From changes in behavior to mysterious disappearances, signs that your guy could be stepping out on you.
-Amber Madison, BettyConfidential.com
It's every woman's worst relationship fear - that her man is cheating. We've all heard the statistic: half of all men cheat. And some experts say that number is even closer to three quarters. Could it be happening to you? Aside from finding lipstick on his collar, a mysterious condom in his pocket or, yes, a phone number on a napkin (helpful hints but unlikely clichés!), there are some red flags to watch out for to tip you off that something fishy might be going on. The following are six signs that should raise your eyebrows:
1. He's Acting Differently.
The most telltale sign of a cheating man is that he's acting differently than the way he used to. If any of the signals below describe your guy's usual actions, don't freak out and immediately assume he's having an affair; he's probably just being his quirky self. What you should be suspicious of is new developments, says Barbara Feld, LCSW, a couple's therapist at Park Avenue Relationship Consultants in New York City. She says you should ask yourself, "Is what's happening different than normal? Is he showing a real change in behavior?" If he's always been private, hasn't ever had the highest sex drive, or often flakes out on plans, that's just who he is. It's when he starts to be that way and never was before that you should start asking questions.
2. He's Avoiding You.
If your guy has suddenly started coming home much later, seems to be making excuses to be out of the house, starts going away with out you on the weekends, or just generally seems to be avoiding you, that's a clear indication of trouble in your relationship. M. Gary Neuman, a licensed family counselor and the author of "The Truth About Cheating" found that 61 percent of cheating men said they started spending more time away from home. 55 percent of men about to cheat said the same thing. No matter how busy your guy may be, he should be making an effort to see you (because, hello - he loves you, right?). If he's stopped making time for you, it's not at all unreasonable to wonder if he's making time for someone else.
3. You're Having Less/Different Sex.
You might think that cheating men stop sleeping with their partners completely. But that's not always the case. According to M. Gary Neuman, a little less than half of cheating men report having less sex with their partner. Others keep having sex so that they don't raise suspicions - sneaky b------ s. So be alert to the amount of sex you're having, but most of all, pay attention to the quality of the sex. Therapist Barbara Feld says sometimes when a guy is having an affair, the quantity of sex remains the same, but it's the sex itself that changes. Maybe it used to be very romantic, and feel more like making love, and now it just feels like plain old sex.
4. His General Response to You Has Changed.
If a guy is having an affair, he may stop acting like the sweet, romantic man you fell in love with. Maybe he used to be very loving and kind towards you, but now he seems to get annoyed easily, be critical, or pick fights. If he's consistently not being affectionate with you, don't brush it off. Try to figure out why he's different - and what could be distracting him, or making him feel guilty.
5. He Has Suddenly Become Very Private.
It's just not normal for your guy to always go into a different room to answer calls, keep his cell phone in his car, or get really private about his bills (unless, of course, your man is a privacy freak and you knew that going in). But if he suddenly stops checking his e-mail in front of you, has turned the bathroom into a phone booth, and has redirected the bills to his office, it's a fair guess than an affair is under way.
6. He is Unreliable
Quite simply, says Barbara Feld, "is he where he says he will be?" If he's never where he says he's going to be, it's a certain sign he's lying to you about something. Maybe he says he'll be at the office, but you call and he's not there. Or he says he's with a friend, and that friend then calls looking for him. Everyone's plans change sometimes, but if your guy is consistently not where he says he will be, it's very possible it's because he's with another woman.
What to Do?
If your guy is showing any of these six signs, talk with him about it. Tell him things feel different than they used to, and you want to know what's going on. "If he tells you everything is fine but you know it's not, continue to pursue the issue," says Barbara Feld. "You can also suggest, 'let's talk to someone together,' and get couples therapy."
Don't turn a blind eye on your relationship. If things are bad, getting bad, or just feel strange, do something about it. Even if your guy isn't having an affair, all the signs above could be signals that he's about to. By addressing - and working with him to fix - whatever is going on in your relationship, you can prevent an affair from ever happening in the first place. If you're noticing negative changes or problems in your relationship, address them now, while they're still small. Maintaining a strong relationship with open communication is one of the best things you can do to ensure fidelity-both on his part, and on yours.
Betty's Sexpert Amber Madison is a sex educator and author of Hooking Up: A Girl's All-Out Guide to Sex and Sexuality, and Talking With Your Kids About Sex, to be released this March.