15 signs your spouse is cheating

Plus, what to do if you suspect they might be having an affair.

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What's Inside

What's Inside

Many people, at some point in a relationship, wonder if their partner is cheating. Any number of things may raise your suspicions. Maybe they become very quiet when you walk in on them having a phone call. Maybe you hear about inside jokes they have with a colleague. Whatever the circumstances, you may begin to feel uncertain.

Although that’s understandable, on their own, no one incident is foolproof evidence that your partner is cheating. Most possible signs that your spouse is cheating are innocent behaviors. (They were on the phone planning a surprise party, and the colleague is also married and just friends with your spouse.) 

The thing to be aware of is a pattern. In most cases, unfaithful spouses repeatedly engage in many suspicious behaviors. To help you out, let’s discuss 15 signs your spouse might be cheating and what to do if you suspect they’re being unfaithful.

Signs that your spouse might be cheating

If your spouse displays any of these potential red flags, it’s worth investigating further.

1. Sudden changes in your spouse’s emotional intimacy

Changes in a cheater’s emotional intimacy—the deep connection they have with you—can go either way. Some people become suddenly withdrawn emotionally. Others begin overcompensating as if they’re making up for something they did wrong. If you suspect your spouse is cheating, compare your current emotional intimacy to how it’s been in the last month or so. Slow changes in emotional connection over time are natural. A sudden change that feels like it happened overnight is suspicious.

2. Sudden changes in your spouse’s physical intimacy

Much like emotional intimacy, rapid changes in physical intimacy sometimes indicate cheating. A spouse may either pull away physically or lean into the physical aspects of your relationship more. They might also display sudden changes in their intimate desires. Here too, compare the behavior to a recent baseline.

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3. Your spouse’s friends act strangely around you

Most people don’t want to lie and are uncomfortable when thrown into a situation where they feel they have to. This discomfort may be obvious. Your partner’s friends might be more terse than usual around you, change their demeanor, try to avoid you or suddenly have trouble looking you in the eyes.

4. Your spouse has sudden or irregular changes in their schedule

Some jobs are unpredictable. If you know your spouse has one of those jobs, you may not need to be suspicious of an irregular schedule. Or you may be aware of a legitimate reason for changes, such as your spouse putting in extra effort for a new promotion at work. But if your spouse’s schedule changes drastically with no reasonable explanation, the changes might indicate cheating.

5. Your spouse is impossible to reach at odd times

It may be suspicious if your husband or wife can’t be reached after work, late at night or during long stretches away on weekends. If you have trouble reaching your spouse out of nowhere, you might want to dig deeper.

6. Your spouse is more conscious of their appearance

A spouse who suddenly cares much more about their appearance than usual may mean they’re putting in extra effort to impress someone else.

7. Your spouse acts overly secretive with their phone or computer

It’s normal for people to want privacy—even from their spouses. But unfaithful partners are often highly protective of their electronic devices. They do this because they know if their spouse sees their messages or who they’re talking to, they may be caught red-handed. They may also do things like end conversations on the phone as soon as you enter a room, leave the house to talk or overreact when you accidentally see a text message.

8. Sudden, unexplained expenses

If you notice unusual bank or credit card statement expenses and your spouse has no explanation for what they’re spending the money on, they might be spending it on someone else.

9. Your spouse acts more hostile than usual

Sudden increases in stress or anger sometimes indicate that a spouse is cheating. If your partner doesn’t communicate with you and explain what’s causing the added stress, it might be a reason to dig deeper.

10. Your spouse exhibits overly defensive behavior

Defensiveness may be a sign of guilt. Typical forms of defensiveness include trying to shift blame onto you, overreacting to minor criticisms and making wild accusations. 

11. Your spouse gives evasive answers to straightforward questions

Evasiveness is often a necessary component of a cheater’s life. They may not tell you exactly where they’re going at night or give suspicious answers to questions about what they do while away.

12. You catch your spouse in outright lies

Catching your spouse in lies is problematic on its face. Depending on the content of those lies, it may indicate they’re cheating. Be cautious if they’re lying about where they are or whom they’re with.

13. Your spouse avoids you

Cheating spouses may avoid their partners. They do this to avoid conflict and suppress the guilt they feel for their actions.

14. Friends are suspicious

When a person is acting suspiciously, usually many people notice. So the best barometer for your relationship might be what your closest friends and family members think. Talk to those you trust.

15. You feel something’s off

Our unconscious minds often process a lot of information we’re consciously unaware of. Trust your instincts. If you feel something’s off and your spouse might be cheating, confront the issue.

What to do if your spouse is cheating

Some people choose to confront cheating and attempt to salvage their marriage. Doing so requires a lot of work, often including some form of marriage counseling. For this approach to succeed, both partners must be willing to try to save the marriage.

 In other cases, cheating causes too much damage to repair the relationship, and divorce is usually the best option. If you decide to pursue a divorce, lean on your support system, as this may be a difficult, emotional process. Also consider hiring an experienced divorce attorney who can help you protect your rights and fight for your case.

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How adultery affects divorce proceedings

Many people feel that cheating husbands and wives deserve less from the divorce process than their faithful spouses. But whether adultery affects divorce depends on the state where the divorce takes place.

In some states, the only option for filing a divorce is one that doesn’t take the fault of either party into account. In these states, adultery has little or no effect on the court’s decisions and how marital property is divided. There are exceptions, however, such as if the cheating spouse spent shared savings on their affair.

Other states grant fault divorces if one spouse can prove that the other engaged in activities that led to the end of the marriage. Cheating is one of these activities. 

Infidelity may also affect property division and alimony payments, depending on the state. 

How an attorney can help

If you suspect or know your spouse is cheating on you and wish to take legal action, an experienced family law attorney may be a valuable advisor. They can help you understand the legal implications of your spouse’s infidelity. If you decide to divorce, an attorney can advise you and protect your interests and rights throughout the process.

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Frequently asked questions

Who is your spouse most likely to cheat with?

It’s difficult to predict who your spouse might cheat with. According to some studies, most affairs happen between people who already know each other well. However, with the prevalence of digital opportunities, some people cheat with strangers using sites specifically designed for cheating. Some people also cheat by hiring escorts.

Does adultery make a difference in divorce?

In some states, adultery by itself may make a difference in how assets are divided during a divorce. An experienced attorney can explain how adultery might affect a divorce where you live.

Can a cheating spouse get alimony?

It depends on your circumstances and the state where you live. One of the major goals of alimony is to prevent a lower-earning spouse from becoming dependent on public assistance. Thus, courts are more concerned with whether a spouse needs alimony than with whether they deserve it. For this reason, cheating generally doesn’t prevent someone from getting alimony. In some states, adultery isn’t considered at all when the court decides on alimony. In other states, it’s only one consideration of many.

Can a cheating spouse get custody?

Yes. The presence of adultery alone is unlikely to have any effect on child custody.

How do you prove your spouse is cheating?

If you must prove adultery in court, the burden of proof might be higher than what you need to confirm the behavior for yourself. Direct evidence of infidelity is the gold standard. Emails or text messages discussing the act, photo or video evidence, and eyewitness testimony carry a lot of weight. You may also provide circumstantial evidence to show your spouse had the opportunity to cheat and the disposition to do so.

Disclaimer: This article is provided as general information, not legal advice, and may not reflect the current laws in your state. It does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not a substitute for seeking legal counsel based on the facts of your circumstance. No reader should act based on this article without seeking legal advice from a lawyer licensed in their state.

This page includes links to third party websites. The inclusion of third party websites is not an endorsement of their services.

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