I have a terrible suspicion that my boyfriend is cheating on me. We’ve been together for a year and a half now and up until recently I’ve never worried. However, over the past two months he’s gone on three business trips for a week at a time. And over the past two weeks, he’s been texting with some girl and we’ve been having much less sex than we used to. His excuse has been that he’s just “too tired” for sex.
This is really worrying me and I want to know how to tell if my boyfriend is cheating on me or signs that my boyfriend is cheating (or about to cheat). I need to know what’s happening and what to do now.
OK – my answer for you is two parts. Part 1 is how to tell if your boyfriend is cheating on you / signs that your boyfriend is cheating and part 2 is what to do about it.
First, let’s talking about warning signs that your boyfriend is cheating:
- His sexual behavior has changed: This most commonly shows up as him losing interest in sex, but sometimes a boyfriend will become more invested in sex than he used to be (to cover his tracks or to ease his guilt). Another sign of cheating is that he starts introducing new “tricks” into your sex.
- His appearance / fashion has changed: If your boyfriend has started to pay more attention to his appearance, that’s a warning sign that he might be preening to attract someone new. A new-found interest in fitness, hairstyle or fashion are all warnings that he might be vying for the attention of a woman other than you…
- He avoids intimacy with you: Separate from his sexual behavior, if you notice that he avoids intimate gestures with you, then that’s a big warning sign. In psychology, there’s a concept called “commitment and consistency” – when someone is committing infidelity, showing intimacy towards their girlfriend will “feel yucky” (to put it scientifically) because it’s counter to their cheating behavior. Unless he’s a really good actor or a sociopath, it will be hard for him to do intimate gestures with you (intimate kissing, holding hands, being close to you, having ‘real’, deep, open conversations, etc.)
- He’s away from you more: Business trips is an example of being away more, but also noticing him leaving more to “work overtime” or have a “guy’s night out” are warning signs of infidelity as well.
- You smell perfume on him or he smells freshly showered: If he’s been cheating, your nose may know best. Do you smell another woman’s perfume on his clothes? Does he smell freshly showered at a time when it would be unusual for him to be (e.g. immediately after work)?
- He’s on his phone / the internet more than normal: If you notice he’s on his phone or the internet more than usual, that could be a sign of him cheating.
Now with that said, let me share what I like to call the “WebMD” concept.
The “WebMD” concept is this: Have you ever noticed some weird symptom that’s persisted for a few days (maybe a rash or a recent onset of insomnia or something fairly benign like that), and then you decide to look up what the symptom could be on webMD.com? And after a few minutes of surfing, WebMD has now scared you out of your mind because your symptoms might be some terminal illness?
Well, reading about cheating can be like that too.
If you notice one or two of these things, it could be a fluke. If you notice like 4-5 of these things… well… OK, you might be onto something.
I could understand why you’re worried. The thing is… you really don’t know. You can’t know. Even if you could spy on him, you would know in your heart that you crossed that line… and you can never cross back.
If your instinct is making you suspicious or worried, then I would put your focus on what you can control: how you react to that feeling.
Let’s say that he was flirting with a girl out there. Not “cheating”, but flirting… she’s interested in him and he likes the ego-boost of a girl being into him.
If that was what was happening, you could react to it in many different ways. I will list a few:
You could get paranoid and go down a path that wrecks your relationship’s trust.
You could get angry and start fighting and accusing one another… and damage your relationship in the process.
You could get worried sick over your suspicions and, because you’re so worried, end up being miserable company to be around… which would degrade your relationship.
— OR —
You could look at this as a wake-up call and respond to him and your relationship positively.
Maybe he misses having a girl look at him with desire in her eyes. Maybe he misses the feeling of being recognized or appreciated for what he brings to the world. Maybe he has a fantasy that he thinks you’d be unwilling to explore with him.
Whatever it is… you can start thinking about what might be attracting him outside the relationship and start bringing that energy into your relationship. That’s a much better use of your attention than playing nightmare-scenarios in your help or fearing what he and this girl might be up to.
It would be near-impossible for a guy to cheat if he were totally and completely fulfilled by his relationship.
His fulfillment in your relationship is his responsibility too, but remember your side of the responsibility. If you don’t want him to cheat, don’t waste your energy on blaming him, accusing him, distrusting him, suspecting him or punishing him. If you put your energy here, even in the privacy of your own thoughts, he’ll pick up on it and it will damage your relationship.