Being in a relationship is an act of trust. We can’t be everywhere all the time; what we hope and expect is that our partner behaves in the right ways, even when we’re not around. We hope that our partner recognizes that love means being respectful, keeping some things private, and — crucially, for most of us — being faithful.
But that last part, unfortunately, doesn’t always work out. Depending on the study, experts usually find that between 20 and 25 percent of men and 10 and 15 percent of women have cheated on their spouses. The numbers can get a bit murkier for non-married couples (and, in fact, some people define cheating differently). But one thing is for sure: People do cheat on each other.
And if your partner cheats on you, the results can be devastating. Some relationships can be repaired after a partner cheats, but others fail; in all too many cases, the partner who was cheated on suffers emotionally and mentally. Cheating break hearts, destroys self-esteem, and erodes a person’s ability to trust others.
One troubling aspect of cheating is its secrecy. We can’t really know that our partners are faithful. But if we suspect something is up, we can try to get to the bottom of things.
Changes to watch for
When one person cheats on another, their behavior usually changes. If you watch out for these warning signs, you could catch onto things sooner.
If your partner is changing their communication with you, that’s not ideal — especially if they’re “stonewalling” you by refusing to communicate at all. Watch for changes in intimacy, too; if your sex life is slow to non-existant, then you should be concerned. (These aren’t just signs of cheating, by the way — they’re also signs of a failing relationship, even without infidelity!)
Be mindful of behavior patterns and schedules, too. Is your spouse gone at different hours than they usually are? Are you seeing them hide their phone or other mobile device, or locking it when they used to leave it unlocked?
Finding out the truth
Trust is important in a relationship, but you can’t let your best intentions blind you to a disturbing reality. If your partner is cheating on you, you deserve to know about it.
This is a delicate subject to approach, but you do have a right to reasonable reassurance. Approach your spouse and ask them for the truth, but try to avoid being overly confrontational and accusatory unless you’re very sure that they are hiding something. Expect a denial — even cheating spouses and partners tend not to admit the truth. Regardless of the answer, you may want to use this opportunity to talk about improving your relationship. Many of the warning signs discussed above are also signs of a failing relationship, and a renewed focus on your connection or (better yet) a trip to couples therapy could be just what you and your partner need.
Of course, sometimes a denial seems fishy. If you have reason to believe that your partner is not behind honest with you, you may want to consider some more serious detective work.
You can turn to private eyes and other businesses that offer things like background checks, reverse phone number lookups, and other security- and privacy-related services. These sorts of resources might be able to tell you where your spouse is using their phone’s data, or reveal to you who is calling and texting your partner all the time. You could even ask a private investigator to follow your partner and track his or her behavior.
These are serious steps, but they will give you a firm answer about your partner. For better or for worse, you deserve the truth.