You feel suspicious that your spouse may be having an extramarital affair, and now you find yourself wondering ‘what are the signs of infidelity?’ Statistically more than 50% of marriages end in divorce, and many more than that have to deal with the devastation and after math of marital infidelity.
We surveyed a group of people who had been cheated on asking them to share what were the signs of infidelity in their relationships. In this article we share the results of that survey combined with other research. 70% of those surveyed professed a high level of morality in their belief systems, and a high level of marital fulfillment and satisfaction. Affairs are not solely a problem of an unfortunate few with ‘bad’ marriages. Extramarital affairs happen to good people in good marriages too. Would you be able to recognize the signs of infidelity in your own marriage?
Below is a synopsis of the signs of infidelity. It is important to keep two very important facts in mind when reading this:
Fact #1 – YOUR PARTNER COULD BE EXHIBITING ALL OF THE SIGNS OF INFIDELITY AND STILL NOT BE HAVING AN AFFAIR. There is no secret formula to know for sure that a person is cheating. The behaviors below could be taking place for other reasons than an affair. Whatever the case, the signs of infidelity below are not good things. If they are present in your relationships it’s time to pay attention to your marriage, get some help and make some improvements.
Fact #2 – YOUR PARTNER COULD BE EXHIBITING NONE OF THE SIGNS BELOW AND STILL BE ENGAGED IN AN AFFAIR.
Shirley Glass in her book “Not Just Friends” (which is based on 30 years of research and work with couples in affair-recovery) states:
“Assumption: A cheating partner almost always leaves clues, so a naïve spouse must be burying his or her head in the sand.
“Fact: The majority of affairs are never detected. Some individuals can successfully compartmentalize their lives or are such brilliant liars that their partner never finds out.”
In my own situation, I had no idea my husband was having an affair. Our sex life was frequent and exciting, we were intimate and close, we enjoyed each others company, spent lots of time together, were best friends, and both of us would describe our marriage as very good at the time of the affair. A cheating spouse will not always leave signs behind them.
SIGNS OF INFIDELITY
- Number one on the signs of infidelity list is when a spouse becomes emotionally distant, withdrawn or depressed. Most of those who had been cheated on reported this behavior. “He became self-absorbed,” one woman told us, “living as if he was single with his own agenda and plans. He became more and more disinterested in me, our family, our friends and our daily needs.” Another explained, “His attitude towards me changed gradually, from being an average attentive husband to nearly ignoring me completely towards the end.” One man reported, “She showed no interest in improving our marriage. When I tried to show her affection she would not let me, especially not in public. Since the other man traveled in our circle of friends, I later realized she did not want the other man to see her being warm towards me.”
- The second most prominently reported of the signs of infidelity was the fact that the unfaithful spouse became angry, critical and even at times cruel. 70% of those surveyed reported this sign often coupled with emotional and verbal abuse, constant put downs and little to no patience. One woman reported, “At the worst point he was more than disrespectful. He was just plain rude, impatient, angry and aggressive. He was constantly picking fights and refused to help out in the home or with our children. Others reported; “She always seemed somewhat angry at me, like I was to blame for something that was happening.” “He showed a low tolerance for our children’s behavior. He would snap and snarl at everyone!” “He kept picking apart things I did, like the kind of books I read and the food I prepared.” Is your spouse often complaining of trivial things? Do you sense unhappiness in your spouse, but you can’t explain it or understand it? (And do they refuse to acknowledge it or talk about it when asked?) Do you feel like you can’t do anything right? Do you feel like you keep giving and they keep taking yet they are still unhappy? Yes’s to these questions are among the signs of infidelity.
- Third on the list of the signs of infidelity is the issue of control voiced by those who are cheating. Often they complain that their spouses are “controlling”, yet they themselves are guilty of attempting to control. One betrayed spouse reported of their straying partner, “She insisted that I give her more space, that I stop smothering her, and give her room to breathe. Another said their unfaithful spouse began to express a “my way or the highway” type of attitude. Dr. James Dobson in his book ‘Love Must be Tough’, reports that often preceding a spouses affair is a feeling of being ‘trapped’ in the relationship. Does your spouse complain about being controlled or that they are being watched, even if you ask very little of what they are doing? Or do you feel pressured to do such and such? If you find that ‘control’ is an ongoing issue in your discussions with your mate your relationship could be at risk.
- Fourth on the list of the signs of infidelity was a reported increase in working hours, after work meetings, business trips and a need to work out of town for prolonged periods of time.
5. The fifth and cruelest of the signs of infidelity on the list of our survey results (reported by 50% of those who participated) was illness of the one who is faithful. This is often more a contributing factor than a sign, thus the words of the song “You left me, just when I needed you most.” One woman’s husband moved the other woman into their home, during her brief hospitalization, the result of a chronic illness. Another woman’s husband began his affair while she was laid up with knee surgery. Another during three weeks bedridden with a severe case of pneumonia, another in the ninth month of pregnancy (four days prior to giving birth to their child), and another during her period of recovery from a heart attack. Reality in life is often not a pretty picture. Perhaps our society, which promotes a ‘Me first – if it feels good do it’ philosophy, contributes to this being among the signs of infidelity. Instead of biting the bullet and remaining faithful, many find themselves tempted during these difficult times by a 3rd party who is more than willing to meet their needs while the faithful spouse has been sideswiped by life.
- Number six on the list of signs of infidelity was paying extra close attention to their appearance, buying new clothes, losing weight, extra primping, working out at the gym and other sudden fitness endeavors.
- The seventh of the signs of infidelity was showing more energy and zeal for life, doing things they’ve never done before or a sudden interest in a new hobby or sport. Interestingly enough this sign was often accompanied by a contrasting lack of energy or depression. “He became withdrawn and seemed to have no energy. He napped or was gone a lot.” So zeal for whatever is going on outside the home and lack of zeal for whatever is going on inside the home. “My husband once came home and announced that he was going to a ball game with a buddy. I was only too happy that he was going out to do something really fun with one of his friends. I should have clued in that something was wrong when he added ‘It’s my turn to do something fun and you can’t stop me.’ It would never have been my intention to hinder him from having fun. His uncalled for defensiveness, coupled with the extra zeal and enthusiasm for the outing, should have been my clue that his buddy was another woman.”
- Becoming inappropriately defensive when asked questions, was number eight on our list of the signs of infidelity.
- Signs of Infidelity number nine was becoming extra flirtatious with the opposite sex. One woman reported that it seemed strange the way her husband suddenly greeted other women with a kiss when they were out together visiting friends. (He also became defensive about it when questioned later.) Others reported that their spouse became very defensive about their ‘right’ to maintain private friendships with the opposite sex. And the faithful spouse was accused of being ‘old fashioned’ when they justifiably expressed legitimate concerns regarding this potentially hazardous behavior. “She kept telling me that they were ‘just friends’. The fact that she continually seemed to need to emphasize it, when I wasn’t even asking, should have been an indication to me that something was up.”
- The tenth of the signs of infidelity was an obsessive need for ‘privateness’ and staying up late at night to work on the computer. When confronted with his excessive late night hours in front of the monitor, one cheater responded “it’s none of your business. I’m entitled to my privacy.” This is a typical response of an unfaithful spouse. Unfortunately the internet has opened up a whole new way to infidelity. When your spouse suddenly needs a private email or bank account (which they become highly defensive about maintaining) there is a good chance that they are hiding something, and that something is probably marital infidelity. Hiding credit card statements and phone bills are also among the signs of infidelity.
Other signs of infidelity included noticing something different in your sex life (better, worse or just different), not always wearing their wedding ring (which they give amazingly believable reasons for), unaccounted for time and being caught lying (which they will explain away with various other reasons). Some people who participated reported noticing strange looks from their spouse, some reported that their spouse was uncomfortable discussing the issue of affairs, and some (definitely not all) reported an intuition that something was wrong. “I felt, call it intuition, that something was wrong but I could not put my finger on it. I would receive trickles of proof or red flags which in and of themselves did not totally make sense and coupled with my denial and my spouses manipulation of the truth it was, as I like to call it, crazy-making. I learned to pay attention to my spouse’s behavior and not his words.”
Noticing any one or all of the above signs of infidelity does not guarantee that your spouse is cheating. They are simply the common signs reported by those who have been cheated on. Other factors in life could cause a person to act in any of the ways above. If your spouse exhibits none of the signs above, that does not guarantee that they aren’t cheating. Ultimately you will need to discover for yourself the truth in your own unique situation.
Common Signs of Infidelity vs. Unique Situations
“I have personal knowledge of an affair that lasted over a year where the unfaithful spouse sincerely acted the opposite of all the signs of infidelity described in your article.
In this case, the unfaithful spouse was a happily married, very passive female who had a long history of severe child molestation by a parent, extreme emotional neglect by the second parent, and severe physical abuse by an older sibling. The result being that she suffered all her life from Complex Post Traumatic Syndrome and Major Depression. However as a childhood survival skill, she learned how to effectively mask her disorders from even her closest friends and family.
In this case the unfaithful spouse was stalked and befriended by a sexual predator who manipulated her through guilt. This type of affair is often described in reference books as an “unintentional affair” with “no emotional attachment”, and is almost always credited as the result of being the victim sexual child abuse.
Also in this particular case that I am referring to, the unfaithful spouse was married to a police officer who knew his wife had a history of unfaithfulness from a previous marriage and was very suspicious. The cop was well aware of the warning signs outlined in your article and paid very close attention to the relationship for any red flags. They enjoyed an extremely close and loving relationship. He never had a clue during the affair, and only discovered the infidelity by accident.” – A website reader