12 Red Flags That Your Man Might Be Cheating

Finding out your husband or boyfriend is cheating on you can be devastating and you might feel hurt, angry, and confused. But at the very least, there's a conclusive reason why he may have been acting strange. For those in the dark about their partner's cheating, it can be more complicated.

Unfortunately, infidelity is not that uncommon. That's not to say all men are unfaithful and you should make peace with swearing them off, opting to grow old with cats by your side instead (as tempting as that might sound). However, research shows that 20 – 25% of married men cheat on their partners, compared to around 10-15% of married women who cheat, per Live Science. Women are also more likely to come clean than men are (via Scientific American). There's a range of factors that can play a part, but at the end of the day, it's a break of trust that can be incredibly painful to endure as the cheater's partner.

If you're in a relationship and are starting to wonder if your man might be cheating, it can drive you crazy. Any suspicious behavior can seemingly point to one truth: He has something going on the side, and you should kick his butt to the curb. But before you accuse him of committing such a deceitful act, you might want to make sure it's not all in your head. Having a look for these red flags that your man might be cheating can provide some clarity.

His phone behaviors change

Everything could be going great. Maybe you've discussed marriage and kids, or you've been together for 20-plus years. Then, you reach for his phone, and he freaks out. Or, he goes to show you something on social media, and a text from an unknown number pops up, causing him to become cagey. Whether he's taking phone calls out of earshot, replying to texts only when you aren't looking, or you used to know his phone password, but it's changed, these could all be red flags

A 2021 study highlighted that men who engaged in extramarital online relationships were more likely to justify the behavior than if they'd had physical, sexual affairs. Hiding behind a screen made the infidelity feel like less of a betrayal because they weren't physically cheating. While some partners have a looser definition of what qualifies as cheating, most would likely consider sexting, phone sex, and video sex unacceptable behavior in a committed relationship.

A 2013 report in The Telegraph stated that men were twice as likely to snoop on their partners' phones than women. Nearly half of those who admitted to snooping said they found some damning evidence. We're not advocating for breaking your husband's or boyfriend's trust by reading his messages. Still, unfaithful partners are prone to developing more suspicions around their significant others' fidelity (more on that later), so keep an eye on how he acts around your devices, too.

He suddenly needs more space

Taking time away from each other is healthy and can be a great way to rediscover your own personal interests, have some alone time with friends, or watch that Netflix show you've been meaning to catch up on. But if your partner is suddenly distant, taking more time away from you than usual, or hinting at needing a break, he could be hiding something.

If you've been having issues within the relationship, needing space could be a perfectly natural reaction and can help with assessing what the future holds for you two, so don't immediately jump to the worst conclusion. However, if this distant behavior seemingly came out of nowhere, he might be feeling guilty for something he's done and is struggling to face you.

Interestingly, the after-effects of infidelity are different in men and women. A 2009 study concluded that men have more guilt associated with sexual infidelity, whereas women feel guiltier for having an emotional affair. While the study isn't exhaustive of every romantic relationship's circumstances and every individual's way of handling conflict, it can be quite telling about how your man might act if he's cheated. Ultimately, you know your partner best and if you find that they're avoiding you, making excuses not to see you, or bringing up the possibility of taking a break, take this as a red flag.

His schedule becomes unreliable

Is he suddenly working overtime every night, running out the door first thing, hitting the gym seven days a week, or hanging out with "friends" all weekend? He might be cheating. Little fluctuations in schedule are understandable, so an occasional late night is no reason to get your hackles up. But, when you find yourself eating dinner alone for the fifth night in a row, or he's in too much of a rush to kiss you before he heads to the office, it may be worth discussing.

A poll from Illicit Encounters, a U.K. dating site for married individuals, revealed the most popular days of the week people were most likely to cheat. The results showed that cheating often happens twice a week, with Friday nights at 6:45 p.m. being the most common, with Tuesday nights taking second place. This isn't an indicator, however, that because your boyfriend or husband said he'd be watching the game with his friends on Friday that he's actually with another woman.

Before you get too suspicious, opening up a dialogue about his absence might be helpful. There could be other rational explanations for being away so frequently that you might not have considered; maybe he's struggling with money but doesn't want to worry you, or maybe he's trying to be there for a friend who's gone through a breakup. Although, if this behavior persists and accompanies other red flags, it could be a bad sign.

He acts suspicious of you being unfaithful

If your man begins to act jealous, possessive, snoop through your phone, or outright accuses you of flirty or unfaithful actions, he could be projecting his own deceitful behavior onto you. Studies have shown that this has to do with how closely connected we become to our romantic partners. If we think, feel, or act a certain way, we can often assume that our significant others are experiencing these things as well. Projecting can also be a way cheaters rationalize their own actions and aleve themselves of guilt (via Psychology Today).

While his suspicions may not be an immediate indicator that he's cheated, if he's having thoughts of cheating, he's more likely to see signs of cheating in his partner that probably aren't even there. In this same light, you need to take a moment to reflect on yourself. Have you been engaging in a flirtationship at work or thought of cheating on your boyfriend or husband? Projection works both ways, and it's common to see our own thoughts and desires in our partners, so it's important to get down to the root of why you feel like your man might be deceiving you.

There's no excuse for your partner to treat you poorly. If their jealous behavior makes you feel intimidated or unsafe, or if they act violently in any way, there's help available; The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached by calling 800-799-7233 or texting "Start" to 88788.

He's defensive and justifies his behavior

Whether your man is late coming home or forgot to pick up dinner on his way back from work, you might say something along the lines of, "It seems like you're burning the midnight oil lately," or "I wish you'd remembered to grab dinner because I haven't been shopping yet." If what you think are light comments or gentle reminders seem to get his blood boiling or send him on a defensive rant to justify his failings, this could be a red flag that he's cheating.

Granted, he could have been having a particularly bad day, and your comment might have been too much for him, but out of proportion reactions like this could also be due to feeling guilty, struggling not to get caught in a lie, or attempting to rationalize his actions. This reaction could be and all the more likely if you accuse him of having an affair, as cheaters have an inclination to gaslight their partners.

Gaslighting is a cruel form of psychological abuse, when you twist the truth in order to make the other person question their own version of reality. For example, if you were to tell your man that you know he's been cheating, he could lie, deny it, or make up excuses. Manipulation tactics like crying could also be used, all in an attempt to turn the blame around on you, convincing you that you're crazy or that it's all in your head (via PsychCentral).

Your sex life changes

Changes in your schedules or going through a little bit of a rough patch are understandable culprits when your sex life takes a dip. Still, a strong indicator something is amiss could be when his libido noticeably changes, or you pick up on inconsistencies when you two are having sex. If you've gone without doing the deed for quite a while and he always has a new excuse as to why he's not in the mood this time, or maybe he's started showing off new positions and moves you've never tried, it's fair to be suspicious. There's also the other side of it where, out of nowhere, he can't get enough of you.

According to Marie Clare, men who used Ashley Madison (the infamous dating site intended for affairs) reported that they rarely intend to end their long-term relationships when they cheat. Oftentimes, men report the reasons for having an affair being down to not getting enough validation or emotional support from their partners. When they receive this from their mistress they feel invigorated and return back to their wives.

Men are also likely to cite sexual dissatisfaction as a reason for cheating, with many complaining about sexless relationships (via ReGain). This isn't to say you must shower your man with affection and attend to all his sexual desires to keep his eye from wandering, but it's no surprise that sex is a major player in infidelity and would raise some red flags.

He's always out with friends but you aren't invited

In the beginning, you might've been invited out on the compulsory "meet my friends" date. While he shouldn't be expected to bring you along to every single event he goes to, like guys' night, when he's always going out without thinking to invite you, it can make you feel pretty crappy. If he's suddenly out of the house more and more, claiming to be with supposed friends that you've either never met or don't know well enough to verify his story next time you see them, this could be a red flag.

Research conducted by students of Colorado Boulder University in 2018 showed that 80% of affairs happen with the cheater's close friend, neighbor, or co-worker. There's a big difference between emotional cheating and friendships, so don't be too quick to assume that because he has a female friend, he must be sleeping with her, but keep your wits about you if he's acting suspicious. After all, long nights out without a call or rarely getting an invitation to meet up with his friends could be a clue that he's trying to hide something (or someone) from you.

You catch him in lies

This is a pretty big red flag. If you find your boyfriend or husband lying about seemingly minuscule things or doubles back on something he said because he forgot that he told you something different before, you might wonder why he'd need to lie. If he said that he stopped at the gas station on the way home, but the tank is nearly empty, or he said he went to the store, but you find a receipt for a bar, it can look pretty damning.

If you know him well, you'll probably be able to tell if he's lying right away, but if it's a newer relationship, it can be hard to tell. There are several indicators that hint at dishonesty, like restless body language, refusing to meet your gaze, fluctuations in tone, providing a strange amount of specific details, sweating, or acting nervous (via Very Well Mind).

If you know that he's lying about something that seems insignificant, it can make you wonder if there's a bigger picture he's trying to cover up. When cheaters feel like they're about to get caught, they often bury the truth with even more lies and get sneakier in the process. If you have suspicions that your man is being deceitful, having him elaborate or ask direct questions can give you more insight into how far this web of lies goes.

He's taking less of an interest in you

If you walk in the door, excited to tell him about your day but you're met with disinterest or even annoyance, something is probably wrong. Did he have a bad day? Did you interrupt his workflow? Is he still getting over an argument you had earlier? No? Red flag.

If he's no longer taking the time to show you affection, compliment you, or ask questions like he used to, this distance can take a toll on a relationship. Couples build intimacy through emotional connections, like affectionate touches, smiling, listening, and sharing news (via Good Therapy). You remember how the honeymoon phase of a relationship feels; if he's no longer putting in the time and effort for you, he may be developing feelings for someone else and would rather expend energy on them.

If he is cheating, this behavior could also indicate that he's struggling with cheater's remorse and cannot focus on your needs. According to Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach, the thrill a cheater gets is often short-lived and can lead to them eventually feeling guilty, anxious, embarrassed, and depressed. Think about how he's been acting and if this has correlated with the timing of when he stopped showing an interest in you, because these could also be signs that he's faithful — but wanting to break up.

He's showing a little too much affection

Being cold and distant is an obvious red flag, but if your man is suddenly showering you with compliments, buying you gifts out of the blue, or seems to be constantly reassuring you with words of affection, he could be up to something. Sure, it feels good to be desired, especially if this behavior comes after he's given you the cold shoulder, but you can probably feel if things don't feel quite right and you shouldn't ignore this instinct. Yvonne Filler, who is a therapist and manager of The Affair Clinic, says that over-interest is common in a cheating partner as they're often feeling guilty for their behavior and feel invigorated by a "renewed sex drive" (via The Independent).

A reported 68% of cheating men say they feel guilty after engaging in infidelity per WebMd, but another reason could be that they're putting more effort into the relationship in order to avoid getting caught. Don't turn your nose up immediately at his romantic gestures unless you feel like he's hiding something, because he could be genuinely trying to make up for the crappy week you two have had, but feigning interest and overwhelming you with gifts can steer you off their trail and make you think everything is okay again.

You notice strange purchases on the bank statement

Now, it's not advised that you start snooping through his financial documents behind his back. However, if you have a shared account and you notice out of the ordinary purchases, you may not only have a cheating man on your hands, but a sloppy one too. He could be cheating if you see higher gas charges, hotel bills, or purchases made in strange locations.

Another red flag-raising charge would be video chat memberships or (God forbid) dating sites like Ashley Madison. If he has a personal credit card, keep an eye out for larger than usual outgoing payments on this as well because this may be a more discreet way he's trying to spend your shared money. If your worries are becoming full-fledged suspicion, you can set up a feature with your bank to receive alerts on your phone at the time a payment is made, which gives you more time to think, research, and approach the subject with your partner if you choose to (via Maggio Law Firm).

You're getting that gut feeling

If your intuition is telling you something is wrong, you should probably listen to it. Whether your concerns began with a gut feeling or you're only just getting it after some time, it can be a major red flag. Many studies have been done on the gut feeling you get when something is wrong, and the results are pretty conclusive; 85% of women whose intuition told them their partner was cheating were correct.

A 2022 study showed that when determining if someone is lying to you, going with your gut has proven to be the most effective technique. While it's certainly not always accurate, your gut instincts can help you pick up on things that you might have otherwise been missing. You know yourself and your man best, so if your gut feeling is telling you something is off, it could be the final red flag you need to address the issue. Of course, having some form of evidence first is a good idea and can keep you from making mistakes when confronting the cheater. However, if you're getting that feeling, the research would indicate you only have a 15% chance of being wrong.