Long-distance relationships are tough. You place an enormous amount of trust in your partner to remain faithful to you, and they put their confidence in you as well. If you're worried that your long-distance boyfriend or girlfriend is cheating on you, you may not have the luxury of talking to him or her about it face-to-face. Factors including distance, time differences, and conflicting schedules can all lead to a decrease in your communication, which doesn't help if you suspect your partner may be cheating.
While it's important not to jump to conclusions or make assumptions without first discussing your concerns with your significant other, there are a few signs that could indicate your S.O. is cheating on you. I spoke to social researcher Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., author of the new book about infidelity, Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free, about the red flags that your partner may not be telling you the whole truth about their behavior.
If your partner is acting in questionable ways, or you feel like something is off between you, do your best to approach the topic in a non-confrontational way. Martin suggests trying to avoid accusations when talking to your boyfriend or girlfriend about infidelity. "Try language like, 'I've noticed you've been in touch less' rather than 'You're so distant. Are you cheating?!'" she says. This will help open up the conversation and allow you both to share your honest thoughts and feelings.
1. You feel like they're avoiding you.
The first warning sign to look out for is avoidant behavior, according to Martin. "Often there will be avoidance, because they don't want to hurt you, or confront the issue head on, or for you to feel suspicious," she says. "Because non-monogamy is generally regarded as a shameful thing in our culture, people hide it."
Martin explains that for some people, infidelity is a convenient "out." A person might cheat because they want to break up, but don't know the right way to do it. "By cheating, they force your hand, and you break up with them, doing their 'dirty work' for them," she says. "Other times, someone is just tempted and wants to have sex, and it isn't a referendum on your worth or your relationship."
2. They're more secretive than usual.
Along the same lines, if you feel like your significant other is hiding something, then it's possible that they are. "Secretiveness, avoidance, and being out of touch can be signs of many different things, among them that your person has another person," says Martin.
The way that you choose to air your suspicions is a very personal decision, according to Martin. She suggests asking yourself what would make you feel best. "In general, if you can convince yourself and really believe that a conversation about ... cheating is an opportunity for both you and your partner, it can be," she says.
She suggests taking a non-confrontational approach, while still being clear with yourself and your partner during this "fair and important discussion."
3. They're communicating less than normal.
If you feel like your partner has been more out of touch than normal, they may be struggling with being exclusive. "Know that struggling with sexual exclusivity is not easy, and that it's normal to struggle with exclusivity," says Martin. "It doesn't mean your relationship has to end if one or both of you is struggling, or even if one or both of you steps out."
Worrying that your boyfriend or girlfriend is cheating, even if they say they haven't, is a sign that the two of you need to have a serious talk about mutual trust and communication. Hop on FaceTime or get on the phone if you can't meet in person, and work together to see if you can come up with a policy that works for both of you.
Remember that the above signs don't necessarily prove your partner is cheating, or that they have cheated on you in the past. If you have reason to worry, though, you're entitled to bring up your concerns in a respectful and productive manner.
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