Throughout my 20s, I engaged in toxic relationships where the love, fun, and attraction would be off the charts, but when it came down to being fundamentally compatible for a sustained long-term commitment, my picker was way off.
However, cheating was never a part of the equation until I entered what I now call my rock-bottom relationship at 29 years old.
Reflecting back, at almost 40 years old today, I see so clearly the difference between how I felt in my non-cheating relationships, vs. the signs and exceptionally insecure way I felt with my emotionally abusive cheating partner, despite all of them being toxic.
And before I dive into the telltale signs of being with a cheater, it’s important to mention that clearly, I was the common denominator in all of these relationships. I don’t offer this up from a self-shaming place, but from a healed, whole, self-owned place of knowing that I was attracting toxic men, because of my own toxic relationship with myself.
If this resonates, before you go into a shame spiral, know that this is actually GREAT NEWS. Recognizing that the healing begins with YOU—EVEN IF HE’S THE ONE WHO CHEATED—means you no longer have to wait for someone else to do the work, in order for you to feel better.
Editor’s note: Although this article uses male pronouns, the advice applies to all sexual orientations and gender identities.
Finally, remember that every human and relationship is different. It is possible for a man to be faithful to you when he wasn’t faithful to prior partners. And sometimes he just needs to withdraw and go into his man cave (Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus reference!) in order to recharge.
That said, if your gut repeatedly tells you something just isn’t right, don’t hesitate to do your lady detective work. You’ll either get to the bottom of your unresolved trust issues that have nothing to do with him, or you’ll discover the ugly truth you’d been fearing, and can poosh him away sooner rather than later.
So, without further ado, here are the Nine Telltale Signs He’s Cheating:
1) He keeps you separate from his female friends. I totally believe platonic relationships with the opposite sex are possible, but if your partner keeps female friends separate … why though?
2) You have no idea where he is on the regular. Personally, I’m not a fan of keeping tabs on your significant other 24/7, but if you consistently don’t know where he is for large chunks of time and he isn’t responding to your texts or calls, and then gives vague answers about what he was up to … RED FLAG.
3) He angles his phone away from you on a consistent basis. Again … why though?
4) You find inappropriate exchanges on his phone. You did it. You checked his phone. And you found something. What possible explanation could he have to justify engaging with other women in a “more-than-friends” manner? Stop convincing yourself it isn’t a big deal. IT IS.
5) He constantly changes his story. You smell something suspicious, so you ask and he gives an answer that appears to make sense upon first hearing it … but as you ponder about it afterward you realize the details don’t add up, so you ask again, only to get more information that conflicts with the original story. If you find yourself more confused and conflicted the more you ask about his sketchy story, RUN.
6) You know his history of cheating and how he poorly treated previous exes. I get it. You want to be the special snowflake he’s willing to change for, despite witnessing his antics with the last woman. Be wary when he says he wants to change because of you—that’s codependency at its finest.
7) When you hang out in social settings, no one would be able to tell you’re a couple from the outside looking in. I’m not saying he needs to demonstrate major PDA, but if he barely acknowledges you while you’re out with friends or his behavior toward you is significantly different than behind closed doors, he may be playing down the relationship in public for a reason.
8) He doesn’t want you posting pics together on social media. Some people are lower profile on social media, which is totally OK, so don’t take it personally if you tend to be more of an over-sharer than him. But if he’s posting with friends and family, yet is skittish about you both being seen as a couple, not cool.
9) Your gut just constantly tells you he’s SHADY. The bottom line is, do you want to be with someone who’s consistent, present, easily accessible, and not afraid to show you off, OR, do you want to be with someone who you’re constantly trying to figure out if his words are lining up with his actions?