12 subtle signs you’ve got a cheating spouse
Is your partner stepping out? Pay attention to these potential signs of infidelity. By Christine Coppa
All images: Getty Images
The red flags of infidelity
An unfaithful spouse will usually try their hardest to cover their tracks, but aside from catching them in the act, there are some other telling signs that could signal that they’re engaging in an affair. Do any of these ring true?
They come home later
Are you used to your husband or wife arriving home by 6 p.m. to share a much-needed end-of-day martini or help with dinner, baths, and bedtime? A sudden change in that routine may be a sign of cheating. “When someone stops coming home at the regular time, on a regular basis, be wary,” says dating and relationship advice and etiquette expert April Masini.
“When a schedule changes and there’s no comment about why or what he or she is doing differently, it may be because your spouse is cheating on you.”
Some people will offer an excuse for their change in routine – like going to the gym late because it’s less crowded (and because you’re less likely to question the “post-workout shower”), says Masini.
Date night has been replaced by a new guys-only club
Not cool. Date night is a hallmark of marriage, so when your date night with your spouse disappears, it might be because they’re having a date night with someone else. According to Masini, author of Think & Date Like a Man, a more experienced cheating spouse will keep your date night, but end it early because they have a “work issue” or a “poker game” that runs until after midnight. “Breaking up the night to make time for date night with another lady is one way you’ll know you’re with someone who’s probably cheating,” she says.
They no longer want you to do laundry
While this sounds like a break for you, this may be one of the signs of cheating. “When your spouse stops letting you do his or her laundry or drop off his or her dry cleaning, you often have a cheating situation on your hands,” says Masini. “There may be evidence on the clothes or in the pockets, and it’s much safer for someone who’s cheating to handle their own laundry and dry cleaning.” She says to pay attention to a spouse who acts like they’re doing you a favour because it’s more about keeping a secret.
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You found an unfamiliar credit card in your spouse’s name
Most married couples have joint accounts or share information about family finances. There are budgets to consider and conversations about spending before a big purchase. “When you find a credit card, you’ve got a smoking gun,” Masini says. “Unless this is a work credit card, which you’d probably know about, a secret credit card is pretty hard and fast evidence that you’ve got a cheating spouse.”
Your spouse is too cool about the mobile phone
Most people who think their spouse is having an affair will immediately ask to see their phone to scroll through texts and incoming/outgoing calls. Don’t be fooled if they let you, says psychiatrist Scott Haltzman, MD, author of the book The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity. “If he or she gives you full access, it’s a sign they may have a second phone,” Dr. Haltzman says.
Or, they won’t let you near their phone
Helen, a married mum with a toddler son, says her husband never had a password on his phone because their child loved accessing the fun apps. All of a sudden that changed, and when Helen asked for the four-digit code, her husband declined and typed it in privately. Red flag alert! This is definitely one of the signs of cheating.
“Something is definitely wrong,” says Laurie Puhn, JD, a couples mediator and author of the book Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute Conversations to Change Your Relationship without Blowing Up or Giving In. Passwords should be shared in a marriage; there are random times when you need the phone number for the plumber and it’s in your partner’s phone or email account, or you need to check an e-receipt that was sent to your spouse.
“It’s not that you need a list of his passwords, but should you ask for one – for a legitimate reason – he should give it to you,” says Puhn. This should not be a big deal. By not telling you the code, your spouse may be admitting to a secret of some sort.
Your marriage has turned sexless
“Not wanting to have sex anymore – or a lot less than usual – can mean many things, including that he or she might be cheating,” says Puhn. “Essentially if your partner is pulling away from you.” Now, this might not be one of the signs of cheating; this could also be because your partner is focused on an upsetting job situation, financial stress, or a family health issue but whatever the reason, you must bring it up soon, with warmth and tact.
“Let them know that you noticed a difference and try to rekindle with daily hugs, warm smiles, a touch on the back and, of course, pursue sex. See if this opens the door to a warm heartfelt conversation.”
Your husband is suddenly Mr Gift Giver
A “just because” spa gift card or new purse – completely unrelated to a birthday, anniversary, or work promotion – could be a lovely surprise, or it could be a clue that your partner is feeling guilty about something and trying to compensate. “Have a direct conversation,” advises Puhn. You could say something like: “It’s only been in the last few months that you are bringing me surprise presents. While this is thoughtful, I am wondering if something led you to start doing this?”
See what he says and watch how he acts. “Also, look for other clues, like if he cancels plans and those long-stem roses are some sort of consolation prize.” It could signal you’ve got a cheating spouse on your hands. Or, he could just be feeling the love.
They have a special Facebook friend
Nicole sat down to her family computer and up popped a big surprise: a message from a woman that read, “I can’t stop thinking about you, baby. When will I see you again?” Face it: Social media friends don’t message like that. They congratulate each other on the birth of a new baby or a cool vacation photo. When the conversation gets racy, it’s one of the very clear signs of cheating.
“Most cheaters these days are caught via text or on social media,” says dating and relationship expert Rachel Russo. “When women snoop on a man or accidentally find something, it’s often what they suspected. There could be incriminating photos, texts, or a call history that would prove to be evidence of an affair.”
There are blackouts
“I’m not talking about someone being unconscious,” says Masini. “I’m talking about a spouse having blackout periods where you don’t know where he or she is, you can’t reach them, and you don’t get a viable explanation about where they’ve been or why they didn’t respond to a call or text.”
It takes two seconds to send a text and it’s not normal for a married or seriously committed couple to be out of touch for hours wondering what the heck is going on.
They ditch family time with the kids
“When a partner starts pulling away from people and occasions that are usually a high priority, it could be a cause for concern,” says relationship expert Amy Spencer, author of Meeting Your Half-Orange.
“Every person is unique in how they balance work and family, so the key lies in whether or not a behaviour is ‘so not like them.’” Work does get in the way of family occasions, Spencer acknowledges, and let’s be honest, sometimes it’s a handy “get out of jail free card” for family events someone might not be as into.
“But if your partner has always enjoyed BBQs with the family and kids, and if work has never gotten in the way of events like this before, it raises a red flag.”
They have new hobbies that exclude you
“Of course it’s wonderful if a partner takes on a new hobby, especially one that contributes to his/her health,” says Spencer of this one of our signs of cheating. “But there are two causes for concern. First, if they appear to dive into a hobby out of the blue, rather than talking about the hobby a lot or easing slowly into it. And second, if they devote an unusual amount of hours or efforts to it.” For example, a person who suddenly begins running every night for stretches as long as three hours.
One way to gauge the truth is to tell your partner that you support their hobby and it would be nice to follow along on their progress. Then, think about how a person who really is devoted to running would respond. They would likely be proud to share the route they’re mapping out or the time they’re trying to beat. “If your partner insists on being vague, that could be a concern.”