Worrying about whether your partner has betrayed your trust is painful, but how to know if your partner has cheated in the past?
If the following signs show up now – or showed up during a period of the relationship where you suspect they may have been cheating – it could indicate cheating or another secret within the relationship.
10 common signs of cheating
Cheating often causes a break in the bond that exists between two people who have agreed to be committed to each other. Therefore, you should be sure before you jump to any conclusions.
Learning how to know if your partner has cheated in the past can be challenging. Here are some signs that can help you know for sure:
1. Secretive use of technology
Secrecy is one of the most common signs of cheating. Partners deserve privacy, but if they pay excessive attention to their phone, are suddenly stepping out for calls when they didn’t before, or seem to protect their phone with their life out of nowhere, it could be a sign.
Many people are private, but in this case, you might notice nerves or anxiety about leaving their phone unattended. This is also one of the signs your partner has cheated in past relationships.
2. Spending less time at home or an altered schedule
Taking on extra work or engaging in new hobbies are great things. However, if they’re rock climbing for four hours and refuse to let you touch them upon return, or if nights out with their friends have increased significantly, something might be up.
3. Annoyed or hostile without reason
Does your partner seem annoyed, frustrated, and less affectionate overall? If so, this could be a sign, especially if it’s paired with other signs of cheating. If nothing else, the hostility indicates that there’s something in the relationship that needs to be addressed.
4. Accusing you of cheating
Some, but not all, people who cheat do this. This is typically to deflect from their actions; after all, if they’re accusing you for no reason, the attention is on you. That way, they’re less likely to have to talk about or explain their behavior.
Think about how they got ready to go out with friends when no cheating was suspected and the relationship felt secure compared to the time you suspect or suspected cheating.
Are they acting differently? Are they paying attention to their appearance in a way they wouldn’t usually?
Everyone wants to look nice when they go out, but it isn’t about that; it’s about the overall vibe. If they seem overconsumed and unaffectionate when they prepare to go out or say goodbye, something might happen.
7. Hiding their laundry
If the cheating is physical, your partner may go to extra lengths to hide their laundry.
Think about it; laundry habits aren’t typically something a person thinks too much about.
If they try to hide their clothes before they’re washed and are behaving differently by, say, not letting you do their laundry when you usually would or getting nervous, something could be up.
8. Financially, something doesn’t add up
If you notice charges that don’t make sense – or if money seems/seemed tighter on their side without another viable reason, like changes at work – during the period of time where you suspect they were cheating, it could be a sign.
If you are trying to learn how to know if your partner has cheated in the past, their finances could be your answer.
Don’t snoop on your partner, but listen to your gut if you notice something. Examples might be a high number of restaurants, bars, or hotel charges that don’t make sense compared to what they said they were doing.
9. Less emotionally available
There’s a problem if it suddenly feels as though you’re talking to a wall rather than to a partner. This is one of the signs your partner cheated in the past.
Have they stopped sharing details about their life? Have you stopped talking about your days together? Are they texting or calling less and less, all while seeming distant?
These problems could be indicative of many things, such as going through a tough time in life or a battle with mental health. However, if paired with other markers of cheating, it can be a sign.
Check out this video by Relationship Expert Susan Winter, where she explains the difference between someone who is emotionally unavailable and someone who is temporarily holding back their feelings:
10. Affection runs hot and cold
Sometimes, instead of the affection or intimacy disappearing completely, someone who is cheating will give you huge bursts of affection followed by cold behavior and a total lack of affection. With all of this in mind, the ideal situation is that you talk about what’s going on.
Above all else, listen to your gut. Whether it’s cheating or not, it’s crucial to address your feelings. Although some people who have cheated in the past will bring it up on their own, many others won’t. So, what do you do now?
How to cope and strengthen your relationship
First and foremost, you’ve got to address your concerns if you consider being with someone who has cheated in the past.
Once you take some time to think about what you’re going to say, have an open and honest, non-accusatory conversation. You can start with something like, “I would like us to be closer. I’ve noticed we haven’t been spending as much time together lately.”
Make it a call-in rather than a call-out, especially if there’s no concrete evidence.
Remember, dating someone who has cheated in the past requires patience. If someone is cheating in the past and you have concrete evidence of it, bring it up as calmly as possible and approach it gently.
Your next step will depend primarily on if your partner admits to cheating in the past, fesses up about a different concern within the relationship, or denies that anything’s wrong.
If your partner opens up about cheating or another concern within the relationship, talking about it and deciding what to do next is important. If your partner denies cheating or ever having cheated, suggest going to a therapist.
Even if everything’s fine and your partner has never cheated, your feelings and behavior indicate concerns within the relationship that need to be addressed for things to work.
Couples therapy is also a fantastic option for couples healing from cheating or other relationship issues and working toward trust. It can help you figure out how to trust someone who has cheated in the past.
If your partner admits to having cheated in the past, many feelings may come up. This could be particularly true if the cheating was recent. If that’s the case, it’s time to accept your feelings and take time for yourself while you process those emotions.
Let your partner know that you need some time to process things.
Depending on your unique circumstances and thoughts, you can say something like, “I love you, and I need some time to process this so we can come back and talk about how to move forward after I’ve had some time to calm down.”
Be honest about your needs and emotions. If you can’t get past the cheating, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you want to work things out, nothing’s wrong with that either, as long as you’re committed.
With work, rebuilding trust is possible.
Research proves that many couples heal from cheating or infidelity. Seeing a therapist can help you deal and move forward. You and your partner deserve a thriving relationship, and honesty is the first step.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Dane Ramdin, MS, is a Provisional Marriage and Family Therapist Licensee. He is a Member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. He works with young adults and couples experiencing anxiety, depression and relationship issues.