How to Catch a Cheater: 9 Tips on What to Look For
Here’s how to know if your sweetie isn’t so sweet.
It’s common to worry that you’re being cheated on—especially if your partner is being unfaithful. Your gut is telling you to worry for a reason. But how do you know for sure? For starters, there are usually signs. Or, at the very least, a vibe.
However, suspicion is one thing and proof is another. Ultimately, you’ve got to suss out the facts from the fiction. This can be tricky, especially because cheaters tend to try to cover up their misdeeds and mislead you. And there are so many emotions involved, which can interfere with impartial thinking. People often turn a blind eye to cheating. On the other hand, some people may jump to conclusions before seeing all the evidence.
Not to worry, in this comprehensive guide, we’re here to give you helpful tips on how to catch a cheater. Read on to learn how to find out if your sweetie is up to no good. Once you know the questions to ask, what to look for, and how to find confirmation—one way or the other—you’ll be on much better footing to discover the truth. And move on, if needed.
No one wants to think it will happen to them, but the sad truth is that many people cheat on their significant other. No one is immune. If you’re wondering if your spouse, partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, or lover is cheating on you, there’s a decent chance they are. But, of course, they might not be, as well. Here are the best tips for catching a cheater.
Know the Stats
If you start to have second thoughts about questioning whether or not your spouse or partner could really be stepping out on you, keep in mind that many people do. This doesn’t mean yours is, just that you shouldn’t discount any facts or inklings you have. Because cheating really does happen—and it happens a lot.
In fact, studies show that upwards of 40% of people admit to having cheated on their special someone. Rates tend to be lower for women and higher for men but anyone (and every gender) is prone to cheat.
In fact, one survey found that around 25% of men and about 13% of women were actively pursuing side relationships at the time the study was completed.
And remember, these stats only reflect those that fess up. It stands to reason that the numbers are even higher as some cheaters might not tell the truth, even on an anonymous survey.
Trust Your Instincts
While it’s certainly possible to suspect your sweetie of infidelity and end up being wrong, if your gut says something’s up, it probably is. Our instincts (or fears) on this matter often end up dead on.
Of course, it might be that something else besides cheating is the root of your bad feeling (say, they are stressed at work or the relationship is floundering for other reasons). But either way, if your instincts are waving red flags, it’s best to heed them.
Take a Look at Your Own Baggage
Sometimes our inner wisdom is way off base. Insecurities, anxieties, and miscommunication can make you think someone’s being unfaithful even if they aren’t. So, consider what else might be going on—and take a look at your own baggage. Have you been cheated on before and are holding on to those worries? Do you have issues with trust?
Does poor self-esteem make you doubt anyone would want to stay faithful to you? Be honest with yourself. Then, look again at the facts. And consider talking to your partner about your fears.
But if you keep getting a sick feeling that your man or woman is stepping out, investigate until you have an answer.
Ask Yourself Why Your Spouse Might Be Cheating
Do your best to honestly reflect on why your significant other might be cheating—and what makes you think they are. Have they cheated on you or someone else in the past? Are there issues in your sex life that you think they might go out of the relationship to explore or compensate for? Is your relationship rocky?
How are your relationship’s communication and intimacy? Have the two of you been fighting more than normal? Have they been distant or cold? How has your sex life been lately? Are they under stress either at work or at home? Are there other reasons why you think they might be up to no good?
After spending some time thinking, if you have some solid indicators that they might be cheating, move on to looking for tell-tale signs.
Look for These Signs
While cheaters tend to do their best to hide their indiscretions, there are tell-tale signs that can give them away. Consider if you have noticed any of the following:
- They are more irritable, standoffish, or reactive than normal.
- They have been gone or are unavailable more than normal.
- They are acting strange or different in various ways, even if it’s that they are unusually attentive or have started giving you gifts unexpectedly.
- They have been more secretive (or have always been especially private), such as relating to their schedule, their phone, or their things.
- They are lying about anything, even if it’s not directly related to cheating. Or they seem to be lying.
- They are extra defensive.
- They accuse you of cheating (or being paranoid) if you bring up the issue.
- They are suddenly spending extra time with or talking about someone else that could be a potential romantic partner.
- They are working more than normal or suddenly have more business meetings, work trips, or other commitments taking up their time.
- They are newly interested in their appearance, working out, clothing, and grooming.
- You feel you can’t trust them.
If you notice several signs of infidelity, it’s time for a deeper look.
Be a Detective
Aim to distance yourself emotionally as much as possible while you investigate whether or not your love is true. Follow up on places they say they’ve been or will be. For example, if they say they’re at a business meeting, call the office manager or hotel to check. If they say they have a dinner meeting, ask what the restaurant is and then stop by to see if they’re there.
Reach out to your friends and family to ask them if they’ve seen any signs. Reassure them that you want them to be honest. It can be hard (or feel embarrassing) to talk about this stuff but that’s what your loved ones are there for—and better to find out for sure.
And don’t hold it against them if they didn’t tell you their suspicions before—that’s dicey territory and unless they had cold hard proof, it’s something many people might keep to themselves. If you feel comfortable, you could reach out to a select person or two that’s close to your partner if you think they will tell you the truth.
Look in the pockets of their recently worn clothing and in their bags for receipts, notes, or other evidence.
Check Their Electronics
If you can, get access to their phone, computer, iPad, and other electronic devices. Review their search engine history. Look for what is there—and not there. Was their search history recently deleted? Is their internet browser set to private? Are there hidden apps on their phone?
Check for incriminating emails, texts, or other messages within social media apps. Look through their call history and text messages. Are there numbers you don’t recognize? Who are they calling the most? Potentially, you can also turn on location finder features on their phone so that you can know where they are in real-time. But know that if they know where to look, they will see that you are following their location.
Look for hidden apps on their phone, such as dating apps or social media accounts that you don’t know about. Review their social media accounts. Look at the pictures and comments they post, but also look at who follows them and who they follow back. Be on the lookout for people leaving comments or liking photos who might be a potential cheating partners.
If you have access to their calendar, financial statements, or other pertinent information take a close look. Review their schedule and financial transactions for the past few weeks and see if you can find any discrepancies or items that look suspicious or unusual.
Helpful Apps to Catch a Cheater
There are also apps you can sign up for that can help you find evidence of infidelity. For example, Mspy lets you invisibly monitor your partner’s phone. You’ll be able to see who they are calling, texting (even deleted texts), and otherwise interacting with in real-time, all the while staying hidden. You can also see their location.
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Another option is doing a search on your partner online to see what comes up. You can start with a straight google search. But you’ll get more at websites like Truthfinder that do the legwork for you and can uncover such information as if your spouse is on any dating sites.
Another way to catch a cheater is to ask them straight up. Sure, they might lie, but they also might come clean. And if they’re lying you might sense it or they might give it away.
Ultimately, if you want to know the truth, care about this person, and/or want a chance at salvaging the relationship (whether or not they’re cheating), then sharing your suspicions and giving them a chance to answer may be the best way to go.
If you don’t trust them enough to want to hear their response to your questions, then it’s probably best to walk away, regardless of if they’ve been unfaithful.
That said, if you feel you need more proof, you could also consider hiring a private investigator. But again, if you’re convinced or even just doubting them, the relationship may not be worth saving.
If You’ve Caught Them Cheating, Here’s What You Should Do Next
Once you’re sure your partner is cheating, you need to decide if you want to break up or try to repair the relationship. You also need to tell them you know—if you didn’t already.
Decide how and when you want to have this conversation and if you want them to tell you any gory details or not. Another option is to preemptively break up with them and not even tell them you know about their infidelity. Or if you want to stay together, you could ask to go to couples therapy as a condition of giving the relationship another shot.
Research shows that many couples break up over infidelity but around 25% stay together. Really, only you know if the relationship is worth saving and if you can or want to forgive the infidelity. There are many reasons why someone cheats and sometimes couples can work through those issues and even get stronger on the other side. Some couples like Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith even decide to enter into an open relationship in order to stay together. However, for many people, cheating is a no-go and they decide to break up.
Whatever you choose, take your time to figure out what you want to do next, on your terms. Give yourself the space you need to cope with any feelings that come up, such as sadness, anger, and disappointment. Self-care and seeking support from friends and family helps, too. Consider going to counseling to work through your feelings, if needed. But know that even though it may seem impossible now, it will get better. And you can find love again.
There’s Usually a Reason
If you’ve got a sick feeling telling you that your honey isn’t so sweet, it’s worth digging to find out if they’re being unfaithful. If you discover they’re cheating, know that you’re not alone and that it’s not your fault or a reflection on you.
But it is a reflection on your relationship. And in many cases, ending the relationship is the smart call. Because often, people who cheat do so habitually. Just as importantly, if they’re cheating there is a reason why. And that reason is not that the relationship is making you both really happy or that they love you in the way you deserve. So, grieve as much as you need but then dust yourself off, and when you’re ready, find someone who does—and knows that true love means being true.