Do you think your partner is cheating on you? Unfortunately, you may be right. Sometimes your gut just knows something is wrong in your relationship. While it doesn’t feel good to be cheated on, it is good to know the signs so you can decide whether to leave or stay.
William Schroeder, therapist and co-director at Just Mind, said cheating can be an opportunity for couples to work on their relationship. Schroeder told The Cheat Sheet:
Unhappiness in relationships can easily lead to cheating. Affairs are painful and can be very damaging, but what’s most important is what people do afterward. It can be a wake-up call or a crisis that they use to rebuild. Couples counseling can be a vital tool to help people rebuild. My one suggestion is find someone with good reviews and plenty of experience in evidence-based practices for working with couples like PACT Couples Counseling, EFT Couples Counseling, or Gottman Couples Counseling.
Here are some signs that you may have a cheater on your hands.
1. Appearance is suddenly a priority
April Masini, a relationship expert and founder of relationship advice site Ask April, said you should be leery if your significant other starts paying extra attention to appearance. She said:
Your partner starts working out and looking good — hot, even! When your partner is cheating, they’ve got reason to look good. They’re trying to impress someone. So if you see your partner spending extra time at the gym, smelling extra nice, and grooming like he or she didn’t before, you may be looking at the signs of an affair going on.
2. Your partner’s cell phone is closely guarded
If your partner has started keeping his or her cell phone very close, take note. Unless an important call is expected, constantly keeping an eye on the cell phone and running to the bathroom with phone in hand is a sign something is amiss. Certified relationship coach Chris Armstrong, founder of relationship site Maze of Love, said keeping one’s cell phone closer than usual is a bad sign. Armstrong told The Cheat Sheet:
A healthy couple in a relationship with no secrets should be able to write an email in an open space and lay their cell phone on the table without worrying what the other person may find if they glanced at it. But when someone is cheating, it is very likely that they have texts, emails, or other communication from the person they are cheating with, and thus they will protect their phone at all times.
3. Your partner is hard to reach
Lisa Concepcion, relationship expert and founder of LoveQuest Marketing, said cheating partners usually start playing a game of hide-and-seek when they’re doing some dirt. Concepcion said:
These days we are easily connected to our partners. We send texts or call to check in throughout the day. Sure, people get busy, but when he’s gone for hours at a time after work without any check-in, that’s a sign. Something is wrong when you text or call and they are unreachable and it takes longer than usual to return the text or call.
4. Your joint bank account balance is dwindling
Unusual ATM withdrawals are red flags. You should be concerned if money starts disappearing from your joint bank account, Masini told The Cheat Sheet. Masini said:
You notice cash withdrawals and an absence of credit card use. When your partner doesn’t want you to know where he or she is spending, they’ll be careful not to leave a trail, and cash is king when it comes to spending on cheating. If your cheating partner doesn’t have a stash of cash, you’ll notice ATM withdrawal patterns that are more active than in the past.
5. Your partner is suddenly happy
Is your partner deliriously happy all of a sudden? You may want to start figuring out why. Therapist Caroline Madden told us an unexplained spike in happiness could be due to the fact your partner is getting some action on the side. “He is HAPPY. All of a sudden you think that you have gotten through a rough patch. He seems happier, nicer to you, and does more little things around the house. You aren’t fighting anymore either. This all coupled with not pressuring you for sex anymore,” Madden said.
6. There are noticeable changes in sex drive
If sex has become dramatically more or less frequent, this could point to an affair. Therapist Michael J. Salas told The Cheat Sheet that changes in sexual patterns are often an indication that a partner is seeking fulfillment elsewhere. “It’s true that some people will avoid sex when they’re having an affair, but others will actually increase the amount of sex dramatically. This is likely out of the shame that they feel for their behavior,” said Salas.
7. You notice new purchases
Also be aware if you start to see new purchases. Masini gives a few words of warning:
You’ll start to see new purchases — like great shoes, a fabulous coat, cashmere socks — as if he or she was dressing to impress — which they are. Only they’re not trying to impress you. Any change in appearance, spending habits, or even scheduling, could be a sign that your partner is cheating.
8. Your partner has a dating profile
Sometimes cheaters get sloppy. One way they do this is by joining a dating site. Schroeder said if you see your partner’s profile on Tinder, you should definitely be worried.
9. Your partner is less talkative
Are conversations becoming more difficult? If the silent treatment has become normal, you should try to get to the bottom of things. When a partner suddenly stops engaging in regular conversation, it could be a sign he or she is trying to hide something, said Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills relationship psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent, and co-star of Sex Box on WE TV. “The silent treatment functions to keep the receiver in suspense of what will happen and unsure of ‘what they did wrong,’ and ‘how bad it is.’ It is a way of controlling the other person as a precursor to abuse,” said Walfish.
10. You’re suspicious
Sometimes that nagging inner voice is all you need to know that you are being cheated on. Divorce mediator Joan Fradella recommends listening closely to that voice. She said:
If you have never been a jealous, insecure, or suspicious person, your best sign that your partner is cheating is if you think he or she is cheating. If you are really the type to never suspect someone of cheating, and you ask why the savings account balance dropped, and your husband’s answer is “what are you accusing me of,” he is cheating. If your conversations no longer make any sense, and he walks away whenever you suggest any social activities, or he refuses to make plans but has no reason why, he is cheating. If you are always making excuses for his behavior, he is either an addict or he’s cheating. If he convinces you to leave the house while he takes time to “think,” then you find out he told his parents that you left, he has been cheating and plans on sleeping with his girlfriend in your house.
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[Editor’s Note: This story was originally published June 2016]