Red Flags: How To Tell If Your Partner Is Cheating

Updated August 17, 2023by Regain Editorial Team
Suspecting that your partner is cheating can be overwhelming and stressful. Those feelings are useful, and their purpose is to think through what your suspicions are and confront your partner. " - Ryan Smith, LPC, NCC

Relationships can come with many different challenges, but one that can change the entire dynamic is cheating. When one partner is unfaithful, it can bring painful feelings, a sense of betrayal, and a loss of trust. All too often, cheaters are discovered completely by accident. However, there are a few red flags that can point toward infidelity in a relationship. If your partner is guilty of any of the following behaviors outlined in this article, it’s possible they could be cheating.

Has Your Partner Been Unfaithful In Your Relationship?

Sign Of Cheating #1: They Suddenly Need Secrecy

Someone who is cheating often makes it a priority to cover up their tracks. If your significant other is suddenly hiding their phone screen from your view, locking doors to the rooms they are in, or clicking out of emails or internet pages when you enter their space, they might be guilty of an affair.

They may install passwords on their cell phone, computer, or other devices without telling you or become intensely preoccupied with your schedule. In extreme cases, they might suggest signing up for a home monitoring system or phone tracking app. Their goal with this type of behavior is usually to ensure you don't catch them in the act of cheating.

Sign Of Cheating #2: They Change

Cheating can be stressful, and that stress often manifests itself through sudden personality or mood changes. If your significant other is not acting like themselves, it might be time to start asking questions. It can be common for a partner who is cheating to suddenly become more angry, negative, critical, or even unusually cheerful.

Changes do not happen just on the inside, though. Your partner may also change how they look, how they dress, or even how they talk. Their interests and hobbies might suddenly shift too. While it's normal for someone's preferences to change over time, any rapid or extreme transformation could mean they are trying to connect with someone else.

Sign Of Cheating #3: Strange Behavior 

If something about your partner's schedule no longer adds up, they might be guilty of cheating. Did it used to take them half an hour to get home, but now it's almost an hour? Are they starting to claim they must stay late at work every night without there being any difference in their professional life? These could be signs they’re stopping elsewhere before returning home. Other clues like having to put gas in their tank more often than usual, or extra miles adding up on their car could also indicate they are taking trips behind your back.

Sign Of Cheating #4: Their Finances Seem Off

Keep an eye out for transactions at restaurants, hotels, flower shops, or jewelry stores. Purchases made in these places while you are not around could encourage you to look deeper into the situation.

While infidelity can be hard to prove if you keep your finances separate, watch for small clues like a change in spending habits or extra secrecy surrounding their funds. If your once frugal partner is suddenly driving around in an expensive car or wearing pricey jewelry, but their financial picture has not changed, this may warrant further investigation. They might be spending their money lavishly to show-off for someone else, or they might be receiving these things as gifts from that person.

Sign Of Cheating #5: They Are Always Gone

Does it seem like your significant other suddenly always has someplace else to be? Are they making short or frequent trips to the "grocery store" or "appointments," but returning with nothing to show? A partner who is guilty of cheating will often try to find spare time in their day to spend with their lover.

Someone who is particularly confident in their ability to keep their affair secret may stay away from home for long periods of time. If your partner's job suddenly seems to take them away on the weekends or overnight trips, you may want to start assessing the situation.

Sign Of Cheating #6: They Are All Dressed Up

When someone cheats, they tend to go into dating mode. Think of how most people act when they are trying to attract a partner. New clothes, fresh haircuts, and fancy cologne may all be part of the picture. If your partner takes a new interest in their appearance for no apparent reason, they may be trying to catch the eye of someone else.

It can be a major red flag when the changes in grooming happen in areas most people do not see. If they are suddenly preoccupied with how their body looks, or how well-kept their body hair is, they might be trying to impress someone who is looking underneath their clothes.

Sign Of Cheating #7: They Become Glued To Their Phone

If it seems like your partner always needs to be on their phone or any other technological device, you might want to ask them about where they are directing their attention. If they’ve never been one to be on their phone a lot, a sudden change in that behavior could signal they’re trying to stay connected to someone else. 

Sign Of Cheating #8: They Ward Off Intimacy And Sex

A partner who is getting all their intimate needs met elsewhere may lack the willingness to have them met where they're supposed to. If your partner no longer expresses an interest in physical touches like hand-holding, kissing, or even sex, you may be dealing with one of the major signs that your partner is cheating. Often, this lack of intimacy goes beyond the bedroom. If it is challenging to have a long, meaningful conversation with your partner or if they seem like they don’t even want to be around you, it might be time to find out if they are meeting their needs for affection elsewhere.

Sign Of Cheating #9: Their Morals And Behaviors Change

If your partner has a sudden change of heart about a moral issue, you may want to ask questions. For example, if they used to believe that sex before marriage was wrong, or that having kids out-of-wedlock was taboo, but suddenly they are becoming much more accepting of different ideas, try to find out why.

If their moral views surrounding relationships, marriage, sex, and loyalty change significantly, they might be trying to justify or excuse their behavior. This can be especially important for partners who used to attend church or religious events frequently, but no longer show interest. They may be avoiding these settings out of guilt or shame.

Sign Of Cheating #10: They Treat You Differently

A partner who is cheating may naturally be drawn to the positive aspects of their new lover. This might make you seem like second-best in their eyes. If your partner is suddenly critical about your looks, your behavior, or the things you do for them, you might want to start questioning whether they are comparing you to someone else.

Likewise, an unfaithful partner may try to take the heat off their guilt by turning the accusations back on you. If your partner has accused you of cheating, not being emotionally or physically available, or changing too much, they might be trying to project their guilt onto you. Sometimes a partner will cheat if they believe their significant other is cheating first so that both parties are in the wrong. Regardless, try to stay far from mind games and watch their behavior closely.

Sign Of Cheating #11: You Have An STD From Sex

If you are showing signs or are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, it is time to confront your partner. At this point, their behavior is putting you at risk. If your partner is selfish enough to jeopardize your health for their affair, it is time to take a stand.

If Your Partner Is Cheating…

Some relationships survive infidelity, and others do not. Only you can decide what is right for you and your situation. Regardless of which option you decide to pursue, seeking help from a licensed counselor can be incredibly beneficial. They will be able to help you repair the damage to your relationship if you decide to stay together or walk you through the challenges that come with separation or divorce.

Has Your Partner Been Unfaithful In Your Relationship?

Online Counseling With Regain

Trying to determine whether your partner is cheating can be stressful enough as it is. The last thing you may want to worry about is organizing another appointment to drive to. This is where online counseling services like Regain can be helpful. Online counseling cuts out the need for long drives and inconvenient appointment times. Instead, you have the freedom to reach out to your counselor whenever and wherever you want to. Whether you want to attend counseling sessions alone or with your partner, Regain provides an option for each scenario. Working with your therapist, you can discover the power of healthy communication and learn how to make your relationship stronger and more satisfying. 

The Efficacy Of Online Counseling 

If you find out that your partner has cheated, and you want to stay together, pursuing couples therapy has been shown to increase marital satisfaction and strengthen the relationship after infidelity. In one study, researchers found that online couples counseling delivered via videoconferencing was “a viable alternative to face-to-face interventions, especially for those couples who may not have connection to the treatment they require.” Results from this study also showed that participants experienced improvements in their relationship satisfaction, mental health, and all other outcome scores over time.

Counselor Reviews

"Jeff has been valuable to our relationship recovery from infidelity and rebuilding a new relationship. His experience and confidence in our recovery were important."

"I would highly recommend Yetunde. I felt a strong connection with her and appreciate her knowledge, expertise and manner in which she worked with my former partner and I. She handled the challenging dynamics of our relationship, and through our work I was able to leave a relationship that was hurting and hindering me. I came to that conclusion not through any direct encouragement, but through doing the work."

The Takeaway

If you suspect that your partner might be cheating, it can leave you with a pit of despair in your stomach that doesn't ever seem to go away. Working through these feelings and suspicions can be vital to your mental health. Despite how lonely, confused, or betrayed you may be feeling, working with a professional therapist can help you move forward knowing that someone has your back. With the support and guidance of a Regain therapist, you can make decisions that honor the life you’d like to live and the type of relationship you desire to have.

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