Ask A Grown Up: How Can I Tell If My Girlfriend Is Cheating?
Unfaithful isn’t just a song by Rihanna, Broke-Asses: Statistically, men are far more likely to cheat on their spouse or significant other than women are. However, that doesn’t mean that ladies are immune from wandering eye syndrome. Huffington Post reported in 2013, that the percentage of women who admit infidelity had risen from 14.7% to nearly 40%. That is a staggering statistic shift in a short amount of time.
(And, according to the New York Daily News and website, Ashley Madison, apparently cheating ladies like to shop at Banana Republic. Who knew?)
This week’s question comes to us from J.R. in San Francisco, who asks: “So, Grown Up – I have been dating the same girl now for four years and pretty much everything has been great. Though, lately she’s been acting very distant and weird and I have a hard time getting her on the phone or to commit to plans with me. I have a really bad feeling that she’s cheating on me, but I don’t have any actual proof. Help?”
J.R. that is tough. IMHO, infidelity is one of the worst crimes against a spouse or significant other that either women or men can commit. As someone who has been cheated on (multiple times, by multiple partners prior to my marriage) I know intimately that sick feeling like something isn’t right that you get when you first start to suspect that your loved one is stepping out on you. I am so well acquainted with how you’re feeling right now that I could probably write an angst filled song about it if I really tried.
I’m sorry you’re going through this. It’s yucky. I’d give you a hug if I could, but I can’t – so let me try to help you with some advice. First of all, the only way you can know for sure if your girlfriend is cheating on you is one of two (equally awful) ways:
- Ask her and have her tell you the truth, (which with someone who is being unfaithful, is less than likely.)
- Catch her cheating on you (which will decimate your heart and probably scar you for life.)
It’s ugly, but it’s true. However, according to Complex, there are ways to become more certain of infidelity before you jump into confronting your girlfriend about your suspicions (which is like tossing dynamite into a barrel and will blow up your relationship. There is no going back from asking the question “are you seeing someone else?”) Check this list of behaviors and see if any of them match how your girlfriend has been acting lately.
- Paying more attention to her phone than to you? Okay, this one isn’t conclusive, as we all pay way more attention to our phones these days than we used to. But, if you are out to dinner and expecting to have a conversation with your girlfriend, only to find her nose glued to her screen, this could be a sign that something is wrong in Camelot.
- Less interested in sex (with you)? Remember the heady days of your early romance? There was lots of sex, everywhere sex, so much sex that you almost were weary of having sex. (I said, almost.) These days? It’s a sex desert… it’s dry and empty, with only a mirage of nookie taunting you in the hot hot sun. If suddenly your sig oth doesn’t want to do the horizontal mambo (with you) it may be because they are dancing with a new partner.
- Got a full social calendar that doesn’t have room for you? This one is pretty obvious, if she cannot make time to see you, there is something afoot with your relationship. Ask the questions. You might not like the answer, but it’s better to know than be left at home wondering and watching Netflix for the fifth Friday in a row.
- Buying new clothes at a faster rate than normal? Here’s the thing, when women start seeing someone new they put a lot of effort into how they look every time they see that new person. When I first met my British Husband – I wore a different (new) outfit each time we went out for at least three months. I took great pains to make sure he always saw me with makeup and my hair done. I shaved, lotion-ed and polished parts of my body that are best left unsaid. These days? Well, as we type this I am sitting at my desk in my PJs, with no makeup, unbrushed teeth, bed head, hairy legs and pits and am so unconcerned with what I look like that it’s not even funny. I haven’t bought a new outfit to dazzle him in years. (Granted, he’s pretty impervious to fashion, so long as it shows cleavage he’s all in… I digress.)* The point is, women in new romantic relationships put a lot of effort into making sure they look good for their new man. So if your GF is spending loads at Banana Republic, say, but every time you see her she’s in yoga pants, flip-flops, hair in a pony tail, no makeup, ratty t-shirt – you should be slightly suspicious.
- Overly concerned with your whereabouts? If she is worried about where you physically are in relationship to her, it could be because she’s worried about you catching her with her lover.
- She is not making plans for the future? Has she stopped mashing your pictures up via MakeMeBabies? No cute conversations about the geeky destination wedding she’s always dreamed of? Not talking about moving in together anymore? It might be because she doesn’t see a future with you at this point, or it could be because she’s cheating on you.
- Flirting with other people in front of you? Though, be careful with this one, some ladies (and, men) are just naturally flirty. Like most of these other signs, it could mean something, it likely means nothing.
- Pointing the finger in your direction? If she is spending a lot of time calling out your bad behavior, this could be a sign that she’s got a guilty conscious.
- Making a point to tell you she’s unhappy? This is the only upfront clue in the whole bunch. If she’s told you she’s unhappy in the relationship, you should find out why and what she wants to do about it.
- Falls off the radar for large gaps of time? This one is a classic. If normally you hear from her multiple times each day, then she goes radio silent for more than one day, it could mean she’s up to no good.
Honestly, J.R. – these are all clues that should raise your suspicions, but cannot tell you definitively if your GF is cheating. Again, the only two ways you can know for sure are to ask her (and, have her tell the truth) or catch her (which is heartbreaking.) Or, there is a third kind of controversial way… Get Joey Greco or Clark Gable from Cheaters (TM) to follow her around and out her on late night reality T.V. — I actually had a friend who once did this and it was both hilarious and devastating (for her.)
*I would like to point out that British Husband is equally shod, wearing ripped up jeans (ripped up, as in destroyed, not as in fashionably tatted,) a t-shirt he’s been wearing for four days and about the same amount of stubble. Plus his hair is sticking up into little points on either side of his head, it kind of looks like devil horns, it’s stupidly cute… Yeah, we’re slobs, but we still love each other madly.
Got a question you need a grown up to answer? Email Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org and your query could be used in an upcoming column.
[Photos courtesy of Getty Images]