9 Subtle Things Partners Do Before They Cheat, According To Experts
Usually, people take great pains to cover their tracks when it comes to cheating. And even worse, they aren't always open to discussing why they might be seeking attention outside their relationship. But by recognizing a few subtle signs of cheating in a relationship, it can help you to recognize the things your partner may do if you have any suspicion that they are straying.
If you notice any of the signs below, or feel like something's brewing behind your back, "let your partner know that something feels 'off' in the relationship and ask if they have something on their mind that’s bothering them," Julie Spira, CEO of Cyber Dating Expert, tells Bustle. "This way it isn’t about you feeling rejected, but is more about trying to understand your partner, and that’s a key to keeping a relationship alive and healthy."
By asking what's on their mind, and being open to talking about any relationship problems that exist, it will start a healthy conversation that may be just what your relationship — and your partner — needs. Of course, it's not up to you to keep your partner from cheating, but you can certainly work together to create a healthy relationship, if that's what you both want. Here are a few signs your partner might be about to cheat, according to the experts.
1. They Start Dressing Differently
"Usually cheaters will want to look their best," Jonathan Bennett, certified counselor and co-founder of Double Trust Dating and Relationships, tells Bustle, which is why your partner might start going out of their way to dress well. They might also pick up a fitness routine out of the blue, get a new haircut, or drastically change their style.
While it's perfectly fine for someone to change and improve themselves, when coupled with other signs — and especially ones that seem out of character — it may indicate they're about to cheat. If it seems suspicious, it may be best to talk to them about it.
2. They Stop Arguing
Healthy couples tend to bicker as they sort out their daily problems. And that's a good thing. Small arguments are a sign they both care, they both want to be heard, and that they're still engaged in the relationship.
So take note if your partner suddenly can't be bothered to argue. It "may seem like a good thing to have a reduction in fights or conflict, however it could be a sign that [they're] no longer invested into the relationship enough to care about issues," Jessica Cline, MSW, LCSW, a relationship expert, tells Bustle.
Since it can be a sign they're checking out, you'll want to talk about it ASAP. By starting a conversation, you can begin to work on the issue together.
3. They Start Arguing More Often
On the flip side, someone who is about to cheat may argue more. And for a variety of reasons. "Sometimes partners increase their fighting and criticize issues in the relationship in an effort to justify cheating," Cline says.
A cheating partner may be looking for reasons to feel less guilty about cheating. They may also be on edge, and argue because they're keeping secrets and stressing themselves out. So if your significant other has been super rude, or really short with you, it may be a sign.
4. They Accuse You Of Infidelity
Similarly, it's not uncommon for someone who's thinking about (or already) cheating to point a finger at their partner, and accuse them of cheating.
"This behavior can be another justification for cheating," Cline says. "I also call this a magic trick — 'look over here in this hand, so you don't see what the other hand is doing.'" Folks who are thinking about cheating might begin to assume everyone is cheating. But it's also a way of deflecting attention away from what they're doing.
5. They Begin To Micro-Cheat
When someone is thinking about cheating, they often start off by micro-cheating, as a way of baby-stepping in that direction.
As Cline says, this may start off as private messages sent to someone behind your back, or your partner may meet up with someone without letting you know, or give this other person more of their time and attention.
"One of these acts a single time does not constitute micro-cheating," Cline says. "But it is the continual acts that erode your relationship." And can lead to full-scale cheating, over time.
6. They Push You To Make Changes
It's not uncommon for someone who is thinking about cheating to push their partner to make changes first — possibly as a way to make them more like the person they're becoming attracted to.
"They won’t come out and say it, but they may ask you to make changes in line with the other person’s personality and likes and preferences," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle.
And that's obviously not OK. There's a big difference between supporting each other to grow and change, and trying to push each other to be like somebody else. Being in a relationship is about accepting each other as you are, so if they're trying to turn you into someone you're not, talk about it ASAP.
7. They Change Their Schedule
"Changes in schedule are something you’ll notice right away," Spira says. You might notice that your partner is working later, and without a reasonable explanation. Or maybe they're taking more business trips, or attending work events without inviting you along.
This might also show up as a sudden lack of availability. "When you had a standing 'date night' for Thursday and Saturday, and that’s been replaced with having to attend a business dinner, without you, chances are they might be meeting someone else there that they’ve got their eye on," Spira says. Once again, if you have any doubts, it's best to be upfront about it.
8. They Become Less Interested In Sex
Healthy relationships go through dry spells when it comes to sex. So it's important not to jump to conclusions just because your partner isn't in the mood.
But if they don't seem interested, and they don't have a reasonable explanation, take note. "If the intimacy or PDA is dropping down, or sex is happening less frequently, it could be a sign that your partner is checking out of the relationship," Spira says.
Again, this will be something you'll want to talk about. Even if it's just a dry spell, communicating with each other will be important so that you stay on the same page, and don't feel neglected. But if the dry spell is due to impending cheating, conversations like these will be even more important.
9. They Become More Secretive
Perhaps one of the most common changes that occurs right before someone cheats is a sudden need for privacy. As psychotherapist Dr. David Hovey, PsyD, LPC tells Bustle, "Often, right before people cheat, they energetically and physically pull away from their partner. [They also] tend to become much more secretive with their cell phones, personal accounts (social media/email etc.)"
And if your partner is scrolling through dating sites, or talking to someone on the down low, it makes sense why they'd want to put a password on their phone, or check emails late at night when you aren't looking. While these signs don't guarantee they're thinking about cheating, they're definitely red flags.
So, if the relationship is worth saving, it'll be a good idea to talk with your partner to see if you can figure out a way to give the relationship what it needs. Sometimes, people just cheat. But other times, the desire to have an affair can stem from fixable relationship problems, that you can work on together.