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5 Subtle Signs That Your Partner Is Cheating, According to Therapists

Their desire for intimacy might change in an unexpected way.

Unfortunately, cheating is fairly common. A 2022 YouGov survey found that 33 percent of Americans say they have cheated in a monogamous relationship, either physically or emotionally. On the other hand, 54 percent of Americans say they have been cheated on. With rates so high, it's natural to wonder if your partner ever has been—or would be—disloyal. But often, it's hard to tell. Instead of major signs—things like secretive phone calls and forgotten underwear—you might want to take a deeper look at your partner's everyday habits. Read on to hear from therapists about the subtle signs of cheating.

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Questions Your Partner May Ask If They're Cheating, Therapists Say.

Their friends act differently around you.

Friends eating burgers and fries and have fun in outdoor restaurant
iStock / filadendron

One of the biggest signs your partner is cheating might not have anything to do with them at all. Instead, look to their friends.

"If they suddenly seem distant or uncomfortable when you're around, it could be a sign that they know something you don't," says Steve Carleton, LCSW, CACIII. "Most likely, their loyalty is to their friend before you, so they may not want to get involved or put their friend in an uncomfortable situation."

There's a sudden change in their routine.


A change in your partner's daily routine could also signal cheating. "If your partner starts spending more time away from home, or if they suddenly begin working late for no apparent reason, it can be a sign that something is up," says Carleton. "This type of behavior is often overlooked because most people assume their partners are just busy with work or other obligations—but it may be an indicator that something else is going on."

A 2021 survey by Illicit Encounters found that some of the top excuses people use when cheating are "going to the gym," "going to the pub," and "going on a walk."

READ THIS NEXT: Being Around This Makes Your Partner More Likely to Cheat, New Study Says.

Their mood changes.

couple arguing angry expresson
fizkes / Shutterstock

A notable change in mood—either positive or negative—is a subtle sign of infidelity. If your partner is suddenly short-tempered, frustrated, or irritable, it could mean they're attempting to distance themselves or avoid emotional and sexual intimacy, explains LaTonya P. Washington, LICSW, therapist and owner of Changing Seasons Therapy in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This can sometimes be caused by guilt.

Your partner's mood could also shift in a positive way—but don't be fooled. "Perhaps they are eating healthier foods, drinking more water, and going to the gym after years of not caring to do any of those things despite your encouragement," Washington says. "This subtle sign is overlooked because most of us see the good in our partners because we love them and because we want them to feel good, look good, and stay healthy, so why would we be suspicious of their motives." Unfortunately, this shift could be caused by the euphoria associated with starting a new romance.

Their desire for intimacy increases.


While you might think a cheating partner would pull away in the bedroom, Washington notes that the opposite often happens.

"Sometimes, because of the stress of keeping their infidelity hidden, a cheating partner will overcompensate by initiating sex more frequently with their partners to prevent any suspicions," says Washington. "In addition, the cheating partner may begin introducing new things into their sex life with their partner that they learned from the person they are cheating with."

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They call you paranoid.

Young couple with relationship problems arguing at home.
iStock / urbazon

The final quiet sign of cheating is classic gaslighting. If your partner dismisses your concerns of infidelity as being "paranoid," they may be hiding something.

"Sometimes it may be easier for them to flip things around rather than look at their own behavior," says Jennifer Kelman, LCSW, JustAnswer mental health expert. "They may also be doing this as a way to gaslight the situation, trying to make you seem crazy for worrying or accuse you of things that they are actually doing."

If you get to this point, it's likely worth seeking professional help—regardless of if cheating is actually taking place.

Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is an experienced features editor and writer. Read more
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