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Why are so many people blindsided by infidelity? Why do so many betrayed partners never see it coming? Looking back, we ask ourselves: were there signs, red flags, glaring evidence we should have seen coming? The answer is almost always: Yes and No.
Here’s why. In almost all cases of infidelity, the betrayed partner indeed has warning signs, but usually fails to recognize them in time. And what good is a warning sign if you don’t see it and understand its meaning? Not much.
Hindsight is 20/20.
When they look back AFTER the discovery, people tell me they clearly recognized a number of signs.
So, what are the warning signs, clues, or patterns that signal a partner/spouse is being unfaithful to you?
Sign of Infidelity #1: Intuition
Call it a “gut” feeling. It’s that indescribable “knowing” that something just isn’t right. There are times when you may not be able to pinpoint the cause. But somewhere around your solar plexus, you keep getting a gnawing feeling of uneasiness. Inside, you just know… something’s wrong!
“I just couldn’t shake the feeling something wasn’t right.” — Monica
What’s triggering these feelings? Your intuition. I call it our “invisible” deception detection system. Our intuition doesn’t depend on logic (the conscious mind). It relies on energy and information (the subconscious mind).
The conscious mind is extremely limited in how much information it can draw from and process. However, your subconscious mind does draw from ALL available information (tone, past, patterns of behavior, body language, etc.).
So, while someone may try to convince us with logic that everything is OK… our intuition tells us the truth. In hindsight, almost 90% of betrayed spouses recalled a moment of unease — a “hunch” their partners were involved with someone outside of their relationship. This almost always happens. Why is this?
I believe it’s because… all affairs introduce deception.
Whether they’re good liars or not, the behavior of cheaters is affected to some degree. They may try to “overcorrect” by giving you more attention (spontaneous gifts, offering to do housework, etc.) or they might completely withdraw (or somewhere in between) but either way, deception “shifts” personal energy. Everyone has intuition. The more sensitive and aware a person is, the more reliable their intuition becomes.
By the way, intuition is NOT foolproof.
You should be aware of the difference between suspicion and intuition.
- SUSPICION is based on specific clues (unexplained absences, unusual phone calls, etc.). This is often circumstantial evidence.
- INTUITION, on the other hand, requires no evidence. It’s a gut feeling and is purely abstract. That’s why it’s usually the earliest warning sign you get.
What is one of the big “personal” clues they may be cheating?
Sign of Infidelity #2: Shifts in Behavior
More signs of a cheating spouse is often found in their unusual behavior. Another big clue your partner is keeping a secret is, when they have a noticeable “shift” in their behavior, interests or attitude.
Now please keep in mind…
Many things can cause a person’s behavior to shift. It’s not always infidelity. It could be things like a new job, relocation, menopause, illness, financial stress, etc.
But when there are no obvious reasons (and when everything else is relatively calm), shifts in behavior become a big red flag.
All people do develop “patterns” of behavior.
Naturally, after living with another person for a long period of time, most of us will begin to learn — and “pick up on” — our partner’s patterns.
This happens on both a conscious and subconscious level. When people begin acting differently with no apparent reason, there’s usually a hidden reason.
What follows are examples of some noticeable changes in behavior that clued some of our clients in on the fact that their partner was cheating.
CLASSIC BEHAVIOR OF A CHEATING SPOUSE
- Staying up late and on the computer for hours
- A new, unfamiliar hobby
- Noticeable mood swings (being short-tempered, distant, defensive)
- Acting differently towards family and friends (being vague, distracted or “in their own world“)
- Suddenly developing a Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde personality (one minute being more attentive to you, the next minute being mean or cold for no apparent reason)
- New interest in exercise, diet, fashion, colognes or perfumes
- Being overly earnest (having a sudden willingness to run errands, when they usually wouldn’t)
- Hyper-attention to personal hygiene (carrying breath fresheners, gum, mints, etc.)
- Higher than normal desire for sex (including new sense of adventurousness)
- Little or NO desire for sex (often blaming stress, finances, deadlines or work-related excuses)
How far are people who are cheating willing to go?
Sign of Infidelity #3: Acts of Secrecy
There is one word commonly associated with infidelity: secrecy.
Since infidelity is based on deception and dishonesty, wayward partners must do everything in their power to “protect” their secret and avoid getting caught at all costs.
You wouldn’t believe the stories I’ve heard over the years. (People can get very creative when they want to.)
A pilot called into our office last week, desperately wanting to speak to me about his wife’s online affair.
He told me…
It was her secretive behavior that tipped me off. I knew something was going on because she was running from room to room with her laptop. But one day, she had accidentally left the bathroom door unlocked. I walked in on her while she was sitting on the toilet, chatting on her laptop.
Trying to “avoid” being caught is usually what leads to them being caught.
Think about it. People who have something to hide are bound to behave differently than those who are hiding nothing.
Keeping secrets from someone you live with requires hyper-defensiveness, a guarded attitude and vigilance in order to keep the secret safe.
Of course, this eventually leads to telltale changes in behavior that usually gives the cheater away.
Classic Examples of "Secret Protection" Behavior
- Closing dialogue windows or hitting the “delete” key on the computer when you walk into the room
- Erasing computer history after every use
- Changing the password protection on the computer
- Email accounts you have no idea about
- New cell phone
- Unexplained purchases on credit card
- Coming home late because they “just lost track of time”
- ATM withdrawals at unusual locations
- You can’t find your partner’s cell phone bills or credit card statements
- Receiving mysterious phone calls from “unknown” numbers and/or unfamiliar coworkers
What is one thing people who cheat have to have?
Sign of Infidelity #4: Time
One definition of telling the truth is telling the “facts”.
This means if you’re asked a specific question like… “Where were you on Valentine’s night between 6pm and 10pm?” The answer can truthfully be stated as…
“I was at the office.”
What might be “omitted” is relevant information like… “So was my coworker Natasha, and the project we were working on involved skillful removal of her undergarments.“
Most affairs take time.
The deeper the affair gets, the more time it consumes. Time unaccounted for is usually where most cheaters leave the biggest and most damaging amount of evidence.
Why is this?
Because in order for a clandestine relationship to happen, you need three things:
Time, effort and opportunity.
There are only 24 hours in a day, many of which are accounted for in our daily routines (e.g. sleep, work, commuting, meal times, kids’ soccer practice, etc.).
Having an affair means something has to change in the cheater’s timeline.
They have to “make the time” to create the “opportunities”. When something unusual disrupts that routine, it’s not that hard to notice.
CLASSIC SIGNS OF TIMELINE CHANGES
- Working late with no overtime pay increases to prove it
- Unusually high automobile mileage
- Time spent on “girls’ night out” — except you don’t know these girls
- Errands to the store that take three times longer than usual
- They’re out of “sick” days and you can’t remember the last time they were sick
- Hotel bills vs. expense account records that don’t match
- Business trips that suddenly get “extended”
What causes a cheating spouse to pull away?
Sign of Infidelity #5: Pulling Away
Call it a “gut” feeling. It’s that indescribable “knowing” that something just isn’t right. There are times when you may not be able to pinpoint the cause. But somewhere around your solar plexus, you keep getting a gnawing feeling of uneasiness. Inside you just know… something’s wrong!
“We slept in the same bed, and yet it felt like we were miles apart.” — NICK K.
We all encounter strangers every day… at the mall, the grocery store, in airports, etc.
But what happens when the “stranger” is the person sleeping in your bed?
This feeling of “not recognizing” your partner and sensing emotional and sometimes physical distance may be an indication that your partner’s attention is occupied elsewhere.
What causes a cheating spouse to pull away?
Whenever a person has an extramarital affair, they need to protect their secrets.
Privacy is the highest priority.
So many times, a cheating husband or wife tries to distance themselves from their partners, so they can pursue their “hidden” desires without getting caught.
CLASSIC EXAMPLES OF PULLING AWAY AND DISTANCING TECHNIQUES
- Starting fights in order for somebody to wind up sleeping in another room or on the couch
- Ignoring or criticizing any effort you make to question their actions
- Wanting to go out with “their” friends (as opposed to “our” friends)
- Loss of interest in family events (spending more time alone)
- Claiming a personal crisis and needing time “to find themselves”
What is rule number one, in the game of dishonesty?
Sign of Infidelity #6: Denial
There are two forms of denial: internal and external. Here’s how they play out.
“Every time I confronted her, she would deny it and tell me it was all in my head.” — PHILIP W.
YOU: You’ve seen the clues. Warning bells are going off left and right. Red flags are all over the place. You don’t have “hard proof” of an affair, but something isn’t adding up and so you finally confront them.
THEM: They deny everything (external denial). They have an excuse or alibi for everything. They argue and rationalize a “reason” for every one of your suspicions. They may even go so far as to tell you, “it’s all in your head,” or accuse you of being paranoid, insecure or crazy.
THEM: They point out other situations/things you have overreacted to in the past or state how you’ve always been prone to jealousy. This kind of denial (emotional, reactive and heated) is often just another red flag.
Because this is one of the most common “defense” tactics a cheating spouse will use to make their partner back off, back down or even feel guilty for insinuating they’re doing something wrong.
And if the tactic works…
YOU go into the second type of denial (internal).
YOU: You doubt yourself. You question your sanity. Maybe it IS all in your head. Of course he had a 5-hour dinner meeting on Thanksgiving. You convince yourself your husband isn’t cheating with another woman. YOU tell yourself it’s your fault and concede… maybe you are overreacting.
When it comes to infidelity…
YOU CAN BOTH GET CAUGHT IN THE GAME OF DENIAL
What is denial?
It’s an “automatic” (i.e. unconscious) mental tactic employed to protect or defend us from the “threat” of some emotional pain.
CLASSIC FORMS OF DENIAL
- DON’T ASK/DON’T TELL: In other words, burying your head in the sand or turning a blind eye. This is where internal denial helps to protect us from the pain of confronting a loved one’s betrayal caused by an extramarital affair.
- RATIONALIZATION: You spend time trying to convince yourself YOUR partner would never have an affair (they’re a “good” person, an upright citizen, etc.).
- EXCUSE-MAKING: They spend a lot of time explaining why they aren’t having an affair (often coming up with outrageous alibis).
- HIGHLY SELECTIVE MEMORY: When asked specifics like “who was that on the phone?” A husband or wife who’s having a love affair or cheating… may play dumb. Or when asked to account for specific time away from home, they’re oblivious or “act like” they don’t remember.
Sign of Infidelity #7: Blame Shifting
It’s a very clever ploy. To deflect attention or take the heat off them, the cheater accuses the “innocent” partner of cheating.
This is a “reverse manipulation technique” that’s downright nasty.
By shifting the focus (from them to you), the attention is deflected and the innocent starts scrambling to prove their innocence.
This is manipulation with a master’s degree.
Lawyers use it all the time. It’s a projection technique designed to shift the focus away from the real issues.
CLASSIC EXAMPLES OF BLAME SHIFTING
- MISDIRECTION: Whenever you bring up the topic, they immediately change the subject. They use evasive or defensive techniques (even anger) to dodge the issue. This takes the focus off their behavior and puts you off track.
- SHAME ON YOU: This technique is about using guilt and subtle put-downs to make you feel stupid. They try to shame you into backing off and leaving them alone.
“She kept accusing me of having an affair with one of my ex-girlfriends. I found myself constantly having to reassure her I was innocent.” —KRISTOF G.
- MINIMIZATION: They tell you that you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. It’s just harmless friendship. “He/she is going through a rough time and I’m just being a good friend.” Meanwhile, the cheater is doing everything possible to keep the “harmless” friendship a secret.
- REVERSE PARANOIA: Suddenly, your partner becomes overly suspicious of your behavior. They start accusing you of having an affair, lying about things, following them or snooping on them.
Sign of Infidelity #8: The Emotional Fog
“So many times I would look over at her and she seemed so far away with a look on her face that reminded me of a teenage girl dreaming of the high school quarterback.” — JOHN H.
Do you remember your first crush?
That giddy, giggly, groovy feeling that seemed to take over your whole body?
You couldn’t concentrate in class. The person you had a crush on was just about all you could think of. Whenever you were apart, you couldn’t wait to be back in their presence. Everything took second place to him/her.
For teenagers, this is really “puppy love” or infatuation. For adults engaged in an illicit relationship, a better term is an emotional fog.
It’s a dangerous AND delicious emotional state.
That’s what makes it so exciting and addictive — being caught up in the lure of the “forbidden”, the high of the “unknown”, the sensuality of the “newness”. Many partners lose their grip on reality and get caught up in the “illusion” of their thoughts and feelings.
CLASSIC SIGNS OF THE EMOTIONAL FOG
- They walk around in a daze (like a teenager with a crush).
- They lose their appetite and seem to be “in their own world”.
- They lose interest in sex (or have heightened interest in sex).
- They’re more responsive to love songs — while songs about “lying and cheating” cause them to cringe and quickly change the station.
During the emotional fog, the illicit relationship may or may not have been consummated. But one thing is clear: emotions are now involved. And once emotions are involved, they have crossed the line!
OK, there you have it. My list of the 8 most reliable warning signs of a cheating spouse. As I’ve said before, “suspicion” is NOT proof. And the very last thing you want to do is confront your partner without real solid proof.
Let me ask you this: After reading the warning signs, are you feeling more fearful or less fearful that your partner may be drifting away or betraying you?
If you’re more fearful, then it’s time to take action. But not just any action — you need to know the RIGHT ACTION to take.
That’s one area I can help you in.
If you’re worried about possible infidelity, and you want to know how to get your partner to volunteer the truth, then I invite you to book a private phone or Skype session with me.
I’ll teach you some of the ways I’ve been using to help couples achieve more open and honest communication, how to manage jealousy and rebuild trust.
You and I can work together and prevent the further deterioration/decline of your marriage or relationship.
Or you can read my article on becoming a more transparent couple.
I want to congratulate you for even being willing to read an article like this. It takes courage to face these things and look for answers.
Whatever the future holds for you…
I want to encourage you to take the lead in your relationship, so you and your partner can focus on building a more emotionally healthy relationship… one that’s based on transparency, trust and open, honest communications.
Let me know how it goes.
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!