Finding out your partner or spouse is having an affair is one of the worst fears to face. Of course, suspicions alone can’t be taken as evidence that they are cheating on you. However, unless mistrust is one of your key areas of sensitivity that may sometimes cause your brain to “misfire,” it is possible that you may be picking up on something that needs to be addressed with your spouse. If you think there’s a legitimate reason to be concerned, it’s better to find out the truth and address it rather than live in ignorance.
As hard as facing our fears is, the insecure feelings of anxiety lurking under the surface take their own toll on us over time. The discovery of an affair is often the worst part of the experience. If you see signs that your spouse may be cheating on you, it may be wise to broach the subject of how your relationship is doing with your spouse first, avoiding accusations that may shut them down.
Knowing the difference between common red flags and false alarms can help inform the discussion you have with your mate. In my work with couples as a marriage therapist in New York City for more than 25 years, I have found that there are common signs that can indicate the presence of an affair, especially when two or more of these signs are present. Just because one or more of the warning signs exist doesn’t necessarily mean your partner or spouse is having an affair, but it may be worth having a deeper discussion about where you both are together in your relationship to see if a deeper issue needs to be addressed.
If you’re wondering whether your spouse may be having an affair, take a look at these top 10 warning signs for affairs:
1.They have many new hobbies or tastes in music all of a sudden
Whether your partner is suddenly interested in heavy metal after always preferring classical or all of a sudden going to play tennis every week after never playing the sport before in their life, they may be trying to match the likes of the new person in their life. It’s possible they could just be expanding their horizons, but ask them further questions about their new habits and see how they respond. If they’re defensive or evasive, it could be a sign of something more. It’s typical for a cheating spouse to be obsessive about every detail of this new person in their life.
2. They somehow have a new bag of tricks in bed
In some instances, your partner may have done some research about exciting new foreplay techniques and wants to change things up in bed with you. In other cases, new moves in bed can prove that they learned this new technique from someone else. An apparent and drastic decrease or increase of sex with you could be a sign of infidelity.
3. They’ve become overly focused on their appearance
If your partner all of a sudden begins getting super “into” working out, changing up their entire fashion style, or wearing a very different cologne or perfume, it could be a sign of cheating. Of course, don’t jump to conclusions, but be aware of this typical red flag, especially if it’s in conjunction with other red flags.
4. They’re always on their phone
If your partner is spending more time on their phone and it’s not work-related, be aware if they are also acting especially secretive with their phone — that may be a red flag as well. For example, they get a text message and quickly grab their phone, so you don’t see who’s texting. If they also refuse to share passcodes, they may have something to hide. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are cheating, but you may wonder if they are keeping a secret.
5. They “forgot” to mention they were going out
People who are cheating will often commit “sins of emission,” from what I have observed in my work with couples. Your partner shouldn’t have to tell you every move they make, but if the behavior of not sharing their plans and whereabouts continues to repeat itself, this may be another red flag.
6. They are hesitant to make large purchases together
When you are genuinely committed to your partner, commitments to larger purchases like an apartment, car, or other joint purchases indicate a commitment to the long-term relationship. Sometimes there will be legitimate financial concerns or barriers to making a big purchase like this. Still, especially if this is a new change in their willingness to make joint purchases, it may be a sign of infidelity.
7. You start receiving a lot of new gifts
Frequently, a partner who is cheating will overcompensate for their guilt of infidelity through buying you expensive gifts. Best case scenario, they are expressing their love and thoughtfulness for you. However, if these gifts seem like they’re coming from out of nowhere, they’re probably not. If your partner accompanies these gifts with a happier-than-normal mood, this is another typical sign of infidelity because they feel an extra need to please you while they may be overcompensating for their guilty conscience.
8. You’re noticing Irregular credit card or ATM activity.
Some partners who are having an affair will try to cover their paper trail by taking out lots of cash for their secret gifts and mysterious nights out with their lover. For instance, if they used to be obsessed with racking up frequent flier miles, it’s worth asking about their behavior. Other partners who are having an affair don’t even put in the effort to hide their record of spending. I have seen many situations where it is not unusual for partners who are having an affair to charge fancy dinners, hotel stays, and flowers on their regularly used credit cards without a second thought. No matter what your partner may say, it may be unlikely that they had to buy a bouquet of roses for their client every week during the last month.
9. They’re deflective, defensive, and evade simple questions
Often, unfaithful partners want to deflect the focus away from themselves and back on to the non-cheating partner. A classic tactic is to accuse the non-betraying partner of being jealous, crazy, or overly emotional. They may say things such as “ You’re just imagining things.” or “You’re being emotional. Just calm down.” As awful as it is, the betraying partner may try to belittle the betrayed partner in what is now known as “gaslighting” and question them on their suspicions. Another tactic a partner who is cheating may use is to pick fights over what seems like nothing to make them feel guilty for doing something wrong even if they’ve done nothing at all. If your partner consistently gives evasive, defensive answers to your simple questions, it may be another sign of infidelity.
10. You feel it in your gut
Unless you are often jealous in general (that’s another problem related to schemas such as mistrust/abuse or abandonment that I address using schema therapy for couples), you have to trust your gut. What I have found after interviewing thousands of couples about infidelity is that the betrayed partner almost always knows something was off. It may seem as if they have a telepathic ability to read the situation, but more likely the betrayed partner experiences a “felt sense” that their partner is withdrawing from them, which triggers anxiety. This is one reason the betrayed partner may have a hard time relaxing with their spouse — they “feel” the division, and because we are literally “wired” into our partners or spouses as key figures in our survival from rather that the non-cheating partner has picked up on nonverbal and subconscious cues.
Of course, there could be other reasons for their changes in behavior, but if there are many of these red flags coming up for you, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to ask the difficult questions. A healthy relationship is built on trust and communication. You deserve to know the truth. Communicating your concerns and questions with love, respect, and directness is your right, and nothing should hold you back from doing that. Approaching your spouse in a non-attacking way is key, of course, because it could just deepen the division in your marriage. With the Loving at Your Best Plan, we use some of the best techniques to help couples address problem areas, such as affairs. If addressed soon enough, couples can heal from infidelity, and even improve their relationship significantly from how it was that may have influenced the affair in the first place.
Of course, addressing your partner about a potential affair can be hard to do on your own. Working with a couples therapist in NYC, such as what we use with Gottman therapy, you can take the first step in healing this lapse in trust, or whatever may be offtrack in your marriage or love relationship.
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