How To Tell If He's Cheating On You

Medically reviewed by Jerry Crimmins, PsyD, LP
Updated January 21, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

It’s quite common to worry that your boyfriend or husband might be having an affair with someone else. However, it’s also common to doubt yourself when this fear crops up. You might wonder if you’re misreading the signs, or if you’re letting your own feelings of anxiety make you suspicious of a faithful, loving partner. How can you tell if he’s cheating on you? Let’s take a look at some of the potential signs.

Worried He Might Be Cheating On You?

Signs Your Partner May Be Cheating On You

While the effects of infidelity can manifest in different ways within different relationships, there are some common signs that frequently accompany cheating. Becoming emotionally distant, angry, defensive, or secretive can be hints that they’re being unfaithful, as can intense suspicion directed toward you. Here are some possible signs that your boyfriend or husband might be cheating.

He’s Become Emotionally Distant

This warning sign can be hard to interpret, since it relies on your subjective perception of your boyfriend or husband’s behavior. However, paying attention when he seems to be detached, distant, or inattentive may alert you to problems before an affair actually starts. Numerous studies on infidelity in monogamous relationships have found that dissatisfaction with the relationship is often a strong predictor of cheating. If your partner no longer seems to be getting emotional fulfillment from your time together, there’s a chance they’re seeking it elsewhere.

If your boyfriend seems to be pulling away, it may be a good idea to try and restore that emotional intimacy. This might mean deliberately taking time to talk about your relationship and your feelings for each other. When you’re both relaxed and in a good mood, you might try gently asking questions about how he’s been feeling lately.

He’s Showing Abrupt Changes In Sexual Behavior

Does your dynamic in the bedroom suddenly feel different? A partner who is having an affair may seem to have lost interest in physical intimacy with you because they’re finding it outside your monogamous relationship. If your sex life was formerly very active and he’s suddenly uninterested, it’s possible that he’s found another sexual partner. 

On the other hand, an abrupt increase in your partner’s libido could also potentially indicate them getting their sexual needs met elsewhere. Some studies suggest that sexual activity increases testosterone, a hormone that can act as a major driver of sexual behavior in men. When someone is having sex more frequently due to an affair, their overall desire may increase as well.

Some people also begin paying more attention to their physical appearance when they cheat. Is your partner exercising more, taking more care with their grooming, or buying flattering new clothes? It might be nothing more than an attempt at self-improvement, but it could also be due to the desire to impress a new romantic interest.

Note that levels of sexual attraction and desire can vary a lot between individuals of all genders and orientations, and a suddenly higher or lower libido does not always point to infidelity. It’s entirely possible that changes in your partner’s stress levels or his physical or mental health are affecting his level of desire. However, if a change in his approach to physical intimacy appears very quickly and with no explanation, you might want to look for other warning signs.

He’s Become More Secretive And Private

If your partner is cheating, they might suddenly become vague about their schedule and their interactions with people outside of the relationship, such as friends or coworkers. Secretiveness about electronic communications may also be a hint that something out of the ordinary is going on. Nowadays, cheating is often facilitated by technology such as smartphones and social media, so a partner who seems anxious about letting you see what he’s doing on his phone or computer could be concealing inappropriate interactions.

Potential warning signs could include:

  • Sending or receiving messages at odd times

  • Giving vague answers or dodging the question when you ask who he’s messaging

  • Keeping a secondary phone, tablet, or laptop

  • Taking great care to hide his screen when you’re around

  • Suddenly beginning to use new communication apps

  • Browsing dating or hookup sites

Hiding financial transactions from you might also be an indicator that your spouse or partner is cheating. Have you discovered that he’s been making frequent cash withdrawals? Has he set up a new payment method that you can’t view? If so, there’s a possibility that he’s trying to keep you from finding out who he’s spending money on.

He Gets Angry Or Defensive More Easily

A cheating partner can exhibit angry, defensive behavior if they feel guilty about committing an infidelity, which can sometimes cause them to overreact even to seemingly small questions. An unfaithful boyfriend might also try to lessen his guilt over cheating by placing more emphasis on problems in the relationship to convince himself it’s not his fault.

Does your partner seem to be starting fights over small, trivial issues? Are they responding defensively to simple questions? These can sometimes be indicators that they’re worried you’ll discover an affair. Some unfaithful partners will also treat innocent questions as accusations. If you ask your husband a simple question about where he’s been and he acts as though you’ve accused him of cheating, it could be his guilt coming to the surface.

He’s Exhibiting Suspicious Or Controlling Behavior

In other cases, a partner who’s cheating may act as though they suspect you of being unfaithful, which could be a projection of their own guilt. They might also be deliberately attempting to deflect suspicion by putting you on the defensive. 

Another possibility is that he wants to keep closer tabs on your schedule in order to avoid being caught. You may want to be alert for the following behaviors:

  • Accusing you of cheating for no apparent reason

  • Demanding detailed information about your whereabouts

  • Attempting to track you electronically

  • Interpreting your ordinary conversations with friends as flirting or cheating

  • Monitoring your online behavior closely

  • Insisting that you “check in” with him anywhere you go

Extremely controlling behavior can constitute abuse or act as a warning sign for future abuse. If you’re afraid that you may be in danger from your partner, it may be a good idea to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

What Should You Do If You Suspect He’s Cheating?

Many people worry at some point that their partner is cheating on them. However, a “gut feeling” may not always be a reliable indicator that something is wrong. It may be helpful to look for more objective behaviors like the ones we’ve described above instead. Your partner’s concrete actions are often a more reliable guide than your own fears. If you do have substantial reason to believe he’s cheating, asking him about it if you feel safe doing so may be a next step to consider. 

What if you’re finding it hard to let go of the fear that you’re being cheated on, even though you haven’t found any evidence? In that case, you might want to consider what’s behind this persistent worry. Is it possible you’re projecting your own guilt because you’ve been developing feelings for someone else? A study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that participants who were attracted to other people were more likely to suspect their partners of wanting to cheat.

Other studies have concluded that low self-esteem can be a potential cause of jealousy. Is your worry about being cheated on related to issues with your own self-image? In this case, you may be able to build up your self-esteem using techniques like:

  • Writing down your positive qualities

  • Learning to accept compliments instead of deflecting them

  • Cultivating compassionate rather than critical thoughts toward yourself

  • Practicing positive affirmations

Another potential reason for persistent worries about cheating is that you’re feeling insecure about the health of your relationship. A pair of studies conducted at the University of Miami found that people who perceived threats to their relationship were more likely to feel jealous. You may benefit from considering whether other issues between you and your boyfriend are causing you to feel anxious about a possible infidelity. 

Therapy May Be Able To Help With Issues Related To Infidelity

If you’ve discovered that your husband or boyfriend is cheating on you and you’re both interested in trying to repair the relationship, you may want to pursue therapy as a couple. One five-year study found that 60–80% of couples who underwent counseling after an infidelity were able to reconcile, and many of them reported greater relationship satisfaction afterwards. Therapy may also be able to help with feelings of persistent but unfounded suspicion. A 2018 paper reported that the majority of people pursuing cognitive therapy for jealousy experienced “a significant improvement on all jealousy measures”.

Online counseling is an attractive option for many couples. It can be easier to schedule virtual sessions than in-person therapist visits, which can be helpful since finding time for therapy can be even more difficult when you’re dealing with both partners’ schedules. Some couples also find that it’s easier to open up and be vulnerable from the comfort of their own homes.

According to a 2020 study published in Frontiers in Psychology, most couples who tried online therapy said they found it to be a positive and helpful experience. Many of the participants also noted that the online format “allowed them to feel a greater sense of control and comfort”, making it easier to form a positive connection with their therapist.

If you’re interested in this format, an online therapy platform like BetterHelp can connect you with a licensed therapist who you can meet with virtually—either individually, with your partner, or both. They can provide a safe space where you can address and work through any personal or relationship issues that may be causing conflict between you and your partner. Read on for reviews of BetterHelp therapists from clients in similar situations.

Counselor Reviews

“Within just a few sessions with Monica, I was in a much better place emotionally, mentally, and had renewed hope. After a strong rift with my husband, I needed a compassionate ear that wasn’t my friends or family. She listened, gave me good feedback, and assigned helpful habits. So far, everything she suggested has been working well. Thanks to her, I’ve made great progress, and I’m excited to continue until I’m back to me. I’m so glad and thankful to better help for providing therapy at a price I could afford but having sessions from home, which has been important for me since all of this, has made me paranoid about seeking help. I know I have more work to do, but with Monica and BetterHelp, I’m more hopeful now than I have been in about two years. That’s priceless to me.”


“I’ve only had two sessions with Linda but have learned a lot about my relationship with my husband, and she has given me a lot of food for thought and different ways to look at the situation as well as ideas on communication. She has been very helpful!”

Worried He Might Be Cheating On You?

Takeaway

While you often can’t tell for sure whether your partner is having an affair without concrete evidence or them telling you, some of the signs on this list can be indicators that you may want to pay closer attention to their behavior. If you’re interested in seeking professional help working through issues around cheating or other relationship challenges, online couples counseling may be an effective approach.

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