How to Tell if Your Spouse Is Cheating on You
Marriage is meant to be forever. While both partners usually enter a marriage with good intentions, not all married couples succeed in keeping their promises. Over time, some spouses see fit to seek physical, emotional, or sexual fulfillment elsewhere.
Trust is the foundation of any relationship. No one deserves to be in a marriage with a partner who disrespects them by being unfaithful. It can be traumatic to discover infidelity in your marriage, but rest assured that it’s better to know than to stay in the dark for months, years, or even decades.
While deciding how to proceed in your relationship can be a complex and stressful decision, acknowledging the issue is the first step toward reclaiming your life and restoring your emotional and mental wellbeing.
What Is Infidelity in Marriage?
Infidelity can take various forms in a marriage. Generally, cheating entails the act of having intimate or sexual relations with someone who isn’t your partner.
However, it’s worth noting that infidelity doesn’t always take the form of physical or sexual relations. For many couples, emotional cheating (also known as an emotional affair or emotional infidelity) can be just as detrimental to the relationship. Some spouses go as far as to say that emotional cheating is more painful than physical or sexual infidelity.
In essence, it’s safe to assume that cheating is any behavior that entails being unfaithful to your partner. What that looks like specifically can depend on the couple and their expectations in the relationship.
Generally, common examples of cheating include (but aren’t limited to):
- Having a sexual affair with someone else
- Online dating
- Being emotionally intimate with someone else
- Flirtatious conversations (virtually or in person)
- Keeping in touch with an ex via private messages
- Going to dinner with someone you have or had feelings for
While this is far from a comprehensive list, it’s important to remember that each couple perceives cheating differently. A couple’s perception of cheating can also vary based on gender. Regardless of how you define cheating, it’s important to be aware of warning signs that your significant other may be deceiving you.
10 Red Flags That Your Spouse Is Cheating on You
Infidelity can be a major disruptor in a relationship. In many cases, it can quickly lead to divorce. While every couple navigates cheating in different ways, it’s crucial to be aware of common red flags that may indicate your significant other is being unfaithful.
While it can be devastating to learn that your partner is cheating, keep in mind that the first step towards personal healing—whether that entails staying in the relationship or ending it—is acknowledging the situation. Doing so can restore your sense of power and agency, and allow you to take back control of your life by making a healthy, well-informed decision that’s best for you, regardless of what that is.
Keep reading to learn 10 red flags that your spouse may be cheating in your marriage.
#1. Your spouse is putting more effort into their appearance.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to look your best. Maybe your spouse recently decided they want to lose weight or try a new diet. While their motive may be innocent, this could also be a red flag that your partner is being unfaithful.
It may be helpful to consider your spouse’s personality. If they avoided the gym like the plague for a decade, but suddenly they’re pumping weights every single afternoon, this may be worth looking into.
Likewise, if you’ve begged your partner to wear anything except those raggedy sweatpants for years and they’re suddenly leaving the house in nice, high-end clothes, this may also be a telltale sign that something else is going on.
#2. Your spouse is often unreachable.
If your partner is busy with someone else, they’re less likely to respond to your calls and texts. Maybe your partner has always answered you on the second ring and they’re suddenly sending you to voicemail. Maybe they’ve always responded to your texts within the hour, but now they’re leaving you on “read” all day.
Whatever the situation, if you’ve noticed a significant change when it comes to your partner’s communication, this might be a sign that the situation deserves further attention.
#3. Your spouse seems secretive when using their phone or computer.
You’re probably aware of “the look” of someone with something to hide. Maybe your sibling always tried to sneak out of the kitchen with extra cookies shoved in their pockets as a kid. Maybe your teenager is a pro at hiding text messages as soon as you glance over their shoulder. No matter the situation, a guilty expression is hard to miss.
Whether they're using dating apps or sending spicy messages to someone who isn't you, cheaters often use their phones and computers more frequently than before. More importantly, cheaters tend to get overly protective of their technology. It’s common for cheaters to clear their browsing history or delete conversations on a regular basis.
If your spouse gets defensive or paranoid when you’re near their devices, this could be a sign that they’re using technology for something they shouldn’t be.
#4. Your spouse gets defensive when you bring up their behavior.
Doubts and uncertainty can badger us with nagging thoughts and anxiety. Maybe you've tried to ease your mind by initiating a conversation with your spouse, but instead of being constructive or reassuring, your partner overreacts or gets defensive.
If you’ve noticed your partner deflecting and or being avoidant during conversations with you, this could be a sign of an underlying problem.
#5. You and your spouse are having significantly more or less sex.
Many people are already aware that a lack of sex might be a sign of cheating, but you may be surprised to learn that too much sex may also indicate infidelity. Essentially, any major shift in your sex life—whether it’s having sex more often, less often, or differently—might suggest that something is going on behind the scenes.
If you're having less sex than usual, this might mean that your partner is satisfying their sexual needs elsewhere. If you're having more sex, this could indicate that your partner is attempting to cover up an affair, make up for a lack of emotional intimacy, or is experiencing a higher libido as a result of infidelity. If your partner is introducing new positions or routines into your sex life, there's a chance that they learned those new techniques elsewhere.
While changes in a couple's sex life are never a foolproof way to know if there's cheating involved, it may be worth looking into.
#6. Your relationship has little to no emotional intimacy.
If your partner seems distant or emotionally detached, this may be a red flag of infidelity. If your partner no longer initiates or builds emotional intimacy with you, but seems okay or normal otherwise, this may be a sign that they are fulfilling those needs elsewhere.
#7. Your spouse is out more often than they’re home.
Similarly to being emotionally detached, physical detachment can (literally) increase the distance between a couple and possibly indicate foul play.
Maybe your partner has never worked late, but now they're spending long nights at the office. Maybe they're out with friends every weekend when they used to be a homebody. Whatever the shift, it's worth investigating.
#8. You’ve noticed unexplained expenses.
Is your partner making unexplained cash withdrawals? If you’ve noticed random amounts of money missing from your bank account with little to no explanation from your spouse, this may be a red flag.
#9. Your spouse gets tripped up in their own lies.
Sometimes, the effort to conceal infidelity can result in a partner getting tangled in their own lies. Even little lies can quickly create a confusing web of deception that not only confuses the partner being cheated on, but the cheater themselves.
If your spouse’s stories aren’t adding up or they “tweak” details over time, this could be a sign that they’re cheating on you.
#10. Your spouse gaslights you when you express your feelings or seek reassurance.
In addition to getting defensive when you try to have a conversation about your spouse’s unusual behavior, it’s common for cheaters to go a step further to cover their tracks. Unfaithful partners will often gaslight their spouse if their partner asks questions or tries to hold them accountable.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that involves making someone question their own sanity. Effective gaslighting can distort an individual’s memories and sense of reality. For example, if you ask your spouse where they’ve been after they arrived home a few hours late, a cheater might accuse their partner of being paranoid, dramatic, or clingy. They may accuse their spouse of not trusting them, or even go as far as to accuse their partner of cheating themselves.
As you can imagine, this can be detrimental to a person’s mental and emotional health, as gaslighting often involves heated emotions, raised voices, and an inability to differentiate between what is real and imagined.
We’re Here to Keep Your Best Interests at Heart
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