For many people, cheating is the worst-case scenario for your relationship. And while some couples can come back from an affair, it’s one of the few things that can completely destroy trust, even in a long-term relationship. But how can you tell if your partner is cheating? It’s a difficult balance to strike, because you don’t want to be overly suspicious and project your paranoia onto innocent behavior, but you also don’t want to be naive. You have to trust your gut to know when something feels off.
The most important thing to look for is big, sudden changes. Those changes can manifest in a lot of different ways—more on that later—but the bottom line is, you know your partner. If they’re normally at the gym six days a week, the fact that they’re focused on their body probably isn’t unusual. But if a couch potato suddenly has a six-pack, you might start to get curious. Any changes in their personality, their behavior, or their looks that seem to come out of nowhere—that neither you or your partner can come up with an explanation for—can be a sign of infidelity.
But some changes are more telling than others. Here are the signs you can look out for:
1. They’re Glued to Their Phone
Many experts say that weird phone behavior is the number one indicator that someone’s cheating, which makes sense, doesn’t it? If they’re suddenly on their phone all the time and not really sharing what they're doing or who they’re talking to, that can be a sign. Pay extra attention if they keep their phone on them at all times, because they may be making sure you don’t see anything you shouldn’t.
2. Or It’s Nowhere to Be Found
The other unusual phone behavior is that suddenly you never see it. They only seem to be on it when you’re not around and it’s always tucked away in their jacket or their bag. If it seems to have disappeared from view, that’s normally an odd sign.
3. They’re Extra Attentive
Guilt can make people behave in a lot of strange ways. Now, you shouldn’t be suspicious every time your partner brings you flowers for no reason or is more touchy-feely—because sometimes people are just being nice. But if they’re nicer than usual out of nowhere and it just keeps happening along with other suspicious behavior, it can be a sign.
4. And Extra Sexual
Many people think that if someone’s cheating then there’s no sex in their relationship at home, but that's not the case. Cheating can actually make people feel more sexual generally, so they may want more sex than usual. It also keeps you from being suspicious about why they suddenly don't want it anymore, so they may be trying extra hard to keep up appearances in the bedroom.
5. They Stop Making Plans for the Future
If it’s serious cheating, they might start to put off making future plans. If they don't want to book that vacation you’ve been talking about or big life decisions that you already discussed—such as having kids or changing cities—are now brushed off, it may be that they're reconsidering the relationship.
6. They Withdraw from You Emotionally
Some people get more in your face, but others grow more distant. If you get the feeling that they’re going through the motions with you, but not really connecting, then something could be wrong.
7. They’re Spending More Money Than Usual
Cheating doesn’t just happen—it often involves dinners, drinks, hotels, and more. If there’s money gone unexpectedly or if you notice that they carry a lot more cash than previously, it may be that their money is going somewhere else.
8. They’re More Worried About Their Looks
You know that feeling that you might have had when you started dating your partner? You want to impress them, you want to be the sexiest version of yourself. Well, people get that feeling when they’re cheating too. If your partner suddenly looks like a million dollars on a Tuesday morning for no reason, there might be something up.
9. They’re Picking Fights
They might be trying to get you to dump them or they might just be resenting the relationship generally, but it’s really common for someone to become argumentative and critical when they’re cheating. They’re trying to make themselves feel better by acting like you’re the problem.
10. Your Relationship Isn’t Working
It’s easy to forget that cheating normally comes from somewhere—if cheating is happening, the relationship was probably not really working in the first place. That doesn't mean it’s your fault—it definitely isn’t. But if you know that your relationship has not been functioning like you want it to be and they’re behaving suspiciously in other ways, it may be that they’re looking for a happier connection somewhere else.
It’s important to know the signs of cheating, but it’s also important not to be overly-suspicious, because that’s not fair to your partner and will only erode their trust. So be aware, but also remember that you know your partner better than anyone. Noticing a combination of signs and having a feeling that something’s off is often more telling than following a check-list of behavior. So make sure to trust your gut.