If you ever get the feeling that your
partner is hiding something, you'll want to trust your gut and gather more information. While it isn't necessary to immediately assume the worst, it's not great to ignore red flags, either. And this is especially true if it keeps happening, and you're starting to wonder what's up.
At that point, find time to have a chat with your partner. "Explain what it is that they’ve done that
makes you feel suspicious, and ask them directly if there’s anything that they’re not telling you," Amica Graber, a relationship expert for the background checking site TruthFinder, tells Bustle. "Pay close attention to what happens next."
Your goal should be
having an honest conversation, while also tuning into their reaction. "If someone is determined to keep something hidden — expect a big show," Graber says. "Deflection, accusations, and feigned outrage are all typical behaviors of a liar. If your partner gets angry or defensive, it’s almost certain that something fishy is going on."
From there, you can decide what you'd like to do. Is there a way to bring more openness into your relationship? Would it help to
see a couples counselor? Or would you prefer to move on? The choice is up to you, and can depend on the situation. But if you notice any of the signs listed below, experts say it's definitely time to find out more.
In terms of gauging their reaction, "if your partner gets easily triggered or offended when you express yourself, they might be trying to hide something that's going on inside of them,"
Nancy Ruth Deen, a Vancouver-based breakup coach, tells Bustle. "Sometimes this is intentional; other times it's a subconscious defense to avoid actually saying how they're feeling."
When that's the case, they may blow up if you want to know more about their day, or seem cranky if you point out that they've been quiet. If this is entirely out of character for them, something might be up. And you have every right to try to find out more.
They're Very Protective Of Their Phone
While it's perfectly acceptable to have privacy within a relationship, it's not a great sign if your partner suddenly locks down their devices with elaborate passwords.
"If your partner has passwords that they don't share on all their devices and are constantly using them beyond what makes sense professionally, they are probably discreetly tending to something personal," relationship expert
Margaux Cassuto, tells Bustle.
A person who's hiding something might not readily admit what's going on, but point out this change and see how your partner responds, Cassuto says. Again, if they get defensive, you may be onto something.
They're Emotionally Distant
You may notice that your partner is suddenly less present, or seems emotionally distant. And while this can happen for a variety of reasons, it could also be a sign they aren't being entirely truthful.
"Partners often will distance themselves as a means for relationship preservation to 'not burden' the partner with whatever they might be hiding,"
Dr. David Songco, a licensed psychologist at New Insights, LLC, tells Bustle. "This in many ways is paradoxical — by not burdening the partner creates distance, which in turns places burden on the relationship."
That's why, if you notice them stepping away, you'll want to ask what's up. At the very least, you may be able to bridge that gap and ensure them it's more than
OK to share.
You Can't Keep Track Of Their Schedule
"We often change our habits or daily schedule if we are engaged in new activities, or are trying to make a life change,"
Elisa Robyn, PhD, a relationship expert who specializes in life transitions, tells Bustle. For example, someone who is thinking about having an affair may change up their exercise habits, Robyn says, as a way to get more attention.
But just because someone picks up a positive habit certainly doesn't mean they're cheating, lying, or hiding something. To find out more, bring your concerns to your partner. If the relationship is strong, and things are actually OK, they'll be more than willing to talk about them.
They're Being Extra Nice
While it may not seem like a bad thing if your partner is suddenly wining and dining you, or showing up with gifts and flowers, it may be worth looking into if it seems entirely out of character.
As Robyn says, this might mean they are looking to improve the relationship, but it can also mean they don't want you to be suspicious of their change in behavior. If they return home super late, for example, they might hope a bouquet of flowers will distract you and prevent further questions.
It can be a sneaky way of covering their tracks. So if it doesn't feel right, trust your gut.
They Accuse You Of Cheating
People tend to project their guilt onto others, so a lying or cheating partner "might accuse you of trying to sneak on their phone or accuse you of not trusting them," psychotherapist
Devon Jorge, MSW, RSW, tells Bustle. "This is a manipulation of guilt to get you to show them how much you can and should trust them."
And the same can be true for other secretive issues. Are they suddenly mad at you about spending too much money? Or do they claim you're lying? If so, that very well may be what
they're doing, and this a weird way of covering it up.
Their Stories Don't Add Up
If someone is hiding something — and thus lying to cover it up — they might have a hard time keeping their stories straight, which is why inconsistencies will eventually show up. "For example, they mention going out to lunch, but then say they ate at their desk," Robyn says.
While not everyone can remember their day in perfect detail, if it keeps happening, it's understandable why you might start to feel suspicious. You might wonder what they
really did on their lunch break. And if the relationship is going to last, you have a right to ask.
They Don't Share Details
On a similar note, you might notice that your partner is suddenly really vague in areas where they used to be transparent,
Dr. Debra A. Nixon, LMFT, an online counselor with ChatOwl, tells Bustle.
If you ask about their day, they might say it was "fine" instead of going into detail about how they felt or what they did. If you ask how their night was with friends, they might say it was "fun" instead of recounting a few stories. And if you want to talk about the future, they might avoid the topic, even though they used to enjoy making plans.
They Can't Explain Schedule Changes
Speaking of changes, a partner who is hiding something may have a tough time explaining
why their day suddenly looks different. For instance, they might have to stay late at work, but give you conflicting reasons, Robyn says. And if you call to check in, there's a good chance they won't pick up the phone.
If they can't give you reasons and details, "they are hiding something about their schedule, which suggests they are doing something they do not want to share," Robyn says.
You Suddenly Aren't Invited
A person who is hiding something is highly likely to create a sense of separation, Jorge says, which is why you partner might no longer invite you to be a part of their life.
Maybe you used to spend time with their friends, but now they're claiming the hangout will be "boring," and they don't want to force you to come along.
If your partner's reasons for excluding you don't make sense, that's your cue to get more information. While everyone's entitled to
some personal space and alone time, any major changes can be a red flag.
Their Body Language Seems Off
Sometimes it isn't so much about what your partner says or doesn't say, but how they act. If they won't look into your eyes, for instance, Robyn says it can be a
sign they're lying, as they may be too nervous or stressed to interact.
A partner who is hiding something may also be less interested in sex, or close themselves off to affection. Overall, they'll probably seem cold and detached, all thanks to the uncomfortable situation they've created — and that means it's
definitely time to have a chat.
Keep in mind, though, that this isn't about being overly suspicious or assuming the worst. Instead, it's about trusting your gut, and ultimately finding a way to
create more trust in your relationship.