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?
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: 25 subtle signs that most people miss
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.
“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.
If you notice that your partner is deleting texts and constantly clearing their browsing history, then that may not be a good sign.
Does your partner take their phone with them even to the bathroom?
While we all deserve privacy, if you ask to use their phone and they say no, Psychologist Robert Weiss says that this is a problem because “honestly, what could possibly be there – other than information about your surprise birthday – that they would want to keep secret?”
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.
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.
18) Significantly less or more sex in the relationship
Both decreased and increased levels of sexual activity are something to watch out for.
Sex expert Robert Weiss explains why:
“Both decreased and increased levels of sexual activity in your relationship can be a sign of infidelity. Less sex occurs because your partner is focused on someone else; more sex occurs because they are trying to cover that up.”
They may not want as much sex as they used to if they’re being satisfied by someone else.
Or perhaps the volume of sex is the same but there seems to be a lack of emotional connection.
Or they have an increased sex drive because they feel guilty about their affair and they’re trying to cover it up.
“People don’t always see this, but a big body language tells of cheating is also an overcompensation in lustful direction. If your partner is suddenly acting more lustful towards you, you may think they’re more into you but try to notice the context.”
19) Your partner is suddenly becoming more hostile to you and the relationship
It may sound funny, but cheaters tend to believe that what they’re doing isn’t wrong. They rationalize their behavior in their own mind.
One common way to do this is to put the blame on you.
They might tell themselves that it’s okay to cheat because you don’t look as sexually attractive as you used to, or it’s the same-old boring experience with you in the bedroom.
Because this becomes imbedded in their head, they may start heaping the blame on you for their infidelity. Ridiculous, right?
How is this noticeable?
Well, if they seem to get angry at you for even minor inconveniences or they believe that nothing you do is right, then they might be adopting this hostile attitude.
According to Robert Weiss in Psychology Today, you might also get “pushed away”.
Obviously, if your partner is very short with you or annoyed with you, then that’s a problem in of itself and you might want to talk to them about it.
20) Unexplained expenses
Noticing any odd charges on your partner’s credit card?
Is there suddenly less money in your shared bank account (if you have one)?
The fact of the matter is this:
Infidelity costs money. There are trips, dinners, hotel rooms (the list goes on).
The cost of cheating can add up very quickly.
If you suddenly notice big bills from places you don’t recognize, then that may not be a good sign.
21) They just don’t seem connected to you emotionally
Now don’t get me wrong:
No relationship will be as intense as it was in the first few months. That’s the passionate phase we’ve probably all experienced.
However, as time goes, we tend to bond and securely attach over time, leading to more trust with each other.
Emotional intimacy is what keeps this trustworthy bond alive.
You get to a stage where you’re comfortable revealing everything with your partner.
But if your partner seems more withdrawn and less attached to you, then that may be a bad sign.
It could be that their focus has shifted to the person they’re cheating with, or they feel guilty so they are withdrawing.
22) They ask…”what would you do if cheated on you?”
If your partner wants to talk about this, then that may be a bad sign.
Because it shows that it’s something they’re genuinely thinking about, or it at least shows that they’re not happy in the relationship.
They also might be trying to gauge your reaction if you find out they are cheating. Racine Henry says that “when cheating is on the horizon, I often hear partners…list a certain kind of person, a location, time of day, or they may even name someone in their life.”
23) Your partner comes out and says that certain behaviors don’t constitute cheating
Now it’s rare for partners to actually have an honest conversation about what constitutes cheating.
Usually, this is something that doesn’t need to be talked about because it’s so obvious.
But if you do have a conversation about cheating in general, such as flirting with someone else, they may passionately defend the fact that it isn’t cheating.
Of course, it may or may not be cheating, but if they’re really passionate about their position, then it could be a sign that they’re doing something wrong.
24) They always want to know where you’ll be
While some partners are extremely lovey-dovey and want to know where they’re partner will be at all times, less honorable partners may be doing so they can make sure they won’t be caught.
Maybe they want to know how much time they have to sneak around, or maybe they’re meeting their love affair in public somewhere.
Whatever it is, if your partner constantly wants to know where you are, it may not be as honorable as you think.
25) They’re becoming more and more insecure
When you’re single, many of us often seek validation from being attractive to the opposite sex.
When you go out, and a girl or guy gives you their number, it gives us a bit of a confidence boost.
But that all goes out the window when you’re in a relationship…for some.
If your partner is feeling particularly down, they may seek validation from other females or males, which may lead to an affair.
Now this isn’t exactly rare. We all like a compliment or two. But someone that is lacking in self-confidence may enjoy the compliments so much that they take it further and pursue a relationship.
You can see if their confidence is taking a hit if they question whether you really appreciate them and whether you’re really attracted to them anymore.
If they’re not getting the validation they need from you, then they may seek it elsewhere.
26) They say like things like, “Why can’t you be more adventurous or fun”
A sign of infidelity is if they start focusing on perceived flaws in the relationship.
They might be getting frustrated that you’re not like the person they’re having an affair with.
This is particularly the case if they start wondering why you’re not fun enough or why you don’t experiment in the bedroom enough.
When any relationship starts, even if it’s just an affair, it can start off pretty much raunchy and passionate.
As we said above, focusing on your flaws could also be a sign of hostility towards you because in their mind they’re blaming their cheating ways on you.
27) They’re suddenly being extremely affectionate and appreciative of you
This sign may sound a little odd, but it makes sense when you think about it.
If they feel guilty about cheating on you, they’re going to act extra nice to “make up for it”.
And if your relationship is going swimmingly and you’re happy with it in particular, then you’re not going to question if they’re cheating or not.
It’s a cunning tact, but one that can be surprisingly effective.
It’s almost like “love-bombing”. This is a tactic that a narcissist uses. It’s where they “love bomb” their target with praise and adoration so that they can manipulate them in the future.
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.”
You Caught Your Partner Cheating: Here’s What To Do Moving Forward
The discovery that one partner has been unfaithful to the other can be devastating to a relationship, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of it.
The first step is to let your emotions pass: the anger, the frustration, the feelings of betrayal.
Give yourself the time and space to feel what you need to feel without making any real decisions. There is no reason to shape the rest of your life around urges that may last for only a short time.
You don’t want to live in regret simply because you acted too quickly.
Some tips on getting over these feelings include:
- Flush your feelings out: Let yourself feel what you need to feel. Accept that your pain and sorrow are natural and unavoidable. Grieve if you need to grieve; shut in if you need to shut in. Don’t try to skip this step, or it will follow you for the rest of your life.
- Think about you, first and foremost: Many people will say, “Think about the children.” But enough studies have found that children from unhappy homes can end up just as damaged and hurt as children of separated parents. Your ability to raise your children and pass on the best values to them will depend on your sanity and your happiness, same as your partner. Think about you: what do you want?
- Don’t become your sadness: Grieving is important, but it’s not your identity. Don’t let alcohol or drugs or whatever else you do to numb the pain take over your life. There was a part of your life before your partner, and there will be part of your life after this event, whether you choose to stay together or not. Keep yourself grounded, for the sake of your future.
- Seek counseling or therapy groups: Don’t be ashamed if you think you need help. If your friends and family aren’t enough, then find something else. A support group can do wonders for someone who feels lost, alone, and confused, because they help you realize that what you are going through is a process, as you see them at various steps of the process.
Once the initial onrush of emotions has passed, it’s time to sit down and think, both with and without your partner. Understand why your partner cheated.
There will be a number of reasons, surely, but both you and your partner must seek to answer the question: do they want to continue the relationship?
If you opt to continue the relationship, identify what needs to change to prevent this level of betrayal from happening again; whether that means improving the way you act, changing your behaviors in the bedroom, dividing power more equally in the relationship, or considering changes to what you consider acceptable in your partnership.
You will find that in most cases, cheating spouses generally still want to be in the relationship; just a few important adjustments need to be made.
Remember: life can go on, but only if you choose to make it happen. Understanding why your partner cheated might be the best learning experience you will ever have.
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.
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