Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Our Take On Those "Top 10 Signs He/She Is Cheating" Lists

On Those “Signs Your Spouse Is Cheating” Lists

Back in 1953, Alfred Kinsey found 50% of all married males, and 26% of females had engaged in extramarital sex.  Since then, everybody from Ann Landers to the blogosphere have written lists proclaiming the “signs your spouse is cheating.”  Over the years, we’ve done surveillance and other investigations for a wide variety of clients.  While attorneys, corporate human resource types, and insurance claims examiners all care about the quality of our work product, no client has near the personal involvement of a “domestic” case involving the sixth commandment.

As a field investigator with 10+ years of work in this area, here’s a gut-feeling, seat-of-the-pants, totally unscientific collection of opinions on those lists, from a guy who’s tailed those who’ve been there, done that. 

Let’s start with the obvious. The most simple, straightforward way to find out if your spouse is cheating is to ask them. While you probably don’t want to “pop the question” if you’re about to send a surveillance investigator out after them, many spouses, if given an opportunity to “come clean,” will admit the truth, especially if the adultery involved a relationship, not just an out of town business trip with a couple of orgasms thrown in. It’s rare to find a spouse whose “BS detector” hasn’t gone off once their spouse has become involved in an extramarital relationship.  To be sure, people lie to get sex, lie to avoid getting caught, and lie “just because,” but given the opportunity to come clean, under the right circumstances a decent percentage of marriage partners will admit the truth when asked. When it comes to adultery, a denial may mean maybe, but if they answer “yes” to the adultery question, your infidelity investigation is pretty much done.  The downside of the “come to Jesus meeting” approach is that the next step could be you sleeping alone that night, so if your exit strategy involves the kids going off to college first, you might not want to go this way.

There have been plenty of lists of “signs he’s cheating,” and “signs she’s cheating.”  While “becoming more conscious of their appearance” could mean either a trendy pair of slacks or a push-up bra, a good chunk of the the underlying behavior is gender neutral.  Men and women do behave differently in extramarital affairs, and how they deal with them, but there are probably more common denominators than differences.  While  women and men both cheat, in about 2/3 of divorce proceedings, the wife is the “petitioner,” and the husband is the “respondent,” so I’ll use the male pronoun for most of my top ten list. 

So here’s our field tested (vicariously) read on the common “top ten lists”

10.       They don’t touch you as much, they’re gone longer, and they’re angry and critical: 

            If you’re still providing for your family’s needs, but she’s suddenly significantly more resentful and on edge, you may be facing a situation where she’s involved with someone else. If he changes his patterns and avoids communication with you, that caring is likely going somewhere else.

9.         They go outside or retreat to the other room to make private phone calls:

            Especially if he’s receiving calls in the evening, and excusing himself to return the call after you’ve heard his phone vibrate.  Especially if she’s withdrawing to somewhere she can make outgoing calls undisturbed.

8.         They’ve locked down access to their desktop, laptop, or smartphone.

            Keeping a spouse out of one’s digital data is standard operating procedure for marriage cheats.  If they’ve always been in lockdown mode, this may not mean anything, but if they used to have everything in plain sight, and now you’re seeing a screen saver while they’re in the John, you’ve got a problem. One browser hit to the "life is short, have an affair" site [1] may not be proof of ejaculation, but it’s proof of intent, and they know it.   

7.         They have hidden email or social media accounts.

            If they’ve locked down their digital data, this is still an area a professional investigator may be able to uncover. While it’s not horrible by itself, it’s a good indicator combined with item #8.

6.         They delete text messages, chat history, and browser history on their smartphone and  social networking accounts.

            Especially if it’s done selectively. If messages to Jennifer go back to when he bought the phone, but messages to Jill from last week went poof, you’ve got a problem.

5.         They spend tons of time with a colleague, co-worker, or friend of the opposite sex.

            While a sex-fueled fling may originate via an online dating site, the relationship’s more likely to come from that temptation he’s known all along. 

4.         You notice a different scent on them.  Men. We’re idiots. We’ll press our cheek up against a woman wearing Chanel #5,  and we honestly don’t realize you’ll figure it out.

3.         They have a “burn phone” in addition to the normal cellular phone they carry. 

            Very bad sign.  Period. The charger is probably easier to find than the second phone, but the message and call logs will be a smoking gun if you somehow manage to find it.

2.         They’ve becomes more conscious of their appearance and fitness. 

            Actually, this is probably one of the stronger indicators.  If he’s got more muscle and less weight, a new hairstyle, and trendy clothes, it could be a mistress, age-consciousness, or simply gearing up to be single again.  If she’s been losing weight and toning up while stuck in a sexless marriage, there a really powerful dynamic building up there too, that’s looking for a release.

1.         They don’t come home at night.

            Seriously. Most of us in the PI business have come across a client whose marriage life is at this point, but they’re still grasping on to the hope of some plausible explanation.  If this is you, don’t be embarrassed, you’re trying to keep hope alive in a bad situation, and that’s an understandable reaction.

[1]Canada based, with over 20 million subscribers, is the largest website specifically dedicated to extramarital dating.  Considering there are less than 174 million married adults in the U.S. & Canada, this is a truly astounding number.  Even if you assume 3 million subscribers are either singles wanting to date married men & women, or English speakers living overseas, that’s still one marriage partner in ten.    



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