She met him when they were still in school and it was NOT love at first sight. Like a typical teenage boy he acted cocky and arrogant. And like a typical teenage girl she thought he was obnoxious.
But soon things changed. Group projects and assignments threw them together and gradually they fell in love. High school sweethearts grew into committed freshmen and then engaged graduates. Just a week before the wedding she went to meet him for a surprise visit. He seemed to have guessed she would be there (her mom never could keep a secret).
The house was decorated with glittering candles emanating their sensuous vanilla fragrance, the one smell she always said turned her on more than his sexy eyes. And there were fresh roses in the vase, the kind she loved. Her heart swelled then, thinking of how lucky she was to be with such a kind, thoughtful man.
She ran into the bedroom, filled with love for this man she had known for 7 long years. And if she hadn’t seen what she did that day, she may have never believed it.
The surprise was not for her. The roses were not for her. And the candles were not for her.
This is not a story. It is something that happens to so many of us, a betrayal of our trust and the ultimate defilement of our love.
Wouldn’t it be just wonderful if we all had stories that started with a ‘once upon a time’ where we meet our princes and princesses and lived happily ever after? I’m sure the answer to that, is a resounding yes.
But the stark reality is that today Prince Charmings can also be cheaters, and Snow White may not be so focused on fidelity. As horrible as it sounds, there is no novelty in the news of cheating. We have all heard enough accounts of stable relationships ending because of the other person in their partner’s life.
So how do we know if our boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands or wives are cheating? And does cheating mean the end of a relationship? Is a divorce or breakup the answer
There is no correct answer to any of these questions. It’s a highly subjective and personal issue, and one which will always have many different perspectives.
One key thing is to acknowledge that it takes effort to maintain relationships. We cannot be blind to what is happening around us. Some husbands and wives are extremely good at covering their tracks when it comes to cheating, but there are always signs indicating that all is not well with your marriage or relationship. Reading these signs and taking action is important.
The most important thing when it comes to relationships is communication. Sometimes you’re suspicions that a partner may be cheating, could be completely unfounded. But it’s also not good to be blissfully unaware because that may signal to your cheating partner that you don’t care enough.
It’s also a popular notion that only men cheat, however this is far from the truth. So throughout the course of this discussion, we are going to assume that both genders are equally likely to stray. Cheating also is far more than having a physical relationship with another person. Even sharing a non-physical but highly connected relationship with someone other than your partner can be considered cheating. Before we get into how to deal with a cheating partner, let’s look at some warning signs that you should be watching out for.
But please remember, what may be a warning sign in one relationship may be nothing to be concerned about in another relationship. So analyse this based on your own relationship with your partner.
Signs of a Cheating Partner
There are several obvious giveaways to suggest that your partner is either already cheating or even showing interest in another person who they could potentially cheat with. The easiest way to tell is by noticing any changes in your partner’s usual habits. There are several behaviours which could come under this main sign.
We are all creatures of habit, so to veer away from the comfort of our usual routine, takes a significant amount of motivation. For instance, if your partner is suddenly taking an interest in grooming despite not having a care before, it could mean there’s someone new they are trying to impress. A sudden interest in social media, wearing more attractive clothes or even being later than usual for long periods of time could indicate signs of a cheating partner.
However it’s also important to stress that this alone should not arouse your suspicions. Your partner could be planning a surprise and hence spending a lot of time on social media, they may be overworked and hence spending more time at work, so don’t jump to a conclusion just because they are doing things which are out of the ordinary.
I’m now listing a series of behaviours under this:
1. Changing social media habits and cheating
Is your previously social media impervious partner suddenly always on Facebook? Are they getting lots of Whatsapp notifications which they are desperately trying to conceal from you? According to this Huffington post article technology has even enabled cheating to a certain extent, take the Ashley Madison website for instance. This has also been corroborated by Wendy L. Patrick, Ph.D.
Choosing to spend more and more time on social media could be an indication of wanting to spend more time virtually with whoever is holding their interest.
So if you are suspicious about their social media habits, be warned. This may be a sign of cheating.
2. Spending more time away from home
This is a classic symptom. If your partner is suddenly putting in long hours at work, spending less time with you and friends and increasingly staying way, be careful. Most people who are in secret relationships will often start altering their schedules to match those of their illicit lovers. They will try to alter their routines to spend time with the new person
3. Coming up with Outrageous lies
Coupled with spending more time away from you, if your partner starts making up story after story about why they are away, or why their expenses have suddenly started increasing, you have reason to be worried.
It’s hard for cheating partners to also keep track of the web of lies they are spinning, so they may even become defensive when you attempt to confront them.
4. Sudden gifting and showering of love
There is always a certain amount of guilt when it comes to cheating. It’s quite common for cheating spouses or partners to try to compensate for their cheating with extravagant gifts and gestures. A diamond ring, in the mind of the cheating partner offsets the fact that they are betraying your trust.
5. Uncommon jealousy or lack of possessiveness
Has your normally cool partner suddenly become overtly jealous about your own interactions with others? This may be because of their own guilt is making them feel you could be cheating too.
Of course, if your partner has always been the rather possessive sort, then this may not apply to you.
But more often than not cheating attunes you to the possibility that your partner may be cheating too.Hence what was once playful flirting, will become downright offensive behaviour for your partner. This article explains this concept in great detail. The tables could also be turned. If your partner was always the jealous sort, sudden indifference may also mean that they have become indifferent to the relationship. People who have always felt that harmless flirting is tantamount to infidelity, suddenly turning a blind eye is worrisome.
So this takes us back to our initial point. Deviating from usual patterns is always something to watch out for.
6. New Interests Because of an Interesting Someone
Ever dated a footballer and suddenly started talking about transfer windows much to the shock of your friends?
When your new girlfriend takes you to a couple of previously unheard of restaurants, do you start recommending them to your friends?
We have all done this. When we meet someone new and start falling for them, we become so interests in their hobbies that we take on some of them ourselves.
When you are in a new relationship, your partner’s hobbies become yours. You may never have done anything sporty, but when you are in love with a sporty person, you pick up that language. Similarly when you are in a new relationship, you begin to recommend the places you have been to with your significant other to friends and family. Similarly, when you start out having an affair, you may pick up some of their hobbies or likes.
The same can happen when your partner is cheating. You may find your husband or wife talking about things which you have never heard them talk about. Often your partner will also be hesitant about why they have developed this interest. For instance, it’s perfectly normal for your partner to try out something your friends have been suggesting, but withholding information about where the idea to get started with a new interest came from, could be reason for worry.
7. The Bedroom is Either too Hot or too Cold
This is connected with the previous point we talked about. While many partners lose interest sexually, some display an adventurous side. Because of the adrenaline of the new relationship that they are pursuing, they suddenly want to try new things and may even become more demanding in bed. And we are not talking about one-off nights where passion dictates what happens in bed, these are recurring instances where your partner displays an unprecedented sexual behaviour.
Cheating partners can often feel a renewed sense of confidence, and hence feel more excited. On the other hand, those with feelings of guilt will lose interest and make up flimsy excuses for not getting intimate. Take note if your partner is displaying such symptoms. But don’t let suspicion rule your lovemaking; cheating should be the last thing on your mind then! If a few of the other signs we talked about crop up, this too is something to worry about.
8. Lack of an emotional connect
Emotional disconnect can often be one of the most painful signs of cheating to handle. Where there was once passion and camaraderie, there is now a deafening silence that is unbearable and hurtful. If you find yourself in this situation, consider doing some detective work on your own. Voicemail, computer spyware, Skype, social media, credit card statements, bank statements and emails are a great starting point.
9. The Chemistry is no Longer There
While it’s alright for couples to feel a little disconnected at times because of the pressure of your career or parenting struggles, it’s a whole different thing if you feel like they have lost interest in you. When your partner no longer spends time with you, is actively avoiding you and being reluctant about saying “I Love You” , ever, then it’s time to wake up and smell the dying relationship.
Sometimes this can be manifested in a lack of sexual interest too. But more than anything else, you can feel your partner slipping away. They will often appear uninterested and preoccupied. Those little hugs are no longer there, a gentle touch is missing and conversations are strained.
10. Sudden Interest in Their Personal grooming and fitness
We all like to make a great impression on the people we are attracted to. So if your wife or girlfriend who is normally happy to ditch the makeup and enjoys a large helping of chocolate cake, starts to become overtly conscious of her appearance, she may be trying to impress someone new.
A new gym membership, a new wardrobe and renewed attempts to look their best can be signs that you should watch out for.
11. Financial discrepancies
Cheating is not a cheap affair. Clandestine lunches, hotel booking and gifts can make a dent in your pocket. If your partner is overshooting usual budgets by a mile, keep track of where the money is being spent.
An additional sign to watch out for is sudden secretiveness about financial details. They may attempt to hide all evidence of an affair and their spending patterns can be a dead giveaway that something unsavoury is going on.
These are some of the common ways cheating partners behave. But more important than identifying if your partner is cheating or not is to evaluate how to save your relationship and fix things.
When you first find out that a partner has been cheating, it is devastating. The first thing you may think of is divorce. No one wants their trust to be violated that way. It is natural to react with anger and sadness. But once you have cried your heart out, think about what is most important to you.
What to do
Do you really want to end your marriage or relationship?
Is their cheating strong enough to kill your love for them?
How are your children going to be affected?
Are you prepared for a divorce?
Once you have answered these questions and if you still love your partner and want to move forward with them, all is not lost. Decide whether or not you want to re-establish trust. There are ways to overcome such an incident, if you truly want to make it work. It’s certainly not easy, and it may take years for you to get your confidence and trust back, but if you truly want to save your relationship, here are a few things you can do. Hester Estroff Morano, a leading psychologist has talked at length about trust and bringing it back into a relationship after cheating. She believes that with trust, there is no finish line, but there is a starting line.
First talk to your partner. And talking does not mean confronting them with your suspicions. If you suspect your partner has been cheating, start a conversation with them and reassure them of your love. Let them know how you feel for them and extend your support to them. If they feel cornered they will react impulsively, and defensively. Once you both have talked about the cheating, try to get to the root of why things happened the way they did.
Then give yourself time. You are not going to be able to forgive a cheating husband or wife instantly. There is also no rulebook that states how you can forgive your cheating husband or wife. It’s better to take your time and come to terms with what has happened, and do things your way rather than live in denial. But as much as possible try not to attribute blame. Cheating husbands or wives are expecting their partners to react with blame. So they will try to counter that with accusations from their end.
If you are unable to talk it out amongst yourself, consult a marriage counsellor or a therapist. It is best to consult an expert in such situations, because they are the best equipped to deal with the situation in the most sensitive manner possible. When we have a fracture in your hand, we don’t think twice about heading to the doctors, so isn’t it obvious that a fractured relationship too requires professional assistance?
Couples counselling has done wonders to save marriages. What we don’t realise often enough, is that cheating is just a symptom of a bigger disease infecting your marriage. Only a trained professional can identify what the bigger issue is, so that you can progress to a strain free relationship.
It’s important to also be honest with yourself at such times. We can easily fall into self-blame or victim mode. That is not a solution to anything. So be honest about what you want to do in such a situation. Consider all the people involved. If you have children, think about them.
Discovering that you have been cheated on, or even becoming suspicious of cheating is unbelievably painful. It can erode all your self confidence and throw you into a downward spiral bringing forth feelings of rejection, betrayal, anger, sadness, and doubt. Your impulse might be take revenge, get a divorce or punish your partner. But these feelings are often temporary, and what you mostly feel is hopeless and helpless. Even though you may feel alone, depressed and alienated, know that help is always available. Reach out to friends and family and look to professionals for support. After all the only part of our life that is fairytale like, is that we all have fairy godmothers hidden away somewhere as well wishers, friends or counsellors. Yours might just be disguised in the form of your marriage counsellor!