The “cheating husband” is a common trope in both fiction and real life. Cheating certainly isn’t confined to one gender, but men are typically seen as more likely to stray—a belief that’s supported by data. According to the General Social Survey, 20% of men across all age groups reported having sex with someone outside of their marriage, compared with 13% of women. Another study by Boston University found that up to 25% of married men admitted to an extramarital affair.
While there’s no one reason why men commit infidelity, there may be several telltale signs he’s cheating.
Why do men cheat?
There are any number of reasons why a man chooses to engage in an affair outside of his monogamous relationship, including deep-seated psychological issues such as sex addiction. However, psychologists agree that male infidelity frequently boils down to a few common factors, including insecurity about their own virility, unwillingness to confront emotional or sexual dissatisfaction in their relationship, and simply having the opportunity to satisfy their physical urge for sex.
The role that money plays in a relationship may also impact a man’s likelihood of cheating, according to some research. A 2015 study from the University of Connecticut found that 15% of men who financially depend on their wives end up cheating on them. The same study found that men are also more likely to cheat if they bring in more than 70% of the household income.
According to relationship expert Gilda Carle, people cheat on their partners because something is amiss in their current relationship. One partner may feel unloved, sexually rejected, angry or even just bored, and any of these scenarios can be a trigger for some men to cheat.
Warning signs he’s cheating
If you’re constantly wondering, “Is he cheating on me?” And your intuition is telling you that your husband or boyfriend may indeed be seeing someone else, pay attention to these signals:
1. He’s ultra-protective of his phone and laptop. There could be a reason he always hides his screen or won’t leave his phone unattended—he may not want you to see who’s communicating with him.
2. He’s unusually active on social media. If you’ve noticed your partner consistently liking and commenting on one particular person’s social media posts, it could mean he’s interested in more than a digital friendship.
3. He brings up a certain friend or co-worker constantly. Make a mental note if he starts bringing up another person’s name with increasing regularity. One study found that more than half of Americans who admit to cheating did so with a close friend.
4. His morning and evening routines have shifted. If he’s getting up before you and coming to bed after you’re asleep, he could be trying to steal some time with someone else.
5. He’s spending more time at the office. His job hasn’t changed and he’s not up for a promotion, yet he’s spending long hours at work. It could mean he’s spending “quality time” with a co-worker.
6. He’s got some surprising new interests. Has your partner suddenly taken an interest in things he’s never cared about in the years you’ve been together? He may be trying to impress someone else.
7. He’s getting constant late-night texts. His phone lights up on a regular basis with off-hour messages. If he won’t tell you who it’s from, he might be hiding something.
8. He barely communicates with you anymore. One-word answers and lack of interest in conversation might mean his heart and mind are occupied by someone else.
9. He overcommunicates every little detail of his day. On the other hand, the opposite could also be a sign he’s cheating. When your man is trying to cover his tracks, he may go into excruciating detail so you don’t question any gaps in his story.
10. He’s hitting the gym more. Has your partner suddenly decided he needs to get in shape? He could be trying to look more attractive for a new romantic interest.
11. He puts more effort into grooming. By the same token, when a guy starts caring more than usual about his hair, clothes, shoes, cologne and other personal appearance habits, he might be aiming to catch someone else’s eye.
12. He’s overly affectionate. If your partner is a lot more lovey-dovey than he’s ever been, he could be compensating for his behavior outside of your relationship.
13. He’s constantly distracted. You can’t seem to get your man to focus, even on simple things. Could his mind (and eye) be wandering?
14. He picks fights over everything. A barrage of constant arguments over trivial things may mean he’s looking for reasons to stray.
15. He talks about other people cheating. Partners who cheat may go out of their way to bring up the topic of cheating, often to convince their partner that they could never be capable of such an act.
16. He’s spending more time with known cheaters. If you know one of your man’s friends is a notorious cheater and he’s suddenly hanging out with that person more, he might be looking for someone else to validate his own indiscretions.
17. He accuses you of cheating. He may just be a jealous person, or he may be trying to deflect the guilt he feels for being unfaithful.
18. Your sex life is practically nonexistent. It’s natural for the passion in a relationship to cool down over time, but if your partner doesn’t seem to be interested in intimacy anymore, it might be because he’s getting it from someone else.
19. You catch him in frequent lies. Something about his stories just aren’t adding up. Is he that forgetful, or could he be fabricating stories to cover up his cheating?
20. He calls you by the wrong name. Whoops! A guilty conscience might inadvertently prompt him to reveal his lover’s name in a Freudian slip.
21. He showers you with gifts. If your man isn’t normally a surprise gift-giver and he suddenly shows up with flowers or jewelry “just because,” he might be trying to assuage his guilt over an affair.
22. He’s suddenly moody and unpredictable. It’s possible that your partner is having a rough patch at work or with his family, but trying to juggle multiple relationships could also be putting him on edge.
23. His friends start asking you what’s wrong. If other people in his life are noticing a shift in behavior or attitude toward you, it could mean he’s dropping hints about his affair.
24. He gets defensive discussing your relationship. He refuses to talk about his withdrawn or distant behavior when you ask about it, possibly because he doesn’t like where the conversation might go.
25. He’s unusually critical of someone. When a cheater is trying to throw his partner off the trail, he might make disparaging comments about the person he’s cheating with.
26. He no longer compliments you. In fact, he might even start reacting negatively to habits or traits he once found appealing.
27. He hates when you do nice things for him. If he gets upset instead of thanking you when you take care of the laundry or pick up his favorite dinner, it might mean he doesn’t want to be reminded of why he loves you.
28. He brings up ending your relationship. An open lack of faith in the longevity of your relationship might mean your partner wants out—because he has someone else waiting in the wings.
29. He no longer talks about your future together. Similarly, if you used to discuss your big dreams together and he no longer seems interested, it could be because he doesn’t see a future with you.
30. He might be on a dating app. This may not be a big deal if you’re in a new relationship—maybe he just hasn’t deleted Tinder yet. But if you’re in a serious, committed relationship or a marriage, this is a red flag.
How to find out if he’s cheating
Whether you’ve found an incriminating text message exchange or discovered the identity of the person who keeps calling his cellphone by using a reverse phone number search, getting to the bottom of your suspicions requires an honest and potentially painful conversation. Before you go on the offensive about “the other person” in your partner’s life, though, it’s important to assess what you consider as cheating versus what he considers cheating. It is generally agreed that men and women have different views on infidelity. So while you may view sexting a stranger as being unfaithful, your husband or boyfriend may only see physical, real-life intimacy with another person as “cheating.”
However, if the signs your husband or boyfriend is cheating are clear and you feel it’s safe to confront your partner, Carle recommends focusing on the impact your partner’s behavior is having on you by using “I” language.
“If you confront your cheater with ‘you’ language—’You always do…’ or ‘You treat me like…,‘—the natural response will be a defense,” she said. By focusing on how his actions make you feel, “no one can dispute your feelings,” said Carle.
Should your husband or boyfriend admit to cheating, you’ll need to decide if you’re both willing to salvage the relationship or whether it’s in your best interests to walk away.