Fearing your significant other is having an affair can be your worst nightmare. Thinking that they’re emotionally attached to someone else, or physically intimate with another individual is sickening.
But what if you’re not sure? What if you think your partner could be cheating, but there’s not any evidence?
Are you paranoid, or are they guilty?
Here’s 4 tips to help you determine that answer:
Is there a history of cheating in your relationship?
If your partner has admitted to cheating in the past, then naturally you’re going to be fearful of this happening again. Relationships can heal from past infidelity, as long as both people make an effort to heal the broken relationship.
If it’s been less than 2 years since your partner admitted to having an affair, you’re still going to struggle, be cautious and on guard. It takes about 2 years to fully heal from the betrayal of a partner’s cheating. Ask for reassurance, validation and share your concerns.
If there has not been a history of cheating in your relationship, then take note of what is giving you this feeling. Is it something they’re saying or doing? Be specific so you can talk to them about it directly.
Does your partner’s behavior add up?
If your partner says they’ll be home at 6pm, do they show up at 6pm? If they say they’ll call on their lunch break, do they call? If they say they’re hanging out with their best friend, is that what they end up doing?
If what they say they’re going to do & where they say they’re going to be all adds up, then they’re probably trustworthy.
Found any concrete evidence? Have you found any receipts for gifts that you did not receive from them? Have you seen texts or emails sent to other people that were flirtatious or sexual in nature?
If their behavior doesn’t add up, or if you have found things that you cannot make sense of, then you might have something to be concerned about.
Cell Phone Behavior
Do they leave their phone out unattended, or do they have it attached at the hip? If your partner can leave their phone out in plain view, then chances are they’re not too concerned about you viewing any texts or calls they receive.
If they refuse to leave their phone unattended, then this could be an indicator that there are secrets. If you guys have password locks on your phones, but refuse to give them to each other, then there could be secrets.
A great rule of thumb (specifically in marriage): Share all passwords to email and phones. If you’re not doing anything inappropriate, then you have nothing to hide, right?
I do not encourage sneaking around and going through the other’s phone. If you have concerns, sit your partner down and ask them directly if they’ll let you see their phone. Their reaction to this request will be an indicator to if they have secrets or not.
A defensive reaction can indicate they’re hiding something, whereas a non-defensive reaction can be reassuring and calm any of your suspicions.
What is your history?
Do you have a personal history of past relationships cheating on you?
Do you have a personal history of a parent cheating?
Have you been abused (verbally, emotionally, physically, sexually)?
These factors will affect current relationships more than you can imagine.
If you’ve had a previous boyfriend/girlfriend cheat on you, this will carry over into future relationships and make you cautious and non-trusting of future mates. Does the phrase “Once a cheater, always a cheater” go through your mind? If it does, then you have to let go of this very toxic thinking and give your current mate a chance.
If these thoughts are still going through your mind, then you have not grieved and fully healed from the pain that these past relationships have caused. Write a goodbye letter to the past relationship (don’t mail it to them!), get into therapy to process the pain, or talk to a trusted friend or pastor.
If you’ve had a parent who had affairs as you were growing up, this can create an anxious, non-trusting environment in childhood. You may fear this will end up happening to you in your adult relationships. Fearfully you may question and question your partner’s loyalty (and they may really be loyal and faithful), but because of the pain you experienced growing up, you’ve promised yourself you’ll never be in that situation again.
If you’ve been abused in the past, this naturally makes it hard to trust anyone that you try to get close to in the future. Being abused in childhood by someone you trust makes you believe you cannot trust anyone. It leads to the beliefs that there’s no one there to take care of you or provide protection. In fact, you believe that those who are there in your life to protect you end up causing you harm. When you get into adult relationships, it’s hard to believe they’ll be able to protect you, take care of you, or have your best interests in mind.
Whatever your situation may be, I hope you find some guidance with these tips. If you’re in a committed relationship and you do see some concrete signs of cheating, get help. Whether it’s from a licensed therapist or pastor. If you’re still not sure, I encourage you to talk to your partner and be very honest and non-attacking in your speech. Share your concerns, and hopefully you will get a non-defensive reaction from them.
About the author
Tamara Wilhelm, MA, LMHC, LCAC is a therapist, writer, and speaker with Imagine Hope Counseling Group in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Imagine Hope provides marriage, couples, individual, and family counseling for adults, children, and adolescents.
Tamara has experience helping others in the areas of: Depression, Anxiety, Infidelity, Communication, Addictions, and Self-Esteem.
Being a wife, sister, daughter, and friend herself, Tamara understands the struggle & to find the balance that each of these roles carry & knows that Hope is one of the most important things a person needs in order to keep pressing on when life gets tough.
Visit www.imaginehopecounseling.com to know more about Tamara.
Follow her on Twitter at: tamarawilhelm.