You may have watched a friend go through the difficulties of being cheated on, but what if you’re beginning to wonder if you’re that girl? What started as subtle changes in your guy’s behavior that you casually put down to stress or tiredness or even just a lull in the relationship are now making you wonder if he’s cheating on you. Whether you think you’ve been cheated on in a long distance relationship or you live close to your boyfriend, you’re probably freaking yourself out by obsessing over every little thing that he’s done differently recently, even down to changing his cereal brand. You’re now seeing everything as evidence that he’s kissed half of the girls on campus while you’ve been together. But, good news: it probably isn’t. While there’s no precise formula to tell you if he’s cheating aside from just asking him, there are a few things to watch out for if you think that something sketchy might be going on.
Sign #1: He’s Being Secretive With his Cell Phone
This is a big one: becoming secretive is a well-known first sign that something’s wrong in a relationship. After all, it can give the impression that he’s got something to hide. Whereas normally your boyfriend would have been happy to leave his phone lying around your dorm or would ask you to check something on it, he now keeps it on him at all times and acts rashly when you have your hands on his cell. But the signs don’t have to be that obvious; maybe he password protected his messages or he jumps straight to his phone when it rings. It certainly does seem like he’s hiding something!
If he’s communicating with another girl, he’s most likely doing it with his cell, so keep an eye out for this sign. “Either person being secretive with their cell phone is something worth discussing,” says relationship coach Lesli Doares.
However, if you start grabbing his phone or randomly trying to read his messages, your guy really won’t appreciate it, and he’ll think there’s something going on with you. The best way to deal with this sign is to watch from a distance. Don’t dive straight in, and see what you can find from afar. Be warned: as Kim Olver, a life, relationship and executive coach, says, “being secretive with a cell phone might just be a person that values privacy.” If he’s always been close to his phone, then perhaps that’s just how he is; you shouldn’t be worried by his behavior if that’s the case.
Sign #2: He’s Taking a Sudden Unusual Interest in his Appearance
When most college guys go to class, they either grab the clothes that are closest to them because they’re running late or pull something comfy on that they’ll be happy wearing on campus all day. But if your man is starting to pick out his outfits the night before or wearing aftershave to class that he usually only wears when he takes you out, then there might be another woman. Did he used to go to the gym regularly and take care of his physique, or is this a recent development?
Allie Sutherland, a contributing writer for Her Campus and a senior at Syracuse University, says that around the time her boyfriend was cheating, she noticed he started working out a lot more than usual. “I thought he was just going through an insecure phase where he was really concerned about his image,” she says, “but turns out it was to impress other girls!” If he’s suddenly interested in having a better figure, then question whether this is to impress you or to impress someone else.
Sign #3: His Routine has Inexplicably Changed
Class schedules are fairly set throughout the semester, and so are club meetings. So when he starts deviating from this routine regularly, maybe even just not being able to meet you in the library to study when you normally would or missing your regular coffee date, take notice. It could just be that he’s going through a busy phase and has more work than he would like, but it could also mean that something more sinister is afoot.
This one is easy to talk to your guy about without seeming overly suspicious. Just ask him what has changed in his routine and what it is that’s taking up more of his time. If he says that he’s studying, then suggest you change your regular coffee date into a regular study date and see what he says. If he clams up and gives you a bad excuse, you have a right to be worried.
Sign #4: His Friends are Acting Strange Around You
His friends might know something that you don’t. If they start acting aloof around you by avoiding eye contact with you or trying to get out of the room as soon as you walk into it, either you’ve done something or your boyfriend has. Friends can be good indicators of what’s going on in your other half’s life, especially if they live with him. This is a sign you could question your boyfriend on; ask him directly why he thinks his friends are acting off with you. His answer is likely to tell you everything that you need: if he sounds nervous and panicky in his answer, then his friends know something you don’t. If he’s straight with you and can look you in the eye when he gives you his answer, then maybe his friends are going through something themselves.
Sign #5: You’ve Caught Him in Lie After Lie
So you’ve caught him out a couple of times with little lies, like when he was with his female friend from class and not his roommate when he was at lunch, or he was having coffee when he claimed he was studying. They seem like little lies at first, but it all starts somewhere. It could be that he’s seeing the other girl––or the lies could just be a side effect of his cheating. When you cheat on someone, you get into the habit of lying, so it’s not too much of a leap to start lying about small things, too.
Patrick Wanis, Ph.D., an expert on human behavior and relationships, says, “There is a good chance that he is cheating if he’s trying to hide something from you, because what is he doing that he’s so ashamed about?”
Sign #6: He Starts Dropping a Girl’s Name Into Conversation
What’s on the mind quickly translates into what we say, and so if he has another girl on the brain, then even without realizing it he may start mentioning her name in front of you. You’ve probably noticed yourself doing this when you first started seeing your boyfriend: you couldn’t stop talking about him because you were always thinking about him. He won’t necessarily be saying how wonderful she is or how cute he thinks she is; he could even be saying awful things about her. But even bad comments are still comments—she’s on his mind. Approach this situation by asking something about him and the girl, such as how long they’ve been friends or why he dislikes her so much, and gauge his reaction.
Sign #7: He’s Changed his ways in the Bedroom
So the sex has changed? It’s even become better? You might want to ask where he found those new moves. It could be that his sex drive has massively increased, or even that it seems to barely exist at all. If you’ve found yourself in a dry spell, it could mean that someone else is satisfying your man.
Doares thinks that when it comes to changes in the bedroom, cheating is one of the possibilities, but it isn’t the only possibility. “So is exposure to pornography, which isn’t considered cheating in the classical sense,” she says. “Again, taking a position of curiosity will serve you well. Many people are curious sexually and doing different things may be a sign of an increased level of comfort.”
On the other hand, Wanis says that it might not even be a change in the bedroom, but more a change in the way that he kisses you: is he more assertive, more aggressive, or just completely different? He says that this could mean “he has been kissing someone else and that he has adjusted his kisses to her.”
Sign #8: He’s Now Sweeter or Much More Aggressive
While being kind and sweet is usually a sign of a great boyfriend, if your boyfriend is suddenly being extra sweet, then it could be that he’s trying to compensate for something. Every girl loves being doted on and having her guy send her flowers, but if this is happening once too often, or it never, ever happened before, then it could be a bad sign—he could be feeling guilty or trying to cover up for his transgressions. “Good behavior can be suspect too,” Doares says. “Giving gifts out of the blue, being extra helpful around the house, having sex more often, or being more attentive can all be signs of guilt.”
Guilt expresses itself in strange ways, the most obvious of which is being overly kind, but it could just as easily result in him being angry and snappy towards you. If you’re concerned about him cheating then be on the watch for a sudden change in attitude, be it (seemingly) good or bad.
How to Deal With Your Suspicions
If you’ve watched his behavior and tried not to be too suspicious, but the thoughts are still there, Wanis advises that you trust your instincts. “If you’re generally a trusting person… and you’re getting feelings that he’s cheating, then he probably is,” he says.
If you think you have a good reason to believe that your guy is cheating on you, then you should speak to him about it. It shouldn’t be a confrontational conversation, but you have to sit him down and talk it over. Doares suggests that it should be brought up in “as conversational and non-accusatory way possible.”
“It’s important that you be willing to share your views and how you came by them,” she says. “Own your feelings without making assumptions about why they are doing something.”
Wanis suggests that it’s the tone of voice that can determine the outcome of this conversation. His recommendation is to ask your guy about his behavior in a direct manner (e.g., “What is it that you don’t want me to see on your cell phone?”). This will immediately let him know that you’ve noticed something is up. Importantly, this doesn’t accuse him of cheating, but merely asks why he has suddenly become more secretive. This allows for the possibility that he is not “up to something romantically, but that it is something else,” Wanis says.
With that in mind, you should tell your guy that you’ve noticed he’s becoming more attached to his cell phone, that his attitude towards you has changed, that you’ve seen his routine has changed, etc., and that you’re wondering if something has happened. Talking it through is the most likely way to give you the best outcome possible. If he hasn’t cheated on you, you can deal with whatever issues have caused him to change recently. If he has, it’s up to you to make the next move and decide where to go with your relationship.