If you feel like your partner has been acting suspiciously recently, you might be looking out for signs of cheating. Here are some indicators that your boyfriend is cheating on you.
Cheating is something that affects many people - whether it's advising a friend or relative who has concerns about their partner, or letting a glimmer of doubt cross your mind when it comes to your own relationship. Perhaps your partner has gone off sex or is no longer interested in spicing up your relationship and trying new things like tantric sex, leaving you wondering what's changed.
While there are all sorts of explanations for a change in your partner's behaviour (for parents, working out how to explain the mental load can have a huge impact on sex and relationships), YouGov research has revealed that one in five UK adults admitted to having had an affair at some point. But how can you tell if your partner really is cheating? We spoke to psychologist and relationship expert Dr Becky Spelman about some of the most common signs of cheating and the reasons behind them, to put together this list of the 12 most common indicators that your boyfriend could be cheating.
12 signs your boyfriend is cheating on you:
1. Your intuition
Their behaviour: Suspecting that something's up is often the first sign for many people that their partner could be cheating. Admittedly, intuition isn't proof that they are doing anything wrong, but when something doesn't feel quite right there's usually a reason for it. Often in these cases, you've spotted some of the other signs subconsciously, and growing research tells us that a gut instinct shouldn't always be quickly dismissed. In fact, a study in the Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience journal found that signals from the gut to the brain impact on mental activity to influence emotion, beliefs, predictions and decisions.
The innocent explanation: Quite simply, your intuition could be wrong. Do you talk to each other enough? Perhaps they're going through a stressful time and it's affecting your relationship. Equally, if you've been cheated on before you may be more susceptible to suspicions around your partner's behaviour.
The guilty reason: If your instinct is persistent in telling you that your partner could be having an affair, then it may well be right. Keep your eyes and ears open for some of the other signs.
2. Technology changes
Their behaviour: Technology makes it easier to have an affair, but there are also more places to be caught out. You may discover that your partner has an email account you never knew about, or perhaps they have two phones and you only know one number. A common sign of cheating is taking calls or answering texts while walking out of the room, or getting defensive when you want to see their 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." She 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: They could well be telling the truth - their boss has asked them to be on call when they're at home, they've been given a work phone, or your partner doesn't want to interrupt whatever you're doing. They might even be planning a surprise for you that they don't want you to see - is there a birthday or anniversary coming up?
The guilty reason: They're exchanging texts or emails with the person they're having an affair with while you're at home, and they want to cover their tracks. If you're tempted to snoop at your partner's phone then tread carefully - are you sure your suspicions are worth betraying their trust? It might be better to sit down and have a conversation about your concerns instead.
3. Your friends notice something's up
Their behaviour: This one is less about your partner's behaviour, and more to do with the fact that friends and family will often be the ones to notice that things aren't quite right between the two of you. 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 rough patch which could be caused by stress or a big life change, 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 several people you hold close start asking questions about the state of your relationship, maybe it's time to stop and think about it - especially if you hadn't noticed anything was wrong! Even if it's not because your partner cheating, it could be time to reflect on whether you truly make each other happy.
4. Things don't add up
Their behaviour: Have they started changing their daily routine for no apparent reason? Maybe they have started leaving for work earlier in the morning and getting back later, despite no change in their job title. Or perhaps they told you they were out with a friend last week, but you later discover that the said friend was away that day. A survey carried out by IllicitEncounters.com - which is essentially a dating website for people looking to have an affair - found some of the most common alibis used by cheating partners include "going to the gym", "working late", "socialising after work" and "walking the dog".
The innocent explanation: Work could be getting more stressful - perhaps someone has left, leaving them with more work than normal, or it's a busy time of year. Equally, there could be any number of reasons why they have decided to switch up their routine - maybe they want to improve their fitness so are spending more time at the gym.
The guilty reason: Once someone starts lying, it becomes more and more difficult to keep up the act without getting caught out. If you're noticing inconsistencies or unexplained acts, there could be a not-so-innocent explanation.
5. You're not invited to work dos any more
Their behaviour: Remember the days when you always used to go to you partner's Christmas parties or summer balls? Maybe they always used to ask you to come for a drink with their work colleagues, but all of a sudden there's been a 'change of policy', or maybe they don't even suggest it any more.
The innocent explanation: In the current economic climate, a lot of companies are cutting back on non-essential expenses - which could also mean not inviting partners to work events (or perhaps cutting back on work events altogether). It could even have just slipped their mind to invite you, or maybe they don't think you'll enjoy it - did you always dread meeting their colleagues and complain about going?
The guilty reason: If the work invites start drying up, it could well be because they're having an affair with a colleague. In this case, they won't want to risk you meeting them and discovering the truth, or creating an awkward situation.
6. They're over-attentive
Their behaviour: While feeling like your partner has lost interest in you could also be a sign of cheating, perhaps you're confused because they spend more time being interested in you than normal. Maybe they buy you unexpected gifts or start helping look after the children more than normal, or they 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 tough patch recently? Your partner may 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: As Dr Spelman says, your partner could be feeling guilty and hoping to make up for the fact that they're having an affair. This sort of thing often happens in the early stages.
7. They gets irritated quickly
Their behaviour: When you ask you ask your partner questions about what they've been up to, they may start to act defensive and/or jumpy, or perhaps they've become more critical of you, and things that never used to seem to bother them have started to get on their nerves.
The innocent explanation: Once again, maybe they're having a particularly stressful time at work, making them appear more highly strung than usual. A nicer explanation for their defensiveness when you ask questions could be that they're planning a surprise for you, and don't want to ruin it by getting found out.
The guilty reason: They might be worried that you're checking up on thme and will discover that they're cheating, making them jumpy, or perhaps they're comparing you to someone else. They might even be more easily wound up because of the inner turmoil that comes with having an affair.
8. They accuse you of cheating
Their behaviour: This will probably come as a bit of a shock, but they may ask outright if you've been seeing someone else. This could be a projection of their own guilt, or simply that they expect you to be acting deceitfully because they are. Make sure you pay attention to these accusations, as they can lead to gaslighting, which is a form of emotional abuse and should be taken seriously.
The innocent explanation: Just because your partner is suspicious of your behaviour doesn't mean they are cheating. If your relationship is going through a rough patch, it may not be an unreasonable question - especially if you've stopped talking or seeing each other as much. In addition, a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that low self-esteem can be a potential cause of jealousy. Is your partner struggling with their self-image? Or perhaps low self-esteem could even be a cause of your own concerns.
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 closer at what they're up to!
9. They're a changed person
Their behaviour: Has your partner started wanting to watch new TV programmes and listen to new music all of a sudden? They may also have started taking more care of their physical appearance and spending longer getting ready for the day, as well as buying more grooming products.
The innocent explanation: They may just be having a bit of an identity crisis or feeling like reinventing themself. Have they discovered a new website or magazine that's giving him new recommendations, or made a new group of friends that could have introduced them to their new habits?
The guilty reason: A new parter often means experiencing new things, and if they're looking to impress someone then chances are they'll want to put some more care into their appearance, or impress them with their cultural knowledge.
10. They're hotter than ever in bed
Their behaviour: Has your partner 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. A study in the journal of Physiology & Behaviour found that sexual activity increases testosterone, a hormone that can act as a major driver of sexual behavior in men. When someone is having sex more frequently due to an affair, their overall desire may increase as well.
The innocent explanation: It might be as simple as your partner has been looking at new sex tips and wanted to give them a go, or they've been searching for ways to spice up your relationship. Don't knock them for trying!
The guilty reason: It's a more unusual signs of cheating, but if this is suddenly happening more often and out of the blue, then it could be because someone is teaching them something new in another bed!
11. You don't talk any more
Their behaviour: This is pretty much the opposite of your partner being over-interested in you. Maybe they stopped asking what you got up to during the day, or no longer say 'I love you'. They may no longer want to kiss or hug you either. Emotional distance is one of the first signs people notice when a partner is cheating, but it could also be a sign of problems in a relationship before an affair has even begun.
The innocent explanation: Could they be stressed or worrying about something? This can often explain mood swings, disinterest and changes in libido, and it may be that the emotional intimacy will return over time. It's a good idea to talk about your relationship and how you feel about each other, and to ask you're partner how they're feeling.
The guilty reason: A lack of interest in you could be an indication that your partner is getting their emotional fix elsewhere. A study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that infidelity can have harmful consequences on intimacy in relationships. Meanwhile, another study in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour found that dissatisfaction with the relationship is often a strong predictor of cheating, because your partner may go on to seek what they're looking for elsewhere.
12. They start taking showers at unusual times
Their behaviour: Your partner might have started jumping in the shower the second they walk in the door, or taking longer showers at strange times of day. If this is a sudden change or unusual for them, it could suggest that something's up.
The innocent explanation: Perhaps your partner just wants to freshen up when they get home from work - nothing wrong with that!
The guilty reason: There could be two reasons for your partner's suspicious showers: either they want to get rid of the smell of their other lover because it's an obvious sign they're cheating, or a long shower is an opportunity of them to spend some uninterrupted time texting the person they're having an affair with. They could even be sending suggestive photos.
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."
Cheating 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," Dr Spelman reveals.
When should you bring up the topic of cheating?
If you feel like your partner is cheating and you want to address it, what you do next is up to you. If you believe you have evidence that strongly suggests infidelity, the best thing to do is ask them to tell you the truth.
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."
If you don't have much concrete proof however, it might be a good idea to take a look at yourself and ask why it is that you have the suspicions. Have you been cheated on before, and this has clouded your judgement? Or perhaps your jealousy is because you yourself have developed feelings for someone else - as one study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships suggests.
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."
In fact, one five-year study in the Couple and Family Psychology journal found that 60-80% of couples who underwent counselling after an affair reconciled, with many reporting greater relationship satisfaction afterwards.
Therapy may also be able to help you if you are experiencing constant suspicion of your partner with little to no proof. One study in the British Journal of Psychiatry reported that the majority of people pursuing cognitive therapy for jealousy experienced "a significant improvement on all jealousy measures".
If you're looking for more relationship advice, we spoke to a body language expert to find out how to tell if someone likes you. We've also shared how to make a long-distance relationship work and found out the meaning behind popular wedding traditions.