Do you think your partner is cheating on you?
Suspecting your partner of infidelity is not a pleasant experience. How do you wrap your mind around the thought that the person you love might be betraying you?
Right now, you have a lot of doubts. You want answers because you’re going out of your mind.
It’s never easy to find out you’ve been cheated on. But it’s better to know the truth rather than staying in the dark.
Let’s rip the band-aid. Here are 8 definitive signs your partner is cheating and what to do next.
When to start worrying
Before you start worrying for sure if your partner is cheating on you, you need to think about a lot of things.
First of all, it’s important to determine whether your “hunch” has a valid basis or you’re simply projecting your own fears.
I’m not saying that you’re imagining things. Most of the time, our intuitions are actually right. But sometimes, past trauma can make us micro-focus on things that don’t really point anywhere.
Perhaps you’ve been cheated on in the past. It would be understandable that you have trust issues and be overly-sensitive every time you think your partner is slipping away.
Or maybe you’re simply projecting your own thoughts of cheating on your partner. A 2007 study suggests that people who have a history of cheating tend to “perceive” more threats of infidelity from their partners. Researchers found that when someone has conscious or subconscious thoughts of cheating, they tend to see things “more than it was an accurate reflection of their partner’s attraction.”
So ask yourself: do you really have reasons to believe your partner is cheating?
If they’re still loving, attentive, and making sure you’re secure and happy, then there’s little reason to believe they’re cheating. You only need to start worrying when your partner is being inconsistent and acting stranger than normal.
Only look for signs of suspicious behavior. Otherwise, you’re just spinning your wheels.
8 signs your partner is cheating
1. Your gut tells you there’s something wrong
Don’t ever discount your intuition. You may not understand why you’re feeling the way you do, but intuition is actually the output of your subconscious. It’s our brain’s way of “seeing” things that we normally miss.
According to life coach Susanna Newsonen, your intuition is a “web of fact and feeling.”
Your intuition connects your body, mind, and spirit, and how those three elements have digested everything from your past. This web of fact and feeling makes you feel expansive, excited, and nervous about a new challenge if it’s right. On the contrary, you will feel deflated, lethargic, and terrified if it’s wrong.
If you have this undeniable “gut feeling” that your partner is cheating, you just might be right.
2. Their schedule changes
One classic sign of cheating is a sudden and unusual change in schedule.
Your partner cancels more and more plans with you. They’re starting to work late more and more. There are suddenly so many out-of-town business trips. Normally, they spend every night with you when they could. But now, they don’t have time for you anymore.
One way to know is by how transparent your partner is with their schedules. When someone doesn’t have anything to hide, they’ll give you more details about where they are and what they’re doing. But an evasive partner who’s uncharacteristically out of reach is probably busy with someone else.
3. Changes in intimacy
A change in your sex life might be a major sign of cheating. Although it is particularly hard to spot because it can manifest in different ways.
Your partner might be cheating if you’re having less or more sex than normal.
According to clinical sexologist Robert Weiss:
“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.
But look out: Weiss says that even a more “spiced up” sex life could be a sign of cheating, saying:
“Yet another possible sign is that your partner is introducing new techniques and activities into your sex life. As much as you might enjoy that, it’s possible that they are learning new tricks outside of your relationship. “
Either way, sex is an emotional act between lovers. You’ll notice that something is wrong if you feel strangely “disconnected” with your partner.
4. Their phone behavior changes
One tell-tale sign of cheating is a difference in phone behavior.
Do you notice your partner constantly texting someone on their phone? Do they take calls and get out of the room? Are they always hiding their phone screens from you and never leave their phones around?
Clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior says that’s not the behavior of someone who doesn’t have anything to hide.
“People who are behaving inappropriately and trying to hide it often have a heightened vigilance against getting caught, and you can see this in their automatic physical behavior. If he seems to be almost compulsive in protecting his phone, closing browser windows, or shielding you from even glimpsing any of his communication, chances are high that he’s desperate to keep you from seeing it—probably for a reason.”
5. You fight a lot… or not at all.
It can sometimes be difficult to tell if your partner is cheating because some signs might be too subtle or confusing.
One thing is for sure though: there’s an undeniable shift in your relationship environment. It’s either you’re fighting constantly, or not at all.
According to clinical psychologist Elvira Aletta:
“Things aren’t good between you. The two of you are distant, disconnected, fighting, not making love as often as you used to, and not having fun when you are together. “
But it could also feel as if your partner has just stopped “trying.”
“Even if you’re not fighting and even if you are spending time together, if you start having the feeling that your guy just doesn’t care about you that much any more, that there’s a ‘whatever’ quality to how he treats you, then there’s a real risk that he is having an affair.”
6. Their family/friends act fishy towards you
Your partner’s friends may know something you don’t. If they’re awkward or acting suddenly cold with you, it might be because they’re trying to hide something. The next time you’re with your partner and their friends try to gauge the mood. It can be a very telling sign something is amiss.
You might also be thinking of asking one of them if your partner is cheating. Personally, I don’t think it’s fair to put someone in such an awkward position. But if you have a good relationship with a common friend, you could ask them. Even if they don’t give a definitive answer, you’ll probably know by how they react to your question.
7. They’re suddenly reluctant to jump on any major life decision
You’ve previously talked about moving in together, but suddenly they changed their mind. They’re expressing doubt in making any major life decisions with you, especially since it’s something you’ve agreed on before.
It might just be a sign of relationship doubts or financial issues. Ask your partner why they suddenly changed their mind. If it’s not any of the two, it might be because they’re looking at greener pastures.
Clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula tells Oprah Magazine:
“A major commitment makes it more difficult to pull out of a relationship quickly.”
8. There’s a drastic change in their appearance
Your partner suddenly looks different. They’re putting more effort into their appearance, getting drastic makeovers or putting clothes that are not usually their style.
There’s nothing wrong with small changes per se. Perhaps your partner is just finding new ways to express or feel confident with themselves.
But if the change is majorly uncharacteristic — and it doesn’t seem like they’re doing it for you — then its because they’re trying to impress someone else.
Why do people cheat?
You must be asking yourself: “Why is this happening to me? Why did they cheat?”
Unfortunately, there’s no straight answer. People cheat for a whole lot of reasons. The important thing to remember is it’s not your fault.
However, I believe it’s still useful to know why your partner cheated. If at least for the sake of closure. You may not get a straight answer from your partner. Thankfully, there may be some information that could give you the big picture.
A 2019 study published in The Journal of Sex Research interviewed almost 500 heterosexual people about their motivators in cheating.
Researchers narrowed it down and found that adulterers cheat for 8 main reasons:
1. They fall out of love.
77% person of the study’s participants said that one of their main reasons for cheating is “falling out of love” with their partners. People fall out of love for different reasons—incompatibility, lack of chemistry, different life goals etc.
That’s not necessarily a problem. You see, falling in and out of love is normal in any relationship. You’re not going to stay in the “honeymoon stage together.”
The trouble is when someone stops choosing to fall back in love with you. Some people are just addicted to the “in love” feeling. The moment they stop feeling butterflies, they just jump ship. Cheating is just another way to do that.
2. They get bored
The next reason comes at 74%, with participants saying they just got bored of the relationship.
It’s as simple as that. They just get bored. And that doesn’t mean you’re boring or you weren’t good enough. Some people are just not satisfied with what they have.
3. They felt neglected
Participants also list neglect (70%) as their reason for cheating. This is perhaps seen more in women than in men.
“A woman who feels more like a housekeeper, financial provider, or nanny than a wife or girlfriend is more vulnerable to finding an external situation that brings attention and appreciation for who she is rather than the functions she performs.”
4. The situation forced them to
Sometimes, it’s not intended. People can have the happiest relationships and still cheat because “it just happened.” Many participants said they cheated because of an uncontrolled situation (70%) like when they’ve been drinking.
5. To feel more confident
57% of the study’s participants said they cheated to help boost their confidence.
I know that’s really ironic because being cheated on makes someone lose their confidence. But apparently, some people cheat because it makes them feel good about themselves.
6. Out of spite
Yes, people also cheat out of anger (43%). Anger-motivated infidelity happens with frustrated cheaters who feel like their partners don’t understand their needs. Sometimes, they also do it because they want to hurt their partners back.
Instead of effectively communicating their needs or frustrations, they do the one thing that will hurt their partner best: cheat.
7. Lack of commitment
There is absolutely no way to justify cheating. But if your partner was hesitant to commit to a monogamous relationship in the first place, it’s not really that shocking when they cheat.
According to the participants, they cheated because they didn’t feel committed to their partners (41%). That’s likely because they never saw the relationship panning out.
Life coach and author Preston Ni explains:
“Some individuals are in a romantic relationship with the expectation that the partnership is only temporary and transient, while their partner may be striving toward a serious, long-term commitment.”
8. Sexual desire
Last (but not the least) common reason people cheat is because of sexual desire for someone else.
Perhaps the cheater feels like their sexual needs aren’t being met in the current relationship. There might be a difference in sexual styles and behaviors. But sometimes, too, people just cheat sexually because they want to, even in seemingly happy relationships.
Is it possible to fix a relationship after infidelity?
Infidelity is the most damaging thing a partner could ever do to you. It breaks your trust, crushes your self-esteem, and it really hurts like hell.
No one will blame you if you pack up and leave. In fact, if your relationship has become toxic and if your partner has cheated on you repeatedly, (without any indication of trying to change) the healthiest choice is to leave and move on.
But not every cheating situation is the same. There are grey lines in every relationship. If it’s the first time your partner cheated or if they feel remorse and are willing to do everything to make it work with you—you can fix a relationship after infidelity.
But there’s a big if. It has to be what you want. And (this is extremely important) your partner has to apologize properly and accept that it’s not going to magically be okay without a lot of work.
According to a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, how a cheater apologizes after the infidelity will determine the future of the relationship. The higher the quality of the apology, the better it will lead to “reparative behavior.”
Psychotherapist and New York Times best-selling author M. Gary Neuman shares three guidelines on how to work through infidelity:
- The person who cheated has to feel remorse for what they did. They have to have a genuine desire to change and never cheat again.
- The victim needs to make sure that their partner has completely stopped cheating.
- The victim should refrain from asking sensitive questions about the affair.
Honestly, it’s a long, complicated road to recovery. It won’t be easy. In fact, it’s going to get messy before it can be good again. But with mutual effort, rebuilding trust after infidelity is possible.
How to move on after being cheated on
Anybody who has been cheated on admits that you can never fully recover from it.
I think there’s something that breaks within you when you’ve been betrayed by the person you trusted your heart with. You can never get that blind innocence back, the assurance that love can’t and won’t hurt.
But you know what? That’s part of life.
We all have to learn it sometime—the fact that love can get as ugly as it is beautiful. That no matter how much we try, we can never be in control of anybody else’s feelings but our own.
And that, right there, is how you move on from infidelity: by taking that power back. Because you may never be able to control how someone treats you, but you can control how you react.
You can choose to hold on to your self-worth, the belief that you are worthy of good, honest, and long-lasting love.
Here are the steps to help you move on:
1. Don’t bother seeking “closure”
Cheaters are usually narcissists who downplay their wrongdoings. A 2013 study suggests that people who cheat convince their brains to trivialize their infidelity as a coping mechanism.
So don’t bother getting closure. You want answers, I get it. And you will get them, but you probably won’t get them from your ex.
Clinical psychologist Seth Meyers suggests to avoid looking for closure, explaining:
“If we take a moment to understand the behavior, it makes sense: You need to know the answer, so you do whatever it takes to get the information you need. The problem, however, is that there is no clear end to your pursuit once you cross certain boundaries.”
There are things that are just not worth trying to understand. Don’t waste any more energy than you already have. Giving your ex more attention will just inflate their ego more.
2. Let this experience teach you something
It might not feel like it now, but this is actually a great learning experience for you. You just need to do a little reflection and some self-awareness.
According to one study, there’s actually a huge psychological benefit to being cheated on: significant personal growth.
I know it’s the last thing you want to hear. It hurts a lot right now, but trust that you will be better for it. Let this experience teach you what you want and don’t want in a future partner. Let it shape your future relationships for the better. Allow it to make you stronger.
3. Focus on YOU
Heartbreak could be an extremely incapacitating thing. No one will blame you if you hide out in your apartment, eat takeaway food, and cry for a whole week. You have all the right to grieve.
But remember, at the end of the day, you still have a life to live.
According to Bonior:
“As you’re going through this, you’re going to be tempted more than ever to give up on taking care of yourself in the ways that matter most — exercise, social time, sleep, and eating well.”
Giving up may seem like an easier road to take. But where will that lead you?
Now is the time that you need yourself the most. You’re it. You’re all that you’ve got. And the healthier and happier you are, the sooner you’ll be able to move on.
“The same is true with an emotional battle — the better you can take care of yourself, the more chance you have of emerging from it triumphantly.”
So cry. Be angry. Lash out. You need to experience the bad before you get to the good.
But remind yourself how strong and resilient you are. Your worth is not measured by how many times you fall. It’s measured by how you stand up—taller and wiser than ever.