How do you know if your partner is cheating, and what do you do once you know? Relationship experts Rea Frey and Stephany Alexander share some of those clues to help either put your fears of infidelity to rest or prove them true and know what to do.
Is Your Lover Cheating?
"The number one clue not to be overlooked? Women's intuition" said, Frey and Alexander. "We usually know when something is going on." They also suggest the following signs might point to infidelity:
- Partner brings a new, random person up in conversation all the time.
- Partner becomes increasingly private about cell phone usage and computer time (such as hiding screen when texting and spending more time on the computer or changing the screen display when you enter the room). He might also refrain from answering the phone around you, turn the ringer off or take longer than usual to call you back.
- Behavioral changes (such as getting more defensive, pulling away emotionally or physically, wanting less sex or more sex)
- Takes sudden business trips or stays away for unexplained amounts of time
- Unaccounted for hairs/perfume/cigarette smoke on clothing
Frey and Alexander suggest examining your own relationship baggage before accusing your partner of cheating. Just because you've been cheated on before doesn't mean you're being cheated on again. "Make sure you have a valid reason to believe your partner is cheating," they say and then take steps to discover the truth.
Obtain Cell Phone Records
"Watch his cell phone behavior," Frey and Alexander suggest. "Does he always turn off his cell phone when he's with you because he doesn't want any incoming calls from the 'other' woman? Do your calls go straight to his voicemail a little too often? If you have access to his cell phone, check it for repetitive unknown numbers and suspicious text messages. If you have access to his cell phone bill, note repeated calls."
Watch Unaccounted Time
"Pay attention to unaccounted for time (this is time when your partner is away from you, doing other things such as business lunches or trips, going to the gym, etc.) Is he spending time with, or talking a lot about, someone new? People usually cheat when they are not with their spouse, so start noticing his daily habits."
"Follow the cheater in question during these unaccounted for amounts of time," advise Frey and Alexander. "If he says he has to work late, show up unexpectedly to bring him a gift to reward him for working so hard. If you don't live with him, drive by his house to see if he's home when he is supposed to be. You can also take this a step further and set a trap. Ninety-nine percent of the time, people will cheat when their partner is out of town or when they are traveling. Tell your partner you are leaving for the weekend and then wait and watch. If he doesn't come home all night, he could be at another woman's house or at a hotel."
Check Computer History
Frey and Alexander suggest checking your partner's computer history. "Does he have multiple email accounts or a free email account you don't know about? If you suspect your partner is involved in an affair, you can install a keystroke logger, which logs every keystroke. Check his Internet web browser history (cache) for unusual websites he may be surfing." Of course, think carefully about invading your partner's privacy in such a manner.
Clues Around the House
The proof of an affair might be right in front of your eye. "Check your home for clues, such as hairs, bobby pins, rubber bands, receipts, condoms in trashcans, etc.," urged Frey and Alexander.
Full-Blown Privacy Invasion
Frey and Alexander suggest some tactics that can be incredibly effective in proving infidelity, yet which are profound invasions of privacy. "Place a tape recorder in the car, in an office, or under the bed to see if your partner is doing anything out of the ordinary. Place a GPS tracking device in the car. They are usually no larger than a pack of gum and will track anywhere an automobile goes." Double check with your local and state laws before doing this.
Your partner's spending habits can reveal an affair if you look closely enough. "If you have access to his bank or credit card statements, check them for unusual transactions. Pay attention to any strange ATM withdrawals or unexplained travel and business expenses. If he claims to be working late, check paycheck stubs to verify overtime," advised Frey and Alexander.
Once Infidelity Is Proven
If you're able to discover infidelity, it's likely you are hurt, devastated, outraged and may feel revengeful. "Suddenly, your entire relationship becomes a lie - and people often reduce their entire relationships to the cheating fiasco," said Frey and Alexander. "The betrayed person can also feel like they are lacking in some area - that they caused this to happen. It's important to realize cheating is usually symptomatic of something else missing in the relationship. If you want to salvage your partnership, this is a good time to really examine your union and learn to recreate the trust and boundaries between the two of you."
Recovering From Infidelity
"It's important to know how you both feel about infidelity," said Frey and Alexander. "Is this a deal breaker? Can you live with knowing your partner has been unfaithful? Is breaking this vow worse than breaking any of the other vows? Really take time to figure this out (emotions aside)."
Navigate Next Steps
"Once you know what you are going to do, assess the situation," said Frey and Alexander. "If you are going to stay together, figure out what you need to know to move on."
Calling It Quits
Frey and Alexander advise, "If you know you are going to break up, figure out the logistics of breaking up. Are you married? Do you have kids? What will be involved in separating your lives? Will you need a lawyer? A mediator? How will you divide the finances and responsibilities?"
Prepare for Life Sans Partner
Practical steps must be taken when a relationship ends, says Frey and Alexander. "Make copies of all important documents so if you do decide to part, you will be armed with the necessary information to begin your separation."
The Cheater's Reaction
Frey and Alexander say that a cheater caught in their lies may be very defensive. "No one likes to get caught. He could also throw the accusation back at you or make you feel incredibly guilty or even crazy to accuse him. Many cheaters have valid excuses for their behavior and make you doubt your intuition. This is why it's important not to accuse someone until you have gathered evidence. Cheaters often use something called "blame-switching" techniques to take the focus off what they may have done to put it on your faults. Cheaters may also look you in the eye, lie, and even cry in order to deny any wrongdoings. However, it's really not hard to catch a cheater. You just have to be patient and know where to look."
Responding to Cheating Defense
Stay calm when dealing with a cheater's defense, suggested Frey and Alexander. "It's easy to start doubting yourself or lose it if someone is denying these accusations, but your gut instinct is rarely wrong. However, obtaining concrete evidence is the only way to refute these denials and prove that you are right. If you can't prove infidelity and your partner continuously denies cheating, you have to decide how to move forward. You can't leave in paranoia, so figure out how you feel about infidelity. Is this a deal breaker? Can you move on? Do you want to? You have to pay attention to your wants and needs and realize cheating isn't always indicative of how someone feels about you."
Just because you feel like your partner is cheating doesn't make it fact. It's possible that defensive behavior from your partner upon being accused may be a result of being falsely accused. A certain level of trust between you two may also be lost, if only temporarily, as your partner comes to grips with the idea that you don't completely trust them. Work together to build that trust back up mutually.
The Cheat Sheet
Frey and Alexander wrote a book together about finding out if a partner is cheating. Titled The Cheat Sheet the book "will help anyone in a relationship," they said. "It's not just about infidelity. It's about pinpointing those issues before you get to an affair. It's about affair-proofing your relationship. It's about moving on, with or without your partner. It's about dealing with the aftermath. It's about learning to look for clues and knowing your limits. The Cheat Sheet provides each reader with the tools to make his/her own decision."
The book reveals that infidelity can happen to anyone at any time. Says Frey and Alexander, "There's not just 'one' type of person who cheats. Everyone is capable of infidelity. It's easy to judge a cheater - to write him/her off as a bad person, but it's not that simple. There are cheating stories from all walks of life: married, single, straight, gay, religious, teenagers. You name it, they've cheated. It's a prevalent issue in today's society. Around half of men and women in committed relationships are slated to cheat, so it's important to pinpoint why this happens to protect your union from infidelity. I think these stories are relatable - no matter who you are."
Review of The Cheat Sheet Book
LTK Writer Marcelina Hardy reviewed The Cheat Sheet and provides the following review: "With infidelity rates rising throughout the world for men and women, this book should be on everyone's bookshelf. The clues should be kept in the back of everyone's mind as well as the tricks to discovering if someone is unfaithful. As the authors have mentioned, infidelity isn't reserved for one type of person, so don't discount yourself as a possible victim. Since the book does focus on every person in a cheating relationship, there may be some sections that may upset some readers, such as the viewpoints of the mistress. However, you can easily skip these sections that stir up uncomfortable feelings and gain a tremendous amount of information and support."
Be Your Own Advocate
You have a right to know if your partner isn't upholding their part of your agreement of exclusivity. Though it may take some digging to discover the truth, it's certainly worth it to put some effort toward finding out the truth.