Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How to Tell if Someone is Cheating On You

Monogamy: A form of relationship in which an individual has one partner for their lifetime or an extended period of time

While all relationships are different, and some have agreements to be “open”... the “traditional” form of committed relationship is that of two people who have made a mutual decision to only be with each other. They operate with the understanding that they can trust their partner and that their partner is faithful to them. We all know that sometimes it doesn’t quite work out like that. Sometimes, one of the people will break the agreement and engage in extracurricular activities with someone outside of their partnership. They cheat.

There are different degrees of cheating. There is the one-off, which can happen for a variety of reasons and I tend to be more lenient about this. If it happens and it’s a huge mistake and you’re filled with regret and vow to never do it again (and don’t) then I am tempted to say, depending on  the circumstances, to give it a pass. Then there is the serial infidelity, which is a string of affairs or one-offs, which, to me, is not acceptable. Finally there is an affair, an on-going, long term (anything longer than a night) relationship with someone outside of ones relationship, which is also unacceptable. I am at a loss as to why one would want to juggle two relationships, and even more at a loss as to why “the other man/woman” would be comfortable coming in 2nd place.

People cheat for all kinds of reasons, the main one often being that they weren’t getting something from their relationship so they sought it out elsewhere. It could be a physical or emotional component. Sometimes people cheat because they have an addiction to sex, or because they are selfish and weak. Sometimes people cheat for the thrill, or to feed their ego. Whatever the reason, they did it, and it’s wrong and frankly selfish.

Monogamy isn’t easy. Relationships aren’t easy, and I’m not going to pretend for a single second that they are. However, they’re also not mandatory. There is no rule that states that we HAVE to be in a partnership. We enter into our relationships by choice. Just like we stay faithful to our partners by choice. Because it IS a choice. Every day, we are CHOOSING to be with that person and to be committed to the promises that we made to them. To break that, for whatever reason, isn’t down to science, chemistry or basic animal instincts, it’s a conscious decision that we, as consenting adults make, to willingly harm our partner both emotionally but also perhaps physically. We have a choice to not do that. We can decide to end our current relationship, or work on the issues in it. To opt for infidelity is the weak, cowardly, and selfish way out.

Usually, if someone is unfaithful it comes out at some point. The deception and lies catch up with them. Sometimes it’s a shock and sometimes there are signs all along the way. Now I don’t believe in paranoia or not trusting a partner. I think if we choose to be with someone that we should, unequivocally, trust them. I don’t believe in checking up on them, snooping through their things, or questioning them. I don’t think we should search for signs, because I think that’s unhealthy for our mental health and damaging to our relationships. But what I will say, is that if the signs are there, we don’t usually have to engage in any sneaky and covert operations to uncover them. They’re usually pretty obvious, and as much as it’s tempting to ignore them, or make excuses or them, you shouldn’t:

10 Signs Your Partner is Cheating On You:

Change of behavior: The first telling sign is when someone’s behavior changes drastically. If it’s a one-off then we can let it go. If it completely replaces the previous behavior then it it’s something to look into.  If they’ve changed, it’s for a reason. 

Change of attitude: If the person you’re with has a personality or attitude shift there is a reason why. It could be something as simple and innocent as problems at work, or a family issue. But this is something that should be communicated to you. Partners are supposed to share things. If they suddenly start picking fights, lashing out, or expressing disdain for you it’s an indication that there might someone else involved.  Also if they make over the top grand gestures they might be trying to overcompensate for something.  
Change of schedule:  Lives change and circumstances come up so even the most established of routines will alter at times. The questions are: is it temporary or permanent? And how is going to affect your relationship? Are there suddenly late nights? Is your partner always away? Are you in contact with them? Are they open about where they are and what they're doing? Do they make excuses to not see or spend time with you? The bottom line is this: you’re never too busy to get what you want. Busy people have relationships and somehow make time for their partners. If the person you’re with isn’t able to make room for you in their schedule it’s either because they don’t want to, or because they’re making room for someone else.

Unavailability: If someone is suddenly completely unavailable it’s not because they actually are, they’re just unavailable to you. Most people reply on their phone and email for work which means that they are accessible to some degree, especially if you’re a priority to them. If someone becomes impossible to reach or disappears for period of time, you have to ask yourself where they’re going, and you probably won’t like the answer. This was such a huge change from the way it was before. If this change is sudden, there's a reason.

Being Defensive: If someone starts becoming overly defensive to the point of aggression or trying to guilt trip you, it’s a sign that they have something to hide. And they’re manipulating you. Questions like, ‘What time will you be home?” “What did you do last night?” “Want to meet for lunch?” shouldn’t be met with contempt. Also, if you question sketchy behavior “Why didn’t you come home last night?” “Why are you bringing your phone to the bathroom?” “why don’t you ever include me in anything anymore?” shouldn’t cause your partner to snarl at you and belittle you. These are all normal questions, and if someone finds them unreasonable, it’s probably because the answers to them is that they’re doing something they shouldn’t be. (My ex once told me it was his "God given right as a human being to not come home at night.” I should’ve walked then and there.)

Strange or unusual correspondence or relationship: If someone random or unexpected suddenly starts popping up in your significant others life, they might be more than just a business associate or friend. I’m not suggesting that we should become suspicious of every new person, that would be unreasonable. We meet new people all the time, and sometimes we interact with them either at high volume levels professionally or socially and that’s normal. But it shouldn’t be clandestine, as a partner, you should know about it. Though it's also a sign if your partner talks about someone else all the time. If the circumstances of their correspondence or relationship seems weird, then it probably is. 

Overzealously protective of phone and email. While I don’t condone reading other peoples texts or emails, I do believe that if someone freaks out if you are near their phone or ipad, or goes from giving you access to their device (for whatever reason) to hiding it and changing their passwords, then it’s because they’re hiding something. Most likely an affair. 

Keeping lives separate: I am a big proponent on people remaining individuals while in a relationship. One should have their own interests, friends, and time but it’s important to also do things together. When we first start dating someone, we tend to spend a lot of time with them and as the relationship progresses, we calm down a bit and start reverting back to our old routine a bit. This is normal. But if your partner suddenly and actively starts keeps you away from their life then it is because they are hiding something. 

Lack of intimacy: If your partner stops engaging in intimate activities with you, it means they’re getting it elsewhere. Ok yes, when we first get involved with someone we tend to be more excited and spend an inordinate amount of time getting physical with them, and this is often not sustainable. We can’t expect it to be, but if it stops completely, and if you notice other signs: lack of physical contact like holding hands, rubbing shoulder etc, less affection etc it’s because they’re pulling away.  The bottom line is that happy couples are physical with each other and if someone suddenly stops then it is a red flag.

Catching them in a lie or many. Trust is a huge component in any relationship. We have to believe the person we’re with, we need to know that they’re honest. Ok, no one is 100% honest, we all tell white lies and for inconsequential things, it doesn’t really matter. Unless the lies are frequent. Or if you catch them in a lie. Once a lie is uncovered, it’s hard to come back from that. If you find out that someone is or was lying to you, you have to ask yourself why? What are they covering up?

Anger and Guilt Tripping: This is related with being defensive and change of attitude. If someone gets angry all the time or starts guilt tripping you, making you feel like a bad person or unsupportive partner, when in actuality, you aren't, it's because they're trying to push you away, hurt you, or somehow rationalize to themselves why they are cheating on you and treating you terribly. My ex berated me constantly, told me I was being needy and unsupportive if ever I displayed any signs of discontent for his deplorable behavior. He lashed out, insulted me, and punished me by becoming even more unavailable or distant. Classic signs of someone who is up to no good, and is no good.

Now I am not an angel. I openly admit to cheating on an ex boyfriend many years ago. A decision that I feel terrible about to this day. I hurt him, a man who was loving and dedicated to me, and who didn’t deserve it. I hurt him and I couldn’t be sorrier for that fact, even though he’s gotten over it and remains a close friend. I did it because I was young, and stupid, and too afraid to admit to both him and myself that the relationship wasn’t working. I did it because I was weak and selfish. And I promised myself afterwards that I would never do it again, and I haven’t.  I can’t. If I find myself tempted, I either work on my relationship or end it.

Also, I understand that my absolutist attitude might be considered unfair. As I said, all relationships are different and complicated. If someone is married with children, leaving the relationship might not seem like the best or even a viable option. I can’t comment to that as it’s not a situation I can relate to, but I can say that if there are problems in your relationship, you should work on them rather than look outside of it. If you can’t fix the problems, then end it. If you’re not married, and don’t have children then cheating makes even less sense. The obligations are non existent. Again, work on the relationship or end it. To not do so is degrading to your partner and stealing from them. You’re stealing their time, their love, and their chance to be in a relationship with someone who actually deserves and wants to be with them. 

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