In June, researchers at Indiana University found that women cheat almost as much as men do, with 23 percent of men and 19 percent of women admitting to unfaithfulness. Yet, the reasons women and men cheat are often different, with women being more emotionally driven. You’ve got to think like a lady to catch one in the act—or stop the act from happening in the first place. Watch for these signs confirmed by real women who’ve strayed and men who’ve been cuckolded.
Sign No. 1
She accuses her man of cheating. This common sign is an attempt to divert the guilt away from herself, and to project her dishonest behavior onto her partner. “My girlfriend of three years all of a sudden started questioning my every move,” says Mark, 28. “Turned out she had slept with another guy.” Also, if a woman knows that her guy has been unfaithful––or that he’s broken her trust in a big way—then she may be tempted to do the same. While she may not be willing to throw away a marriage over it, a wounded woman may give herself permission to even the score.
Sign No. 2
She starts dolling herself up. If a woman suddenly starts taking hours to get ready for places like the gym or the grocery store, then there may be someone she’s trying to impress. “I typically showed up for my business school classes in sweats, no makeup, hair in a bun. I had a boyfriend; what did I care?” say Sara, 27. “Then I developed a crush on a guy in one of my classes. Soon enough, I was spending an hour to get ready for school, swapping my ratty sweats for cute dresses.” Of course, a crush doesn’t always lead to cheating, but this may be a sign that the emotional motivation is there.
Sign No. 3
She tells her husband she needs space. Some couples use a separation period to save their marriages, but it should be a mutual decision made by both partners for the specific purpose of working things out. A woman thinking about straying, on the other hand, may ask for some time away from her partner without a solid explanation. “My ex told me she needed some space, then went off to hook up with someone else,” says Jeff, 29.
Sign No. 4
She drops hints that she’s not happy. Comments about needing more romance or feeling unsure of a future with her current partner may sound like empty threats. But a woman who says these things may decide that if her guy doesn’t start giving her what she needs, then she’s going to find someone who will. “I’m one of those women who craves romance, cuddling, flowers, love notes, the whole shebang,” says Leslie, 39. “I’ve reminded him that there are other fish in the sea. No change. So when a guy in my office started paying all sorts of attention to me, I went with it.”
Sign No. 5
She has a new BFF her partner has never met. For starters, this new “friend” may not even be a girl at all. The friend could also be a single gal pal looking for a wing woman… and sometimes a woman is all too eager to go along for the ride. “After living together for three years, I knew the relationship was over when my ex started spending all of her free time––and all of the time we had to spend together––going to the clubs with a woman she met in her spin class,” says Chris, 27. While this may not mean she’s cheating (yet!), she’s still dipping her toe into the singles pool.
Sign No. 6
She changes her plans… at midnight. If she consistently ends up staying out all night, then it’s time to question her loyalty. “I told my boyfriend I was going out for drinks with a colleague and would meet up with him later in the night,” Sara says. “Then a guy I had a crush on from work showed up. Hours later, I called my boyfriend to say I was ‘too drunk’ and needed to sleep at my friend’s apartment; then I went home with the guy.”
Sign No. 7
Someone else thinks she’s cheating. “I knew someone who had firsthand knowledge my girlfriend was cheating,” Mark says. “But I believed her when she said it was a lie, because nobody wants to believe the worst, no matter how obvious it may be.” While we love a man who stands by his woman, if other people—like a her spouse’s friends, or even complete strangers—flat-out tell him that his lady is cheating, then she most likely is.
Sign No. 8
She has a sudden increased interest in her partner’s whereabouts. A woman carrying on an affair needs to cover her bases. If she starts wanting to know her man’s plans for the day, especially when she’s supposedly at work or otherwise busy, then she could be making plans of her own. “My ex-husband was an electrician, and his work schedule was different from day to day. Sometimes he would be home at noon, sometimes not till 8 at night,” says Rachel, 36. “When I planned to meet up with my fling, I would always call him in the morning to see where he was going to be later that day.”
Sign No. 9
She gives excuses to not have sex. If every time her guy start to make moves, she makes excuses—she’s too full, too tired or too bloated—and if she’s not being intimate with her partner, then chances are she may be sleeping with someone else. “We stopped sleeping together because she didn’t ‘feel as close to me’ as she used to,” Mark says of his ex. “I’m assuming now that this was because she was feeling closer to the other guy’s naked body.”
Sign No. 10
She’s checked out. If another man is meeting a woman’s emotional needs, then she will lose her enthusiasm in her current relationship, even when it comes to things like arguing. “After being married for five years, our screaming and fighting faded into a general tolerance for one another,” says Jen, 30, of her and her husband. “I was tempted to cheat on a few occasions and even took a guy’s phone number. I was desperate for a little excitement.”