Warning Signs Your Partner Could Be Cheating, According to 8 Experts

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If you notice your partner acting a little differently than usual, should you automatically feel concerned?

Are there warning signs that could be an indication your partner is cheating on you?

We asked experts to share their insights.

Tammy Nelson, Ph.D.

Tammy Nelson

TEDx Speaker | Certified Sex and Relationship Therapist | Consultant for Ashley Madison | Author, When You’re the One Who Cheats: Ten Things You Need To Know

Some signs your partner is cheating include:

Increased interest in sex

They might seem more sexual, more interested in sex, sexier in the way they dress, and they might talk about sex more often. An affair can increase a person’s sexuality and it shows.

A decreased interest in sex with you

Sometimes people who cheat stop having sex with their spouse altogether. They shut down the sex at home because they’re getting what they want outside their relationship.

They start acting like an adolescent

They get sneaky, they hide their phone, they text at night, they lock their email, they shut their laptop when you walk by. You know it when you see it because you start to feel like their parent.

Some signs to watch out for if you think you’re with a serial cheater:

  • They cheat and they feel no guilt.
  • They blame the affair on you.
  • They have no insight into why they did it in the first place.
  • They are totally self-righteous about their cheating.

Lisa J. Ribacoff, MSEd., LPI, CPE

Lisa J. Ribacoff

Named as One of the “Top 15 Investigators in the US” |
Licensed Private Investigator & Polygraph Examiner, International Investigative Group, Ltd.

As a polygraph examiner and private investigator for almost ten years now, I’ve been able to identify signs of infidelity prior to my client knowing that they have become a victim it has occurred.

Infidelity doesn’t just happen. There are reasons or motives behind it. It could stem from an emotional detachment from a partner, financial instability, and possibly even being given the opportunity to be caught so the relationship would need to be terminated.

Infidelity becomes an automatic out without having to face the hardship of actually coming to terms with it being over and ending it.

Related: How to Get over Infidelity Pain

Changing their appearance or grooming

It could be something as small as getting a new hair cut or even buying new clothes, specifically underwear. They may not be trying to impress their partner but someone else.

After coming home from being out and jumps into a long shower, that’s a sign right there. Trying to wash away evidence of cheating; lipstick marks, the smell of someone else’s cologne or perfume, wash off a stamp or marking from being at a bar/venue they told their partner they weren’t.

The most common form that I have come across is the accusation of cheating

If you have to take the time to worry about every single relationship you have with friends and even family because of an accusation and being questioned on everyone, then there’s a chance you could be cheated on as you’re so focused on yourself.

Where are they and who are they with?

Cheaters do not have friends that don’t cheat too. The problem with this is an alibi. They can say they are with each other at a specific time or place and there is coverage for the lie they are telling. Were they actually running late? Were they actually at the bar? Like Whitney sang, “If four of you went to dinner, then two of you were really cheap”.

“I just called to say hi”

Too many phone calls are not a good sign. A lot of these calls are about keeping tabs on the other person and making sure they are where they say they are to avoid being caught. It is also a sign of excessive guilt.

It’s usually an opposite thinking situation when people think that if they are being cheated on that their partner will remove themselves physically and emotionally from the relationship.

In opposite situations, a partner can be excessively attentive and even to the point of smothering because they have a fear of being detected.

Marilyn Devonish

Marilyn Devonish

The NeuroSuccess™ Coach | Relationship Coach | NLP Trainer |
Keynote Speaker | Writer | Certified Multi-Disciplinary Therapist

Suffice to say that one or several of these things taken in isolation or out of context isn’t grounds for immediately jumping to the conclusion that your partner is having an affair, so this isn’t by any means a simple checklist, there is more to it than that, and being stressed, under pressure at work, having family or health problems can all contribute to the changes in behaviour that we are about to talk about in this.

You can’t say just because someone is being ‘XYZ’ it means that they are having an affair, life just isn’t that black and white so please do not take this as a hard and fast list of definite traits, they are indicators that there may be something wrong however context and their underlying personality will also have to factor in.

I have broken these down into categories:

Temper and mood

You might notice changes in their temper or mood. Distant, snappy, short-tempered, not attentive, over-attentive, running hot and cold, more secretive than usual, sensitive about things that weren’t previously an issue or problem, making furtive phone calls, spending far more time online with a hidden screen, making excuses not to be intimate, rushing through things that you both used to enjoy including sex, present yet not present mentally distracted.

They start criticizing or finding fault with you, you feel sidelined or ignored, a change in their attire/clothes, going to bed early or late to avoid conversation or your usual routine, unexplained expenses or receipts which you might notice if you have a joint account.

Social media

In our social media age, there are all of the cyber clues, having a secret phone, setting up a new email account, creating new and private social media profiles, ending calls abruptly or having a different tone of voice when you enter or leave the room.

Receiving lots of phone calls where previously that wasn’t the case (if the person they are seeing is single this is often the arrangement so the same strange number doesn’t keep showing up on their phone bills.)

Always rushing to delete texts or messages. Actively hiding their phone from you, as if they’re almost afraid to leave it unattended.

Related: How Social Media Affects Relationships

Cash and household affairs

If your partner drives a car you might notice certain things appearing or disappearing, unexplained extra mileage, much bigger fuel bills even though your routine hasn’t knowingly changed.

On a practical level, there may be more cash withdrawals if you have a joint bank account so you can’t trace receipts, and intimate dinners won’t appear on your bank or credit card statement. Unexplained receipts for what appear to be gifts that you or your children didn’t receive, meals for two, lots of drinks out in the evening.

Sex and intimacy

On a more personal level, they finding excuses not to sleep with you or requesting more sex than usual, almost overcompensating so that you don’t notice or suspect that anything is wrong.

They suddenly have a few new moves or you notice their lovemaking is different and something they liked is now annoying to them, or they are requesting or doing something new.

You might go from proper kisses to air kisses or kisses on the cheek or the forehead. Outside of sex, they could be less affectionate and more withholding of intimacy which can be a combination of guilt or wanting to save themselves for their new partner, particularly if they have been feeding them the line you are no longer sleeping together, which they then try to make true.

Thomas G. Martin

Thomas G. Martin

President, Martin Investigative Services

We are a private investigative agency composed of former federal agents of the FBI, DEA, IRS or Secret Service. During the past 38 years, we have conducted hundreds of martial surveillances.

The following are the top warning signs your partner could be cheating, based on that history and experience. If your readers see one or two, don’t panic but be vigilant. If they are seeing three or four or more, they have a problem.

I’m going to the gym

Your spouse spends more time looking in the mirror and has a newfound commitment to improving their physique.

Extra grooming

Along with shaping up, a sudden interest in diets, new clothing, hair styling, and a lot more showers.

A change in habits

Your partner has come home from work every day for the past ten years at 5:00 p.m. Recently, the arrival time is 10:00 p.m.

Your company is no longer desired

Your partner discourages you from joining them at happy hour, work events or company parties.

Glued to the phone

Your partner is engaging in an unusually high amount of text messaging and e-mailing. They start to keep the phone close to them at all times and receive texts from unfamiliar numbers. They start locking the phone or changing the security password.

Locked in the office

Every night your partner locks themselves away behind closed doors with the computer, claiming they need to work. The browser is reset to private and the search engine history is clean every day.

Business trips

Your partner starts traveling for business even though the job duties haven’t changed. Trips start on Friday and end on Monday. They tell you it is against company policy to bring you along.

Excessive overtime

Duties and paychecks remain the same but the workload has increased two-fold. Your partner works late at night during the week and is now occupied on the weekends. You are given specific instructions not to ever come to the office.

Absences

Does your partner stop attending family events? They find every excuse not to go but encourages you to go it alone.

Checked out

Even when physically present, the partner is not all there. They stop inquiring about your day or friends, are hard to pin down on vacations and holidays and their minds seem to be elsewhere most of the time.

Unexplained expenditures

They earn the same but less comes home. You see excessive unexplained ATM withdraws. The partner is now always short of cash. Affairs are expensive.

Secretive accounts

The open-door policy of shared finances is over, your partner will do it all. You are accused of snooping into their wallet, purse or briefcase. They become very defensive about the checkbook and credit cards.

Social media

The partner spends far too much time following or corresponding with a certain person or group. Many will actually post photos with their significant other.

Buying jewelry

There is a newfound love for gold, rings, diamonds or chains. There are purchases for jewelry and none are for you.

Unexplained items

Cologne, perfume, hairspray or blankets are found in the car. Random ticket stubs, hotel keys, greeting cards, lipstick, and condom wrappers are found without explanation.

Hang-ups

Do you see your partner answer the landline and then abruptly hang-up? Do you see more than one mobile phone in use?

Less sex

Your partner was always ready in the bedroom but now they are very hesitant or simply not interested. Going to bed, it’s straight to sleep with no pillow talk.

Evasiveness, defensiveness, and prickliness

The partner has become non-communicative and will start an argument in an instant. They are very irritable and easily provoked. Fights become the norm and are never resolved.

Related: How Often Do Couples Argue or Fight in a Healthy Relationship

No more surprises

Dropping by the partner’s office unannounced is a federal offense. Often when you do, the partner is gone and no one knows why.

Obvious lies

When your partner is blatantly and carelessly lying and you positively catch them, it is definitely time to evaluate the relationship.

Chris Vitale

Chris Vitale

Senior Manager, People Looker

Avoids posting relationship photos on social media

Notice an alarming lack of photos with your partner on their Facebook profile? Active on a daily (possibly hourly) basis, they have no problem putting up other posts, just not ones of the two of you together.

Quite often, partners who cheat aim to maintain a single life on their social media accounts. After all, people are more inclined to get hot in the sheets with someone who they believe is exclusive. They may also keep you out of photos to prevent possible confrontations and out of guilt.

Refuses to admit whereabouts

Your partner disappears at unusual times with no explanation of where, how long, or why. For hours, you wait for some communication but it doesn’t come. Eventually, long after dark and several phone calls/texts on your part, your partner returns.

You ask about whereabouts and are met with a vague answer and brush off of your concerns. You press further, and your partner grows defensive. This is a sign your partner has something to hide. Just remember, do some more digging before assuming the worst.

Over-elaborates actions and whereabouts

The opposite of secrecy, partners who cheat may over-explain what they claim to have been up to. Your partner may babble on and on about who he or she was with, what they did, and infinite details that normally wouldn’t matter in the conversation (such as gossip about people you don’t know or what shoes the friend was wearing).

Some people believe that the more details they give, the less likely their lie will be discovered.

Showers you with gifts

Out of nowhere, you find yourself lavished in flowers, new clothes, fine jewelry or cool electronic gadgets. At first, you are giddy and appreciate the gesture.

Not only is gift-giving a release for pent up guilt, but also it’s a tactic to prevent you from suspecting anything bad of your partner. Don’t fall for this subtle sign.

Physically withdrawn

A big telltale sign is if your partner withdraws displays of affection, doesn’t show you any and pulls away when you try to reach out and no longer is interested in having sex (assuming that previously was not the case), that can mean his or her affection and desires have shifted to someone else.

Smile or laugh at their phone a lot

Someone who is falling in love with someone else is often obsessed with checking the social media feeds of the person they desire.

You may be able to detect this by paying attention to how much or often your partner is smiling or laughing at their phone – and if you’re not included in whatever funny thing is happening, watch out.

If they are suddenly very protective of their phone, wanting to know where it is, not wanting you to grab it, etc., this is another sign.

Watch for behavior changes

Although changes in behavior can’t automatically be chalked up to cheating, it’s typically major sign something is going on with your partner.

Watch for a sudden interest in buying new clothes and dressing better, a new concern with appearance, a sudden weight loss or desire to work out, the open distance being created between the two of you, refusal to talk about your future together, not affectionate and no interest in sex. Monitor the changes and take note if they are increasing or decreasing. These changes give away a lot of clues.

Monitor your mate’s activity

Are you noticing a change in your partner’s daily activity? If your partner leaves home for an extended period of time, several times a week and this is new behavior, there could be more to it.

If work hours have suddenly become extended, this could be a signal something else is going on. Any major changes in activity could be a sign your partner is cheating.

There are a couple of simple things you can do to monitor their activity and trace their steps.

Track the miles on their car’s odometer

It’s free and easy. Figure out the mileage between work and home. If they say they are going straight to work and back home, their odometer will most likely give you the real story.

You can also download a GPS app to your phone that traces your partner’s travel

You’ll know where they are at all times. So if they say they’re working late at the office, but GPS shows they are not at work, you have a valid issue to bring up to your mate.

Cathryn Leff, LMFT, CCTP, Ph.D. Candidate

Cathryn Leff

Licensed Marriage Family Therapist | Certified Clinical Trauma Professional | CAMFT Certified Supervisor

  • Your partner is spending more time texting on his or her phone. When you enter the room, they suddenly put it down.
  • Your partner is spending more time away from home. Your partner suddenly becomes a social butterfly. They are spending time at social events or out with co-workers after work. Your partner says their job suddenly requires they spend more time on out-of-town travel assignments.
  • They seem more irritable. Your partner seems to get easily irritated by anything you say or do. They blow up when asked simple questions, or accuse you of accusing them of something.
  • Lack of sexual desire. Even though they are getting slimmer and wearing tighter, sexier clothing in public, they have a lack of sexual desire in your direction.

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, MS, LCPC

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor | Certified Imago Relationship Therapist |
Co-founder, The Marriage Restoration Project

  • Taking their phone into the bathroom or being secretive about their spouse seeing their cellphone.
  • Coming home late repeatedly with no reasonable explanation.
  • Sudden changes in behavior or lack of interest in intimacy.
  • Secretive behavior regarding financial statements – credit card bills and refusal to share logins/passwords for the bank.

It’s not easy to hide infidelity. Coupled with lying and secretive behavior, there is usually a sudden shift in the way one partner relates to the other, which can be an indicator that something fishy is going on.

Adina Mahalli

Adina-Mahalli

Certified Mental Health Consultant, Enlightened Reality | Family Care Specialist, Maple Holistics

Attached to their phone

Most communication takes place on your phone now which means that a major warning sign of a cheating partner is having their phone attached to their hip.

Although this could simply be out of habit, if your partner has nothing to hide, they won’t mind you borrowing their phone to make a call or answering their phone while they’re out of the room. Being overly attached to their phone is often a sign that they’re hiding something.

Projection

If your partner is overly concerned about you cheating, it could be a form of projection. Sometimes people who are cheating will guilt you into thinking that you’re too suspicious or worse, interrogate you about your own interactions as a way of deflecting the attention away from them.

If you’re nervous to bring up the subject of cheating with your partner for fear of being made guilty for the accusation, it could be a sign that they’re cheating.