Part 2: What do I do if I think my partner is cheating on me?

Part 2: What do I do if I think my partner is cheating on me?

It’s a horrible, horrible situation to be in, but sadly one in which many people find themselves. A previously close and loving relationship starts suddenly going downhill for no discernible reason, a partner who withdraws, no longer engages like they used to, excuses about how they can’t possibly do X, Y, Z like they used to, why things are suddenly your fault, why they don’t want to be intimate any more. And it’s worse if they’re gaslighting you. This is a relatively new expression that’s come into everyday use and it means that someone is deliberately misleading and confusing you, often actually piling the blame on you, in order to make you doubt yourself (and sometimes your own sanity!) to deflect the blame away from them. They might tell you it’s all in your imagination, that nothing’s changed, you’re paranoid, etc. Done effectively this is a very easy weapon to deploy, leaving the person more confused than they were before and sometimes actually believing it’s all in their mind.

But if you have suspicions that won’t go away, your spidey senses are tingling and your gut is telling you that there’s Just Something Wrong, then you need to decide how to go about tackling the situation and here are some suggestions about how to do this.

  • 1.Do not go in all guns blazing. If you suddenly discover something that’s pretty conclusive about your partner’s infidelity, it’s vital that you don’t go in storming because if you aren’t armed with plenty of facts it’s all too easy for the other person to turn around and deny everything, writing off your suspicions as pure coincidence, or misunderstanding. So watch and wait. Monitor them. Take careful notice of their routine and behaviour. If something is up, then you’ll be led to it pretty quickly.
  • 2.Check your bank accounts. Look for any transactions that you don’t recognise, or new ones that are popping up frequently. Taking someone out for lunch, for example, might be a £30 bill, not suspicious on its own, but if it’s happening every Tuesday like clockwork then you need to be taking a look at that. Bigger clues are: regular cash withdrawals or larger sums (£100+) that could be being spent on dinner, or hotels. If you can identify a spending pattern that’s out of the norm, this is another weapon in your arsenal.
  • 3.Tracking devices. Opinion is split on this one, some people think that’s it’s creepy and stalker-ish, which it can be. But in this situation it’s nothing more than looking for confirmation of something which is going to be very detrimental to your life and potential sanity. It might be an easy thing to do if you already have an app installed on both your phones which discloses your location, just hope that they’ve forgotten it’s on. Something like this should give you an accurate idea of their location, how long they are there for, etc. If you don’t already have this then it’s highly unlikely that they’re going to agree to downloading one, so a good alternative is a tracker on their car. They’re relatively cheap to buy, easy to secrete on the vehicle and they’ll tell you where your partner has been and how long for, so if they’re lying it’s going to be easy to catch them out.
  • 4.Try and look at their phone. If someone wants to hide something then it’s almost guaranteed that they won’t let you go through their personal phone, so aim to do it surreptitiously. One of three things will happen: you won’t know the passcode, you’ll access it and find incriminating evidence, or you’ll access it and find nothing at all. That might be enough to put your mind at rest, but if you’re snooping on their phone then it’s almost certain there’s more going on. If you’re expecting to see things that aren’t there, then it’s worth having a check around to see if you can find a second phone. The car is usually a good place to start because people often regard their car as their inner sanctum.
  • And while you’re there, look for anything else that’s incriminating. Condoms, female clothes, a distinct smell of unfamiliar perfume, anything like that.
  • 5.Collate your evidence. If you’ve found nothing then you’re just going to have to sit back and wait and watch, but if you do stumble across something then guard that proof with your life. Screenshot anything you can, photograph anything, collect up any evidence left behind. The point of this is to confront your partner with so much evidence of their playing away that they can’t deny it.

If the worst happens and you find concrete evidence of an affair, then there’s a well-known saying ‘get your ducks in a row’, which means getting your affairs into order and securing anything you need to, which is excellent advice. You might not know if it’ll end up in an acrimonious divorce, but you need to secure your position in case things go that way. So: gather up passports, marriage certificate, bank account details; anything that will give you power if things go south. Be careful about emptying accounts, if they’re joint ones then this isn’t looked on favourably by the courts. But taking half of what’s in there is a perfectly reasonable move if it’s in joint names, even if they’re the only/main wage earner.

It’s a sad situation, but there are definitely things that you can do to make your life easier.

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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