When you are in a relationship, there is always a certain level of trust that is assumed. But even when you trust your partner, there may be instances where you wonder, “Is he cheating or am I paranoid?” The truth is, your gut is a useful tool because it's an excellent early warning detector that things might be off in your relationship. And whether your partner got caught in a lie or is acting weird, it’s possible your constant paranoia about cheating is totally justified. For some reason, your gut is telling you to worry — though sometimes, your gut can be an unreliable narrator.
“Sometimes your gut can be reliable, but not always,” licensed mental health counselor and founder of Healing with Wisdom Kerri-Anne Brown tells Elite Daily. “Things are not always as they appear, so in instances when you’re feeling doubtful, it’s important to communicate clearly the concerns you have and why you're having them.” In other words, instinct isn't always great about nuance, so while trusting your gut is usually a good idea, you still might need to temper it with some thought.
When you start to feel that creeping paranoia that your SO may be hiding something, it's important to take a beat and consider if there any extenuating circumstances that may be making you feel like not all is well in your romance — but that don’t necessarily add up to cheating. And if you constantly find yourself wondering, “Why am i so paranoid about my boyfriend cheating on me?,” then here are five potential causes of your relationship anxiety.
You May Be Paranoid About A Partner Cheating If You’re Insecure
Has something happened in your life recently that may be affecting your confidence? “Insecurity can definitely be a cause of paranoia,” confirms Brown. When you are feeling down, anything that feels “off” in your relationship might cause you to worry, even if everything is totally fine IRL.
Relationship expert Susan Winter explains that change can be scary, and it even has the potential to throw off your sense of security and make you feel like you’ve lost some control of your life. This can be anything from health issues, to losing a job or a loved one. “Any of these factors can reduce your sense of inner stability. That can affect your overall confidence in a relationship,” says Winter.
You May Be Paranoid About A Partner Cheating If You’ve Been Cheated On Before
Was a past partner unfaithful? If so, what you’re feeling is incredibly valid. But it is important to know that it may actually be a projection — especially if your last partner’s infidelity caught you off guard. Past betrayals can be a huge source of anxiety in your current relationship, says Brown, as being blindsided like that can really put a dent in your confidence, making everything your new partner does seem suspicious. “A person can have difficulty trusting their partner, even when there’s been no indication of a trust violation, because of experiences in past relationships. Interpersonal trauma, like experiencing infidelity, can have a lasting impact for many people,” she explains.
Celebrity matchmaker Alessandra Conti agrees. “When someone has been cheated on before, they kind of develop a bit of a PTSD where they are hypersensitive to being cheated on again because it was such a painful experience,” she says. “Your partner may be displaying perfectly normal behavior, but if you've been cheated on previously, you may take those actions as red flags.” The key here is to communicate clearly to your partner why some things they might be doing are triggering for you because of your past experiences. Your anxiety is warranted, and if your partner truly cares about you, they will understand.
You May Be Paranoid About A Partner Cheating If Your Sex Habits Have Changed
When you first started seeing each other, chances are you probably couldn’t keep your pants on. And while everyone says it’s normal for that desire to slow down over time, you just can’t help but feel like it might mean they're looking for sex elsewhere, especially if it’s a big shift out of the blue. Dating coach and relationship expert Nora Dekeyser says that, despite feeling like a slow down in the bedroom must be a sign your partner's being unfaithful, it “is rarely the case. It's normally just due to a busy life,” she tells Elite Daily.
There are so many reasons why someone might not be showing as much affection as they once did, but if you are really worried about a sudden decrease in affection, then it might be worth having a conversation with your partner about how you are feeling. If you want things to pick back up, it's totally possible to make that happen. “Don't always expect your partner to initiate. You can always initiate!" Dekeyser adds. It could be as simple as setting up a surprise date night for your partner and making them feel special.
You May Be Paranoid About A Partner Cheating If You’re Spending More Time Apart
Has your partner gotten really busy with work or school, or had to do some traveling that put some miles between you? If so, that distance you feel from one another may literally just be physical distance.
No one could blame you for feeling like you’re disconnected when you can’t actually connect with one another, and if this is the cause of your anxiety, then Dekeyser suggests seeing if there's something you can do about it. She suggests looking into working remotely and making it “a work vacation trip for both of you." If that’s not possible, just work to make the time you are together quality time.
You May Be Paranoid About A Partner Cheating If They’ve Become Distant
Feeling your partner pull away can be scary. Why, when you used to be so close and spend all your time together, are they suddenly pushing away? Of course your mind goes to cheating — whose wouldn’t? But here’s the thing: It doesn’t have to. Needing a little more personal space is not a sign that someone isn’t still in love with you.
“Not everyone wants to be in constant communication. There are many men and women who just need more time to themselves to unwind after a long work day,” says Conti. If the relationship is new, it could be as simple as your partner working through their own personal boundaries in order to make it a healthy relationship. Instead, take it as an opportunity to focus on yourself.
How To Tell Your Partner You’re Paranoid About Them Cheating
If you're still unsure about where your anxiety is coming from and whether or not your partner is actually cheating or not, every expert I spoke with gave me the same advice: Talk to your partner about what you’re feeling. Brown warns that if you don't, you may make incorrect assumptions and jump to the wrong conclusions. “When we don’t have all the information, we often tell ourselves stories to understand and make sense of things. This is problematic because the stories we tell ourselves aren’t always accurate,” she says.
Winter agrees, saying, “Before you assume, get your facts. Do you have any conclusive evidence that your partner is cheating? Are you watching patterns of behavior you recognize as red flags? If so, be brave. Ask your partner directly.”
Ideally, having the conversation will actually put you at ease, but even if it does confirm your fears were valid, it can still ultimately be positive. “While it may be painful to hear the truth, you’d rather know,” Brown points out. “The knowing is what can allow for repair and growth should you decide to stay in the relationship and rebuild with your partner. Even if you decide to end things, you’ll likely feel empowered in making a decision that you felt was best for you and not be in the dark.”
In other words, depending on how the insight above applies to you, you may want to check in with your gut again. If it still sounds the alarm, it could be time to heed it and start considering your next steps.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.
Kerri-Anne Brown, licensed mental health counselor and founder of Healing with Wisdom
Susan Winter, relationship expert
Alessandra Conti, celebrity matchmaker
Nora Dekeyser, dating coach and relationship expert
Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.
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