There's a small part of me that believes I truly am a detective. In fact, I used to recreate True Detective on the reg. I'd pontificate on f*ckboys, Rust Cohl-style. I'd brood over unusual Venmo transactions. I'd puzzle over why his Bumble said he was in New York, but he said he was coming back from Austin — is he on a plane, or did he just delay liking my Instagram? Our phones make it easy to find signs they're cheating on you. (They also make it easy to find signs that you have become a crazy person.)
Reality check: Dude was on his way back from Austin. TBH, I only deduced this when I saw a Snap his BFF posted of him on the motherf*cking plane. (Oops.) "Trust is important/you can't be such a skeptic/not all men are trash." I know, I hear you, but my dad has always said that curiosity is a great thing. Right?
While I finally realize that like Rust Cohl, I am also only a fictional detective, I do have to say that I am embarrassingly good at deducing facts from internet clues. However, consternation about actual cheating is different. The thing about cheating is that it's rule breaking, so the cheater is usually pretty extra about keeping things hidden — you know, so as not to explode their current relationship.
I spoke to one male and one female relationship expert to get their opinions on what signs you should look out for if you are worried your partner is cheating on you. Spoiler alert: Neither of them said "liking another woman's Instagram photos." Here are the actual signs to look out for, according to Dr. Gregory Kushnick, licensed psychologist and Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, noted psychotherapist and author of Smart Relationships.
1. They Have A Strange Change In Schedule
One of the biggest red flags that your partner is cheating is a sudden change in their schedule. If they just started a part-time graduate program, let them have that. But it's completely normal to feel suspicious "when your partner constantly works late with no clear explanation of his or her location at night," says Dr. Kushnick.
When your partner "suddenly has lots of late night meetings at work," or "runs errands at the last minute, and late at night," they might be up to no good, says Dr. Wish. So what do you do about it? First thing's first: Ask them where they are going. If their reply is shady, maybe becoming an amateur detective isn't such a bad idea after all.
2. There's A Sudden Shift In Intimacy
Basically, if the sex stops out of nowhere, take note. Of course, couples can be less intimate for many different reasons, but it's important to ask your SO what's up if you've gone from once-a-day to once-a-month in terms of frequency.
"[There's] a gradual or sudden lack of interest in intimacy coupled with no effort to discuss the change in frequency of sex," says Dr. Kushnick. The desire to ignore the change could be a sign that your partner is hiding something. What do you do? Again, ask them about it. Push them to give you an answer as to why they aren't as interested in sex lately and take it from there.
3. They Do Sketchy Things Around You
Some examples of this include getting off the phone as soon as you enter a room, and discreetly texting or emailing in another room, says Dr. Wish. Another sketch move? "A change in how laundry is done such that the guilty party is making sure the evidence is cleaned before it can be inspected," explains Dr. Kushnick.
Whoa. This partner sounds like an a-hole, but this is something to look out for. (Caveat: If your partner is trying to help more around the house, give them a break.) What do you do if you notice these sketchy behaviors? Again, rather than break into their phone, confront them about it. Be direct, and ask questions: "Who are you texting?" Their response can tell you a lot.
Here's the thing about cheating: It is completely dependent on the relationship you are in and the personality of the cheater. Some cheaters will show obvious text book — or, movie book, a la Alan Rickman in Love, Actually — signs, while others are really good at hiding their indiscretions. If you suspect your partner is cheating, the best thing you can do is actually speak to them about your concerns.
That said, "don't accuse your partner of having an affair. More likely, he or she will deny it. Instead, get solution-oriented and discuss how to make changes in your relationship that will strengthen and enhance your bond," says Dr. Wish. I agree with her, except I will remind you that spending your whole life wondering how to win your SO back from that "other woman" sounds exhausting. My own history of using technology to determine if the people I dated were lying when they were simply NOT was exhausting enough — eventually, your concerns are going to surface.
At the end of the day, a relationship really needs to be based on trust and honesty. Your partner could slip up, and you could recover. Or, you could have trust issues like me, find out about the affair, and move on sooner than later. Dr. Wish also recommends seeking out couples counseling. Try not to jump to conclusions, and keep an open dialogue with your partner.
Also, humans of the world, can we stop cheating please? Just break up and get back together or something. It always comes out in the end.
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