How to tell your spouse is cheating – the signs of infidelity
As a couples counsellor, I’ve seen all too many individuals desperately wanting to know the signs of a cheating spouse or partner. So, read on to discover the signs of infidelity and take action now!
It often seemed so clear to my clients that their partner was cheating. However, their partner kept denying that there was anything going on. Often, my clients were blamed for their lack of trust, whilst their spouses were indeed being unfaithful!
On discovering the truth about their partner’s deceit, of course, these men and women were utterly devastated and angry. They were also scared about what the affair might mean in terms of the future of their relationship. Heartbroken, they frequently said they felt like a fool, and as though they’d been used and abused.
If your husband or wife is cheating, they too might be denying it all while you know that something isn’t right.
You may even have tried to deny it to yourself for a while. But you’re becoming increasingly distressed and worried about the meaning of all the odd behaviour and strange conversations.
What are the classic warning signs of infidelity?
Nothing I can say or write will give you a definite answer and I want you to be careful not to jump to conclusions about what you think might be signs of cheating.
However, a combination of the following may indicate that your partner is cheating…
How to tell your spouse is having an affair
You’ll want to be aware of:
- body language (see also my articles on nonverbal communication, how to interpret body language and body language signs)
- what is said
- how it’s said
- what is not talked about
- actions that don’t fit with his or her values and beliefs
- changes in the timings of their comings and goings
- the possibility they’re having an online relationship
- whether your partner or spouse could be addicted to adult material.
The signs your husband or wife is cheating
You may have noticed the early signs that your wife or husband is cheating, without consciously being aware of their significance.
The development of an affair often progresses through stages. There’s likely to have been a corresponding change in behaviour at home – however subtle.
Here are the likely scenarios:
- Your spouse and the other man or woman may have met online, at work or even in your own home
- The attraction may have been sheer lust, or it may have started off with a mutual understanding that developed into a friendship,
- Perhaps there was some friendly flirting.
- The two of them may have developed an emotional affair, with one or both having increasingly strong feelings for the other.
- Flirting, with increasingly physical innuendo, will have turned into overt advances, or…
- There was no friendship – just lust, and they simply invited the other woman or man to the bedroom (this could also be an addiction to physical intimacy).
- They may or may not have set out to cheat on you by having an affair right from the start.
- They may have met online and been unfaithful by exchanging sensitive and personal details about your relationship, having an emotional affair and/or having cyber-love-making.
Depending on their beliefs and values, your partner or spouse may be alternating between craving the attention they get when they’re with their lover and wanting to walk away from the affair.
Regardless of your particular circumstances at the moment, if you value your relationship, I recommend you start fighting back straight away. Don’t wait for things to develop. Instead, put yourself in the driving seat.
In the meantime, stay alert and keep gathering information…
A cheating partner’s guilty body language…
Research shows that as human beings we’re all too keen to tell a lie*. You may even be aware that your partner is particularly prone to lying.
However, body language signs are difficult to interpret correctly. Keep that in mind when you’re reading the following signs of infidelity…
6 Nonverbal signs of infidelity
- Your partner may be avoiding eye contact. A sign of guilt?
- His or her eyes may be shifting all over the place, trying to avoid your gaze.
- He or she may stare at you, holding your gaze (as they know the meaning behind avoiding your gaze).
- He or she may blink more when staring.
- He or she may be hiding their hands (a hangover from childhood: “I didn’t do that, honest”).
- They may blush when you talk about the subject (be careful… they may be embarrassed, but not actually guilty).
A note of caution
Please be careful how you interpret your partner’s body language as it’s very easy to misread the signs. Think too about cultural differences in our movements and gestures.
Concentrate on the ways that your partner is behaving differently than what you’d normally observe.
Signs to look out for when you’re challenging your partner:
- When your partner is confronted with an unexpected question, they may show a noticeable degree of discomfort.
- They may be stroking or rubbing their head and neck, and covering their eyes or mouth.
- Whilst they’re thinking and attempting to answer your questions, notice how they’re behaving differently from what you might have expected under normal circumstances.
Please be aware that if you have always been feeling jealous, your partner may just be fidgety and avoidant for another reason. They could, in this case, be attempting to protect themselves from yet another unwarranted(?) accusation!
How to tell if your spouse or partner is cheating
9 behavioural signs of infidelity (Remember: not proof!)
- Avoiding conversations
They definitely don’t want to talk about your relationship. They might even give you the silent treatment. This may point towards your partner having an affair – if it’s unusual for them not to talk. No wonder then that the two of you are having relationship problems.
- Avoiding certain subjects
For fear of giving the game away.
- Changing the subject for no apparent reason
You may not know of a link between an affair and whatever you’re discussing, but they may well know about it.
- Changing dress style
Your husband, wife or partner is suddenly taking more of an interest in their appearance.
- Starting to go to the gym or taking up some other form of exercise
They’ve suddenly changed their couch potato lifestyle and are working out regularly.
- Dropping a name
They may mention the name of the other woman or man in passing or too often.
- Acting out of the ordinary in general
With hindsight, you were aware of other changes in their behaviour which you may not have paid much attention to previously.
- Changing their behaviour and appetite
This physical sign could point to their having cyber love-making or even an addiction to adult material.
- Their spending habits have changed
You’ll definitely want to check your bank accounts as it’s likely your partner or spouse is lying to you about money if he or she is having an affair.
Verbal signs of a cheating spouse
There are further warning signs of cheating which can suggest that all is not what it seems.
How keen is your partner to show their true self?
Your partner might make it sound like you have a problem and it’s all your fault. They may make generally derogatory remarks about you (see also my articles: Signs of emotional abuse and How to deal with a narcissistic spouse or partner).
They may be looking to excuse themselves – they need to have a ‘reason’ for having an affair. And so they justify it by using your behaviour as ‘the problem’.
They say things that somehow don’t seem to stack up, without you necessarily being able to put your finger on why.
They may well tell you (and themselves?) that they are ‘just good friends’ with that person. That they have to go to this or that function for work. That there’s nothing in it really. No wonder you’re feeling you’re going round the bend!
I understand how frightened, angry and hurt you may feel right now. I also know – from my professional training and experience – how important it is that you take the right action.
Therefore I recommend you talk it over with a professional counsellor or at least with some wise soul in your own environment.
How to spot a liar
Pamela Meyer, author of ‘Lie Spotting’, is a world-renowned expert on lying. Learn some surprising facts from what she has to say by watching this presentation.
Is your husband cheating? Or your wife?
11 signs of A cheating husband, wife or partner
Is he or she cheating? You will need proof. None of the following signs is definite proof, but they could help you to complete the picture:
1. Private email accounts
They’re likely to have set up private email accounts with dodgy names and new (secret) passwords.
2. Secret apps and use of mobile
They use apps like Snapchat or Kik and have their mobile always at hand and don’t want to share their screens. Snapchat cheating is common!
3. Changed passwords
They add or change the passcode lock on their phone and other accounts.
4. Sudden changes in online behaviour
They switch off any pop-up message/email notifications and close applications and windows.
5. They stay up late
They start using the internet or staying on their phone late at night after you’ve gone to bed (if they weren’t already spending hours and hours online).
6. Deleted history
They start deleting their internet browsing history.
7. Clean trash folders
They start deleting emails/messages and emptying their trash folders.
8. Disappearing acts
They frequently disappear out of the blue – to the garden, upstairs, the shop, out for a run.
9. Your home has become a hotel/restaurant
If working full-time, they now may only come home to sleep and eat.
10. Their spending doesn’t add up
They spend more and hide the evidence.
11. They’re abandoning you
They withdraw themselves from you and turn their back on you. Just in case, read my article on how to know your relationship is over.
No wonder you’re feeling like you’re going mad (and they may actually want you to start questioning your sanity) and wishing you had someone to talk to (see my article on the where and when of getting good relationship advice).
This is what may go through the mind of someone who’s having an affair
Here’s what your unfaithful wife or husband may have been thinking:
- At some point, he or she was confronted with – and made – a choice between going ahead or stopping.
- It might not have crossed their mind that they could get caught, or what would happen if they were caught, OR…
- They didn’t care about being found out (either because they didn’t care about your relationship or marriage anymore, or because it would be a relief to be found out, as managing two relationships had become too complicated).
- They may have found it easier to be physically intimate by cheating – there’s no setting the stage, or need to be considerate of feelings, or dealing with it not being the right time, or you generally not feeling like it. It was about lust rather than making love – nothing else.
- They knew deep down they shouldn’t be doing it.
What you might be told: the excuses
If your partner is found out to be cheating, here’s what he or she may tell you:
12 Common excuses for cheating when being confronted
- “We’re married but I feel lonely.”
- “I never see you!”
- “She/he was throwing herself (himself) at me.”
- “The opportunity was there and I took it. It didn’t mean anything.”
- “You were unfaithful and I wanted revenge.”
- “You only had time for the children/yourself and I felt neglected.”
- “There was no reason for my infidelity. I love you and I was really happy.”
- “I didn’t mean to have an affair, it just happened.”
- “He/she made me feel good about myself again.”
- “Most of my mates have affairs, it’s normal these days.”
- “You spend more time and energy on- and at work than on me.”
- “I had no choice, I did it because of our we weren’t making love anymore.”
The common thread?
Their need for attention and recognition (or an addiction)!
That doesn’t mean that all will be well if you give your spouse more attention (if indeed he or she lacked that in the first place). You may have very good reasons as to why your attention is divided.
Nevertheless, there’s sufficient information in those statements for you to take note. They give you some indication as to what’s needed to make a start on the road to recovery (if that’s what you – both – want).
It is a wake-up call… and so I’d really like you to read my other articles on affairs to help you work out your best next step.
When the guilt sets in
As your partner’s affair developed, guilt may have begun to gnaw at them.
Here’s what generally happens:
- Part of them knew they shouldn’t be doing this.
- Part of them wouldn’t even want to be doing this.
- They may never have seen themselves as a liar (or perhaps they had!).
- They may not have thought they would cheat on their spouse or partner.
- They may feel torn between whether to fix the marriage or pursue the attraction.
- They may not know how to stop it.
- They may be being blackmailed with the threat of being exposed to you or the boss.
- They may actually really love that person and, particularly after being discovered, fluctuate between ending it and continuing to cheat on you.
- They may or may not have wanted anyone to get hurt.
- Some say they have one woman in bed and the other in their head.
At this stage, though, they would rather lie than admit that they’re having an affair.
Signs of a cheating husband or wife at the end of their affair
You found out – you caught them out, or they finally admitted it – and suddenly:
- they try to cope with you – a distraught, angry, disgusted partner (and possibly children) by telling half-truths.
- they may have difficulty ending the affair as the other woman or man may not easily let them go, particularly if they’ve also been lied to.
- the weight of feelings of guilt and shame come crashing down on them and just as you need their reassurance and support, they may not be in any state to provide it.
- He or she probably can’t – and possibly won’t – talk.
They may be desperate to put things straight and save the marriage. However, you may be ready to opt out of the marriage or partnership and head for the divorce courts.
Friends may already be aware that all does not add up
Your friends may already suspect or know about the affair – they might have seen the signs before you. If so, they’re likely to be facing a few dilemmas of their own:
- They may be evasive when you approach the subject.
- They may not know what to do with the information.
- They’re likely to be weighing up the cost of telling you about what they suspect, or what they already know for sure.
- They may think it better to let sleeping dogs lie.
- Sadly, one of your friends may be the other man or woman – a double betrayal.
But remember – real friends will do whatever they think is right for you, even if you think differently. They will also point out the threat to your physical health!
Don’t shoot the messenger if they tell you – they (should) only have your best interests at heart. And it might be worth preparing for the fact that, sadly, the other woman/man could be amongst your friends.
How to tell your spouse is lying about having someone else?
These days it’s ever so easy to keep track of someone’s whereabouts. There are people who employ the services of a detective. The app stores offer an array of tracking apps. You can buy all sorts of electronic tracking devices, cameras, microphones, etc.
However, I warn against using these!
Instead of just one of you having lost all trust, the partner who has had the affair will lose trust in the wronged partner too.
Were you experiencing relationship problems before your partner cheated?
Whether you were or weren’t, you need to know that adultery doesn’t only happen in unhappy relationships or marriages.
Of course, it may well be that the two of you were already having some difficulties. But, if your partner is having an affair the ‘reasons’ (not excuses) for that can be varied. Read my article on how to survive infidelity to learn the 17 reasons why men and women have affairs.
Also, read How to deal with infidelity to discover why else it’s such a bad idea to share an intimate part of your life with someone else. That is if it happens without a partner or spouse’s knowledge and agreement (for some couples having someone else works!).
Oh, just in case you haven’t heard of adultery, the definition is ‘physical relations between someone who is married and someone who is not his or her spouse’.
Therefore the signs of adultery are the same as cheating (though there may be legal implications, depending on where you live).
Should you stay or should you leave when your husband or wife has been unfaithful?
I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals and couples with relationship problems where one partner was suspicious that their partner was having an affair. They have told me that having expert support and advice made all the difference to them.
Therefore, I recommend that you also consider talking with a professional, licensed therapist. It’s so easy now to set up an online session. For further information see my page: Online relationship advice.
If by any chance you’re already wondering whether or not to stay in your relationship and don’t know what to do, my Marriage Compatibility Test can help.
You’ll be much better able to figure out what works in your relationship and what doesn’t. And most of all, whether it’s worth saving.
Other helpful links
The complete guide to surviving infidelity
Whatever you're question regarding infidelity, you'll find it here. Be it regarding the signs of cheating, whether or not you should stay together having discovered your partner's affair or you are the one being unfaithful, you'll find the links to the full-length articles on surviving infidelity here.
The telltale signs of a cheating spouse or partner
Know the signs of infidelity to help you discover if your partner is having an affair, particularly when they're denying it and blaming you for not trusting them.
Dealing with infidelity when you are having an affair
If you're the one cheating on your partner or spouse, there'll be important decisions to be made. Discover here what might be awaiting you if you're dealing with infidelity.
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