Leandie Buys Realtionship Therapist & Clinical Sexologist

7 Warning signs that your partner might be having an affair

“I think my partner is having an affair - I just have a feeling but cannot put my finger on it.” These are words I’ve heard very often from patients in my practice… and many times, they are right!

An affair is just one of those things where our intuition tells us that “something is wrong.” We see the red lights flicker, but often we try to protect ourselves by pretending that we are “seeing things”.

We convince ourselves that we are “going mad!” and that our partners would never cheat on us. We believe that denial is better than acknowledging something is wrong.

When the affair eventually does come out, we are incredibly shocked and hurt, but when we look back at past behaviour, we see the warning signs all over the place.

I’ve put together some warning signs to look out for if you suspect your partner might be having an affair. These are not “definite” proof that an affair is taking place, but they are a good indication that something is amiss.

7 Warning signs that your partner might be having an affair:

1.     Your partner becomes emotionally distant

Most of my patients say that their partner became very emotionally distant when they had an affair. They were physically present in the relationship, but did not connect emotionally, on an intimate level.

People cannot be invested emotionally in their relationship if they have formed an intimate relationship with someone else. Talks become superficial – vague chit-chat about the kids or work. The person having an affair will not invest time and energy into talking about dreams and goals. They won’t ask you how you’re doing, or encourage you to share about your feelings.

They feel guilty about cheating, and won’t share their own feelings either. They will not say “I love you,” or tell you how important you are to them.

2.     Secretive behaviour

Everyone is attached to their mobile devices, but when your partner insists on being attached to their cell 24/7, something could be wrong.

If they are paranoid about you reading their messages, or get angry with you for answering their phone, you need to be suspicious. Cheating partners will also often add passwords to their accounts, or change passwords that you thought you knew.

They will take phone-calls outside, hide their phones under their pillow, and receive SMSs at all hours of the night.

If they’re chatting online, they may close their computer screen down whenever you walk past, or try to distract you from reading what’s on the screen.

3.     A specific person’s name being mentioned more often

Men who are having an affair will often include the person that they’re having an affair with in general conversation. Wives will start hearing the other woman’s name more often than usual. If they question their partners about this new woman, they will get the response, “we’re just friends!”

One of my patients said that he used this strategy as a way for his wife to think he was being more ‘honest’. “If she thinks I’m telling her everything, then she won’t suspect anything.”

Women who have an affair are usually far more careful about keeping their lover out of conversation. They try to “hide” the evidence rather than reveal anything.

This brings up the age-old question of whether men and women can really “just” be friends!

My answer is that men don’t share their emotions and inner thoughts very easily. So for your man to be emotionally investing in another woman who is “just his friend” is definitely a warning sign.

Women usually have lots of female friends to share things with. If your partner suddenly starts sharing these things with a male friend, I would be suspicious of the relationship.

4.     Appearances change

Has your partner suddenly started losing weight, going to gym, and changed their style of dressing?

It might just be their new-year’s resolutions finally kicking in, or it could be a warning sign that they’re trying to impress someone else.

Any sudden change in behaviour that requires additional grooming and body shaping is suspicious if added together with other strange behaviour.

5.     Your partner becomes more easily irritated with you

A cheating partner will constantly be comparing you to the one they’re cheating with. Things that never bothered them before will all of a sudden become a big “issue” – like the way you eat, the way you say things, how much you weigh, or even the way you dress.

Cheating partners will purposefully create chaos, and provoke a fight just for an excuse to leave the house.

Cheating creates a lot of internal conflict and anxiety, and it takes a lot of energy to keep an affair secret. They will also be emotionally tired and will be annoyed by you, the kids, and life in general.

6.     You’re constantly told you are “mad” or “paranoid”

When your intuition starts telling you that something is going on, you will probably start asking questions, like “Where were you? What were you doing out so late?!”

They will usually try to make you feel paranoid, and doubt your own sanity. “Why are you asking so many questions?! I told you I was out with my friends. Did you forget?! Are you really getting that old?”

If you continue to question them, they’ll tell you something like, “You are really paranoid! You need help.”

I call this “crazy-making” – where you start thinking that you might actually be going mad, because your partner is telling you that you are just imagining things.

I tell my patients never doubt their sense of self - because anyone that undermines your sense of yourself is not worthy of you.

7.     Your sex life changes

You might find that your partner suddenly wants to try different positions, or they stop wanting to have sex with you at all.

Cheating partners will often get their sexual fantasies met in the affair – this is the kind of sex that they don’t get at home!

Women who are having an affair will end up feeling very loyal to their affair partner, and will usually stop having sex with their husbands. However, men who are having an affair will often pursue more sex with their wives because their sexual appetite is being stimulated. The increase in excitement will lead to an increase in testosterone, and boost their libido.

Sometimes, the opposite is true – in that he is investing so much of his sexual energy into the affair that he doesn’t have any left for his wife.

Seek help

These are some of the most common signs to look out for if you think your partner is having an affair. BUT please remember, that these don’t guarantee that an affair is taking place. They do, however, indicate that there is an issue in the relationship that needs to be taken care of.

I strongly recommend seeing a relationship therapist to help you and your partner work through things.

Also, if an affair is taking place, please know that it does not have to be the end. I have helped many couples work through affairs and betrayal, and their relationships have come out stronger in the end.