Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cheating in Relationships and Marriage, Part 3: Basic But Effective Means of Detecting an Affair

To conclude our series (part 3 of 3) on affairs and cheating, let’s look at some ways of finding the truth without being too obvious about looking for it.

Now that you have a better and hopefully thorough understanding of the nature, causes, and appropriate action to take in dealing with an affair, let’s talk about how to detect one. These methods are not fool-proof and should not be used in isolation, but if you should see multiple symptoms the odds increase to the point where confronting your partner and trying to resolve the problem (or proceeding with divorce preparations if you decide that you simply cannot continue the relationship) is entirely appropriate.

The most significant indications of a woman having an affair are fairly sudden changes in behavior, especially frequent breaks in any established routine. Routines are established by things becoming a priority, and they are displaced by something else becoming a higher priority. Routines develop gradually over time as people and situations evolve, or suddenly when something suddenly enters someone’s life and affects them radically, causing a shift in their priorities.

Among the things you can look for to change is her level of neediness. If she has a history of acting needy and seeking your attention and then suddenly doesn’t seem as if she needs you to cater to her or cover for her, it’s far more likely that someone else is doing it than she just woke up one morning and found her independence under her pillow, a gift from the Tooth Fairy’s cousin. The same thing goes for your presence or attention.

A sudden change in her emotional displays in your presence is another telltale sign. Women will get emotional with you when they have excess emotional energy that they need to bleed off, whether it’s positive or negative (remember our previous discussions on emotional scales and the creation of drama to alleviate boredom). If she’s suddenly detached, there’s either a bottle of some new tranquilizer in the medicine cabinet or she’s found a new outlet for her emotion. Note that it may be a new girlfriend, or not. Hence the advice not to use any of these indicators in isolation, but as part of a collection of evidence.

A sudden change in her attention level -- catering to you, gifts, etc., is often a sign of a guilty conscience and an effort to try to conceal her interest in another. (Men are generally bad about this one too, buying roses or jewelry at non-holiday times to appease their own guilty conscience, and women watch for this, so if you give a “legitimate” non-seasonal gift, make sure you clearly express the reason so that it is not misconstrued.)

Need I mention suddenly becoming secretive? Women naturally have a tendency to give us much more detail about what’s happening in their lives than we are comfortable hearing; I’ve personally listened to a half-hour melodrama of the trials and tribulations of a cat belonging to a woman I never met and didn’t want to know because it came up in a conversation that a woman I know had participated in during the day, and I had made the mistake of asking “How was your day?” to a woman who naturally interpreted the question as “What happened during your day?”

If that openness suddenly stops, she’s limiting information to try to limit your opportunities to catch her in a lie. She may even try to make up for this by answering questions with questions, trying to change the subject to YOUR day so that you will do the talking. The same thing goes for refusal to answer questions, asking why you want to know before answering, and if she gets defensive over a question that she hasn’t had a problem with in the past, like “Did you have a good workout at the gym today?” she’s busted.

Sudden guarding of cell phones, computers, and other communications devices are a HUGE signal as well. In short, anything that limits your access to her communications infrastructure or any information source that would only be incriminating if she was in fact having an affair is a big red flag.

Hesitation before an answer to an obvious question, or repeating your question back to you before answering, is a classic sign of someone needing to stall while they decide whether to lie and to formulate a lie. Obviously, asking someone to recite the presidents of the United States in chronological order including their years of office might cause someone to pause before they answer, but a simple question like, “Why did you not answer your phone all afternoon?” doesn’t require a lot of thought if they in fact did not hear it ring, left it in their desk while they were in a meeting due to departmental or company policy, etc. They were there, whatever happened, and the answer is readily available if they want to share it with you; else they need a few seconds to try to figure out if they’re busted, whether they should try to lie their way out of it, and then make up what they hope is a convincing lie.

As an aside, there is a recent three-part series of newsletters from a few days ago in my newsletter archive concerning lying and its impact on relationships and marriage, and the last edition in that series is about techniques for lie detection, if you missed it. The following links will take you to those newsletters:

Part 1, Faking It Until You Make It

Part 2, A Reader Response to Part 1 with Additional Advice


Part 3: Lie Detection, Confrontation, and Correction

I probably should turn that series into another free report, along with this series on cheating, and I may do that as soon as I can make some time. ;-)

Suddenly picking up a habit of being critical of your every move is a bad sign, especially if you find her moving from critical to angry at every turn. Women tend to seek validation for their emotions, and as Lenin is famous for pointing out, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth,” so if she can find enough reasons to be angry at you, even if she has to contrive them, she can justify her attraction to another man and her infidelity. That’s not to say that any anger she feels will be because of an affair; it could be a legitimate issue or it could be boredom starting to build up a good head of drama. But if this symptom is combined with even one other, you need to be taking a hard look around you.

If you find her talking about somebody new frequently but without much detail, look out, especially if you say something like, “Wow, he sounds really interesting and like somebody I’d enjoy talking to. How about introducing us?” You can imagine how awkward a situation that might be, and she will resist being put into it. Don’t be surprised if you hear something like, “Why do you ALWAYS want to push your way into my friendships? Why can’t you just let me have my own friends?” when you have never before mentioned being introduced to any friend of hers. Otherwise, her social nature will press her to be a social conduit and make the introduction.

The biggest telltale sign of all for most women is no sex at all, and seeming defensive or even angry at the mention of it or any advance. Some even go so far as to stop allowing you to see them in anything more alluring than an old sweat suit at bedtime; it’s like she’s being “faithful” to someone else. You may also notice that the only time you see her looking like she wants male attention is when she leaves the house – without you; smart and somewhat sexy dressing, perfect makeup, and quaffed hair that seem a little much for the office or meeting a girlfriend. Indeed, if it gets YOUR attention, the object is probably to get someone else’s.

If she comes home from “a long day at the office” or evening out with fresh make-up, fresh perfume, and especially with an underlying smell of fresh soap, don’t be surprised if you also find the back of her hair wet, especially at the back of the neck, where she’s been in the shower after being in someone else’s bed. Jumping in the shower immediately upon returning home is also a big tip-off unless she’s been to the gym and has an established aversion to the showers at the gym. Speaking of the gym, a sudden interest in the gym, not by itself but coupled with one or more of these other symptoms, is at least grounds to start watching more carefully or even start talking. Both gyms and sweaty sex cause her to be gone for awhile, need a shower while she’s gone, etc.

Even the sudden interest in looking better, unless she has seen a therapist or motivational speaker who has mentioned a self-esteem deficit to her, can be a tip-off that she has her eye on another or has already made contact, but again, this one must be taken with at least one other before really being evidence, as sometimes women do just get tired of looking in the mirror and not liking what they see.

Detectives and courts use much more sophisticated means, including electronic surveillance, checking phone records, cross-matching receipts with schedules, etc., but those techniques are for building evidence for a divorce or criminal prosecution; what I’m describing here is more than adequate for recognizing you have a problem and confronting a delinquent spouse. Then there’s the big question…

What do you say to her when you confront her? That's waaaay too much to try to include in this newsletter, and I’ll guarantee you that the stereotypical threats or begging aren’t the answer any more than demanding to know who the other man is so you can tell him to stay away would be. Indeed, threatening the other man is the biggest wuss play of all, and the stupidest move, because the problem is between you and her, not you and him.

It’s going to take a lot more than simply calling her on it, including some skillful communicating and some specific references to events in your own past with her. You’re also going to have to be able to pick them out appropriately and express how you recognize them as errors and are prepared to do better and lead her into a better future

There continues to be discussion of affairs and mid-life crisis on our forum that can help you to get a handle on it, and you can interject your own questions and concerns into the discussion. There’s a lot to learn even if you “lurk,” but why just lurk in the shadows when you can anonymously put your questions out there and hear from a lot of really great minds and experience?

And to best prepare yourself for whatever comes down the pike, you need to read "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage" and learn how to handle everything. If you’re really smart, you’ll read it today and keep these problems from ever developing so that you never have to experience the pain, frustration, and for some of us, sheer terror of seeing your world come crashing down around you. Either way, you need to read it, so go to http://www.makingherhappy.com/ right now and download a copy. Sure, you can very likely fix it if it breaks, but it’s a whole lot easier to keep it from ever being broken in the first place, so get it done now, while it’s easy and fun!

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

No comments: