It’s thought that around one in three couples are affected by cheating. That’s a lot of people.
Many of us have been cheated on, or suspected we have been. We all have friends who’ve been cheated on and we’ve helped them mend their broken hearts.
Cheating is so common that everyone knows the hurt it can cause. It’s a scary thing to think about, but if it’s going to happen to you, it’s better that you know about it so you can take action.
In this article, I’ll take you through 10 key signs that your boyfriend might be cheating on you. You should never assume that because your boyfriend is doing one or two of the things on this list that he’s cheating. Even if he’s doing more than two of them, there might still be another explanation.
It isn’t always easy to tell. Most of the tell-tale signs of cheating can have completely innocent explanations.
It’s still important to make sure you’re aware of signs of potential cheating. Use this list to guide you and if you think you have reason to be suspicious, just keep watching and waiting. He’s sure to trip himself up at some point, and you’ll be ready.
1. A change in phone habits
Smartphones mean it’s easier to cheat, but it’s also easier to catch people cheating. A change in their way your boyfriend uses his phone is a big giveaway that he might be cheating.
If your boyfriend is suddenly on his phone much more than usual, he might just be engrossed in a game or busy on work emails.
Ask him casually why he always seems to have it in his hand. His reaction will tell you a lot about whether he might be cheating or not.
If he’s secretive with his phone when he never has been before, that’s also a really clear signal that something’s up.
According to counselor and therapist, Dr. Tracey Phillips, hiding things from you on their phone may be a sign of cheating:
“They could be trying to avoid receiving any questionable calls or texts in your presence.”
If he used to happily leave it lying around in the living room, but now puts it in his pocket wherever he goes, you should wonder why.
Also, look for him turning the screen away when you’re nearby or not wanting to charge it overnight by the bed.
These things too could have completely reasonable explanations. He might be turning the screen away because he’s planning a surprise for you, for example.
But be aware of changes and keep an eye out for patterns.
2. Less or more sex
If your boyfriend’s having sex with another person, he’ll probably change the way he has sex with you.
Some men will end up not wanting sex with you if they’re cheating. They might even feel as if having sex with you is ‘cheating’ on the other person.
Or they might just have lost interest because there’s someone else on their mind. If he stops initiating and starts to avoid situations when you might initiate (like early nights) then think about why.
Other men will want sex much more when they’re cheating. Having sex more means it’s on their mind, whoever they’re with.
Sex expert Robert Weiss explains why:
“Both decreased and increased levels of sexual activity in your relationship can be a sign of infidelity. Less sex occurs because your partner is focused on someone else; more sex occurs because they are trying to cover that up.”
They might also be feeling guilty and trying to cover up their cheating by being ultra-affectionate. This can be especially cruel if you’d been going through a bit of dry spell.
The cheating re-sparks their sexual appetite, but you don’t realize it’s not because their feelings for you have strengthened.
Another thing to look out for is men who start doing things in bed they’ve never done before. Where did they learn it from, if not from you? Could be porn, but it could be another woman…
3. Constantly mentioning someone…or stopping mentioning them
When you’re into someone, you tend to talk about them all the time, often without really realizing it.
If your boyfriend is cheating, it’s a weird irony that he might find himself ‘telling’ you about it by talking about his new interest all the time.
If a woman’s name keeps cropping up in conversation, then you have cause to be concerned.
When this happens, it’s often a work colleague or someone he’s met in a totally innocent context and this means that he doesn’t realize there’s anything strange about talking about them. In his mind, he’s not talking about the other woman, he’s just talking about work.
If he mentions a woman all the time and then suddenly stops mentioning them, that’s even more suspicious.
It’s a good indication that something that started out as a crush or a bit of flirting has now moved on to something physical.
Once he’s actually having an affair, he’ll usually realize that mentioning her all the time isn’t a great idea.
4. Making a sudden effort with appearance
Many men don’t bother too much with their appearance once they’re in an established relationship (beyond the basis of showers and clean clothes). What should you think if your boyfriend suddenly buys himself a new wardrobe, or develops a complex new skincare routine?
If this happens, it’s certainly possible that he’s just trying to impress you, or that he’s having a quarter or midlife crisis.
But there’s also a strong possibility that he’s doing this to impress someone else. Think back to the first few months of your relationship.
Did he make more effort then, compared to recent times? If his new-found focus on appearance is similar to how he was when you first got together, then you have cause to be worried.
It means he’s doing the things he naturally does when he’s in a new relationship…except this time, the relationship is not with you.
Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor and co-owner of Double Trust Dating, says that if your partner has had the same haircut for a long time but suddenly has a bold new haircut “this could indicate an effort to impress another person.”
According to Dr. Phillips in Bustle, you may also want to have a look for a change in their grooming habits:
“If your partner comes home and jumps right into a long shower, they may be washing away any evidence of cheating.”
5. Money disappearing
Cheating can be expensive. There will be meals out, drinks and maybe hotel rooms. If the woman he’s with is cheating too, they won’t have anywhere to go other than out and that costs a lot of money.
Even if she’s single and has her own place to take him to, he’ll want to impress her and that will usually mean expensive dates, flowers and gifts.
If your boyfriend earns well, or you don’t have joint finances, you might not notice the extra spending straight away. But over time, the costs will start to add up. Look out for letters from the credit card company landing on the doorstep – they might be reminders because he’s late paying the bills.
If he seem short of money all the time, when he never used to be, that’s another clear sign. Maybe he’s stopped suggesting your usual Friday night pizza, or he buys you a cheap gift for your birthday.
There might be little signs at first – simple things like buying a cheap bottle of wine rather than an extravagant one when it’s date night.
If those little things start to add up, and you can’t think of any other reason why he’d be worried about money, then you might have a problem.
6. Working more or developing new hobbies
Many men meet the person they have an affair with at work, so spending more time at work is a good indication there might be something up.
According to Robert Weiss Ph.D., MSW in Psychology Today:
“Flat tires, dead batteries, traffic jams, spending extra time at the gym, and similar excuses for being late or absent altogether might also signal infidelity.”
Everyone has times when they need to work a little harder than usual, but if he’s working lots of overtime for no apparent reason, be worried.
This is especially true if his job hasn’t demanded this before. Also remember that overtime usually leads to something.
Either a promotion, or more money, or a big new project. If none of these things seems to be happening, it’s time to ask him why he’s working so hard and what he’s working on.
If he doesn’t have an answer, then it’s quite likely that he’s not actually working when he says he is.
Another thing to look out for is big new hobbies that take up lots of time. It might be that his new hobby is something his other woman also does and that he’s got into it with her.
It might also be that it’s completely made up, and is simply an excuse to spend time away from home.
Look out for anything – work or hobby related – that takes him away overnight or at weekends. It might be that he’s making it up and he’s not where he said he’d be.
Or it could be that the promotion he got that means work travel, is one he went for because of the travel…with her.
It might be that he’s not really that into triathlon, but she does it and being part of her triathlon club means weekends away competing.
If you’re suspicious, suggest coming with him next time and see what happens.
7. Ducking out of social or family events
We all have times when we don’t really feel like seeing friends or family, but cheaters often take that to another level.
This might be especially true if they think your relationship has probably run its course, but don’t have the courage to own up to it.
According to clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula in Oprah Magazine, “A major commitment makes it more difficult to pull out of a relationship quickly.”
If he is still happy to see his own friends and family but is avoiding events with yours, then it might be that he’s cheating and slowly withdrawing from your life.
Even if he’s not cheating, it’s usually bad news if a man who was previously happy to socialize with ‘your side’ decides he isn’t happy with that anymore.
Be careful that you don’t assume anything, though, as this can be a tricky one.
Sometimes, people alter their social habits because they’re struggling with anxiety or depression, and men often don’t find it easy to talk about their mental health, even with those closest to them.
It might be that he’s willing to socialize with his own friends still because he’s more comfortable with them. Tread carefully, but don’t be a pushover.
When your previously lovely, happy guy starts being grumpy and difficult to please, then you definitely have a problem of some kind.
It might be that there’s something deeper going on for him, so do bear that possibility in mind.
But there will be a reason why he’s changed the way he interacts with you.
When men cheat, they sometimes begin to feel resentful of their girlfriends. He might feel that he;s met someone – his affair partner – who he really wants to be with.
And while it’s hugely unfair, he might feel that you are holding him back from being with that person.
This can happen even if your relationship was previously really solid and you were making plans together for the future.
He might still be happily making plans with you now, even as his mood and body language are telling you a different story.
Just because he’s having an affair and considering moving on to someone else, doesn’t mean that he’s sure of what he wants.
If he’s moody, it might be because he’s confused and hasn’t yet made up his mind about who he wants to be with long term.
It could also be more calculated than that. He might have already decided that he wants to move on, but hasn’t got the courage to tell you and own up to his affair.
Instead, he’s behaving badly in the hope that you’ll end it before he has to.
9. Lots of attention
Not every cheater wants to end their primary relationship. It might be that your boyfriend is cheating, but in the hopes that he can have a bit of fun while still staying with you.
If this is the case, it’s quite likely that he’ll become more attentive rather than less. He’s feeling guilty and wants to make himself feel better by showering you with attention.
Maybe he’ll book a romantic weekend away, or come home with flowers when he never has before.
Perhaps he’ll step up his game when it comes to Christmas or birthday presents and buy you something far more expensive than he ever has before.
Of course, it might just be that he’s been thinking about the future and realizes he wants to pay you more attention and commit to you more than he has before.
That does happen when relationships step up a gear.
But if you don’t think that’s what’s happening, and he’s super attentive out of nowhere, you do have reason to be wary.
10. You know something’s up
If you get that gut feeling that there’s something wrong, it’s probably because there is.
Intuition allows you to pick up on small clues about your boyfriend’s behavior. There might not be anyone big thing that’s changed that you can analyze rationally.
But you know that things are different from how they were and you’re wondering why.
It is important not to allow an openness to intuition to become insecurity, though. Be really honest with yourself.
If you have a history of being suspicious of other people but never being proved right, it might not be your intuition speaking, but your insecurity.
That’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something you should be working on.
If you know that you’re not generally insecure, and you have an overwhelming feeling that there is something wrong, then you’re probably right.
You know your boyfriend better than anyone.
Most importantly, you know exactly how he is when he’s in the first flush of lust with someone, because he did that with you.
There is absolutely a reason that you’re feeling what you’re feeling. It might not be that he’s cheating, but it’s absolutely right that you try and find out what is going on.
Don’t assume, but be aware and start to ask questions.
Even those who are really determined to hide their cheating will nearly always give it away somehow.
Not many people are capable of cheating without any change showing in the behavior.
If you feel like you might be being cheated on, your intuition may tell you before anything else does.
If you get that feeling, start looking out for concrete clues.
These can include:
- Using his phone differently.
- Having sex more or less often, or changing the way he does it.
- Talking about a woman all the time, or not mentioning someone he used to talk about.
- Stepping up his grooming habits or buying new clothes.
- Spending more money.
- Being out of the house more often with work or hobbies.
- Not being interested in doing things with your friends and family.
- Being moody or grumpy.
- Giving you lots of attention.
Some of the signs of cheating are contradictory. Which signs your boyfriend displays will depend on his personality and the nature of his cheating.
He’ll behave differently for example, if he’s having a series of one-night stands than if he has a long-term affair partner.
Keep an open mind, keep an eye out for evidence, and when you’re sure you know, confront him.
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