Is your spouse cheating? Hold up before you lawyer up because they might not think they’ve broken any vows. Not married yet? Now’s the time to make sure that you and your partner have similar views of what is considered cheating.
Yes, 21% of men and 13% of women are unfaithful at some point in their lives, but that means most of us are not. Use our handy cheating checklist to distinguish the line between reasonable suspicion and potential possessiveness.
1. So Is Flirting Cheating?
Should you stop flirting once you’re in a relationship? It’s partly cultural. In the United States, it might be seen as unacceptable, but in many Latin American or Mediterranean countries, it’s considered acceptable to flirt in everyday situations. As long as it’s fun, lighthearted and appropriate, let it go. It’s all part of the charm, right? If your partner is flirting right in front of you, however, that might be cause for a timeout.
2. Wandering Eye
A partner who regularly evaluates the other options while you’re out together might not necessarily be a keeper, but that doesn’t make them a cheater. It’s more bad manners than betrayal. While men tend to be the bigger offenders with a wandering eye, women can be guilty of this behavior too. And studies prove this as men in a relationship are rated as more attractive. The impulse to ogle doesn’t stop once you’re in a couple. It’s just evolution doing its thing.
3. Online Chatting or Texting
Is the pinging of your partner’s phone interrupting your quality time together? If it’s typical — that is, they’re a natural communicator with a love for chat — then don’t cramp their style. But if it’s messages from the same co-worker every time, and that time is 3 a.m. in the morning, then you may have a problem.
4. Giving Gifts
Found receipts in your partner’s pockets for gifts you didn’t receive? Ouch — especially if they used your joint account. There’s a big difference, however, between intimate gifts like jewelry, aftershave or lingerie and innocuous presents like a store gift card for a co-worker’s birthday.
5. Just Friends?
Fact: If they’re cheating, it’s most probably with the one they told you not to worry about. Some 53.5% of married cheaters do so with a close friend from their existing social circle. If your partner is emotionally invested in someone else’s issues, that’s a red flag. If they’re ignoring yours at the same time, it may be time to signal “to the left, to the left.”
6. Sharing Private Information
Did your partner share something about your relationship with an outsider that you assumed would stay private? Go straight to strike three. If absolute trust isn’t the foundation of your relationship and you enable it — you’re the one who’s cheating yourself.
7. Emotional Cheating
The good thing about your partner is that they’re a great listener, empathetic and always there when needed. The bad thing is when it’s not with you but for someone who’s “just going through a bad time,” even worse if that person is their ex. That counts as micro-cheating and it’s a big deal for many of us. Unless they’re a professional therapist, you’re within your rights to treat it as cheating.
8. Does a Hall Pass Count?
Is it healthy for couples in a long-term relationship to nominate a “hall pass” hookup? According to the experts, that depends on the extent to which the short-term emotional fallout measures up to any long-term benefits to the relationship. For many, it’s the hallmark of a strong, trusting relationship…until one party invokes their pass, that is.
9. Secret Communication
If you want proof that not all secret communication is cheating, look up the funny story of Dungeons and Dragons creator Gary Gygax. Before you burst into your partner’s workplace or repaint their car with brake fluid, bear in mind that they may simply be planning a surprise for you. Being in a couple does not automatically entitle you to freedom of information over the other person’s life.
10. One-Night Stand
According to one study into adultery, 27% of Americans would not see a one-night stand as cheating. In particular, younger Gen Z lovers who have grown up with a strong expectation of personal freedom and choice might see relentless monogamy as not just unrealistic but also oppressive. Context is everything. If they admit it and regret it, perhaps there’s scope to cut them some slack.
11. What’s Up With Porn?
Let’s not confuse porn with romance, however good the acting. As long as it’s not secret or against the other partner’s wishes, watching porn hardly counts as emotional infidelity. One of the key features of cheating is the breaking of trust, so if you’re both OK with it, it may even be healthy for a relationship.
12. About That VIP Strip Club Membership…
The fact that a partner visits strip clubs might not be a cause for alarm. It depends on their attitude toward the experience. If they have no problem with you doing the same, it’s probably harmless. If they would be appalled, on the other hand, that’s a clue that “Krystle” or “Midnight Mike” might be fulfilling an altogether more complex need.
13. Love on a Break
Does treating yourself to a one-night stand or quick fling while you’re on a break escape a guilty verdict on a technicality? In legal terms, there’s no contract being broken if you’ve both agreed to separate temporarily. On an emotional level, move too fast and the other partner may feel cheated, so avoid unveiling your new lover within hours of breaking up with the previous one.
14. Having an Online Dating Profile
If your partner maintains their Tinder profile or online dating account once you’re dating, it might be time to swipe left on the relationship. And if they create an account while you’re a couple, alarm bells should be going off. A partner who is publicly keeping their options open is laying the groundwork for some cheating.
15. The Battle of the Sexes
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but sex outside a relationship is more nuanced than we might think. Studies show that for around 80% of men, it’s about curiosity and fulfilling an urge. That figure is only 20% for women, however, with emotional intimacy being the higher purpose. Ultimately what matters more to the long-term relationship is how much lying is required to enable any sex on the side.
Every couple sets their own boundaries for what is considered cheating in their relationship. If your trust is being put to the test, Spokeo can help. If you want to uncover secret social media accounts or dating profiles you can do so by running a reverse email lookup on your partner’s email address. Try a reverse phone lookup to identify the person behind any phone numbers you find in your partner’s texts or call log. Spokeo can help you collect the evidence you need.
- University of Colorado Boulder – Extramarital Sex Partners Likely To Be Close Friends, and Men Are More Apt To Cheat
- The Independent – How To Tell if Your Partner Is Cheating, According to a Private Investigator
- Psychology Today – 10 Signs Your Spouse Is Cheating
- Prevention – 15 Subtle Signs Your Partner Is Cheating, According to Therapists
- The Independent – The Five Types of Cheating – And Two Don’t Involve Another PersonStay at Home Mum – 7 Things That Constitute Cheating