When I got cheated on, it came out of nowhere, and knocked my world off of it's axis. There were signs that my partner was about to cheat on me everywhere, but I didn't see them. I don't know if I was oblivious, too trusting, or just so in love that I was incapable of accepting that things were falling apart. In hindsight, I can see that there were definite red flags that something was wrong.
As a former Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Sexuality Educator, I felt foolish that I had been educating others on how to tell if things are healthy in their relationships, yet that information was lost on me. Kind of like how doctors are terrible patients, and addicts make the best counselors, I guess. But my point is that there were signs.
Like with most situations, these signs might not apply to your relationship, or they might be a symptom of a totally different problem. But they can also be a sign that your partner is about to be unfaithful. If you notice them, you might be able to fix things before your partner makes the mistake of getting their needs met with someone else.
1. They're Always Hanging Out With New People
Make new friends, they said. It's healthy, they said. And then one of those friends turned out to be our undoing. Now, the advice to have friends, and to socialize outside of your relationship is spot on. You need to have independence, some time away from your partner, some alone time with your own friends, and some friends that you don't share with your partner (or, at least, not all the time). But when your partner is obsessed with these new people and wants to be with them all the time, that can be a red flag, especially if they're shirking their responsibilities, being distant with you, and acting differently.
The Fix: Meet these friends. Sometimes it's important for others to see you and know that you're a real human being with real feelings. It's easier for someone to betray a total stranger. You'll also want to have some honest communication about how all the changes are affecting you and your relationship.
2. They're Gone A Lot
If your partner is suddenly gone all the time, and there haven't really been too many big changes in their schedules, that could be a red flag. It's the old "I'm working late" trope, and it's totally legit sometimes, but it can also mean they're spending their time with someone else.
The Fix: I obviously don't recommend stalking or tracking your partner, because that's a major violation of trust. I know it sounds tempting. But don't do it. In this case, all you can do is ask your partner and hope they're honest with you.
3. They're A Texting Machine
My partner was usually always on her phone, but in the months before she got caught, she was on texting overdrive. And she was guarding her phone and making sure I couldn't see what she was texting. Which was fine, because I respected her privacy and I trusted her. But my gut said all that secretive texting was suspicious, and I was right.
The Fix: You don't have the right to go through your partner's phone without their permission, or demand they show it to you. But you do have the right to ask who they're texting, and why they're being secretive. If they have nothing to hide, they'll have no problem showing you who they're texting, even if they don't want you to read the messages (sometimes we all need to vent to our friends about our partners).
4. They're Suddenly Changing Their Appearance
If your partner is the type of person who only dresses up for weddings and funerals, and is suddenly dressing up every single day, there might be something up. Likewise if they're suddenly tanning, getting their hair did, and making other changes to their appearance that seem to be for someone other than you (because it's not to go out with you). They could just be feeling themselves, or they could be trying to impress someone new.
The Fix: Again, not trying to sound like a broken record here, but healthy communication is the key. You just have to ask. And you don't have to be accusatory, either. You can say something, like "I noticed you've been dressing up more lately," and see where the conversation goes before you flat out ask if they're cheating. Of course, you can do that, too.
5. They're Icing You Out
Distance is very telling. It's a pretty significant change in your relationship, regardless of what it means. And it looks different for everyone. Not as much affection. Not as much talking. Ignoring you in bed at night. Not texting you throughout the day anymore. And you definitely feel it. It feels big and terrible. There's no mistaking it when a partner is being distant.
The Fix: Initiate romance and conversation whenever you can, and if the response is still distance, then you need to get to the bottom of it right away. Make your feelings known, and if nothing gets resolved, make your suspicions known.
Check It Out: How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving, $11, Amazon
6. Their Friends Are Acting Weird
If your partner's friends know something's going on, they'll be awkward when they see you. Or they'll be cold and distant. Or they'll be extra nice. In my case, they were extra nice. Like, super, suspiciously nice. Like pity nice. Pay attention to the mood next time you're around your partner's friends. It can be very telling.
The Fix: Ask the friends what's up, and why they're acting weird. Call them out, even if you can only do it in a playful way (I hate confrontation, too). If they don't give you any information, ask your partner why their friends are acting different. You have a right to know what is causing a changing in your relationships with them.
7. You Just Know
Never ignore your instincts when it comes to your relationships. If something in your gut tells you that your partner is being unfaithful, even if your head doesn't want to believe it, there's a good chance something is going on. No one knows your partner and your relationship like you do. You're connected in a very real way. So many people I worked with said they had a gut feeling that they wished they had not ignored.
The Fix: If your gut tells you something's not right, trust your gut to also guide you to a solution. That solution will likely involve lots of hard conversations and difficult questions. If you're both willing to do the work, though, you can get through it.
8. They're Too Nice
Guilt is a powerful motivator, and sometimes being too nice is just as suspicious as not being nice at all. If you experience an increase in gifts, compliments, affection, and romance, and it feels like it's out of the blue, then your partner could be trying to overcompensate for their cheating ways.
The Fix: Yeah, you guessed it. You have to ask. So much of being in a healthy relationship involves communication.
9. They're Super Jealous
One of my favorite quotes is from the book/movie, Divine Secrets of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood. It goes, "you can always tell what someone's trying to hide by the way they're trying to hide it." If your partner is suddenly aware of what it takes to cheat on someone, they could project that on to you in the form of jealousy and distrust.
The Fix: Make it clear to your partner that you have nothing to hide and that it's important to you that trust is at the center of your relationship. Ask what you can do to ease their mind. Then also address any suspicions of your own.
It's never easy to confront your partner, but in the long run, it's better to know than to wonder, even if the news isn't good.
Images: Pixabay (10); Bustle