Hindsight is everything when it comes to cheating. When an affair comes to light, it’s easy to realize the signs were there all along—you just completely missed them. The signs of cheating, whether the affair is purely physical or emotional, are often subtle. Maybe he started coming home late after work more often than not. Maybe she suddenly started paying more attention to your schedule, which felt odd, but you dismissed as no big deal.
Keep an out for these warning signs below; noticing just one may not be a surefire sign of an unfaithful partner, but if you check multiple off this list, it may be time to have a vulnerable chat. After all, if they have nothing to hide, they should be more than happy to put your fears to rest.
1. Their schedule changes with no good explanation.
Most people have predictable schedules, and even if their schedule changes, there’s usually a reason that makes sense. Someone who must ‘work late’ all of a sudden at times that go beyond a reasonable explanation may be cheating. That’s especially true if this keeps happening when your partner has no new job, promotion, or project they’re working on.
2. They’re suddenly unreachable.
Again, a change is the big factor. If your partner has a job that makes it tough to reach them during certain hours of the day, it doesn’t mean they’re cheating. But if you’re suddenly struggling to reach them when you could in the past, and it’s a consistent issue, that should raise a red flag.
3. They have a decrease—or increase—in libido.
It’s more common for cheaters to decrease the frequency of sex at home, given that they’re getting it elsewhere. But sometimes they try to have sex more at home. Guilt-ridden people may increase lovemaking -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.
4. Their friends don’t seem as friendly as they used to be.
Cheaters tend to be less careful about covering their tracks in front of friends versus you. And, of course, people tend to confide in their friends. As a result, there is a good chance your partner’s friends may know what’s really going on before you do. Those friends may end up feeling uneasy and anxious around you because they know something you don’t.
5. Their phone habits change.
This can include a range of things, like changing their password or keeping their phone on them all the time when they used to leave it sitting out. These changes are indicative of the deception that cheating always involves and therefore are strong signs of cheating.
6. They’re suddenly paying more attention to their appearance.
Sometimes people decide to focus on their appearance as part of a New Year’s resolution or choose to start a new fitness routine for health reasons—but they’re usually pretty open about it.
The reasons and timing must make sense. If your partner is suddenly wearing cologne or spending a lot of money on new clothes, and it was never their thing in the past, it’s not unreasonable to inquire why. If their answer doesn’t make sense, it should raise a red flag.
7. They just seem to be around less than usual.
Cheaters have to make time for their fling—and that time usually comes from time you once spent together. Also, if the affair has gone on for a while, there may be demands placed upon them by their paramour to spend more time together. Again, it’s perfectly OK and expected to ask your partner what’s going on when they’re suddenly not around as much as usual.
8. What they say and what actually happens does not add up.
This is often how cheaters get caught. Maybe your partner says they needed to do something that doesn’t add up, or someone they say they were with slips that they weren’t. The truth is easy but lies are hard to keep straight. Objective evidence supports truth but often conflicts with lies.
9. They don’t disclose details of their day anymore.
People usually share intimate details of their day with their partner. But when they’re cheating, that tends to shift to the new fling. As a result, they end up telling you less. When they already have someone to share this with, they might not even be aware they are no longer sharing with you.
10. They accuse *you* of cheating.
This is a weird but common habit of cheaters—and there are a few reasons for it. By making your alleged behavior the issue, it puts you on the defensive and takes the focus off of them. It can also make you less likely to speak up about things that seem off because you don’t want to upset them, given that they’re already “worried” that you’re cheating. And it also gives them a reason to say they need “time away to think,” a.k.a. meet up with their lover.
11. They start giving you more gifts than usual.
Of course, loving partners give gifts. But cheaters take this to the next level to cover their tracks. It can be a way of reassuring you that they love you and are devoted to you so that any subtle sign of cheating the partner uncovers can be readily dismissed as something ‘they would never do.’
12. Or they’re suddenly really critical of you.
There’s something called cognitive dissonance that’s an uncomfortable state of inner anxiety and tension created when a person’s attitude about something (cheating is wrong) is the opposite of what they’re actually doing (cheating anyway). To try to reduce that inner tension, they may try to justify their cheating by trying to convince themselves that you’re the problem. And that can come out as being hypercritical of you out of nowhere.
13. The relationship issues you’ve had in the past don’t seem to be there anymore.
Every couple has some kind of issue that keeps surfacing. If it suddenly goes away, and there seems to be no reason for it, you should be concerned. This can be a sign of cheating or just that your partner has given up trying and is looking for a way out. A big sign that something is off with this: The tension isn’t there anymore, but you don’t feel connected either.
14. They get defensive when you ask why certain things have changed.
Relationships change and evolve, but this should be something you can talk about as a couple. If there is an innocent explanation for why some things have changed there is no need for defensiveness. A cheater may answer a question with a question, like “Why do you ask?” or “Why is that important?” because they need more time to come up with an answer they can get away with.
15. They’re really on top of your schedule.
It can feel a little odd when your partner keeps asking when you will and won’t be home—and it should. The cheater needs to know the time slots when they can have the freedom and flexibility to spend time with their new romantic interest. They work hard not to get caught.
If your partner is showing any of these signs, or things just don’t feel right to you, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask what’s going on. Hopefully, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation.