Cheating is generally considered the ultimate betrayal and the most difficult issue to bounce back from in a relationship. This is because trust is so critical … it’s the foundation a relationship is built on. If you can’t trust a man to be honest with you, then everything else you try to build together will just fall apart.
It’s natural not to want to admit it could be happening to you, so you may ignore the signs. Or maybe the signs are there and you’re willing to see them, but you don’t even know what to look for.
On the other hand, if you’ve been cheated on before and this is a major issue for you, you may know the signs all too well. This can be a good thing because you’ll be able to recognize what’s going on quickly and get out, or it can be a bad thing because you’re hypersensitive and zeroing in on non-issues because of the trauma in your past, so insecurity and paranoia take over.
Sometimes it helps to set aside your emotions as much as possible. Maybe that means temporarily letting go of your fear that you could lose everything you have with him if you’re right, or your anxiety that it could be happening to you all over again. Set aside those feelings for just a minute and look logically at his behavior, and you can get to the answer you need.
One or two of these signs might not mean anything, but if they start piling up, you need to take the possibility that he might be cheating on you very seriously.
Take The Quiz: Is He Losing Interest?
Here Are 15 Signs Your Man Might Be Cheating On You:
1. He’s on his phone or online more than usual
If he’s suddenly glued to his phone, watch out. This is a major concern, especially if he’s sneaky about it. If he doesn’t tell you who he’s talking to or what he’s doing and gets mad if you ask him or happen to glance at his phone, this is a red flag.
A man who’s 100% into the relationship and doesn’t have another woman in the mix will have nothing to hide. He won’t be constantly texting someone else and acting funny about it.
If you feel like his attention is always elsewhere, either directed at his phone or the computer, then he could be connecting with someone else online. If he acts defensive about it, won’t tell you more, and tries to hide it from you, this is a sign he’s cheating or about to cheat.
2. Cares about his appearance much more than usual
If he suddenly takes a renewed interest in his appearance when you’re in an established relationship, he’s probably not trying to impress you.
Has he joined a gym out of the blue? Is he trying to lose weight? If he never had an interest in working out before, he could be preening to try to attract someone new.
Is he trying out a more updated hairstyle? Shopping for new clothes and dressing differently? Maybe wearing a different cologne, one you didn’t choose for him?
These are all common behaviors of men when they’re trying to attract women (you may remember some of them from when you first started dating him!) and don’t really mesh with how a guy acts when he’s already in an established relationship.
Is it possible he just wants to feel good about himself and maybe impress you? Yes, of course. You can’t take any of these signs in a vacuum. You need to take the whole picture into account.
3. He’s suddenly very busy with work
If he suddenly has to travel out of town more frequently, or he’s having a lot more late nights at the office, it could be cause for concern.
If he’s recently been promoted or his job has changed somehow, this might not be something to worry about. But if you know that’s not the case and he’s exhibiting some of the other signs here as well, it’s a definite cause for concern.
Is he going out after work more frequently for happy hours with people from the office? If there’s a new woman at work this could be a way for him to spend time with her off the clock and away from the office, to get to know her on a more personal level. If he never went to work happy hours before and suddenly starts going regularly, it could be a sign he’s testing the waters to cheat.
It’s also possible he’s using “work” as a cover for whatever he’s out there doing. Saying you have to work is a tough excuse to argue with.
MORE: Why Do Guys Cheat?
4. He avoids intimacy with you
This is not the same as avoiding sex, this is about demonstrating affectionate and loving behavior.
If a man is cheating because he’s in love with someone new, it could make him feel like he’s cheating on his new love with you if he’s affectionate and loving with both of you, especially if he’s a loyal guy by nature and cheating is something new for him.
Even if he’s not in love with the person he’s cheating with, someone engaging in infidelity can feel uncomfortable behaving intimately with a girlfriend because it runs counter to their cheating behavior.
Unless he’s a total sociopath, he probably still has feelings for you, and that will make him feel guilty. Showing loving behavior toward you when he’s cheating on you would make him feel even worse.
5. Avoids having sex with you … or wants it all the time
Sex is a form of intimacy, so if he’s avoiding sex with you it could tie into the previous point.
However, he could also be avoiding sex with you because he’s already having enough of it with someone else. Conversely, his sexual appetite may increase because the affair is leading to a surge in testosterone. Or maybe it’s a way for him to cope with his guilt.
The key is, his sexual appetite and behavior have changed. Maybe he now has zero interest in having sex, or maybe he now has a voracious appetite for sex. Watch out for changes in his normal patterns.
6. He hasn’t taken his online dating profile down
While you closed your account the second you became official … you notice he never did. Or maybe he did, but you noticed it recently became reactivated. Or maybe someone you know stumbled upon him on a dating app …
A man who isn’t looking to cheat will not leave his profile up once you’re official, and if he takes it down when you do, he definitely won’t reactivate it later. This is a clear sign he’s already cheating, or at the very least wants to.
Does he have a dating app on his phone that wasn’t there before, or when you ask him to delete it you notice it’s still there weeks later? These are not the signs of a man who wants to be faithful.
MORE: Is He a Cheater?
7. He suddenly needs a lot of privacy
Everybody needs a certain amount of privacy, and people can be different about how much of it they need. Some people are fine with sharing their email passwords or leaving their Facebook pages open, others are not. The point is, he won’t be one way and then suddenly change without good reason.
If he used to keep his phone unlocked all the time and leave it on the table when he left the room, and now it’s always locked and he takes it with him, or he used to leave his accounts open when he walked away from the computer and now he’s signing out first, there’s a reason.
Privacy about his personal space is important too. If he used to want to have you around right when he got off from work, and now he wants to go right to the bedroom for “me” time or a shower first, this could be a sign he’s cheating.
In the end, relationships are about openness and sharing. You are working toward sharing a life together. If it felt like he was open and sharing before but now he’s suddenly shutting you out, it’s a huge red flag.
8. Hides his finances
While he used to leave his credit card statements or his phone bills out in the open, he’s suddenly very stealthy with all statements and receipts. If he’s spending money on someone new, he won’t want you to notice and question it.
If you do happen to see receipts or statements, have his spending habits changed? A man who’s cheating is probably going to be spending more, whether for new clothes for himself, gifts for the woman he’s cheating with, or dinners out or even trips together. He won’t want you to know, so he’ll try to hide his finances when he used to be totally open about them.
9. He picks fights with you
If he’s started seeming angry with you all the time and you don’t know why, it could be because he feels bad and wants to turn you into the bad guy to alleviate his guilt.
Is he being hypercritical? Nitpicking about every little thing you do that irritates him? He might be trying to focus on any trait of yours that could supply him with a justification for cheating, no matter how slim.
If you’re wonderful, then he’ll feel terrible about betraying you, but if he can turn you into someone awful and make that a reason for him to cheat, on some level, it might make him feel a little bit better.
10. He has major mood swings
A new relationship can be exciting and fun, but it can also cause anxiety. If your man is cheating, he might be happy and upbeat one minute, somber and depressed the next.
Maybe he’ll become euphoric at the opportunity of a rendezvous with the other woman, then let down when they’re unable to communicate for some reason. Or he’ll feel ecstatic one moment about her, then horribly guilty the next because of you.
A person who’s cheating is unlikely to have totally stable moods because the pull of having an affair is the excitement, the wild ups and downs. And there are all the mixed emotions- the excitement, the guilt, the confusion, the uncertainty of where to go next (stay with you or be with her). It will be very hard for him to hide this from you.
11. He gets overly defensive when you ask if he’s cheating
If he’s not cheating and you express concern, he’s not going to get really angry right off the bat. I’m not saying he won’t be hurt at the suggestion, or insulted that you would think that about him, but he won’t immediately fly off the handle and attack you. If he does, he definitely doth protest too much.
This goes for if it’s the first time you ask if he’s cheating, of course. If you were cheated on in the past and this is a big issue for you and you’re constantly accusing him of cheating, eventually it can make any man angry and defensive. But if this is the first time you’ve mentioned it and he goes ballistic, this is indicative of a guy who is truly guilty.
Of course, a guy who isn’t cheating is going to deny it. But that will be more of a genuine denial. When his denial seems dramatic and over-the-top, it’s because he’s putting on a performance.
12. He stops saying “I love you”
Again, the guilt! A man who’s cheating will probably not be comfortable showing you affection and engaging in loving gestures like holding hands and hugging you, and this goes for his words as well.
If he’s normally vocal about saying I love you and giving you compliments, and those three words are no longer said and the compliments have dried up, it means he’s distancing himself emotionally from you.
This can be because he’s emotionally involved with someone else, or if the someone he’s seeing is just for pure sex, it could mean he still loves you and the fact that he’s cheating makes him feel guilty. He’s betraying you but doesn’t want to betray you with his words by saying things that don’t match up with his actions, because it makes him feel worse.
13. His daily routine suddenly changes
This can tie into some of the other signs here. Have his work hours changed noticeably? Maybe he’s staying later, or maybe he’s going in earlier so he can leave earlier but still come home at the same time, leaving his afternoons free to see someone new.
Or maybe he’s getting up early to hit the gym, or working through lunch instead of spending it with you. A change in his daily routine could be as simple as that he used to call you every day at lunch, or when he was on his way home from work, but he no longer does.
People are creatures of habit. When you’ve been with someone for a while, you become familiar with those habits. If all of a sudden he’s adopting an entirely new routine, something is up.
14. You smell another woman on him
It doesn’t have to be a perfume that’s not yours (although that’s a pretty significant tell!); maybe you smell cigarettes when he doesn’t smoke, or a new body wash that’s not from your shower. If he seems to have freshly showered at odd times, he could be trying to wash the smell of her off of him.
Do you see lipstick stains on his clothing in a shade you would never wear? It’s hard if not impossible to hide all the evidence of cheating, especially sensitive stuff like this.
15. You feel it in your gut
If you have a terrible suspicion your man is cheating on you, there’s a reason. If you used to trust him and feel completely secure in your relationship but now his behavior is causing you to worry, you need to trust your instincts and not sweep things under the rug.
What to Do If You Think He’s Cheating
The fact that you’re wondering if he’s cheating on you is your first crucial sign. Something made you worry. You need to trust your gut!
Now think about the rest of the items on this list. If he’s doing a few of them, it could be a coincidence. Maybe he’s taking extra care with his appearance because he’s in a new position at work and needs to dress to impress, which could also explain why he’s working late so much.
But if he’s doing more than 5 of these things … then something is definitely up.
Either he’s losing interest in you and possibly gaining interest in someone new, or he’s already got someone new and started cheating on you.
You can’t have a healthy relationship if you’re paranoid and suspicious, whether your suspicions are justified or not. Trust is essential, and trust is what you need to focus on. Think about the positive things you can do to turn the tide, to increase the trust between you.
When it comes to dealing with the man you love possibly cheating on you, what you need to understand is that you can’t control what he’s doing, you can only control how you choose to respond to it. Unless you know for sure he’s already cheated, then distrusting him, blaming him, or punishing him are not the right way to go.
Instead, what you want to do is consider why he may be thinking of cheating. This is not to say that if he wants to cheat you are the one to blame! It’s to say that relationships take two, and a person totally happy and satisfied in a relationship is generally not going to look elsewhere.
So if his attention seems to be wandering and you’ve noticed some of these signs, start thinking about why he fell in love with you, to begin with and bring that energy back into the relationship.
Don’t berate him for attending too many happy hours or staying too late at work or going on too many business trips. Instead, try to carve out special time together. Suggest going on some of his trips with him, if possible. Be supportive.
But if you’re bringing positive energy into the relationship and he’s still treating you badly, if the trust feels like it’s completely gone or if you’re pretty sure he’s already cheated, you need to think about walking away. Remember that you can’t control his behavior, but you can control yours.
I hope this article gave you clarity on your situation. If your guy is cheating, my heart goes out to you and I hope you are able to make the right decision in regards to what to do next. Before a guy cheats, you may notice he starts to pull away or lose interest. If that’s something you’re going through, then you need to read this next: If He’s Pulling Away, Do This...
Take The Quiz: Is He Losing Interest?
The Biggest Signs He’s Cheating On You:
- He’s on his phone or online more than usual
- Cares about his appearance much more than usual
- He’s suddenly very busy with work
- He avoids intimacy with you
- Avoids having sex with you … or wants it all the time
- He hasn’t taken his online dating profile down
- He suddenly needs a lot of privacy
- Hides his finances
- He picks fights with you
- He has major mood swings
- He gets overly defensive when you ask if he’s cheating
- He stops saying “I love you”
- His daily routine suddenly changes
- You smell another woman on him
- You feel it in your gut