Is your spouse cheating? Before we look at the warning signs, let me clarify that even if your partner is exhibiting one (or all) of these symptoms, he may not be cheating on you. These warning signs can indicate other problems as well.
One important thing to keep in mind is past behavior and habits. People do suddenly begin cheating on each other after years of fidelity in a relationship. But not that often. And years of habit can predict behavior in the future. Not conclusively. Relationships are organic and therefore nebulous. Relationships do not adhere to rigid rules. However, if your spouse has never cheated on you (or anyone else in prior relationships), the sheer impetus of habit will likely keep him on the straight and narrow. Cheating in relationships is like Newton’s Laws of Motion. An object at rest tends to remain at rest. An object in motion tends to remain in motion. So the converse of this concept can be applied, too. If your spouse has a history of being ‘in motion’, there’s a better chance that, if the warning signs are present, he’s in motion again. I’m using ‘he’ as a gender distinction for convenience, but please assume that these laws of cheating are not gender specific.
So if your spouse is cheating on you, how is he going to behave? It depends on the unspoken agreements in your relationship; couples view relationships with the opposite sex in different ways. Different cultures and religions approach it differently. By and large, cheating in a relationship is one of the oldest and unilaterally agreed upon cultural no-nos in the world. So how will your spouse behave?
Different: Many spouses say they sensed their spouse was cheating because he suddenly began to act ‘odd’. The grouch is suddenly nice (atonement for wrong). The nice guy is now a jerk (guilt prompts him to anger at spouse; trying to prove to himself that he’s justified for cheating). The confident guy is a bundle of nerves.
Depressed/ Moody: Shame is oppressive. I have known suicide attempts that were prompted by acts of infidelity.
Secretive. He’s got a nasty little secret that he’s peddling and back peddling like mad to cover. He’s jumpy and nervous. This will likely be a ‘new’ behavior (unless he’s cheated for a long time). Some people are secretive when they have no need to be, just out of habit. That kind of secretive usually stems from childhood shame.
Accusing/ Blaming/ Shaming: He knows he’s wrong and he’s looking for someone to blame. Misery loves company. If he could nail you on something, he could feel less horrible about his own behavior. Again, though, this is usually ‘new’ behavior. People that have a history of playing the blame-shame game usually do so because it is a coping mechanism and a habit.
These are the main benchmarks of cheating. The clincher is that one or more of these behaviors will be ‘new’ behaviors that begin at or around the time the cheating begins and regress as it continues.
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