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How to tell if your partner is cheating: 17 signs most people miss

It’s not easy to deal with suspicions of cheating.

So many things are at stake, including your relationship.

What if you are wrong? Oh, but what if you are right?

What if you accuse your partner of cheating and it’s not true? What if they deny it? How will things change? Can you ever go back to being normal again?

If you suspect your spouse is cheating on you or even micro-cheating on you, you’ve got a lot to think about.

But before you approach them, pay attention to some of these unfortunate signs that they might be cheating:

How to tell if your partner is cheating: 17 subtle signs that most people miss

Image credit: Shutterstock – By Roman Kosolapov

1) They are wearing new or different clothing.

If your t-shirt and jeans partner suddenly starts wearing expensive or drastically different clothes, or if they are just putting on clean clothes after wearing their favorite smelly shirt for weeks at a time, something might be amiss.

If your partner has had the same haircut for a long time but suddenly has a bold new haircut  “this could indicate an effort to impress another person,” says Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor and co-owner of Double Trust Dating.

If they are suddenly dressing up for a night on the town, hanging out with new people and coming home at all hours of the night without explanation, you might be in trouble.

The best way to approach these situations is to ask them about the evening and what they did.

If they’re avoiding answering your questions or if you notice their story is changing as much as their clothes these days, something might be changing for them that leaves you wondering what the heck happened between the two of you.

When partners are cheating, they are more likely to change the way they present themselves to the world because they want to appear desirable to someone else.

2) They are hiding things from you on their phone.

If they seem to panic when you pick up their phone or laptop and are suddenly trying to control what you can and can’t do on their phone, something is wrong.

According to counselor and therapist, Dr. Tracey Phillips, hiding things from you on their phone may be a sign of cheating:

“They could be trying to avoid receiving any questionable calls or texts in your presence.”

If you have been in a relationship for any length of time, you’ve had access to emails, texts, contact lists, or more and if they are pulling back from that access, it might be because there are suddenly new names and numbers in those contact lists.

3) You can’t find them or reach them.

Couples that have been together for a while tend to know each other’s schedule.

If he or she is not where they are supposed to be, or if they are not doing what they tell you they are doing, it might be time to sit down and ask them what is going on.

When people are deceptive about their whereabouts or make excuses for why plans changed, things aren’t good.

If you can’t find them or reach them, there might be a reason for that and it’s because they don’t want you to.

Also, according to Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D. in Oprah Magazine, if they stop sharing about their day or their whereabouts, something may be up:

“The most interesting aspects of their day may relate to their new flirtation…This can be more devastating than sexual infidelity as it implies the intimacy of day-to-day life is now being shared with someone new.”

4) There’s no intimacy.

If it’s been three months since you’ve rolled around in the hay, something could be wrong.

Keep in mind that couples grow through dry spells, but if he or she is not even showing interest in you and nothing has really happened to cause the distance between you, cheating might be a reason why this has happened.

They don’t need anything from you because they are having their needs satisfied by someone else.

On the flip side, it could also turn the other way round where they are paying you more attention in bed, according to Paul Coleman, PsyD, in Prevention:

“Guilt-ridden people may increase lovemaking at home…Some will do so to cover their tracks. But some may do so to satisfy a partner so that the partner will not be seeking sex at a later time when the cheater knows he or she won’t be available.”

5) They are angry and nervous around you

If your kind partner is suddenly angry and frustrated with you, know that it’s probably not you they are frustrated with.

Instead, they are projecting their own fears and insecurities on you.

It’s not always evident because some people change over time. Not everyone is who they first appeared to be and it does happen from time to time that one partner finds out the other partner is not who they said they were.

But if they have been in your life for a long time and are getting mad at you for things that don’t make sense, it could be a cover-up.

According to Lillian Glass, Ph.D. in Oprah Magazine, you can tell if your partner is hiding something if “they are rocking back and forth” when they are chatting with you.

This shows a sign of nervousness.

6) Their schedule is suddenly different.

If they have to take off for a few days for work and no, you can’t go too, something might be wrong.

If you’ve always traveled together and now they are saying you can’t come, cheating might be why.

If he or she is going with a work colleague and have a bunch of work meetings and you are not permitted to go because of “company rules”, there’s no company in the world that would say that.

Who has the right to stop you from tagging along, especially if you are paying your own way? Nobody. It’s fishy.

Psychologist Paul Coleman, PsyD, says to Prevention that “someone who must ‘work late’ all of a sudden at times that go beyond a reasonable explanation may be cheating.”

7) Their friends are being weird.

If you can’t seem to find any evidence of cheating but you are certain something is wrong, confront his or her friends.

If their friends can’t look you in the eye or are being weird about it, something’s wrong. It’s a surefire way to tell if your partner is cheating.

Paul Coleman, PsyD, says that “there is a good chance your partner’s friends may know what’s really going on before you do.”

Friends almost always know what is going on, and if you are desperate to get the right information before you confront your partner, friends are where it’s at.

8) They are suddenly paying a lot of attention to you after being distant for a while.

Sometimes couples grow apart. It happens. But if they are suddenly interested in you after not paying a whole lot of attention to you for a while, there might be something amiss.

They may be trying to make up for less-than-ideal acts behind your back.

If you find they are trying really hard when they’re around you, it might be time to have a conversation about where the sudden attention is coming from.

Dr. Tracey Phillips, tells Bustle, that when your partner starts calling you more than usual it may not be as sweet as it sounds:

“What they may actually be doing is checking your whereabouts to make sure you are not somewhere that you can catch them.”

9) They are suddenly moody without explanation or apology.

If they’re hiding something, they might not be hiding it all that well.

Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle, that unexplained mood swings could be a sign of cheating.

Sometimes people are really bad at keeping their secrets hidden and they’ll try to pin a lot of guilt on you and point out all the things you are doing wrong to take the light off of them.

It’s a manipulation tactic that tries to make you look like the bad guy so that you won’t be surprised when you find out that she was cheating on you.

However, it’s important to note that they may just be having a bad day, but if you can’t find any reason for their sudden change in emotion, then it might be time to start thinking.

10) They are not interested in the things they used to be interested in.

If they’re not interested in going to clubs or going to your friends’ houses or they’re not wanting to go out at all, something might be wrong.

When patterns and habits change, there is usually a good explanation for it. Although, it might not be an explanation you want to hear.

If you are worried that things are going south and that they might not be interested in you anymore either, ask for a candid conversation about where things are headed.

According to relationship and betrayal trauma-focused life coach, Karina Wallace:

“They may play it off as just a preference but if you have been together a long time and this is not normal then its something to pay attention to…It alone is not saying they are cheating, but it can be a good indicator if there are a few things changing concurrently.”

11) They are not bothered by things that used to drive them crazy.

Another way to tell if they might be cheating on you is if they stop telling you to knock off all your bad habits.

If they used to be bothered by your loud eating noises or your plates on the counter, it might be because they have stopped caring about the relationship or they see a way out.

According to family therapist David Klow, “if your partner’s actions start changing, then it might be a sign of infidelity.”

When that’s the case, they’ll stop making a big deal about things because they no longer need you to change.

That might be because they’ve found someone who is already not doing those things.

12) They’re avoiding contact.

If they’re going to bed early or later or getting out of bed without contact, or if they are not sitting on the couch when they usually take the seat next to you, something’s up.

There’s no reason for them to avoid being around you except that it makes them uncomfortable or makes them feel guilty.

People who might be cheating “tend to engage in sins of omission,” psychologist Ramani Durvasula says. “They operate on a ‘need to know’ basis, which is not healthy for a relationship.”

People only avoid contact when they are hiding something.

If that’s the case, your best bet is to sit them down and have a conversation about what’s going on so you can both make decisions about the future of your relationship together.

13) They are paying attention to their appearance more than usual.

If your partner is finding all kinds of new ways to show up in style, it may be a sign that they are trying to catch the eye of someone else – or, if you are looking for the positive side to all the worrying that keeps you awake at night, consider that they might want to look good for you.

If that doesn’t seem to sit well with you and you are sure that something more sinister is going on, then watching how they get ready and how they dress differently might be the first sign you need to turn things around.

According to Dr. Phillips in Bustle, you may also want to have a look for a change in their grooming habits:

“If your partner comes home and jumps right into a long shower, they may be washing away any evidence of cheating.”

14) You aren’t sure what they are up to on a regular basis.

If you used to know where your partner hung out or who they were going to dinner with before things seemed to change, it might be worth paying attention to.

If you don’t know where they go after work anymore or they say they are going to one place and end up at another, something might be wrong.

According to Robert Weiss Ph.D., MSW in Psychology Today:

“Flat tires, dead batteries, traffic jams, spending extra time at the gym, and similar excuses for being late or absent altogether might also signal infidelity.”

It’s important to remember that people’s schedules change, but if you are not having a good feeling about such changes, the best course of action is to speak to your partner about your concerns.

15) They attack you for inconsequential things.

It might be disconcerting to find that your partner is pulling away from you, but it doesn’t mean that all is lost. Sometimes, people go through tough times and they need their space.

But most of the time, we’re pretty good at discerning when something is up:

“The human body is amazing in its capacity for discerning the truth in others,” certified coach, Shirley Arteaga says.

“There are usually signs of a cheating partner, and if you trust your gut, you will be able to learn the answer quickly.”

What is troubling, however, is when that space gets smaller and your partner starts to berate you for things they never cared about before.

For example, your partner might yell and scream about how you did the dishes on the weekend or how you left a dirty dish on the counter instead of cleaning it off.

While good housekeeping might suggest that you wash the dirty dish, there’s no need for anyone to yell and scream about it.

16) You feel like you are getting the cold shoulder.

When it comes to relationships, you can expect them to have ebbs and flows. Everyone goes through tough times, but if you are experiencing one that has come out of the blue or has seemed to be going on for a long time, you might be right to suspect things could go sour.

Before they get too out of hand, or before you lose your way, bring your partner back to you with a conversation about your concerns and how you want to help strengthen your relationship.

According to relationship and betrayal trauma-focused life coach, Karina Wallace you may also notice a drop in public displays of affection:

“If they do not hold your hand when they usually do or would usually invite you out but no longer do, they may be pulling away emotionally and physically.”

Even though they are the ones acting out of the ordinary, it’s important that you recognize how you are acting in the relationship too.

Taking responsibility for your actions can go a long way to help your partner see that they don’t need to go elsewhere to get what they are looking for.

17) They tell you they aren’t going to be around for a while.

If your partner is dropping hints that they are going to be going offline or away for any length of time and that feels strange to you, it’s important that you follow up and ask questions about what’s going on.

Some people just need their space, but if you think it is threatening the relationship you cherish, talk to your partner.

In going through the above signs, it’s important to recognize that “your significant other could display all…these signs and still not be cheating”, according to Robert Weiss Ph.D., MSW in Psychology Today.

“It might not be cheating, but there is almost certainly something that you and your significant other to talk about.”

In Conclusion

If your relationship seems like it’s on the rocks, you don’t have to walk around in the dark and go crazy worrying.

There is a better way. Like most things humans do, they leave breadcrumbs and evidence of how they really feel.

If you are feeling that something might go sideways in your relationship sooner rather than later, you need to start paying attention to what your partner is doing.

If you can figure out what’s bothering your partner, you can still repair the damage before it goes too far. And, you never know, you might find that your assumptions were unfounded to begin with.

Whether you are right about the cheating or not, the important thing is that you make the effort to talk to your partner about how things are going and what they are thinking so that you are always on the same page. Things might not always be perfect, but they can be strong.

Are you mentally tough?

Resilience and mental toughness are key attributes to living your best life. They determine how high we rise above what threatens to wear us down, from battling an illness, to dealing with challenging emotions, to carrying on after a relationship has ended.

In The Art of Resilience: A Practical Guide to Developing Mental Toughness, we outline exactly what it means to be mentally tough and equip you with 10 resilience-building tools that you can start using today.

Check it out here.

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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