Is he cheating on you? 12 tell-tale signs of cheating to look out for

All relationships have their ups and downs, but would you know how to spot if your partner was cheating? Are there signs to look out for?

Is he cheating? Signs he's cheating on you
(Image credit: Getty Images/Onoky)

The month of January is historically the peak time for individuals to cheat on their partners - with double the number of people in a relationship starting extra-marital affairs, compared to the month of August.

A fifth of adults in the UK will have an affair and YouGov (opens in new tab) revealed in a study that 1 in 5 British adults say they've had an affair at some point in their lives. A survey carried out by found the most common alibis used by cheating partners (opens in new tab) with "going to the gym" and "working late" topping the list for both men and women. But what are the key signs he's cheating on you?

Cheating is something that has affected many of us - whether it's advising a friend or relative who has concerns about their relationship, or letting a glimmer of doubt cross your own mind when it comes to your own relationship.

Lots of couples have rough patches and our interests in each other come and go, depending on how secure you feel as a couple. So, if you do suspect that your partner could be having an affair, how can you tell? What are the signs he's cheating?

We've come up with a list of the 12 most common signs and explained what the innocent explanation could be and the reasons why it could be a sign of cheating.

Is my boyfriend cheating? Signs he's cheating on you:

Want to know how to tell if your partner is cheating? We spoke to Dr. Becky Spelman, Psychologist and We-Vibe’s relationship expert about some of the most common signs of cheating and the reasons behind them.

1. Your intuition

His behaviour: Suspecting that something's up is often the first sign for many women. Admittedly intuition isn't proof that your fella is actually doing anything wrong, but you know that something doesn't feel quite right. Often in these cases, you've spotted some of the other signs subconsciously.

The innocent explanation: Quite simply, your intuition could be wrong. Do you talk to each other enough? Perhaps he's going through a stressful time.

The guilty reason: Hunches have been proved to be correct more often than not. If instinct is telling you that he could be playing away, then keep your eyes and ears open for some of the other signs.

2. Technology changes

His behaviour: Now that technology makes it easier to contact people, this not only means that it's easier to have an affair, but there are also more places to be caught out. You may discover that your man has an email account you never knew about, or perhaps he has two phones and you only know one number. Another common sign is when he starts taking calls and walking out of the room, often telling you it's work, and then gets defensive when you get near his phone.

Dr Spelman says, "Having a second mobile phone that has nothing to do with work or their regular phone can be a sign of cheating. Many cheaters keep a special phone for communicating with the person or people they are involved with."

In addition, any changes to behaviour around technology could be a warning sign. Dr Spelman adds that "hastily closing a laptop or tabs on the screen when their partner comes into the room" could mean they're hiding something from you.

The innocent explanation: His boss has asked him to be on call when he's at home, given him a work phone and your partner doesn't want to interrupt whatever you're doing. Or maybe he's planning a surprise for you that he doesn't want you to see.

The guilty reason: His mistress is sending him texts or emails while you're at home and he's trying to cover them up. If you're tempted to snoop at his phone then tread carefully - are you sure your suspicions are worth betraying his trust?

3. Your friends notice something's up

His behaviour: This isn't anything he's done, but often friends and family will notice that things aren't quite right between the two of you and start asking questions. Perhaps you've been arguing more when you're with others, or your friends have noticed there's a lot of tension when you're together.

Dr Spelman explains, "Because cheaters often feel guilty, a common psychological mechanism is to try to paint their partner or spouse in a negative light, to “justify” the cheating to themselves. They can sometimes try to provoke arguments or an unpleasant atmosphere to create this situation."

The innocent explanation: You're going through a tough time or you just tend to be a little more on edge when you're in other people's company. Perhaps you need to talk things out between the two of you, or if necessary, try couple's counselling.

The guilty reason: If more than one best mate starts asking if everything's all right between you, maybe it's time to stop and think - especially if you hadn't noticed anything was wrong!

Is he cheating? Try talking your worries through with a friend

4. Things don't add up

His behaviour: Has he started changing his daily routine for seemingly no reason? Maybe his actual job hasn't changed, but he starts leaving earlier in the morning and getting back later. Or perhaps he told you he was out with Steve last week, but you later discover that Steve was away at a conference.

The innocent explanation: Work could be getting more stressful - perhaps someone has left, leaving him with more work than normal. Alternatively, he could be arranging some sort of surprise for you and he doesn't want you to know what he's up to.

The guilty reason: Once someone starts lying, it becomes more and more difficult to keep up the act, so when small unexplained things start happening or you notice inconsistent things, there could be something not-so-innocent as an explanation.

5. You're not invited to work dos any more

His behaviour: Remember the days when you always used to go to his Christmas parties or summer balls? He always asked you to come for a drink with his work colleagues if you were free, but all of a sudden there's been a 'change of policy', or maybe he just doesn't even suggest it any more.

The innocent explanation: A lot of companies are cutting back on non-essential things and if that means not inviting partners to anything any more, that's what they'll do. Or perhaps it's slipped his mind to invite you without realising?

The guilty reason: If the work invites start drying up, it could well be because he's seeing someone at work and doesn't want you to meet them and create an awkward situation... for him, obviously.

Is he cheating? These are the signs to look out for

Signs he's cheating and feeling guilty

6. He's over-attentive

His behaviour: He spends more time being interested in you than normal. Perhaps he buys you gifts unexpectedly or starts helping look after the children more than normal. He may even start doing more around the house, ironing, washing, or those niggly DIY jobs that have been left unfinished for months.

The innocent explanation: Have you been going through a bad patch recently? Your fella could have decided to make more of an effort in order to get things back on track - positive thinking is important in relationships.

The guilty reason: He's feeling guilty and wants to make up for the fact that he's having an affair. This sort of thing often happens in the early stages of an affair.

Is he cheating? Surprise gifts could be a sign

7. He gets irritated quickly

His behaviour: When you ask him questions about what he's been up to, he starts to act all defensive and jumpy.

The innocent explanation: He could be planning a surprise holiday or romantic break and doesn't want you to ruin the surprise.

The guilty reason: He's worried that you're checking up on him and will discover his cheating ways.

8. He accuses you of cheating

His behaviour: This will probably come as a bit of a shock, but he'll possibly ask outright if you've been seeing someone else. Men tend to be more direct than women.

The innocent explanation: Although statistics show that men cheat more than women, that doesn't mean he won't have his own suspicions. If your relationship is going through a rough patch, it's not an unreasonable explanation - especially if you've stopped talking as much.

The guilty reason: It's common for cheaters to suspect their partners of cheating simply because they believe that if they're getting away with it, you can too. This is also how many people who cheat deal with their guilt - they try to make themselves feel better by turning the tables. Once you've got over your initial shock at being accused, it might be worth looking a little closely at what he's up to!

Physical signs he's cheating

9. He's a changed man

His behaviour: Has your partner started wanting to watch new TV programmes, listen to new music or even bought new clothes or a new aftershave?

The innocent explanation: He could be just wanting to update his look and trying new things, or maybe he's discovered a new website or magazine that's giving him new recommendations.

The guilty reason: A new woman often means he experiences new things (other than sex) that you have no hand in.

10. He's hotter than ever in bed

His behaviour: Your husband suddenly starts doing something new and amazing when you're in the throes of passion. It could be a new foreplay technique, or maybe even a new sex position you've never even heard of before.

The innocent explanation: He could well be looking at new sex tips and thought he'd give them a go. Don't knock the guy for trying!

The guilty reason: One of the more unusual signs he's cheating, but if this happens more than once and out of the blue, then it could be because someone is teaching him something new in another bed!

11. You don't talk any more

His behaviour: This is almost the opposite of him being over-interested in you. Maybe he's stopped being interested in what you got up to during the day, or he no longer says 'I love you' or doesn't even want to kiss or hug you any more.

The innocent explanation: Could he be stressed or worrying about something? This can often explain mood swings or disinterest and possibly he won't realise he's suffering.

The guilty reason: If he starts becoming less interested in finding out what you've done during the day and how you're feeling, then it's often an indication that he's getting his emotional fix elsewhere. When kissing stops in a relationship, it's often seen as a big warning sign.

12. He starts taking showers

His behaviour: Of course he already showers so that's not a sign of him cheating alone. However he may be diving into the shower the minute he comes home  - which if unusual could suggest something is up.

The innocent explanation: Perhaps he just feels like he wants to freshen up when he gets home from work, nothing wrong with that!

The guilty reason: He wants to get rid of the smell of another woman's perfume as it's an obvious sign he's cheating.

Why do people cheat in a relationship?

There can be many reasons why someone chooses to cheat. First of all, it could have something to do with their self-esteem. Dr Spelman explains, "Ironically, both low and excessively high self-esteem can contribute to cheating. Someone with low self-esteem might cheat to make themselves feel better about what they have to offer, while someone with high levels of self-esteem, to the point of arrogance, might feel that they “deserve” to have sex outside their relationship because they see themselves as special and exceptional."

It can also be a result of existing problems in your relationship, "If the relationship is already struggling or is going through a tough patch, cheating is much more likely. Sometimes it can be a cry for attention; at other times, it can be engineered—consciously or unconsciously—as a way of  leaving a relationship that is no longer satisfying."

When should you bring up the topic of cheating?

If you feel like there are signs he's cheating and you want to address it, what you do next is up to you. But at least you can talk to him knowing that you've weighed up the signs and options. If you do want to bring up the topic, Dr Spelman says the sooner you do it the better. She advises, "If you suspect, or have proof, that your partner is cheating on you, and you have no concerns about physical violence or abuse, then the sooner you raise the topic, the better.

"Many relationships can and do recover after an episode of infidelity, but it can take a lot of hard work, forgiveness, and determination. "

Can couples therapy help with cheating?

Dr Spelman says, "Yes, for many people, couples therapy provides an environment in which they can safely discuss the dynamics in their relationship that led to the cheating in the first place. Cheating is clearly a very emotionally-laden topic and it can be very difficult to broach it at home, especially when one is also dealing with all the practicalities of everyday life, such as small children. 

"Couples therapy can also make it easier for the couple to resume their sex life after cheating. Understandably, the cheated-on partner can find the thought of physical intimacy very difficult at first. It is likely to take some time before they feel comfortable enough to return to a full sex life."

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