Telltale signs that your husband, wife or partner is cheating on you

Category: Better Relationships | Author and Publisher: Elly Prior | First published: 16-04-2014 | Modified: 01-07-2018

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How to know if your partner is cheating

As a couple counsellor, I've seen all too many individuals desperately wanting to know the signs of a cheating spouse.

It often seemed so clear to them that their partner was having an affair. However, their wife or husband kept denying that there was anything going on. Often my clients were blamed for not trusting, 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, used and abused.

Your partner too might be denying all, whilst you know that something isn't right. Perhaps you're increasingly convinced that what you're seeing are the signs of infidelity. 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 behaviours or conversations.

On this page I'll cover:

  • the signs of cheating
  • thought patterns of someone who is unfaithful
  • how they'll be likely to respond when you've got proof

What are the classic warning signs of infidelity?

Nothing I can say or write will give you a definite answer and I really want you to be careful not to jump to conclusions about the signs of infidelity.  

However, a combination of the following may indicate that your partner is cheating on you by having an affair...

You'll want to be aware of:

  • body language (see below the link to nonverbal communication)
  • what is said
  • how it's said
  • what is not talked about
  • actions that don’t befit his or her values and beliefs
  • changes in their timing and comings and goings
  • the possibility they have on online affair
  • whether they could be addicted to porn
Trusting is hard. Knowing who to trust even harder. Maria V. Snyder

These are the hints before the signs and proof that your partner 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
  • it may have become an emotional affair with one or both individuals having increasingly strong feelings for one another
  • flirting, with increasingly sexual innuendos, will have turned into overt advances, or…
  • there was no friendship - just lust and they simply invited the other woman or man to have sex with them (could be a sign of porn/sex addiction)
  • 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 having cyber-sex.

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 curious 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, please remember to make sure you only see the following in the context of all the other signs of infidelity, as body language signs are notoriously unreliable.

6 Nonverbal signs that may add to your suspicion

  1. Your partner may be looking down as he or she is talking to you. A sign of guilt?
  2. His or her eyes may be shifting all over the place, trying to avoid your gaze
  3. He or she may stare at you, holding your gaze (as they know the meaning behind avoiding your gaze)
  4. He or she may blink more when staring
  5. He or she maybe hiding their hands (a hang-over from childhood: "I didn't do that, honest") Do watch the videos at
  6. They may blush when you talk about the subject (be careful... they may be embarrassed, but not actually guilty)

Please note - body language is easily misinterpreted, particularly when cultural differences play a role.

A note of caution

Please be careful how you interpret body language signs as they're so easily misread. Look at how your partner is different from what you'd normally observe.

When you're challenging your partner, be particularly observant of the following:

  • 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 are of a somewhat jealous disposition, 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!

Behaviour patterns revealing potential signs of guilt

8 behavioural signs pointing to possible infidelity

  1. Avoiding any conversation
    They definitely don't want to talk about your relationship. This may point towards your partner having an affair - if its unusual for them not to talk.
  2. Avoiding certain subjects
    They're dancing around a sensitive subject. This can be a sure warning sign that they're trying to hide something.
  3. 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 do.
  4. Changing dress style
    If your partner is suddenly taking more of an interest in their appearance then this really is one to watch out for
  5. Starting to go to the gym
    They're suddenly changing their couch potato life-style and working out regularly
  6. Dropping a name
    They may mention the name of the other woman or man in passing or too often
  7. Acting 'out of the ordinary' generally
    On hindsight you were aware of other changes in their behaviour which you may not have paid much attention to previously
  8. Changing their sexual behaviour and appetite
    This could point to their having cybersex or even a porn/sex addiction

Verbal signs of a cheating spouse

There are further warning signs of infidelity 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. 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 stack up, without you necessarily being able to put your finger on it. 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 vitally important it is you take the right action. Therefore I highly recommend you talk it over with a professional counsellor.

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 video...

10 Signs your wife or husband is cheating

  1. Private accounts
    They’re likely to have set up private email accounts with new (secret) passwords
  2. Secret apps and use of mobile
    They use secret apps, have their mobile always at hand and don't want to share their screens
  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 email folders
    They start deleting emails / messages and emptying their trash folders 
  8. Disappearance acts
    They frequently 'disappear' out of the blue - to the garden, upstairs, the shop, out for a run
  9. Your home has become an hotel/restaurant
    If working full-time, they now may only come home to sleep
  10. They're abandoning you
    They withdraw themselves from you, and turn their back on you

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.

He or she will have an unusual way of expressing themselves

Just watch the short video to get the low-down on this one...

This is what may go through the mind of a cheating partner

Here's what your cheating 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 being 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 have sex by cheating - there’s no ‘setting the stage’ or considering of feelings, or dealing with it not being the right time, or you generally not feeling like it. It was about lust and having sex rather than making love - nothing else.
  • They knew deep down they shouldn’t be doing it
It's not knowing that drives you mad. It's imagining things that you wish you couldn't think of all by yourself. - Jenny Valentine

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:

5 Common excuses for cheating

  1. "I felt lonely in a long-distance relationship."
  2. "The opportunity was there and I took it. It didn’t mean anything.” 
  3. "You were unfaithful and I wanted revenge."
  4. "You only had time for the children/yourself and I felt neglected."
  5. "There was no reason for me to have an affair. I love you and I was really happy."

Other 'reasons' and excuses can be found in my soon to be opened course on dealing with infidelity. The course is suitable for anyone whose life has been touched by infidelity.

The common thread?

The need for attention! That doesn't mean that all will be well if you give your spouse more attention. 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 have never 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 on discovery, 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

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 sexual health!

Don’t shoot the messenger if they tell you! Sadly, the 'other woman/man' could be amongst your friends.

Were you already experiencing relationship problems?

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. Learn more on this page, about why men and women have affairs.

Oh, just in case you haven’t heard of adultery, the definition is: sexual 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?

I've worked with hundreds of individuals and couples where one partner was suspicious that their partner was having an affair. They have told me that having that kind of support and advice made all the difference to them.

Therefore, I recommend that you too 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 Relationship 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.


I really do hope for you that your partner isn't having an affair! Simply by being here though, I know you're going through a difficult time.

So, remember that it can be really helpful to have a professional - online - licensed relationship therapist on your side. He or she will take all the time to get to know you and your particular situation, support and guide you. For further information see my page: Online Relationship Advice.

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Other interesting links

Psyblog - The most unexpected way to tell someone is lying

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