Signs Your Girlfriend Is Cheating

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jerry Crimmins, PsyD, LP
Updated June 11, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

In an ideal relationship, neither partner would cheat, but sometimes it happens. If you suspect that your girlfriend is cheating, maybe you have a sense of uneasiness in your relationship and feel that something could be off. You might have seen a sudden change or new behaviors in your significant other that you can’t seem to explain. Your instincts may also convince you that there is something going on in this relationship that is sending red flags and needs to be confronted. So you may be wondering how to tell if your girlfriend is cheating. 

Throughout this article, we will investigate a few signs that your girlfriend could be cheating and how to proceed if your suspicions are true, as well as how to remain as levelheaded and unbiased as possible to ensure that you don’t jump to conclusions.

How to know if your girlfriend is cheating - spotting signs she’s cheating

According to various mental health professionals, there are numerous signs in a relationship that could indicate that you may be dealing with a cheating partner. While following your gut feeling can help you know in many situations, they advise that the most important thing to look out for is sudden changes or new behaviors in your significant other. If your girlfriend suddenly displays suspicious behavior that is out of the ordinary or you find that she’s changed emotionally without warning, it could be cause for concern. 

There are some more obvious signs you can look for. These include physical signs like “hickies” and other marks or gifts from an unknown source or “new friends” she is unwilling to identify. They might be coming from a new lover. However, most signs of cheating are more subtle and difficult to identify.
Sudden changes in phone habits

One sign she’s cheating may be that your girlfriend is suddenly acting weird about you being near her phone, and it seems to be a significant shift. While it’s not required of romantic relationships that both partners have complete access to each other’s property, it’s relatively normal for partners to occasionally use each other’s phones, especially for practical reasons like sending a message while one partner is driving or making calls if one’s phone dies. 

Maybe your girlfriend’s phone is receiving more text messages than usual or she has suddenly put more barriers in place to lock her phone, which could be one of multiple signs that she's finding interest elsewhere. Perhaps she always sets her phone with the screen facing down, seemingly anxious about what messages may appear, or she’s easily annoyed when you happen to walk by while she’s on her phone. 

In addition, her social media posting habits may change if she is cheating; for example, she might become more secretive about her social media accounts. These behaviors, especially if they seem to be appearing suddenly and if she’s putting much effort into them, could indicate that your girlfriend has something she doesn't want you to know.

Your girlfriend spending more time out of the house without contact

While it’s normal in romantic relationships to have a social life outside of your partner and especially in a long-distance relationship, you may go for a while without direct conversation, excessive time away can be concerning. People who are cheating on their partners may spend more time out of the house and seem to drop out of contact for long periods.  They may spend time dressing differently and making sure they look their best before they go out for these outings, in some cases making sure to wear new clothes. 

She might show other suspicious behaviors, such as suddenly spending more time at work, trying new hobbies, running errands, or going out with her own friends, but she doesn't answer your calls or texts and seems to go off the map. This behavior might be suspicious, especially if it seems to be happening regularly and is paired with other suspicious behavior, and maybe a subtle sign she’s cheating. It is important not to jump to conclusions or act under the assumption that your partner is cheating before you talk to them. 
Overly affectionate behavior

Another sign that your girlfriend might be cheating is if she appears to be acting overly affectionate and starts paying attention to you more frequently. This could look like saying "I love you" often or showering you with gifts out of the blue. This is not absolute proof and does not necessarily mean she's cheating, but if it seems abnormal or unlike her, it could be something to pay attention to. Some people who are cheating on their partners may try to compensate because they feel guilty. They may go overboard with kind gestures to keep their partner from suspecting what is going on or help themselves feel better about pursuing a new partner. Pay attention to what your gut instinct tells you for this sign; as the saying goes, if it feels too good to be true, it often is.

Distant behavior and changes in intimacy
If your partner suddenly seems more emotionally distant and seems to have lost interest in you, has a change in their body language, or shows less interest in physical intimacy, especially if you are in a committed relationship, you might question whether she’s interested in someone else. They might also have unexplained mood swings or become easily annoyed if they sense you’re intruding on their personal space. A sudden shift in your sex life might indicate that your girlfriend is getting these needs met outside of the relationship or that she’s hiding something. 

Although these could be signs your girlfriend may be cheating, it’s important not to jump to conclusions if you see some of this behavior happening. There can be many signs she’s cheating or other explanations for why a couple’s sex life could shift over time, including stress in day-to-day life and mental or physical health challenges. If you do notice a shift in your relationship that is concerning, it’s important to discuss these concerns directly with your girlfriend instead of letting your mind fill in the blanks.

How to act when your girlfriend cheating

If you suspect that your girlfriend might be cheating on you, it is often prudent to spend time evaluating the situation; don’t jump into a conversation with her right away. Before bringing your concerns to your partner, it is important that you take the time to know how you are feeling. Understand how their behavior is making you feel so you can go into the conversation ready to clearly communicate your emotions. You should also be willing to discuss relationship problems that might be the source of the changes rather than an affair.
Openly discuss your concerns

The next step would be to openly discuss your concerns with your girlfriend. Try to keep a calm, even tone, as she may be less likely to be receptive to a conversation in which you are coming across as angry or accusatory. Instead of making statements such as "Who have you been going on dinner dates with?", “Why are you spending all this time with that new friend?”, or "Why don’t you ever want to have sex anymore?" focus on conveying how you feel with ‘I’ statements. This may sound like “I feel scared or uneasy when…”

Observe her response

While you are having this discussion, pay attention to how your girlfriend is responding, both verbally and non-verbally. Is she avoiding eye contact while she’s talking? Is she quick to become defensive, denying that she is doing anything wrong and responding with anger? Or is she receptive and open to hearing your concerns? How your girlfriend reacts to your concerns may provide more clarity into whether your suspicions may be true, but keep in mind that everyone responds to things differently, and some people may not react calmly when accused of something they haven't done.

Look at other possible scenarios
Perhaps the conversation can allow you to gain insight into something that has been going on with your girlfriend that has nothing to do with her having another sexual relationship or even emotionally cheating. For example, perhaps she has been very stressed at work or about her family but hasn’t yet wanted to talk about it. Or her best friend is going through a crisis that she wasn’t comfortable discussing with you, and she was spending extra time with them to help out. Maybe she wanted to explore a new hobby that she was embarrassed to tell you about. These scenarios could provide clarity into her seemingly strange behavior if you suspect she’s cheating. 

There’s also a chance she admits that you are right and says she has emotionally left the relationship. While it is typically not helpful to find out every detail of the encounter(s), you might ask your girlfriend if she knows what led her to cheat or whether there was any outside influence. If she expresses remorse and states that she wants to work through this and continue the relationship, it can be helpful to immediately set boundaries. This may look like spending some time apart while you take the time and space to process your emotions around what you have discovered.

Processing betrayal in a committed relationship

Perhaps your fears have been confirmed and you have discovered that your girlfriend has been unfaithful. There may be many thoughts racing through your head, from "Why would she do this? How could this have happened?" to "Should we stop talking or should  I give her another chance?" It can be challenging to decide how to move forward from your girlfriend cheating, whether it means working to repair the relationship or parting ways.

First, it can be beneficial to reflect on the relationship. Maybe she provided some indication of why she felt the need to cheat. If not, you might reflect on the relational dynamic. There are many potential reasons why an individual might cheat on their partner, ranging from anger about unmet needs to feelings of "falling out of love." Best-selling author and relationship expert Esther Perel notes that some of the multitude of reasons why a partner might be unfaithful include physical, mental, and emotional factors. Some individuals may experience fears around commitment which can lead them to seek a “way out” of the relationship.

Others may have difficulties with low self-esteem and find the affirmation from a new or particular person intoxicating. If your girlfriend has a history of finding it difficult to find self-worth and she’s being fawned over by a “perfect” person outside of your relationship, she may go to them for that attention. Remember that you do not have to feel responsible for her choices; even if there are relationship problems, you have no control over the decisions your partner makes.

You may not have all the answers as to why your girlfriend did what they did. However, it can be helpful to recognize that cheating is a complex issue, and there are many factors that can contribute to it. These factors may or may not have anything to do with you or the health of the relationship. It is important to remind yourself that you are not to blame for your partner’s actions. Even if there was a disconnect within the relationship, cheating is ultimately the decision of the other person.

You may be asking yourself - is this something that can be fixed or is it bound to happen again? Can a relationship be rebuilt after betrayal? Let’s dive into some of these questions.

Rebuilding after cheating

It is possible to repair the damage caused by a betrayal and move forward in a relationship. However, it does take time and effort. It requires both individuals to be fully committed to putting in the work required to rebuild trust again. In some cases, a relationship coach or support group can be beneficial for working through underlying problems. 
Making a decision

If you decide to move forward with your girlfriend, are the same problems bound to keep repeating themselves? Despite what some relationship “experts” may say, professional relationship therapists say that phrases like "once a cheater, always a cheater" dismisses an individual’s ability to grow and change. If your girlfriend takes full responsibility for her actions and is determined to examine the underlying issues, this is a positive sign that she is committed to making sure it does not occur again. Being willing to put in the work to address the root of her behavior and any issues in your relationship is crucial.

On the other hand, experts agree that if a partner is blaming you or other external factors for their actions, this is one indication that the same patterns may repeat themselves. If your girlfriend shows little insight into why she cheated, perhaps due to immaturity associated with a young age, or if she seems unremorseful, it can be a sign that she might not be ready for a serious commitment like a marriage proposal.

Reflect on the relationship

It is important to acknowledge that there is no guarantee that you will not get hurt again. While this reality can be difficult to accept, it is essential to remember that every relationship can involve risking the possibility of being hurt. We cannot guarantee how another person will feel or how they will treat us; rather, we can only decide whether the relationship is worth showing up for, even though the future is uncertain.

Take time to reflect on the relationship and what you would like for the future. If you find that your girlfriend seems to be committed to gaining an understanding of her behaviors and finding a way to move forward, that leaves only you to decide what is right for you. You might take the time to ask yourself: do you feel like you will ever be able to trust her again? Do you still want to be in this relationship after what has happened? Do you think these problems are fixable, and are you willing to put in the work to try to resolve them?

There is no right answer to these questions. Some people may decide that cheating is not something they could ever tolerate, while others are open to working through it if their partner is remorseful and committed to remaining in the relationship. Try to remind yourself that at the end of the day, this is your decision. While you may receive input from others, it is important to proceed in a way that feels right for you.

Coping after cheating

It can be extremely difficult to come to terms with betrayal in a relationship, as it can bring about some painful emotions. You may recall moments that now seem suspicious, like when she said she was going out with just a few friends but didn't provide more details, raising doubts about her fidelity. You may find that you are trying to avoid your feelings or block out what happened. 

Ultimately, allowing yourself to acknowledge what has happened and feeling your emotions fully is key to the healing process. Instead of pushing your feelings down, name what you are experiencing – maybe it’s grief, humiliation, or shame. You might also consider writing in a journal, as expressive writing can be beneficial for reducing the intensity of difficult emotions. Reflecting on her actions, you might wonder if her being at a very young age played a role in her decision-making, as cheating women may act impulsively.

It is also important to prioritize self-care while moving forward. Try to pay attention to what your body needs; do your best to eat consistent meals even if you don’t feel hungry and remain hydrated. Carve out plenty of space to engage in calming activities, like taking a relaxing bubble bath, listening to music, reading, or watching your favorite TV shows.

As previously mentioned, it is perfectly okay to set boundaries with your girlfriend during this time. You may find that you need some space without seeing or talking to her to work through your emotions. Don’t be afraid to set healthy boundaries and ask clearly for what you need.

Lean into your support system during this time. Clearly express how others can help you, whether accompanying you on a fun activity for distraction, listening without giving feedback, or offering alternate perspectives. It may also be beneficial to seek out the support of a licensed mental health professional such as a licensed clinical psychologist or a therapist, whether that be through an in-person practice or online. They can provide a safe space for you to process the difficult emotions you are experiencing and find ways to cope and move forward.

Online counseling with BetterHelp

Whether you decide to work on your relationship or part ways, connecting with a mental health professional can help you navigate any difficulties you are facing. If you have decided to remain in the relationship, you and your girlfriend might consider couples counseling. Through the BetterHelp online counseling platform, you can work with a therapist who can help you find ways to rebuild trust, develop emotional intimacy, and communicate in healthy ways about concerns within the relationship.

If you have decided to part ways, you might also decide to seek out therapy to facilitate the healing process and manage difficult emotions. BetterHelp is an affordable and convenient option for online therapy that allows you to connect with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your own home. You can participate in sessions over the phone, through video chats, or by using live messaging. These different options allow you to choose the method of communication that feels most comfortable for you.

Whether you believe you are dealing with a cheating boyfriend or girlfriend, or have any other problems you’d like to discuss, online therapy can be a valuable resource for both individuals and couples. One study found that online cognitive behavioral therapy improved young adult women’s self-esteem. Additionally, it increased their ability to forgive themselves and their partners after living through a harmful relationship. 

Takeaway
Feeling as if your girlfriend might be cheating on you can be disheartening. While you should be able to trust your gut, sometimes things aren’t as they seem. There are a myriad of signs of a cheating girlfriend, ranging from avoidant eye contact, social media habit changes, body language, and many others.  It’s important to gather information, take your time assessing the situation, and ask questions before jumping to conclusions. The stability and trust built within your relationship depend on it. If you’re having a difficult time processing potential or actual infidelity, a licensed online therapist can help you move forward.
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