot Stepanovich - always put only the best into print.

The best. Yes. It means not me. For some reason, lately my writing has not been impressive at all. Even myself. Honestly, not surprised. It looks like I've lost the spark, like there was nothing to write about. It's funny somehow: I live in a metropolis, where something happens every day, but I look as if into a void. Other people's problems ceased to excite, everyone here is a drop in the ocean. So my news is gray, alien, distant and unnecessary, in general, to no one.

What did I write about? As I then still thought, about the important. About eternal, to some extent. I noticed that the people around were so closed that they seemed to stop seeing each other, let alone feel and understand. Everyone at some point withdraws into himself and loses the key to the door he entered. Locks up the heart. Puts on a mask. Indifferent. And silently walks along the gray stones of the pavement...

I just wanted to be heard... I thought I would become the key to the world on this side of the mask. I will help those in need with my word, I will teach people to listen and hear, I will save the world... But it seems that something went wrong. And now... Now I don't even know how to save myself. So in response I get the cry of tearing paper and the famous last warning from the lips of Fedot Stepanych. Last chance. Tomorrow I will not come with a sensation - that's it. Well... It looks like it's time to forget about your reasoning for a while and plunge into the world of human intrigues. Write what will be read. What is expected of me. No not like this. What do you expect from an article in our magazine.

What are the stone jungles talking about these days? What is the wind of change carrying along their paved paths? The most discussed topic was a series of strange deaths, however, as is usually the case. For a long time now, criminals taken into custody have been dying one after another. The most different: from simple pickpockets to almost murderers, adults and still teenagers of fourteen years. Most of them haven't even been sentenced yet. And they all have the same diagnosis - poisoning. What is still a mystery. This happened with some frequency in different parts of the city, but most often in our police department. And, by pure chance, none other than my older brother, officer Yuri Diskarin, worked there.

How I could use his help now... But no. My brother and I don't get along. And they never got along. It just so happened ... Probably, we are just too different. Yurik is secretive, distrustful. He never told me anything, he preferred to do everything himself, and I felt that he did not need me at all. I must have been a little jealous of my brother. He is successful, just the pride of the family, and I grab the last chance to stay at work.

...Grasping for the last chance to stay at work. Although ... You can try to find out about the high-profile case first hand, so to speak. This, for sure, would interest Fedot Stepanych, but he would have to turn to his brother for help. Yeah ... And once again become a loser in the eyes of a whole family. Hell no! Even for the sake of work, I will not ask for the help of this person!

Well, nothing. I prepared, collected materials, now I will write and saved! I manage myself. If only I could make it in the morning…


The sound took me by surprise. It was a signal that the factory was over, from the old watch in the corridor. The matter is fixable. I got up, went to the clock, opened the lid and reached for the key with a familiar gesture. Only the key was missing. What's the strange thing? In my house, I valued order, but such incidents simply unsettled ... What should I do now, look for this lost key? Looks like I'll have to...

Casting a sad glance at the computer, I began to remember where I could put this old piece of iron. So I have already climbed several shelves, looked into the boxes and ...

What is this? There was an envelope in the dresser. And, if I was ready to see the key to the winding mechanism among the socks, with my absent-mindedness, then there’s no strange message at all. Although, maybe I'm too naive? Oh, I don't like it all...

Naturally, I opened the envelope and immediately recognized Yurik's handwriting.

"I'm not sure I wasn't followed. Check your mail. I never forgot your birthday!

What's the joke? I knew that it was necessary to take away the keys from him when he moved in! Wait, there's something on the back...


I ran my eyes over the hastily written lines again. The text seemed devoid of meaning and meant nothing to me.

What is he? For henbane, it seems, it’s not the season ... Just in case, I checked the calendar and made sure that my birthday is not today and not even in the coming days. The only thing that made sense was to check your email.

What am I doing with my time? Before my hand could close the text editor, a window popped up asking if I really wanted to do it. Here, even it mocks...

One letter actually arrived in the mail. So, why is Yurik doing this: invading my house with a strange note and tweeting on the Internet at the same time? After all, isn't it easier to call? Of course, I would not jump with delight when something would make our little star descend to mere mortals, but why reinvent the wheel?

So I thought as I sipped my cold coffee while waiting for the text to load. Finally, the following lines loomed before my eyes:

“Hello, Egor.

I know you'll be surprised by my letter, but I wouldn't bother you if it wasn't really serious. I wanted to call, but my new phone didn't have your number. My number hasn't changed, if you're interested...

Let's get down to business. We need to talk. But the conversation must be face to face. Come today at nine at the intersection of Pskovskaya and Myasnaya, there, in the courtyard of house 26, I will be waiting for you.

It's about a series of prisoner deaths. Correction, about a series of murders... I thought it might interest you, I'll explain everything at the meeting, if, of course, you show up... your guilt. But I ask you to believe me one single time. You are my last key to hope. I expect you to read this letter and come.

Your brother Yuri Diskarin


Everything is more and more wonderful, as the heroine of a famous fairy tale used to say…

I re-read the message several times to make sure that I had really ceased to understand anything. Except, perhaps, for the fact that some kind of mystery lies in this whole affair, and Yurka for me now is the key to all answers. Besides, since he himself calls me to talk, I will not fail to interview the lead investigator . .. Unless, of course, this is a stupid attempt at a joke ... But it is unlikely that he would write to me for fun.

And what, now it's raining again, right?.. But he came home! Okay, I’ll figure it out quickly, and I’ll have another six hours for the article ... I glanced at the clock, belatedly remembering that this was pointless. Another advertising message comes to the phone, helpfully suggesting that I need to go out if I want to be in time for a meeting. Having extinguished the monitor that had just woken up and abruptly grabbed my raincoat, which had not yet dried out after a day's walk, I jumped out into the entrance.

Only at the car I hesitated a little. Isn't it too easy for me to fit in? Just a couple of minutes ago, I was sure that for the sake of my brother I would not lift an eyebrow, and for my own sake I would not mess with him. What did this message do to me?

It filled me with a sense of self-importance. Finally, something depended on me, on me alone! Probably, I was driven by the desire to prove that I was worth something . .. But I didn’t want to admit such motives. From this, an incomprehensible annoyance settled in my head, but I stubbornly explained it only by the spent time taken away from writing the article.

Stopping at the appointed place, I looked at my watch. Another full five minutes ... It was possible to leave later, although ... as if it would give me something. Around no one like Yuri.

An unpleasant, vile fog reigned in the street. I hid from him in the car.

The sun has long since set behind the clouds, and the city has lit its fires. Lanterns, not stars. I sometimes thought about how this noisy world lacked stars. Each of them is unique, even though there are billions of them in the darkness of the sky. It's the same with people, isn't it? But we almost purposely forget about that, therefore we hide from condemning burning looks from the depths of the immense.

And just now the thought flashed through my head: how often do I myself think about others? It would seem that constantly . ..

I digressed from philosophical reflections to look at the time. Five minutes. There was no one even humanoid in sight, the yard was empty.

Ten... I'm checking my phone, mail. Not a line about being late.

Twenty! No, it's not serious anymore! I shouldn't have come... Nervously dialing a number, preparing a scathing speech. In response, only long beeps are heard. Okay... Let's wait... You never know. He's got a job too... Trying to calm down seems to be working until I remember that damned article never started! Where the hell are these fools?!

"I'm waiting another fifteen minutes and I'm leaving" - I angrily type a message and press "Send" furiously.

Time is running out and the message hasn't even been read! Twenty-five minutes... thirty... Still silence. There is no point in waiting any longer.

To clear my conscience, I call again. A melodic female voice is heard from the handset:

- The device of the called subscriber is turned off or is out of coverage area . .. - the lady says, slowly repeating the phrase in English.

- Damn you!.. - hissing irritably, I throw the phone on the next seat. - So... Okay... I warned you, I waited... waited longer than promised. Now you can go home with a clear conscience.

As I looked down the road, I was surprised to find that I was not so much angry as nervous. It pissed me off even more…


There was less and less time left for work, and I continued to pace the apartment. Usually such a calm creak of the floorboards now mocked my poor hearing with all its might. It was by no means the article that occupied my thoughts, despite the fact that they would not forgive me if I screwed up such material...

Minutes passed slowly. I felt them even without the usual ticking of the clock. OK. I will be frank with myself, because my strength is no more, and then to work! All this is strange! What exactly? That I couldn't get through. Yura does not turn off the phone and diligently monitors its charge, he should always be in touch, should I, as a brother, know about this. Also this line from that note, it is no coincidence that it is the very first ...

So... don't panic. What the hell is this blockhead in general so businesslike settled in my head?! Anything happens. Everything! Article. Only an article.

By an effort of will, I managed to sit down in front of the monitor and even write a couple of lines before I again plunged into thought. And yet... what could have happened?..


The days raced by like clockwork, but not mine. I never found the key, and I haven’t tried, to be honest, since that evening. They froze, showing half past nine, as if that day had not yet passed. I didn't show up for work the next morning. I don’t believe it myself... how could I put everything on the altar for the sake of a person whom I was mortally envious of, whose disappearance I dreamed of... the one whom I had known all my life and with whom I was still connected invisibly?!..

And the apartment! Oh... if the old me had seen what my temple of comfort had turned into. .. however, he would have shot himself right away, leaving behind only the gloomy aesthetics of a broken creator... All the tables were cluttered with dirty mugs and fast food packages. The entire floor is full of shoe marks. Here and there were meticulously compiled lists of those with whom my brother could communicate, where he could go, who could wish him harm...

But none of that mattered anymore...

“- Yegor Diskarin? - I heard a calm male voice from my phone this morning.

- Yes. I answered nervously.

- The police are bothering you - my heart threatened to break my chest. It must be from stress and lack of sleep ... And in the meantime, in my head: "If only they could find ...".

- Your brother was found today at noon, - a slight pause, as if to realize what was said, - He is dead. The circumstances of death are being investigated. - just as calmly, as if nothing had happened, the man on the other end of the wire continues. - We offer our condolences. Today you should come to the department ... "

Followed by instructions and occasional questions to which I answered things like “yes”, “no” and “understood”. Be afraid of your desires. Found...

I spent the next half day in the same department. Some papers, some formalities, a funeral... And a conversation.

From that conversation I learned something that struck me. Yura was suspect. They said that he killed the prisoners by slipping poison into their food or something like that. There was not much evidence, so they only planned to arrest him, but now the main version of my brother's death is suicide during an attempt to escape from justice. What heresy… But at that moment I could not object anything. Exactly like believing even a single word.

And now I'm back in my home again. Devastated, with only one thought in his head: “he is no more”…

What are words? A set of letters, a set of sounds, nothing more. .. But some become keys. This key with three heavy teeth will open one of the most terrible doors: the door of despair and pain. Maybe I should have phrased it a little more bluntly? But as? What would it change? There is only one key, no matter how you decorate it, and there is only one door, and you are standing on the threshold. You can't go back. And the castle succumbed. Started...

I look around the apartment with a detached look, slowly falling into a rage.

- Damn! - comes out of the chest. How long have I not uttered this word, - Damn! - I repeat louder, clasping my hands sharply. My whole army of mugs is flying down to the sound of glass. A blanket of scribbled sheets covers them from above.

- Dunce! Brat! Freak! I scream, not remembering myself.

- Look... Look what you've done, you bastard! I lost everything because of you! Inspiration! Work! Dreams! How can I pay my bills now? I've wasted so much time on you, damn it, even the key to the clock. .. - the silence hurt my ears, so I continued to throw empty phrases, trying to throw out everything that had accumulated inside me. My voice broke, growled and wheezed, turned into hysterical laughter, and I didn’t even understand why I was so angry ... At myself?

Yes... I was jealous of my brother in black! The pride of the family, a great future, office authority, lofty goals, a dream job - everything I wanted to hear about myself, I heard about Yurashi! I remained his little brother, always second, always underestimated. It was an axiom that everything was easy for him. But for some reason it did not occur to me that we were actually brothers. Our conditions were the same. And I seemed to be blind, I did not see what he had to go through. And what did I do when I got tired of being a shadow? Exactly. He erected that very wall, the wall of indifference. I didn't care. And there is one more drop in the ocean. It was not Yura who closed himself off from me, but I from him. And what did it lead to? “He is no more,” and I can’t even say with certainty that I’m not the brother of the killer! And all because I don't know! I don’t know how he lived all these years, I don’t know what was going on in his soul, I don’t know if he called me to stop the rumors in the bud, or to repent of what he had done even a little to his own creature, albeit such a vile one, how I . .. And I will probably never know, my key to this secret is forever lost ... What a blockhead I am ... What are all my arguments about feelings, words, stars, but all about the same keys worth now! How could I have changed the world when I myself could not find those vices for which I reproached mankind?! That's why my articles weren't being read. When changing the world, start with yourself, otherwise everything is empty words. Gray, alien, distant and unnecessary, in general, no one ... Such words will not become keys ... Keys ... I return to them over and over again. Oh, this world is really crazy about them! We have the keys to everything, they are even where we don’t think to find them, because they have entered our lives so deeply that everything now rests on them alone, and we don’t even notice. Yes, and life itself is like a constant picking of locks! But even that is not important. The important thing is that there is no key leading from There. This is what gives meaning to all other keys. No matter how hard I try, I won't start Yurik's time again like the old clock. But who knows from what doors, I would have taken him away, if only I was there ... It's a pity, I realized it too late ...

- I will never sit down to write again... - I said to myself almost in delirium, hardly recognizing my own hoarse voice. After that, I fell asleep and didn’t think about anything anymore.


I spent the next day almost without getting up. Only in the evening I somehow tried to eliminate the consequences of my yesterday's insanity ... But the attempt was nipped in the bud, as soon as the very note that I found among the socks caught my eye ... Surprisingly, all the time while I was busy looking for my brother, I almost did not remember her, as a thing that does not carry any meaning in itself. But there were so many questions connected with it! I re-read it. As expected, nothing new appeared ... And yet ... Why was she needed?

I immersed myself in the memory of the day when I lost the key to the watch, which was so silent for the last week. .. It seems that since that time I have not turned on the computer... How is it, my old man?

The legacy of the ancestors, as expected, grumbled and buzzed at my long absence, but in the end it had mercy and opened my e-mail page for me. Yurik's letter has not disappeared anywhere. I didn't reread it. One thing is a note with unclear text, and another is an invitation to a meeting that was not destined to take place ...

"Check your mail..." echoed in my ears. The sudden realization made me jump. What if… This strange text on the back is nothing but a username? But my hands are unstoppable...

Hurrying out of my account, I typed in the symbols into the appropriate box. But you need a password... Password... Another stupid thought... "I never forgot your birthday!" I enter.

Only one digit changed on the monitor, but I didn't believe it. This eternity could not last for one miserable minute.

- It worked... - I said, looking into this luminous box in a frenzy. Another account. And only one letter.

The entire apartment fell into absolute silence as I read what was written here.

“Egor, I knew that you would solve my message! Help out, brother! I need you, we all need you!

For several months now I have been busy with the death of several criminals in custody. These are not just deaths, Yegor, these are murders. I'm sure I got very close to the solution. I have two prime suspects. But there's a problem. Both of them are my work colleagues. And I don't know if any of them acted alone or in concert. In other words, I don't know who in the police force I can trust with regards to this case.

Also, I notice that I am being watched. Apparently, the attacker feels that I got too close, and will soon try to eliminate me. Well, that's what I use to pinpoint the culprit. How? I told one of us about our upcoming meeting. If I guessed right, and he's not a criminal, then you don't have to read this, I'll tell you everything myself. But, if I made a mistake, and you are still reading this, then most likely I am already dead ...

Brother, now only you can solve this case. And only you can I trust him. To this letter I will attach documents in which my evidence is collected, there you will find the details of the plan, all the names, all the evidence. Publish them in your journal, let everyone know, and then the villains will have nowhere to go! I hope for you. I know you won't let me down..."0123

For some reason, my heart skipped a beat. Brother... I won't let you down!


Never say never. For the next few days, I did not let go of the keyboard. I know, I promised myself, for writing, no, no, but the last, last time! For Yurik! This will be my best article...

And it really became the best. Where did I get it from? Just my blog would not be enough for such an important mission. So I had to visit Fedot Stepanovich. I almost begged him on my knees to read my work. But he still read it. Read it and put it on the first page!

A few days later I had to go to our police station again. There, of course, there are again formalities, thanks, apologies ... But they did not interest me. He was arrested. I wanted to talk to him. With a killer. I wanted to look into his eyes. For help in solving the case, I was even allowed to do so.

I was taken to a special room. He sat opposite me and froze with his cold gaze. But there was nothing in the eyes... He was... Empty. However, the first one spoke.

- Because I saw how souls died, - he answered my question before I could ask him, - Every criminal who was brought here did not set foot on this path from a good life. The world has treated them cruelly. It's wild, but for some, crime is still a way to survive. Not for everyone... But I didn't talk to everyone. Do you know why? Because they don't listen, you know? And when I talked to them in this very room, they just wanted to be heard ... And I listened to them, watching how the eyes on the contrary go out, and how hopelessness penetrates into the very heart. They had not yet been sentenced, but they no longer believed that something could be changed. Outcasts of humanity. They could only hide in themselves and wait for the end. Then I gave them the key to freedom. An ampoule with poison, as the end of all torment. You won't understand, must be...

- And now, being in their place, would you like the same? I asked quietly. My interlocutor was silent. And I continued, - Do you know why? Because there is no key from there. And while you're alive, you can still fix it...

We talked with him for a while, and then I went outside. It was already getting dark and the lights were on. The downpour threw fragments of stars right under my feet, and they flared for a moment with earthly human light, breaking on the wet asphalt. I silently walked along the gray stones of the pavement, finally throwing off my indifferent mask. Raindrops on my cheeks from something became salty. His image stood before my eyes. Indifference. The way I saw him once on Bolotnaya Square - not seeing, not hearing, impregnable. The source of human vices. I wanted to run away from him, and I even ran, as if it could help. God! Who would have known that it hurts so much to open your heart to the world! The dialogue with the murderer still sounded in his thoughts, and his brother's voice echoed in his soul. But, if you were already hiding from all this behind a wall of indifference, then only after going through this pain you can go back, again know the truth. Insults, murders, wars... How many more lives will be shed before each of us conquers this evil in ourselves? The hearts of the people are closed and the key is lost. But what can I do?..

I thought about it already at the entrance, slowly going up the stairs. Perhaps... No, but I promised myself... And yet...

Keys. I could turn words into keys. I could write again.

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