Cheating in a Relationship: Signs and Survival

We hear you, Sam Smith. Cheating is perhaps the most devastating thing to happen in any relationship and being cheated on is not the best feeling in the world. It has been around for so long that a lot of songs, stories, and poems were written about it, and it doesn’t hurt any less.

Angry woman looking out

You say I’m crazy

‘Cause you don’t think I know what you’ve done.

But when you call me baby,

I know I’m not the only one.

Sam Smith

Definition of Cheating: What it means to cheat

Cheating does change people and their relationships. It’s damaging and can lead to emotional distress, anxiety, depression, and actual physical pain. It hurts too much and its impact is extensive but its exact definition is still something that has to be discussed.

Perhaps the most common understanding of what cheating truly means is “having sex” with someone else if you’re in a monogamous relationship. For others, it could be an emotional component (e.g. having feelings for someone else but no physical intimacy). But make no mistake, cheating should be discussed by both parties so that you would know where to draw the line. Perhaps this is the reason why couples in a relationship actively deflect or not think about cheating.

However, there are also many long-term couples who will admit that they have, at least once in their relationship, wondered if their partner has cheated on them—especially if there are telltale signs that someone is cheating in a relationship. Gut-feel or intuition are often shrugged off, but as the saying goes, when there’s smoke, there’s a fire.

The Signs of Cheating in a Relationship: Look Out for the Changes

Similar to any other feelings, a gut-feel isn’t just an intuition. It’s your subconscious picking up subtle signs that cheating in a relationship is happening within your turf. Your suspicions might seem unfounded, but you know it in your gut that something is off. Some find their suspicions to be valid, and others may not know the real deal and forever wonder about it.

However, there are glaring signs that suggest that you should have that talk with your significant other—a heart-to-heart talk to confirm or debunk your suspicions and to uncover the truth; to finally put to rest your doubts about your partner’s loyalty to you and their faithfulness to your relationship.

Behavioral Changes

Man using his phone
(C) Jonas Leupe

Infidelity can change someone’s behavior. What once has been a happy relationship, you might have noticed that your partner has been distant, secretive, and at times, hostile towards you for no apparent reason. These signs could lead you to discover the real reason why they’re behaving the way they do is because they’re having an affair.

Technology Use

One possible behavioral change you may notice is that they are spending more time on the computer, especially when you are not around. This is the start of many affairs, even if it appears to be rather innocent at first.

Along the same lines, if he or she seems to suddenly be taking a lot of calls in private or always keeps their phone with them, they may be involved in some sort of affair. But, this could also be someone who is planning a surprise party for you, or keeping some sort of pleasant secret.

Emotional Changes

Some people, when having an affair manifest changes in their affection towards their partner. What was once an intimate relationship has turned sour; no more sweet caress; no more good morning kisses and hugs behind your back. It’s hard for both of you to get intimate; as if they’re not romantically interested in you anymore. These emotional changes signal cheating in a relationship.

Intimacy issues

If you or your partner are having intimacy issues like difficulty connecting with each other at the emotional level or finding it hard to share the same closeness as you had before, it may be because there is already someone else. You may also notice that you’re in a nearly sexless relationship–this means that you and your partner are very rarely sleeping together anymore. And when you do, there isn’t just any spark anymore. As if having physical contact with you is a chore and not an intimate act that’s normal for couples and people in love.

Hostility towards you or your relationship

Has your partner accused you of having an affair but you know in your heart that you’re not? And no matter how hard you try to prove that you’re not, they just won’t budge in their belief? It’s possible that they’re projecting and it’s really them who is guilty of an affair. In addition, someone who is constantly accusing someone else of having an affair often is proving that they don’t think it’s possible to remain faithful, simply because they aren’t.

Another possible hint is if your partner seems to be almost purposefully argumentative or controversial. They may be trying to get you to leave them just so that they can spend time with someone else. However, it could also just mean that he or she is tired and stressed out from work or other obligations.

Social Changes

Have your friends suddenly been acting weird around you for no apparent reason? Or your significant other became more sociable and been out to parties and gatherings on both weekdays and weekends? These changes in both of your social lives are hints that something is not right in your relationship and there may be cheating involved.

Women at a party

The more people rationalize cheating, the more it becomes a culture of dishonesty. And that can become a vicious, downward cycle. Because suddenly, if everyone else is cheating, you feel a need to cheat, too.

Stephen Covey

Friends are uncomfortable around you

It’s curious how your partner’s friends behave differently around you—as if they’re actively hiding something from you. Are they acting weird, and getting nervous or embarrassed every time you mention your significant other? Well, maybe they actually are hiding something. Try to have a talk with them and ask them what’s up? The worse thing that could happen is—nothing. If it turns out to confirm your cheating suspicions, at least you now know and be free from getting cheated on and lied to. Otherwise, that’s great. But remember that your friends might be acting strangely for other reasons as well, that has nothing at all to do with you and your partner.

Suddenly Sociable

If the weekly friends’ night-out or office parties have become more frequent, it can surely raise suspicions. Have they been into more parties in the past couple of weeks than they have in the last three months? Sure it’s okay to socialize, but if it’s becoming more frequent than before, maybe you should ask around about it.

Ask if you can go with them to one of the parties as a couple, like a date. Your significant other really be excited about the prospect of going on a date with you. If you love a person, you should choose to be with them more than you do with your friends.

Physical Changes

Going to the gym as a sign of cheating in a relationship
(C) Brad Neathery

If you or your partner have been gym buddies and concerned about your health together, then there is no need to worry about it. However, if you notice a sudden interest in keeping a good appearance and staying physically fit, then you might want to take a closer look at their motivations for it. They may be doing it to impress someone else who caught their attention.

Improved Physical Appearance

It is true that people can change their lifestyle and become active as a part of a resolution and be more concerned about their health. But it can also mean that they might be improving themselves for someone else. If you think that your significant other has all of a sudden become more concerned about their looks, it may mean that there is someone they are trying to impress and it isn’t you.

Their commitment to a healthier lifestyle does not have anything to do with staying healthy, but more to do with making them look good to someone. “Going to the gym” could also be used as an excuse to spend more time with someone else.

Man wardrobe upgrade because of cheating in a relationship
(C) Tyler Harris
Wardrobe Makeover

Among all the signs of cheating in a relationship, improved physical appearance is perhaps the most obvious of all. Did you ever notice how your significant other has dressed up nicely when they leave the house but looks like a slob when at home?

It can be for his own self-improvement but don’t take this sign too lightly. Ask your partner if you can both dress up and go out and observe how they’d respond. Their reaction can reveal a lot about why they suddenly updated their wardrobe—were they doing this for themselves, for you or for someone else?

Cheating and lying aren’t struggles, they’re reasons to break up.

Patti Callahan Henry

Both relationships and cheating take different forms for different people. While being observant never hurt anyone, don’t take your suspicions too far, and if you flat out ask your partner what’s going on, try to accept whatever answer he or she gives you as the truth.

If in fact, they are having an affair, this can make your relationship go to a bad place. If your partner cheats on you, how do you respond to it?

Surviving the Cheating: In the Bedroom After the War

Man and woman in bed
(C) Becca Tapert

Being cheated on is not a very good feeling and it only takes the relationship into a bad place. There are so many questions about your relationship that run through your head when it happens—are you leaving or staying in it? will you forgive, forget, and move forward alone? or are you going to forgive, forget, and carry on with the relationship? Will your relationship survive after the cheating?

Cheating in a relationship is not a very easy situation to deal with. Obviously, each party in the relationship have their own ideas about what to do and what not to do. How to move forward and where to go next.

To the Remorseful Party

You have to know that being in an exclusive relationship means that you don’t get involved with someone else; that cheating in a relationship is equivalent to a ticking time bomb—it explodes in time. For the relationship to survive, you have to work extra hard to earn their forgiveness and trust back.

Honor their wishes

If you were the one who was cheating in a relationship, of course, you will get blamed for your problems. Your cheating took your relationship into that abyss of uncertainty. The road to forgiveness is not going to be an easy feat regardless if you want to get back together or not. And if your significant other asks for some space, you have to honor that and give them what they need especially if you want them to forgive you and still be together.

Amp up your virtues

You need to be patient with your significant other if it’s taking them a while to fully trust you back. Remember, trust is like a mirror, once broken, there will always be lines to remind you of what you did. Do not forget that it was you who destroyed that mirror and no matter how much you try to erase what you did, these broken lines will always be there.

If you really want to be together again, you have to amp up all the virtues you have in you to win them over again. If by chance you can’t be the person that they expect you to be, or meet their standard, you have to be honest with yourself and maybe consider letting go of the relationship. Winning small battles is nothing if, in the end, you’ll lose the war.

Betrayal was what I felt, my heart broken not just by a guy I was in love with, but also by, as I once believed, a true friend.

Danka V.

To the Aggrieved Party

If you were the one who was cheated on, it is understood that it is also difficult for you to fully trust your partner. There will always be doubts at the back of your head if he or she is being honest or being with someone else again. You would want to check on them almost all the time when you’re not in the same room and there’s always going to be a part of you that will keep on hurting which makes it difficult to forgive.

Checking in requirement
Man and woman hugging after cheating in a relationship
(C) Allan Filipe Santos Dias

Should you want to keep tabs on them every second of the day, that’s understandable. But you also have to know that for a relationship to survive, you need to forgive and trust your partner again—that this time, it will be different. You can check on them several times in a day if you want to, and that’s all right. However, after the cheating in a relationship happened, you also need to understand that its survival depends on you—if you’re able to forgive, forget, and move forward without the fear and doubts of another heartbreak.

Forgive but not forget

Forgiving doesn’t mean that you’re condoning them nor are you making excuses for what they did. Cheating in a relationship is never acceptable and besides, it’s a conscious decision. Looking inward simply means that you have to assess your relationship meter—are you in a good place? Why did they have to resort to cheating? What was missing?

But most importantly, you have to check on yourself—are you okay? How are you feeling? Do you want the relationship to end or are you still willing to try again? These are loaded questions that you need to answer with all honesty and candor especially if you still love your significant other and they want to restore your relationship to what it was before.

The future is in your hands

Man and woman talking in dim light after cheating in a relationship
(C) Fred Moon

You can take as much time as you need to think about it and process the situation. Doing an introspection of yourself and your relationship can help you see the big picture clearly. You know that cheating is not your fault nor are you the one to blame, but you also have to understand the perspective of your partner—why they did what they did.

There is no excuse for infidelity, but it doesn’t hurt to try to understand why it happened. Perhaps understanding the “why” of things will help you heal and move forward together if you so choose. You need to be decisive on how you want to proceed with your relationship after the affair.

In the end, it is all up to you if you can look past it or not. But know that you don’t have to be a martyr and stay in a relationship that will only hurt you. You deserve to be happy with someone who values you and your feelings.

So, if you have to decide—you will never go wrong in choosing yourself.

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