I asked 50 cheating men about their behavior when they were having an affair. Here's what they had to say.
Credit card statements and hotel keys left on the dresser accidentally are easy ways to see if they are having an affair. But if they are more sneaky than that, how can you tell if they are screwing around? Here are 10 behavioral identifiers of people who cheat—direct from the mouths of the cheaters themselves, as well as those they cheated on.
1. They stray from their predictable everyday behavior.
"My wife knew I was cheating before there was any real evidence. She said should could just tell."
After spending time with someone for a number of months (or even years), you know their typical behavior. You know how they will act in certain situations and when they act differently, there has to be an explanation — if not cheating, then something else real and tangible. In this respondent's case, he wasn't doing anything "wrong"... but he explained the sign that exposed him. When he started his affair, he would grab his phone and head into the restroom for 20-30 minutes. His excuse: He was "reading email and the news." The only problem was, his phone bill showed something very different.
2. They have unpredictable mood swings and schedules.
"I was constantly looking for reasons to get away, and it was hard to think of new excuses all the time. So, I'd start a fight."
Being angry instantly or being overly nice is a red flag. There's no real reason for them to be angry, so they have to create one. New activities that they go to all the time but never wants to discuss is a glaring example. If they were going somewhere and had no reason to hide it, they would most likely share it with you. Excuses to leave without a reason or new activities that you are purposely left completely out of are signs that something is wrong.
3. They have a overnight change in their weight and/or appearance.
"After I started my affair, I dropped like 10 pounds in about a week. It was crazy."
Cheaters have the tendency to change physically. Love handles disappear, posture changes, make-up gets applied daily, and their muscle tone/definition returns. It's the body's primal means of preparing for courtship — they are readying themselves to attract a mate. In addition, they start taking much better care of themselves and take a lot of pride in their appearance. If he's suddenly pressing his clothes, or she's shaving her legs daily when she didn't before—or she's dressing to the teeth with full make up to run errands"—you know something's amiss.
4. They have an overnight change in musical taste.
"I've never really liked jazz. But I struck up with this woman, we enjoyed it together. I started listening to it all the time, just to think about her."
There's nothing wrong with trying new things. But when it's out of the blue and your significant other isn't exposed to the change, it's a warning sign that something is amiss.
5. They constantly remember things incorrectly or loses track of the details.
"I was talking to my husband about a movie we saw and laughing about one of the scenes. He wasn't laughing. I asked, 'What? Don't you remember?' He then informed me that we hadn't seen it together."
Memories of their time spent with the other person has a tendency to blend with the memories of their time spent with you. Schedules and activities get crossed, and they won't be able to keep track of where they were on any given day. The time they spend away from you—and with them—will be unaccounted for — often, with no explanation.
6. They need lots of privacy.
"I was working from home and I started closing the door more often, saying that the kids were loud or that I just needed to work quietly. I was actually online, chatting with my new guy."
To take time for one's self is normal. But when it's out of the normal pattern—or is more and more frequent—it's a sign that something else is going in. Going into work early, leaving late, getting off the phone suddenly, taking lots of private calls from a "relative" (mom, sister, someone untrackable) are also red flags.
7. They have a drastic change in sexual appetite and style.
"I started my affair and all I wanted was sex, but not from my husband. He knew something was up, because our sex life was always pretty active."
"After I started up with [my mistress], I started sleeping with my wife much more often. She told me I was really aggressive in bed and that she hadn't seen me that way before."
A sudden shift in what's "regular" or familiar in bed — without a discussion of wanting something new — is a big warning sign of cheating. All of the men I interviewed expressed having the feeling of a huge rush of testosterone — which would manifest as a new confidence during sex. They felt strong, masculine, the embodiment of virility and like every woman wanted them. Their egos were growing daily. And the women felt alive, desired, and alluring with the other man.
8. They hide their financial history.
"I was meeting [her] for lunch almost daily. And our hotel visits were three or four times per week. Covering that was very difficult. I opened a PayPal account, got a PayPal debit card and attached a personal checking account to [my PayPal account]. I would make online transfers into PayPal and she couldn't see any of my transactions."
Cheaters need an untraceable way to pay for things: gifts, meals, hotels, trips, gas, etc. Refillable credit cards, PayPal accounts, eBay purchases are all great ways to try and hide large or frequent transactions. Large, random transfers or cash withdrawals should be investigated.
9. They have new "friends" at work and/or more work responsibilities.
"My company allowed me to work from home if I choose. But I had started a relationship with a new manager at the office, so I started going in to work more often. Extending my business trips a day before or after I was needed at a remote site, extended office lunches and late hours allowed me to see him without arousing suspicion from my husband."
Office affairs are very common, especially considering how much time people spend working together. They might mention their new "friend" to dispel any suspicions you have, and if you pop in to the office unexpectedly, they might even introduce you to their "coworker" to throw you off the scent. Follow your gut and pay attention to their other behaviors.
10. They're secretive with their use of technology.
"iMessages on the iPhone are untraceable on cell phone bills. I would only text [my mistress] when it was safe and then delete the messages immediately. To this day my wife doesn't know how I communicated with [my mistress]."
"I used SnapChat on my cellphone to communicate with him."
"I didn't want to send email because it can be traced. So, we got a new Gmail account and communicated in the drafts folder, without sending anything."
"We used Gliph and were sending anonymous, 'cloaked' email."
Technology has gotten smarter and affairs have gone high-tech. The signs used to be a new password on a cellphone or computer, a change in the password at your bank or cellphone company or cellphones being "left in the car." But now, cheaters can fly under the radar by using technology to do their communication dirty work. Apps exist that allow text messages, online chat sessions and pictures to last for a certain amount of time (and then disappear). Pay attention to new email accounts and new apps being used on his cell phone.
While these signs aren't foolproof signs of cheating, a few taken in combination are sure signs that something is up. My thoughts: Don't make accusations that you can't back up. If you suspect it, sit him down for a long talk about your concerns. If that nagging feeling doesn't disappear, you have some choices to make — and perhaps some investigations to start.