When Clint was cheating there were many signs that pointed to infidelity; some that I ignored, others that I pulled apart over and over until I felt like I’d sucked every detail out of them, like the crappiest version of Monk ever.
Since his confession and our starting up MLM we have heard from countless other couples who have experienced infidelity and they have also shared some of their insights into things that happened when their spouse was cheating or as a pre-curser to their spouse cheating.
So, if you’re here and reading and worried that your spouse may be cheating we want to share with you some things that you should be on the look out for. Some may seem like you’ve heard them before (that’s because they tend to ring true for most couples) and some you may not have thought of or realized:
1) Increased levels of secrecy. When you walk into the room your spouse shuts down the computer or changes the screen they are on. They are deleting all of their history. They are changing their passwords. They are carrying their cell phone with them everywhere (even into the bathroom).
2) Bringing up someone’s name too often. Try as they might, when your spouse is having an affair or exploring burgeoning feelings for someone they will talk about them, like a high schooler with a silly crush. And when you express concern that their relationship may be approaching the line of inappropriateness…
3) They make excuses for the relationship. We’re just friends. I’m just helping her. He needs someone to talk to right now. We’ve written about this before here. Often, people don’t even realize that they are on the cusp of having an affair when they allow themselves to tow the line of inappropriate relationships with the opposite sex. When proper boundaries aren’t kept in place, connections are made and feelings develop before you even realize its happening.
4) They start acting differently. They start caring more about how they are dressed. Changing their hair, their make up, their cologne. Yes, people change all the time, but not usually so drastically. Not usually so many little personal, hygienic, changes at once. And when you notice it and mention it you will be met with, “What are you talking about? I’m not doing anything differently!” Ironically, while we are being critical (“Why are you wearing different cologne?”) the person that is fueling their changes is meeting them with positive attention (“I love the cologne you’re wearing today!”). There’s something to be said about that. We need to be the ones giving our spouses the attention that they need so that they aren’t going out and looking for it and craving it from other people.
5) Their behavior changes. What once was considered wrong, they now consider okay. For example, when Clint was cheating, I noticed how cavalier he was on social sites with other women. And why wouldn’t he be? When your heart is in a place where you justify sleeping with someone other than your spouse, what’s a little flirtation? So, if you’re seeing your spouse dropping their guard, moving the boundary lines, being a little looser in areas that they once weren’t, it might be a sign of things they are struggling with privately. This, incidentally, might not just be an indicator of an affair but could also be an indicator of an issue with porn or something of that nature.
6) They can’t account for their time. They say they have to work late but then when you call at work you end up having to leave a voicemail or the secretary doesn’t know where he is. She says she stopped at the store after work but she’s two hours late and comes in with only one small bag of groceries. He says he stopped off for a drink with a buddy after work but you happen to know that that buddy is out of town this week.
7) Cell phone records. There are calls (too many of them) to and from numbers you don’t recognize. There are big hikes in data usage that aren’t accounted for (probably because they are deleting everything off of their phone but its still showing up on the bill).
8) They accuse you. They are constantly worrying about you and your schedule and whereabouts. They are texting you every hour you’re gone, worrying about every little interaction you have. There’s an interesting thing happening here. You are probably acting the same way because you believe they may be cheating. But if you are doing nothing wrong, if you aren’t being secretive, if you can account for your time, if you are positively invested in your marriage and your spouse is still acting like this towards you it could mean that they are cheating. There are three reasons why a cheater does this. One, they secretly know what they are up to and are reading into everything that you are doing as well. Obviously if they aren’t exempt from being a cheater than neither are you! Two, they have to fit their lies and indiscretions in around your schedule. They’re just trying to feel you out so they know when to make plans. And, three, they are doing it to avoid suspicion. They are pointing the finger at you and putting you on the defensive to get the light off of them and their behavior.
9) Your intimacy changes. On all levels. You don’t share things anymore. You don’t sit in the same room anymore. He can’t make eye contact. He comes home late from “work” and quietly crawls into bed to not disturb you and stays on his own little corner. You have sex less frequently and it’s just “off” (maybe not as passionate?). Some cheaters believe that when they are having sex with their spouse they are actually cheating on their affair partner. Some cheaters have given everything they’ve got that day to their affair partner and they have nothing left to give when they get home. Also, as they are secretly navigating through their feelings for their affair partner and how real they think they are when they are, attempting to be intimate with their spouse feels foreign because of all the compartmentalizing they’ve been doing.
What would you add? If you were cheated on, what was something that gave it away? What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who thinks his/her spouse might be cheating?