Signs You Are Dating A Cheater
Given our increasing life expectancy, you’ve probably heard the argument that monogamy is simply unrealistic over the long haul. For those in committed relationships who’ve been ballsy enough to put their trust in another person and put their heart on the line, this sounds a whole lot like a convenient justification for cheating.
Polyamorous and open relationships can be successful in the right set of circumstances (and with plenty of communication), but most couples are still hoping for faithfulness and monogamy. And for the traditionally committed couples who’ve agreed to no hanky-panky on the side, cheating can be a total deal breaker.
The bad news is that the actual numbers on cheating are hard to come by, since most cheaters, malicious or accidental, are prone to denial. But 2005 research from the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy indicated that the amount of cheating going on behind closed doors may be lower than we first imagined. In a comprehensive review of the existing infidelity research, scientists discovered from data collected in the 1990s that only 13 percent of people admitted to having extramarital sex. Overall, researchers found that cheating occurred in less than 25 percent of committed relationships, with men dabbling more often than women.
While there’s no reason to get yourself into a tizzy over nothing, there are a few important things about monogamy for you to understand. First, the odds are low that your partner is going to cheat, so you can start by giving them the benefit of the doubt. And second, communication and awareness are key to addressing any issues that look suspicious — if you see one or more of the cheating warning signs, talk to your partner about it ASAP, and consider checking out couple’s therapy.
1. YOUR PARTNER HAS CHEATED BEFORE
Sadly the old wisdom holds water — cheaters cheat, says Dr. Tina B. Tessina (aka “Dr. Romance”), psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex, and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. “That’s why it’s inadvisable to marry someone who was cheating in an affair with you — when you’re the spouse, you’ll get cheated on. People who feel entitled to sex any way they can get it will always rationalize cheating and just keep doing it,” she explains.
2. HABITS CHANGE
If your partner suddenly or gradually stops coming home on time when they used to arrive home at 6 p.m. sharp, this is not a good sign at all, Dr. Tessina says. Habit changes, like dressing better, spending more money or dodging phone calls, are all big red flags that could indicate cheating.
3. RANDOM GIFTS ARE GIVEN
OK, OK, we’re certainly not suggesting that you look a gift horse in the mouth and accuse your guy or gal of cheating when they bring you flowers on a whim, but Dr. Tessina reminds us that “guilt gifts” are common when someone is getting nookie on the side. If a partner who has never thought to buy you flowers before suddenly starts bringing home roses on the regular, something may be amiss.
4. NEW BILLS POP UP
Maybe they’re taking up some new hobbies, or maybe they’re trying to cover their tracks. But Dr. Tessina says that unidentifiable charges on a credit card are often one of the easiest ways to catch a cheater.
5. WORK BECOMES SECRET
Remember those super-adorable conversations you used to have about what you were doing all day long, constant chats, emails and texts? While the flirty passion of the early days is likely to fizzle in a relationship over time, it can be a bad sign if your partner clams up completely about their time spent at work. “This may be a sign that they’re keeping a secret,” Dr. Tessina says.
6. THE DENIAL GAMES BEGIN
If getting your partner to even acknowledge your suspicions of cheating could be described as “slippery” at best, that may be another compounded warning sign of infidelity. To move past inappropriate contact or a full-blown affair, trust needs to be rebuilt, Kelley Kitley, LCSW, owner of Serendipitous Psychotherapy, says. “There needs to be full access to schedules, communication, email, texts, ‘after-work dinners’ and guaranteed time of arrival home. Because the person who was cheated on will be fearful of the infidelity happening again. They will be triggered and paranoid if there is any suspicion of subsequent cheating behaviors.” A partner who remains defensive or is unwilling to help rebuild the trust that was lost may have “serial cheater” written all over them.
7. YOUR SEX LIFE STARTS TO SUFFER
Though this may be the last thing you want to hear if you think your partner is cheating, it could be the reality check you need to make some changes in your relationship. Dr. Tessina points out that a partner who is suddenly not interested in sex, barring depression and other medical issues, may be getting their needs met somewhere else.