Maybe it happens when you’re out with friends. Your partner hasn’t texted you in a while, and you’ve been out for hours. You wonder why they haven’t bothered to check in.
Or maybe it happens when you’re looking through their phone. You’re about to navigate to Grubhub to order yourselves a pizza when all of a sudden, a racy message pops up on the screen from an unknown sender. What could this mean?
Or maybe it happens when you’re at home, alone and in bed, and it occurs to you: they were late for work again. And it’s Friday.
Whenever this moment occurs, it feels like a punch to the gut. And what happens next hurts even more. It’s the painful, urging question inside of you: Is my partner cheating on me? Or am I crazy?
There’s no way to know for sure yet, but you’re not crazy. That I promise you.
So how do you know if your partner is cheating on you? Here are a few red flags to watch out for.
1. Their schedule changes unpredictably
By “unpredictably,” I mean on a day-by-day basis, or something close to that. Having your partner tell you, “Hey, I have a meeting next week on Wednesday evening” is much different than them approaching you on Tuesday night and saying, “Damn, I gotta stay late at work tomorrow,” or even texting you minutes before they’re supposed to be home, only to tell you that they won’t be back for hours.
These unpredictable schedule changes are not necessarily proof that something is going on, so take it on a case-by-case basis. It’s possible that your partner just has a really unpredictable job (God knows there’s enough people with this problem), or maybe they’re just really disorganized and always forget to inform you before things happen. But the key thing here is that it changes. Have they always been unpredictable and disorganized? Have they always told you things at the last minute? If so, then it’s probably not evidence that they’re cheating. But if your partner used to be great about telling you when they were getting home and they’ve lately been forgetting to even send you a text to warn you they’ll be late, that might be a red flag.
2. They start to put more effort into their appearance
Again, if your partner has always been the type to spend an hour a day grooming their hair, this is not in any way a red flag. But if they used to roll out of bed five minutes before work and now they’re hogging the bathroom mirror, that might be something to stay aware of.
Keep in mind, though, that there could be many explanations for this. Maybe your partner just got a new job and they’re trying to impress the bigwigs. Maybe they got a new haircut recently and they’re trying to upkeep it. Putting more effort into their appearance isn’t always a bad thing, but it can be. If their newfound attention to how they look cannot be explained by external factors, and it’s a change from what they normally do or how they normally act, that could spell trouble.
3. They are extremely protective of their privacy
When your partner tells a story about their friends and you ask them, “Wait, which friend was this?” and they shoot back with, “It’s not important!” or if your partner snatches their phone out of your hands when you open it up just to check the time, or if your partner warns you to stay out of their things, it may be something to keep track of.
Obviously, some people are just more secretive than others. Personally, I’m a pretty private person and get very sensitive to people getting in my business or going through my personal things. All of my past partners have known this, and thus have not seen it as a concern. But again, the key thing is whether or not this is normal. If your partner has been secretive and protective of their property since you met them, it’s likely not due to anything other than their personal preference. But if they used to be quite open with you and they’re now getting angry with you at the smallest inquisitions or infringement on their belongings, they could be hiding something.
4. You don’t trust them
The biggest and most important flag is this one. If you don’t trust your partner, that’s not a good sign.
I don’t mean to suggest that distrust for your partner is an immediate piece of evidence that they’re cheating on you. I mean, maybe some of us have that razor-sharp intuition, but I’d venture to guess that’s not the case with everyone.
Rather, what I mean is that it’s a red flag for your relationship if you don’t trust them. Instead of asking yourself, Are they cheating? Ask yourself, Do I trust my partner? If the answer is no, that is not something you should accept. Examine the reasons behind it. Do you just have trouble with trusting people, or did they do something specific to lose your trust? If so, what was it? Make an effort to get to the bottom of it, and when you have the answers, confront your partner. Do not just let this distrust simmer, undiscussed, until it gets out of control. Talk to your partner. Let them know what’s going on and ask them to be honest about how they feel and what they’ve been up to. One can only hope that they’ll tell you the truth, but you’ll know. If you trust their response, then congratulations! you’ve overcome one of these roadblocks. But if you still don’t trust them, ask yourself genuinely: Is it healthy or productive for me to stay in this relationship?
Bottom line: you deserve to trust your partner and feel loved and supported. If any of these things are lacking, talk to them, and if that still doesn’t improve things, consider next steps.
. . .
Especially in a world with such ambiguity — technology, secrets, drama, the works — it can be hard to genuinely trust people. And that includes our partners. If you’re experiencing some distrust for your partner or questioning their fidelity, that is certainly valid and you are not alone. However, sometimes a situation is not what it seems.
Don’t forget to examine the context of your partner’s life and how that could contribute to how they’re acting. Keep an eye out for new changes that have seemed to come out of the blue, or out-of-character habits that you never saw in them before. These things could signal that they are not being entirely honest with you, and there may be something that they’re not mentioning.
Regardless, though, don’t forget to discuss these concerns with your partner. In a relationship, people should be equals, and they should feel comfortable coming to their significant other with this stuff. Not having trust in your S.O. is not just a bummer — it’s unacceptable. And whether it’s their fault or not, whether they’re being shady or not, it still deserves a discussion. And you deserve support, love, and closure.
Remember that there’s two sides to every story. Don’t jump to conclusions; we often get so caught up in our own powerful narrative that it becomes our story. If you listen to your partner, they may be able to offer an explanation to you and give you the peace of mind and comfort that you need.
And if not, go forth into the world and explore. Give yourself exactly what you need and want, whether that be from love, your career, travel, or anything and everything else.
You deserve it.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love.
You Might Also Like These From The Good Men Project
|.10 Things Good Men Should Never Do in a Relationship||The One Thing Men Want More Than Sex||.. In Modern Relationships, We Cheat Every Single Day||Here’s What Happens When You Find The One|
Join The Good Men Project as a Premium Member today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
A $50 annual membership gives you an all access pass. You can be a part of every call, group, class and community.
A $25 annual membership gives you access to one class, one Social Interest group and our online communities.
A $12 annual membership gives you access to our Friday calls with the publisher, our online community.
Register New Account
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: Unsplash