Part 1: Is He Cheating on You?

Part 1: Is He Cheating on You?

That’s a hard and horrible question to contemplate. Relationships always come with their challenges and sometimes these are dealt with through infidelity. It’s a lazy and totally disingenuous, but sadly it’s something seen time and time again. An often-asked question is – if you’re so unhappy why not leave the relationship completely before moving on? Well, there are lots of possibilities:

  • The person feels trapped by family circumstances. If there are three young children in the mix, then walking out on your family isn’t an easy thing to do.
  • They can’t afford to leave. Simple as that. Finding another property to live in can be a very expensive process, whether you’re renting or buying and very often finances just don’t allow for multiple homes.
  • They’re not sure that they want to leave. All relationships go through bad patches, some survivable, some not. If one party is unhappy enough to seek solace elsewhere, but they still want the main relationship, then this is where you end up with a bona fide cheating scenario. It’s the old ‘is the grass greener?’ situation.

None of these are defensible of course, there’s usually no reason where it’s OK to be unfaithful. That said, sometimes in long term relationships couple have a mutual agreement for both or one to have a sexual relationship with someone else. There’s lots of reasons of course – sex might be off the table in the main relationship, they might want to experiment in something that the partner is definitely not up for (BDSM, etc.) or swinging might just be OK. But it’s probably fair to say that most of the time cheating isn’t on the menu in relationships. So, what are the signs that he might be doing this?

  • 1.He becomes very distant. No longer engaging in family chat as easily as he was, no long interested in your day or those of the children, no longer asking questions, just generally being absent in mood. Like sitting round the table for a family dinner with a conversation going on and he just doesn’t enter into it. As a one-off, or if they’re only doing it very occasionally then it’s probably nothing to worry about. But if it’s happening on a regular basis and it’s noticeable, then it might be time to keep a closer eye.
  • 2.He is using his phone far more often and sitting somewhere where it’s going to be difficult to see what he’s doing, especially if he wasn’t bothered before. Or maybe he sits with you but keeps his hone tilted away at all times, or buying new a flip shut phone case can obscure the screen and give more privacy.
  • 3.He’s protective over his phone. If he used to leave it lying around and had no problem with you using it and suddenly changes that, be suspicious. Lots of couples know each other’s passcode and use their phones interchangeably, but if you had that exact situation and now he doesn’t leave it lying around, or he changes the passcode he’s always had, or he says no when you ask to use it, then these are all quite possible bad signs.
  • 4.He suddenly starts mentioning someone else all the time. This is a well-recognised sign of cheating, called ‘mention-itis’. It might be someone you’ve never heard of, or the name of a colleague or one of your friends. But if he starts talking about them all the time, or asking endless questions, or being suddenly keen to invite them round, then you have grounds for being suspicious.
  • 5.He’s home late, or starts spending a lot more time away from the home at weekends. People having illicit affairs can be crafty about how they carve out the time to do that, but it almost inevitably will fall into time that used to be spent with the family. In and of itself, not being around so much isn’t suspicious, but if there’s a big, sudden change then it might be.
  • 6.He suddenly starts taking more care over his appearance. A classic cheater’s giveaway! If he’s generally hanging around in tracksuit bottoms and stained t-shirts and then begins wearing fashionable jeans, new shirts and layers of aftershave then that should set alarm bells ringing. Look out for new clothes purchases that he wouldn’t usually be making, haircuts he wouldn’t normally have, shoe polishing going on.
  • You can also include gym-going in this too. If someone suddenly starts going to spin classes four times a week for no apparent reason then it might be that they’re trying to get themselves into tip-top condition for the benefit of another.
  • 7.There start being regular cash withdrawals from your bank account. It’s usual for couples to share a bank account these days which means both person’s spending is easily visible. Cheaters often steer around this one by withdrawing cash so there’s no trail. Virtually every retailer these days accepts card payments, so it would be strange for someone to regularly need a wad of cash in their pocket. If you notice this kind of activity then you’d be fully justified in asking what on earth this is being spent on.

Don’t forget that all of the behaviour above can be innocent. It’s perfectly normal to want to lose weight and get fitter, it’s perfectly normal to get sick of slobby clothes and buy new ones, it’s perfectly normal to start a new hobby, or make new friends. The suspicious element comes in if all of these things happen at once or very close together. The sum of them all can easily add up to something that’s not very nice to contemplate.

Stuart Brown
Doctor of Sexual Health at the NHS Royal London Hospital & Relationship Expert. Columnist at An advocate of safe sex. Avid Arsenal fan.

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