26 Things People Say That Are Signs of Cheating
Therapists say you'll want to keep your ears open for these common signs of a cheating partner.
Few people enter into a relationship with the express intention of committing infidelity. However, the harrowing truth is that cheating is a reality for far too many couples. So, what can you do to avoid having your heart broken? The first step is learning the signs that your partner is cheating (or at least thinking about it). For instance, you'll want to be careful if they're getting overly curious about when you'll be home. And if they accuse you of being paranoid, they could be gaslighting you to cover up their own guilt. Read on to hear from therapists about the things people say that are signs of cheating.
"You're being paranoid."
A classic way to deflect one's own guilty behavior is to try to pin it on the other person and make them second guess themselves.
"When confronted about their behavior, cheaters may try to gaslight their partner by insisting they are paranoid," says Lisa Lawless, PhD, sexual health expert and CEO of Holistic Wisdom. "This manipulative tactic aims to shift the blame away from the cheater. This is a big red flag because someone who is not cheating would be more open to discussing it and reassuring their partner that everything is alright."
"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—another classic gaslighting tactic.
"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 Bethany Ricciardi, a sex and relationship expert with TooTimid. "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 already."
"We're just friends; I don't even find them attractive."
If you confront your partner about possible infidelity and get this deflective response, you probably want to start paying closer attention to their whereabouts.
"Cheaters may downplay the nature of their relationship with their lover by insisting that they are just friends and adding that they are not their type," shares Lawless.
"Why don't we try something new in bed tonight?"
If your significant other is suddenly looking to spice things up in the bedroom, you may want to proceed with caution.
"If they are trying out new things with this new person, they may want to come home and ask their partner to try new things," notes Jennifer Kelman, licensed clinical social worker and mental health expert on JustAnswer. "If the partner is not interested, it could reaffirm this person's feeling that things are dull and they have a right to step outside the relationship as sex may feel mundane or boring."
Another reason an unfaithful partner might initiate more sex is "to avoid arousing suspicion of their unfaithful behavior," adds Lawless.
"Can you hold me?"
On its own, this is a sweet sentiment. But if your partner is suddenly seeking more physical affection from you, it could be that they're trying to make themselves feel better about their infidelity.
"Clinginess could come from guilt or diverting attention from themselves," notes Lawless.
"Have I told you how good you look today?"
Another way a cheater may mask their guilt is behind niceties.
"There might be a lot more compliments when a partner is starting to think about infidelity," says Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and relationship expert with Tone Networks. "They will perhaps even go out of their way to be nice or helpful."
"How exactly did you manage to clean the dishes wrong?"
Though the partner cheating is in the wrong, they also may be the ones trying to bring their partner down.
"Often someone who is cheating is feeling a lot of guilt," says Ricciardi. "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 for a serious discussion about your relationship.
"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 dating service Double Trust Dating.
Other big changes in appearance—like "losing weight, buying new clothes, or starting to wear makeup more often," according to Bennett—could also be subtle signs of cheating.
"Sorry I haven't texted today, work was really busy."
Your partner used to text you here and there throughout the day, but now they're using "too much work" as an excuse to be MIA.
"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."
"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,'" Bilek says. "Sharing is a sign of closeness and connection—and when that deteriorates, it's a sign that you are becoming more disconnected instead."
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"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 Racine Henry, PhD, owner of Sankofa Therapy, a New York City-based relationship therapy group.
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.
"I'm going out with a new friend tonight, so don't wait up."
In a healthy relationship, both partners should be free to 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 inappropriate emotions.
"Most couples know who their partner has as friends, so if there is a new friendship, then it may also be a bit odd that they are going out alone and not including their partner," warns Kelman. "The not wanting them to wait up for them also shows some secrecy around it all and that they will be out late without wanting to be accountable to their partner."
"What time do you think you'll be home?"
Sure, this question could be innocent if your significant other wants to know when to have dinner ready, but less honorable partners could be playing detective.
"This question may come up as they are trying to figure out how much time they have on their own to meet up with or connect with the person with whom they are cheating," says Kelman. "It may seem like they are caring about what their partner's schedule is, but it is more likely about covering their own hide as they go about their business."
"I'll take care of paying the bills this month."
If your partner goes out of their way to keep you from looking at the credit card statement, there's a good chance there's something they don't want you to see.
Lawless says to be warned if your partner is "exhibiting potential signs of financial impropriety, such as being private around spending, unexplained balances, or increased spending on appearance."
"I feel like you don't appreciate me."
A person's insecurities can interfere with their relationships in many 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, including by cheating.
"While those may be valid feelings and need to be addressed with healthy and open communication, they may also stem from being seen in a new and different way by the person with whom they are cheating," explains Kelman. "It also reeks of a bit of poor me and a way to justify cheating because they aren't appreciated by their partner.
"Do you still find me attractive?"
When someone has a difficult time loving their physical appearance, they might seek external affirmation—and not only from their partner.
"If sexual intimacy has gone stale, then this question isn't so unnatural if one isn't cheating, but if they are, they may be trying to understand why someone else finds them attractive and their partner doesn't," says Kelman.
"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 one partner isn't making an effort to keep the passion alive, the other person may feel they are entitled to find it elsewhere.
"This question highlights the boredom and staleness that relationships encounter and if things feel exciting with this new person, there could be a desire to get out more and do the fun things that are existing with the new person," adds Kelman.
"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.
"This could be a sign that the partner is thinking of exiting the relationship so they don't want to address future things or events if they aren't sure they will be around," notes Kelman.
"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 imagining a future without you in it.
"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," says Durvasula.
"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.
"If their partner has done something wonderful for them, it could encourage guilt, and they may try to push it off and not accept the gift, or the kindness displayed as it highlights their lack of attentiveness and connection in the relationship," explains Kelman.
In their mind, the meaner you are, the easier it is for them to justify their actions.
"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 colleague—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.
"The telltale sign of denial here is 'I barely see her anymore' which is downplaying the amount of time they are seeing Samantha," notes Kelman.
"Why does it matter where I'm going?"
When your partner suddenly starts to become secretive about where they're going and what they're doing, it could be because they're sneaking around behind your back.
"This is a defensive posture with an emboldened flair of how dare their partner ask where they are going," says Kelman. "It matters because you are in a relationship, and couples share where they are going and what they are doing. This aggressive and defensive stance is a red flag for sure."
"I'm so sick of this!"
Someone who's committing infidelity probably isn't trying to resolve the problems in their current relationship. "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.
Therefore, they'll make dismissive statements like "I'm so sick of this!" or "Just forget it!" instead of actually discussing the issues. "They delight in the ease of creating something else with a person they have less investment in and less history with," adds Henry.
"What? I always take my phone with me to shower."
If your significant other is cheating on you, there's probably evidence on their phone. And because they don't want to get caught, they are going to guard this evidence at all costs.
"Yes, some may keep their phone with them in the bathroom if they don't want to miss important calls or texts, but if this is a change, then it really may be because they don't want their partner to have the chance to look through their phone," affirms Kelman. "Couples in healthy relationships never need to hide a phone, search a phone, or worry that their phone will be searched."
"Sorry, I completely forgot we had that today."
Leading a double life is no easy feat. And because a cheater has to juggle their life at home with their secret exploits, 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.
However, since their new relationship is exciting, you're more often to feel the brunt of this. "You are no longer a priority because the other person is the priority," says Lee Phillips, LCSW, certified sex and couples therapist.
"I think I'm going to join a book club."
You should always encourage your partner to pick up new hobbies, but if you start to notice they don't talk about their activity and don't want you anywhere near it, it could be a sign that they're using it as an excuse to 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," advises Ricciardi.