Few people enter into a relationship with the express intention of committing infidelity. However, the harrowing reality is that cheating is just a part of modern dating. In fact, anywhere from 13 to 16 percent of individuals in their early to mid-20s have slept with someone else while in a relationship, according to research from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.
Of course, you can’t just avoid relationships altogether in fear of your partner cheating on you. But what you can do is learn the tells of infidelity. For instance, you’ll want to be careful if your partner starts getting overly curious about when you’ll be home, as this could be a sign that they’re doing things they don’t want you to know about. And if they ever ask you about your thoughts on cheating—well, it’s safe to assume that if they ask about cheating, then it’s on their mind. Herein, we’ve gathered tips from relationship experts nationwide to round up some common things people will say if they want to cheat (or if they already are). And if you’re worried that your relationship is falling apart, try these 50 Ways to Keep Your Marriage Fresh.
“What would you do if I cheated on you…hypothetically?”
If your partner ever says something like this, then you should consider that it’s something they’re genuinely thinking about doing, or at least that they’re not happy in the relationship on its currently trajectory.
“When cheating is on the horizon, I often hear partners… list a certain kind of person, a location, time of day, or they may even name someone in their life,” says Racine Henry, Ph.D., owner of Sankofa Therapy, a New York City-based relationship therapy group. These hypothetical conversations, Henry warns, often lead to “unintentional cheating,” which both partners should be hyperaware of.
“Do you like my new haircut?”
If your partner has had the same haircut for a decade but comes home one day with a bold new ‘do, this could “indicate an effort to impress another person,” says Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor and co-owner of Double Trust Dating, an online and in-person dating service. And it’s not just a new haircut you should be on the lookout for. Any big changes in appearance, like “losing weight, buying new clothes, or starting to wear makeup more often,” could be an indication that your S.O. is starting to stray, according to Bennett. And if you want to salvage your relationship without changing who you are, try these 12 Ways to Spice Up Your Relationship—with Your Phone.
“Oh, John? I have no idea where he is.”
A person in a committed relationship should be able to tell you where their partner is when they aren’t with them. However, someone who’s on the verge of cheating (intentionally or otherwise) will stop checking in with their spouse or significant other, if only to try to forget that they have a spouse in the first place.
“How exactly did you manage to clean the dishes wrong? You’re so stupid!”
Though the partner cheating (or thinking about cheating) is in the wrong, they are often also the one in the relationship trying to bring the other person down and causing issues, thanks to their own guilt over their thoughts and/or actions.
“Often someone who is cheating is feeling a lot of guilt,” says Bethany Ricciardi, a sex and relationship expert with TooTimid, an adult-only online store. “Your partner can easily take out this shame on you by making you feel bad about yourself.” If your partner has suddenly become more hostile and aggressive with no reasonable explanation, you might want to sit down with them and assess the longevity of your relationship. And for ways to tell that your marriage or relationship is beyond repair, read up on the 20 Surefire Signs Your Relationship Is Over.
“Sorry I haven’t texted today, work was really busy.”
Your partner used to text you every hour on the hour, but now they’re using “too much work” as an excuse to be MIA all day. If this sounds familiar, then be careful. It could be a red flag that infidelity is on the horizon. “If your partner withdraws attention, then he or she might be giving it to other people,” says Bennett. “For example, if you used to get a lot of text messages and photos throughout the day but that suddenly stops with no explanation, someone else might be getting that attention.”
“I’m going to be traveling a lot more for work.”
Even if your spouse hasn’t ever considered cheating before, a promotion at work that offers them many opportunities to travel could mean trouble in paradise. Unfortunately, disposable income combined with work travel make cheating convenient, and so it’s best to discuss this possibility before it even happens.
“Powerful people have many opportunities—with travel, higher income, etc.—to both be offered and conceal infidelity,” says neuroscientist Nicole Prause, Ph.D. “If your partner is taking a position that will increase their travel, it is worth talking about your expectations regarding sex.” And if you want to use travel to help your relationship, plan a romantic getaway to one of these 10 Stunning American Resorts Under $150-a-Night.
“Work was fine.”
“When a relationship isn’t working out, you might find your partner is sharing less and less with you,” explains Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, director of the Baltimore Therapy Center. “You used to hear about their day at work, and now it’s mostly just, ‘Nothing much happened.’ Sharing is a sign of closeness and connection—and when that deteriorates, it’s a sign that you are becoming more disconnected instead.” And for ways to nurture the closeness that once existed, try The 50 Best Bonding Activities for Married Couples.
“I don’t think I’d consider that cheating, per se.”
“Rarely do partners have a clear and honest conversation about exactly what behaviors they consider to be unfaithful and that sometimes leads to unintentional cheating,” says Henry. Of course, this doesn’t apply to cheating in the traditional sense, but refers more to emotional cheating or overstepping the boundary between friendship and something more. If you want your partner to stay faithful, it is essential that you sit down with them and clarify precisely what ‘cheating’ entails.
“What time do you think you’ll be home tonight?”
Some spouses just want to know when their husband or wife is coming home because they miss them and can’t wait to see them. Less honorable spouses, however, could be checking in because they want to know how much time they have to sneak around or, if they aren’t cheating yet, just explore the idea of being with someone else through dating apps or online chat rooms.
“Why don’t we try something new in bed tonight?”
If your significant other is looking to spice things up in the bedroom, it could be an indication that they find the current situation to be lackluster and unsatisfactory. And while it’s good that they’re still trying to salvage the relationship you have, this could also be a sign that your partner is this close to finding satisfaction somewhere else. If you think your bedroom life is a little too boring, by the way, try these 10 Moves That Will Save Your Relationship.
“Let’s try (insert new position here).”
Again, your partner trying new things in bed isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But if they’re suddenly showing up in the bedroom with moves you’ve never seen before, you may want to question what—or who—is giving them these ideas. “Yes, [your partner] could be learning a thing or two from the porn they watch, or maybe they’ve been doing some research in a lifestyle magazine—but if you aren’t sure where these new moves are coming from, your partner could be learning them from someone else,” says Ricciardi.
“I just feel like you don’t appreciate me.”
A person’s insecurities can interfere with their relationships in many major ways. Not only will an insecure person question whether they’re worthy of being in a relationship and create problems that don’t exist, but often times they will also seek validation in other places—namely, by cheating with other people. In doing this, this person is seeking to boost their self-confidence and confirm that they’re good enough, with no regard for the effects this might have on their relationship. And if you are constantly questioning your self-worth, then consider these 20 Signs You’re Too Sensitive.
“Let’s go skydiving!”
When a person begins to lose interest in their relationship, they may look for thrill and adventure in other areas of their life before they decide to venture into the uncharted territories of infidelity. If your parter starts hinting at trying crazy, adventurous activities that they’ve never mentioned before (like skydiving or extreme rock-climbing), this could be an indication that the relationship isn’t providing them with the stimulation they crave.
“Why don’t we ever go out anymore?”
It’s easy—and natural!—to fall into a routine in a long-term relationship. However, if you don’t make an effort to spice things up every once in a while, your partner might lose interest in the relationship altogether and instead try to find someone who will take them out on the town, once again showing them what it means to be romantic. And if you need inspiration for your next date night, try these 40 Best Date Ideas If You’re Over 40.
“I know you’re cheating on me!”
Ironically, an easy way to tell if your spouse is cheating on you is by how often they accuse you of cheating. “This is often a sign of self-guilt, and it also will put the blame on you, causing you to be on the defense and distracted from their actions,” says Ricciardi. “It’s quite manipulative… because they get so upset during the conversation, you start to think they hate cheating and would never do it to you, when in reality they might have [done it] already.”
“That’s months away, so let’s not worry about it right now.”
If you’re trying to plan a vacation a few months in advance but your partner keeps putting it off with one excuse after another, this might be a sign that they’re starting to see a future with someone else. When someone is unhappy in their current situation, they will avoid making plans or even talking about the long-term, since for them any plans would just prolong the inevitable breakup and get in the way of their new life and relationship. And if you’re worried that you’ll soon be uncoupling, don’t fret: Here are 12 Genius Ways to Happily Fly Solo As a Single Person.
“What do you mean? I’ve always listened to country music!”
Your partner always used to changed the station when Luke Bryan was on, but now all of a sudden, they’re jamming out in the car with “Country Girl” on repeat. It’s possible that your spouse has uncovered a deeply buried love for country music, but it’s more likely that they’re only listening to the music they once detested because it reminds them of someone else—particularly, someone they have feelings for. Your partner might not be cheating yet, but the fact that they’re making an effort to enjoy this person’s music is a sign that infidelity isn’t far off.
“Seriously, you really didn’t have to do that.”
You come home from work with flowers and chocolates for your significant other—but instead of reacting with excitement and gratitude, they act like you just brought home a box of deadly spiders. This could be because your spouse isn’t emotionally invested in the relationship, and so the last thing they want is for you to be nice to them. In their mind, the meaner you are, the easier it is to justify their actions.
“Do you think I’m pretty?”
As many women and men know, it’s hard to be in a healthy relationship when your self-consciousness is constantly telling you that you’re too fat or too ugly to be loved by someone, let alone someone as good as your significant other. And when someone is too insecure to love their body, they might seek external affirmation—not from their partner, but from strangers and other members of the opposite sex. And if you struggle to accept the way you look, try these 40 Ways to Be Kinder to Yourself After 40.
“What? I like looking at you!”
Catching your significant other staring at you when you aren’t looking might feel like a good sign, but it could actually be an indication that trouble is brewing. When someone is questioning their current situation, they will take any opportunity they can get to analyze their partner and even compare them to the other men or women in their life who they are considering romantically.
“Samantha is fine, I guess. I barely even see her anymore.”
People who cheat on their significant others with someone in their life—say, a good friend or a coworker—might make an effort to stop mentioning that person in conversation so as to avoid an accidental slip-up. And when you try to bring that person up in conversation, you’ll notice that your spouse will hastily reroute the conversation, emphasizing how they barely even talk to so-and-so anymore.
“Why does it matter where I’m going?”
When your partner suddenly starts to becomes secretive about where they’re going and what they’re doing, it could be because they’re sneaking around behind your back. Often your partner will not only become private about their life, but will also get defensive and shift the blame when you bring it up, saying things like “Why do you care?” and “It’s none of your business where I am all the time!”
“I should retire to Florida one day.”
Take note of whether your significant other is using the word “I” or “we” when they talk about the future. If they’re starting to use the former, it could mean that they’re imaging a future without you in it, explains Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and relationship expert with TONE Networks. “They might start saying things like, ‘I sure hope to go to Bali someday,’ ‘I would love to buy a house in Spain’—that sort of thing,” Durvasula says.
“Have I told you how good you look today?”
“There might be a lot more compliments when a partner is starting to think about infidelity,” says Durvasula. “They will perhaps even go out of their way to be nice or helpful, and it may come out of nowhere.” That’s because when someone is on the verge of committing adultery, they want to mask their guilt behind niceties, partially to distract their partner and partially to make themselves feel better about their wrongdoings.
“I’m so sick of this!”
Instead of trying to resolve the problems in their current relationship, many people will use cheating as an opportunity to start something with a completely clean slate. “The assumption is that the partner won’t understand and/or won’t make the necessary changes to meet the person’s needs,” says Henry, “and instead of taking the risk, they delight in the ease of creating something else with a person they have less investment in and less history with.”
“What? I always take my phone with me to shower.”
If your significant other is cheating on you, then there is likely evidence on their phone of this infidelity. And because they don’t want to get caught, they are going to guard this evidence at all costs, making sure to never leave their phone unattended—especially with you. If you suspect your partner of cheating, just ask to borrow their phone—their response should give you the answer you need.
“Oh, sorry, I completely forgot we had that today.”
Living a double-life is no easy feat. And because a cheater has to juggle their life at home with their secret life behind-the-scenes, they will often forget what’s happening in one life versus the other, leading to forgotten obligations, repeated conversations, and accidental slip-ups that are quickly covered up with yet another lie. And while you’re at it, watch out for the 40 Lies Everyone Over 40 Tells.
“I just think it’s too hot to be holding hands outside.”
As your relationship progresses and that initial honeymoon phase wears off, it’s natural for your partner to become less adamant about public displays of affection. But if they suddenly go from holding your hand every day to brushing you off when you reach out for their palm, this could be a sign that they’re trying to distance themselves from you both emotionally and physically. And if you’re worried about your relationship, make sure you’re doing these 30 Things That Will Improve Your Marriage.
“I’m going out with a new friend tonight, so don’t wait up.”
Obviously you should encourage your partner to get out there and make new friends—but if your spouse starts spending more time with this new “friend” than they do with you, then it might be time to consider that there are some emotions involved that could turn into something inappropriate.
“I think I’m going to join a book club.”
You should always be encouraging of your partner getting out there and picking up new hobbies—but if you start to notice that your spouse doesn’t talk about their new hobby and doesn’t want you anywhere near it, it could be a sign that they’re using it as an excuse to meet someone new or even meet up with someone they’re getting to know behind your back. “If your partner starts being really interested in a random place or thing, make sure there isn’t also a person attached to that,” says Ricciardi. Instead, suggest to them that the two of you take up one of the 20 Summer Hobbies That Will Change Your Life.
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