How to Tell if Your Girlfriend is Cheating: 20 Signs to Look For

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by  Joshua Sigafus | Last Updated:  May 11, 2021

I used to be the type of guy who thought that cheating only happened to other people—people who didn’t have ‘real, committed’ relationships.  

Until it happened to me. 

And trust me, you don’t want to be in the same position I was in. 

Yes, I’ve been cheated on before. The worst part was that she cheated on me with my best friend. They both hid it from me for months, and I was blindsided by it when I found out about it. 

But perhaps what shocked me the most was the realization that I was completely clueless about what was going on. 

The affair literally unfolded right in front of me. 

And yet, because I didn’t see the signs, I didn’t see what was going wrong until it was far too late. 

Maybe had I recognized the signs, I could have done something to prevent it from happening. 

Had I seen the writing on the wall, I could have at least saved face and caught her in her lies and ‘sneaking around.’  

Instead, I was forced to face the truth—that the woman I loved and thought I was in a committed relationship with was entertaining another man on the side. And had she not finally just told me, I might never have been the wiser. 

I looked and felt like a fool. I felt humiliated, emasculated, deceived, and betrayed.  

But you don’t have to live that way. 

Not all men need to exist in ignorance of the signs of cheating like I did.

How I Constructed This Post 

To create this post, not only did I pull from my own experiences and scientific knowledge on the subject—but I also polled a handful of my female friends with a series of questions about their own stories of infidelity, and the behaviors that manifested from them.

And the results?

Well, they were eye opening, enlightening, brutally honest—and downright interesting. 

But let’s start with the basics. Before we discuss ‘how’ cheating usually goes down, let’s first talk about ‘why’ this particular behavior tends to manifest in women to begin with. 

Characteristics of a Cheating Woman

quote by john gottman from a mans guide to women

Here’s the thing. 

When you research ‘characteristics of a cheating woman’ online, a lot of the information that pops up describes hateful, heartless women who’ll do (or screw) anything/anyone to take advantage of men and gain the upper hand. 

But while these types of women do exist, the real truth of the matter is that far more women fit into the category of women who want to make their relationship work, but either don’t know how or don’t feel like they’re getting the help/support/attention they need from their boyfriend/partner to succeed. 

In fact, in the book The Man’s Guide To Women, John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman say this about betrayal and affairs:

If you leave your partner feeling lonely day in and day out, eventually she’s going to find someone else to fill the void. Either you turn toward her or she’s going to turn toward someone else. And at the end of the day, in each interaction with your partner, you are either building trust and commitment or building a lack of commitment and eventual betrayal.

This line of thought is also explored by Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss in the book Why Women Have Sex:

The importance of emotional connection for women is revealed by another key finding: Most women who have affairs are deeply unhappy with their marriages.

Why Do Some Women Cheat? 

This may seem weird to say. But as a man, you have a massive amount of control over whether or not your girlfriend chooses to cheat.

This isn’t to say that a woman cheating on you is ‘your fault.’ But as men, there is a certain amount of ‘preventative care’ that we can tap into to significantly decrease the chances of falling prey to infidelity in our own relationships.  

Women can be incredibly loyal when they feel like they have a solid relationship to turn toward, and a partner with whom they share a true committed bond.

This is why most women who cheat only consider delving into infidelity because they feel:

  • Spiteful
  • Unhappy
  • Unheard
  • Ignored
  • Dishonored
  • Like you don’t know her anymore
  • Like you don’t want to know her anymore
  • Undervalued
  • Overlooked
  • Unappreciated
  • Embarrassed at how you treat her in front of her friends/family/the rest of the world

But that’s not necessarily the end of the conversation, either. 

Not all women who ‘cheat’ do so because they’re starved for love and affection. 

Women also cheat for other reasons. 

The “Upgrade” to a Higher Value Partner

David buss quote from the evolution of desire

For example, once again according to the book Why Women Have Sex, women who are impulsive, narcissistic, and/or perfectionistic tend to cheat more often than women who display the opposites of these tendencies. 

Women may also be more likely to cheat if they feel:

  • Bored with the relationship
  • Sexually unfulfilled or unsatisfied
  • Like they deserve a higher value partner
  • Like they’re more valuable on the dating marketplace than their current partner
  • That their current partner doesn’t deserve/hasn’t earned their respect
  • Like the risk of getting caught cheating is worth the chance to upgrade to a new, better partner

Sometimes, It Isn’t Even That Complicated

Helen Fisher Quote From Why We Love

Sometimes, women decide to cheat because they develop an emotional bond with someone, fall into a specific type of situation that offers them attention/validation/excitement, or even as a means for forcing their boyfriend to break up with them because doing so is easier than having to initiate ‘the talk’ face to face. 

Women don’t even always understand why they’re cheating. 

One of my female friends put it like this:

I didn’t necessarily ‘plan’ to cheat. I had discussions with my significant other at the time about how I was feeling less than important to him, I didn’t feel good about myself, and upon getting a new job, I spent time away from him and I began to realize I didn’t miss his presence. I didn’t want to go home to him. I let temptation and the idea of being treated as a priority get the best of me.

Sometimes, they do it just for the thrill of doing it. 

Some women even do it for revenge—to get back at their boyfriend for a perceived wrong, or out of spite. 

I’ve even known women who enjoyed cheating because they had so little respect for their boyfriend/husband that the idea of cuckolding him/humiliating him behind his back with another man was a massive turn-on.

Never Assume That a Woman Would Never Cheat

Sometimes, it’s truly difficult to understand the why behind the question of why women cheat.

But if my research and life experiences have taught me anything about infidelity, it’s this:

Never assume that a woman would never cheat, just because she seems faithful.

Almost every woman I polled had cheated on at least one partner in her life. And keep in mind, these are women who are actually known in their circles for being loyal, honest, trustworthy women. 

It just goes to show you—almost every woman will cheat if she feels like doing so will help her to fix a problem or improve her position in life. And sometimes, a problem doesn’t even need to exist. 

Sometimes, it has far more to do with temptation, excitement, or a thrill than anything else.  

But thankfully, spotting the evidence of the cheating itself isn’t necessarily quite as difficult as figuring out ‘why’ it happens. 

After conducting my research, I was able to boil down all of the significant behavior patterns to a list of 21 distinct signs. I even double-checked these signs with some of my most trusted female friends, to see if they agreed with them—and I’m happy (or maybe unhappy) to say that the list was met with universal approval. 

So here it is: a list of 21 signs to look for, that may be able to help you determine if your girlfriend is cheating on you. 

Note: Women who are cheating will invariably end up displaying one or more of these signs. But with that being said—if a woman displays one or two of these signs, that doesn’t necessarily mean with 100% certainty that she’s cheating.

Is She Cheating? 20 Signs to Look For 

1. She Never Lets Her Phone Out of Her Sight 

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In our modern, tech-driven age, our phones are our link to the digital world. 

Odds are a billion to one that if she’s having an affair, evidence of it can be found on her phone—so she doesn’t want to leave it around where such evidence could be discovered. 

As one of my female friends described it:

The biggest thing to watch for is her taking her phone with her, even if she’s just going to the bathroom, or going to the kitchen to get a drink.

2. She Suddenly Adds a Password to Her Phone When She Didn’t Have One Before

Have you noticed that she’s put a ‘lock’ on her phone when she didn’t used to have one?

She may tell you that it’s for a different reason, but it’s still a reason to be at least a little bit suspicious, especially when paired with other factors. 

As my friend said during my research:

Changing her password on her phone or suddenly having a password when there wasn’t one before is a cliché, but true sign that something probably isn’t right. 

3. She Texts One Specific ‘Friend’ More Than She Used To

Couple in bed on phones with guy suspicious of girl

Is she suddenly constantly messaging someone?

Sure, she may tell you that it’s her friend. You may even spot the name on the screen. And by all accounts, it’ll seem to check out. 

Here’s the thing, though. When I asked my female friends about this, they confirmed that if a woman is cheating, they’ll sometimes change the guy’s name to a ‘girl’s name’ to avoid suspicion. 

One of my female friends described this sign as follows: 

Texting a specific friend more often is a sign of cheating. Even if it’s a female and she’s straight, she could have just changed the name.

4. She Turns off Notifications for Certain Messaging Apps

Have you noticed that her phone now sits silently when it used to ‘beep’ or ‘ding?’

She may blame it on the annoying sounds. But she may also be trying to keep from drawing attention to how many messages she’s actually getting, and how often. 

5. She Keeps Her Phone on ‘Silent’ All the Time

If her phone is suddenly on silent all the time (particularly if it wasn’t before), you won’t hear the notifications she’s getting—especially the ones she may be getting while the two of you are asleep. 

As my female friend explains:

If she’s constantly keeping her phone on silent, and not wanting you to check her phone if someone texts or calls, that’s a big thing to watch for.

6. She Doesn’t Want You to Check Her Phone—Ever

Blonde hiding smartphone with book

It’s understandable to want privacy. And as a general rule, there’s never really a ‘good’ reason to check each other’s phones. 

But if she’s so paranoid of it that she even turns the screen away or shuts it off the moment you enter the room—well, that’s a little different. She may be paranoid because there’s something on her phone that she doesn’t want you to see. 

7. She Loses Interest in Sex (or Seems To)

Has your sex life suddenly dwindled down to nothing?

Does she never seem to be ‘in the mood’ lately?

Would she rather hang out with friends, go out, work late, or just sit at home on her phone than passionately ‘bang one out’ like the two of you used to do?

If so, this could be a sign that someone else has gained the focus of her sexual appetite. 

Men, it’s important to understand this: She may tell you that she’s just ‘not in the mood,’ but it’s highly unlikely that a woman isn’t going to have some kind of a sex drive. 

It’s probably not her sex drive that’s the problem. She most likely still has one. She just won’t want you to be the one to ‘scratch the itch’ if someone else has taken over the duty. 

8. She’s Suddenly a Lot More Interested in Sex

David Buss Cindy Meston Quote

This may seem to contradict number 7, but hear me out. 

In one of my earlier relationships, it got to the point where she almost never wanted to have sex with me. 

And if we did, it was pretty dull and lifeless. 

But then, something weird started happening. 

Every once in a while, she’d wake me up in the middle of the night for sex—really hot sex. I mean, when this happened, she’d get really into it. 

But as it turns out, this is what was happening. She would wait for me to fall asleep, and then get ‘hot and heavy’ texting/sexting the ‘other guy’ she was seeing. 

Then, when he’d leave the chat to go to bed, she’d hop onto me and use me to get herself off. 

Was it hot while it was happening? Sure. 

But once I found out exactly what was going on, it felt pretty gross. 

Stay vigilant out there, men. The human sexual jungle is a wild place.  

9. She Has Sudden Mood Changes That She Didn’t Used to Have

questions not to ask a girl

According to one of my female friends, sudden unexplained mood changes can signal that something’s up:

A sudden mood change, like her suddenly being happy when nothing has actually changed at home, could indicate cheating.

Another one described it like this:

She may be quicker to anger, and be more irritated with her partner. When I was to the point where I didn’t care in my relationship, everything he did just made me so irritated and quick to snap at him. Instead of enjoying his quirks, I found them annoying. 

If she seems to have mood swings that just come really out of nowhere, it could be a sign that there’s an external force (another man) at work in her life. 

10. She ‘Tenses up’ When You Try to Touch Her

Attractive girl rejects touch of man

If she’s already thinking of herself as ‘the other guy’s woman,’ then she’s not going to want you to touch her. She may tense up when you try to hold her, kiss her, hug her, etc. 

One of my exes exhibited this sign as well. I remember trying to give her a kiss at one point—and she literally pulled away, gave me a fake half-hearted smile, and made a face that could only be described as ‘uncomfortable.’ 

I had a feeling that something was up—and it turned out I was right. There was another man in the picture, and she’d already moved on from me. She just hadn’t gotten around to telling me about it yet.  

11. Little Things That Used to Matter Won’t Matter Anymore

Women love to observe little ‘rituals’ with the man they love. 

For instance, maybe she used to love making coffee with you and snuggling up on the sofa to watch your favorite show together. 

Well, once she starts seeing someone else—those things will change. Suddenly, it’ll feel like ‘cheating on the other guy’ to do those things with you. 

At the very least, she may lose interest in doing those things because the other man will be monopolizing her attention and affection. 

She just won’t care about those things as much, if at all.  

12. She Doesn’t Want to Cuddle or Snuggle Anymore

Young couple in bed after disagreement no cuddling

Does she seem to recoil from your touch? 

When you try to initiate cuddling, does she always find an excuse to get up and leave the bed?

Did she used to love cold-morning snuggles, but now avoids being in bed with you when you’re both awake?

This could be a sign that she’s getting her cuddling/snuggling/human touch needs met somewhere else now. 

13. Her Interests Have Suddenly Changed

Female instructor teaching yoga class guy and girl

Has she started listening to different music, or taking a strong interest in things she never cared about before?

It’s possible that the ‘other man’ likes those things, and that his love for them has ‘rubbed off’ on her (sorry, bad pun). 

14. She Stops Kissing You

She used to initiate kisses. 

Before you left for work, she’d demand a ‘goodbye’ kiss. 

Now, she never initiates kisses. 

And if you initiate them, she either gets a little annoyed, seems bored with it, or may even ignore or dismiss it altogether, focusing more on her phone and just giving you the quickest possible little ‘peck’ to satisfy your request. 

This could be a sign that she’s getting kisses elsewhere, and that your’s aren’t the ones she wants anymore. 

15. She Starts ‘Working Late’ or ‘Going Out’ More Often

Beautiful Woman Sitting at Bar Drinking Cocktail

Has she been ‘going out with the girls’ or ‘working late’ more often recently? 

Sure, it may be innocent. But if it’s paired with some other signs, you may want to be careful. 

You may be dealing with a cheating situation. 

As one of my female friends explained it:

All the cliché signs are true. Secretive with their phone suddenly? Changed passwords? Suddenly working longer hours? All signs. But, some people are extremely good at hiding it. They won’t change their outside behavior in a noticeable way. You have to trust your gut. If something is screaming ‘it’s not right,’ it probably isn’t.

16. She Changes Her Appearance, or Puts More Effort into It

How to tell if a girl likes you Attractive woman playing with her hair and smiling straight down the camera

Has she suddenly started doing her makeup again? Has she developed a keener interest for dressing up nice, doing her hair, and just in-general trying to look good before going out?

It could be that a new crush has motivated her to look as nice/sexy as possible. 

17. She’s Not as Motivated to Spend Time Together Anymore

In a healthy, functional, loving relationship, both partners should be reasonably excited and motivated to spend time together. 

If that changes, it could be a sign that things aren’t going well. 

If she just doesn’t seem as motivated as she used to be for lunch dates or movie nights, you may want to keep an eye out for other suspicious behavior as well. It could be a sign that things are amiss. 

18. She Stops Getting ‘Mad’ If You Don’t Pay Attention to Her

Black couple ignoring each other while

She used to complain that you ‘never pay enough attention to her.’ 

But now, she never really complains about that unless it gets brought up in a fight over something else. 

If she’s suddenly stopped caring whether or not you spend time with her or pay attention to her, it could be because she’s found another man to give her the attention she felt she wasn’t getting from you.

Does she go to bed before you get home? Does she get up early and ‘go out’ before you’re up and around? Does she always seem to be gone at different times—making it rare for the two of you to be at home together?

She may be seeing someone else and not want to face you, either out of guilt or because it would just be plain unpleasant to do so. 

My friend weighed in again on this one: 

I delayed going home after work because I didn’t want to face him, for fear of him finding out, because I felt guilty, and due to my lack of interest in even being around him. I couldn’t wait to go to bed before him (which I didn’t do before). I was closed off and very short tempered.

19. She’s More Emotionally Closed off

She used to be a typical emotional girl, complaining about all the things that typical emotional girls complain about. 

But now, she doesn’t really complain. In fact, maybe you haven’t heard her talk about her feelings in a while. 

If she seems more emotionally closed off, it could be a sign that she’s ‘checked out’ with you because she’s ‘checking in’ with someone else. 

My female friend explained it like this:

Distance. Lack of affection and communication. I think anytime your significant other is ‘off’ you should address the matter.

20. She Compensates for Being Closed-off with Other Gestures of Kindness

If she’s cheating on you and feels guilty about it, she may try to compensate for it by doing ‘nice platonic things’ for you. 

She may offer to do your laundry, make you dinner, do the dishes, and clean the house while you go out with the boys. 

Women who cheat sometimes do this to stem the tide of guilt they feel. They may also do it because they’re in an especially good mood—one brought about by another man’s positive attention and validation.  

What Should You Do Next?

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So, you suspect that she may be seeing or talking-to another man behind your back. 

The first step is to figure out whether or not it’s true. 

Of course, this can sometimes be difficult. 

People are sneaky, especially if they’re highly motivated to keep something a secret. 

And even if she’s cheating on you, that doesn’t mean that she’s ready to ‘cash out’ on the benefits or safety of being in a relationship with you just yet. 

This is especially true if you live together. 

She may be biding her time and going through the motions with you in an attempt to manage a smooth transition. This way, when she finally branches away to start her ‘new life’ with the new man, she won’t need to go through as much trouble when the time comes to jump ship. 

She may want to save money, make an exit strategy, ensure that she’ll have a place to go, and/or make sure that she’s not going to be ‘alone’ when she finally decides to leave.  

If You Suspect She’s Cheating but You Don’t Have the Evidence

Couple in bed with man awake worried

This is a really tough situation to find yourself in. 

On one hand, you may intuitively suspect that she’s cheating. You may even have a lot of circumstantial evidence. 

But if she continues to deny it, you may find yourself racking your brain—desperate for some kind of hard evidence that’ll tell you for sure. 

Here are three steps that you can take if that ‘hard evidence’ (sorry, another bad pun) continues to elude you. 

1. Bide Your Time and Wait for Her to Make a Mistake

This is the most obvious approach to take, and works well when you first start to notice that she’s displaying some of the classic ‘signs’ of infidelity. 

This approach is challenging, because it requires you to keep your feelings in check and to keep your suspicions a secret. 

But if you’re patient, you can gather evidence and likely catch her in the act—especially if she doesn’t know that you’re onto her or suspecting anything. 

My girlfriend, who also contributed to my research, said it like this: 

Just wait and watch. She’ll slip up. They always do. 

2. Sit down with Her and Have an Honest Talk about the Situation 

This is the next best step to take. 

After you’ve gathered sufficient evidence and feel the time has come to open up to her about it, take her out to coffee (a public place is actually important in this step), sit down, and calmly lay out the evidence.

During this step, make sure to hold masculine frame. Also, make sure not to attack her or accuse her. 

This may seem weird, but you need to earn her trust in this moment. What you want to do is learn the truth and get her to open up to you about not only what she’s doing, but why she’s doing it.

Simply put, you need to convince her to confess.

But the only way she’s going to do that is if she doesn’t feel threatened. 

The best way to start this conversation is to say something like this:

“Hey, I’ve been noticing that we seem to be drifting apart a bit. I’ve also noticed that we don’t spend as much time together. I also see some things that lead me to believe that you may be having an affair. Now, I’m not trying to get mad about it. I’m not trying to corner you. But I am obviously concerned, and feel that we should be honest with each other. I just want to know the truth. I care about you, and I feel that I have a right to know what’s really going on with us. I don’t want to fight about it. I just want to get all the cards on the table. That seems fair to me.” 

Hopefully, she’ll crack and spill the beans. 

If she does, stay calm. It’s fine if you get sad, and you’ll probably feel angry. But it’s really important not to get aggressive and go on the attack at this point. 

If you need to get angry, save it for after you’ve excused yourself from the conversation, and go engage in a conscious rant to one of your trusted friends. 

What If She Won’t Confess?

If she doesn’t open up and/or spill the beans, and instead just tries to play it off like there’s nothing going on—then you have a more difficult situation on your hands. 

You can’t force her to confess. 

So you need to decide if you believe that she’s telling the truth, or if you should trust your gut and proceed to step 3. 

One word of advice, men. 

Sometimes, it doesn’t necessarily matter if she’s cheating. 

If you’re not happy in this relationship for any reason, you don’t owe it to anyone to stick around. Sometimes, if things have already gotten to the point where you suspect cheating, that alone may be enough to warrant checking-out and hitting the road. 

Don’t get stuck in a relationship where you’re unhappy. You don’t necessarily need to find solid cheating evidence to want to move on with your life. 

3. Go Ahead and Assume That She’s Cheating, and Quietly Start Your Exit Strategy

Unhappy man walking away from crying girl

In the absence of absolute evidence, all you really have to go on is her word, your gut feeling, and the circumstantial evidence that you’ve managed to collect. 

I’m not going to sugar-coat it, and you probably already know that this is true. 

Getting cheated-on sucks. 

It makes you feel sad, unhappy, rejected, miserable, angry, bitter, humiliated, and a bunch of other negative things. 

And to a point, ‘not knowing’ is almost worse than knowing for sure. 

But you still need to decide how to deal with it. 

And it’s highly possible that the best way to do it is by going ahead and assuming that she’s cheating—which means that you should start an exit strategy. 

It sucks. But once again, you kind of have to trust your gut instincts. If something feels wrong, it probably is. You don’t want to be paranoid. But if you’re seeing multiple signs, then something is likely going on. 

Here’s the important part, though. 

Don’t fight with her. Don’t try to get her to ‘prove’ that she’s not cheating. Don’t demand that she demonstrate her loyalty by checking in, letting you keep tabs on her, etc. 

These aren’t things that an alpha male would do. These are things that a jealous, insecure boy would do. 

Don’t stoop to that level. 

If you can’t trust her, you have no business continuing with the relationship anyway. 

Hold your head high, make your exit, move on with your life, and let her do whatever she wants to do with hers. 

Don’t soil your exit by acting out in rage, jealousy, insecurity, or paranoia. 

Should You Spy on Her?

Man spying on girlfriend on phone on couch

The strong, masculine answer to this question is always a ‘no.’ 

If you trust her so little that you need to ‘prove it’ to yourself with a spy app, then it’s already over. There’s no point in clinging to the past. 

Hold your head high, summon the courage needed to end things, and move on to the next chapter of your life. 

If You’ve Caught Her Cheating

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This may sound weird—but catching her in the act is one of the best things that could possibly happen to you. 

Now you know the full truth. There’s no denying it, and it makes your decision easy. 

The same things I said above still apply. 

  • Don’t get mad. 
  • Don’t fly into a jealous rage. 
  • Don’t succumb to your bitterness and soil your strong, masculine exit. 

When this woman chose to cheat on you, she lost the privilege of you caring about what she does. 

She’s dead to you. Plan your exit strategy, cut her off, and move on with your life. 

Block her on social media. Don’t return her messages. Stop associating with her. Stop hanging out with her friends, family, etc. 

As a strong, capable man, you’re above associating with a woman who’s going to betray you that way. 

There’s a whole world full of incredible women out there who’d love the opportunity to date a high value man. 

If you don’t think you’re a ‘high value’ man already, check out this post on how to be a better man. Read some awesome dating books, and start increasing your dating marketplace value. 

This is the perfect time to reinvent yourself and start over. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, this post has helped you to understand how to tell if your girlfriend is cheating, and what to do if it happens. 

Cheating is never a good or easy situation to go through. 

But be encouraged. If it does happen to you, keep in mind that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. 

Moving on to the next chapter isn’t always easy. But if you continue to level up and chase excellence in life, things will only improve—and you’ll only get happier. 

Check out our YouTube channel for more awesome tips and advice for men. 

Go with grace, and never give up your power.

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