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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Office Hours with Dr. Jim > Snooping

Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.

I Suspect My Partner is Cheating
Can I Snoop?

Quick Access:
Snooping on a Cheating Partner

I suspect that my partner is cheating on me, so is it okay to snoop?


Suspicions can be grounded in careful reasoning, but they aren’t the same as proven facts. When you want answers, then you should ask specific, targeted questions. You’ll either get a straight answer, or you’ll get the run around. In essence, run around answers are also straight answers – they reveal much, just not what you wanted to hear.

Now the question you’re really asking me is, “How should I handle my suspicions?”

Strong relationships are founded on Truthfulness. This philosophy speaks against “snooping” on your partner. When you think about it, you can deduce much about the health of your relationship without snooping. You probably didn’t like that invasion of privacy when your parents snooped on you, so why did it to someone else. Rather, I suggest openly confronting your partner with any concerns of infidelity in a respectful and responsible manner. Snooping often only makes it worse. The health of your relationship is your responsibility – treat it with care and don’t avoid or explain away what look like the beginning of a serious illness.

There are seven general signs of cheating. See if your suspicions match up with any of these red flags. If they do, then it may be time for you to talk directly with your partner about your concerns and insecurities.

1. Lost Time. Your partner steals moments away from communal time. Consistently and unexpectedly “working late,” projects that must be worked on nights or at odd times, company has functions more often or other meetings that must be attended, going out with friends or what should be a short trip to the store for soda takes three hours. Or, the person comes home late all the time, goes for a walk around the block (maybe walking the dog) for too long a time.

2. Lost Money. There’s unaccountable money that has been spent. For example, your partner doesn’t want you to see the bills or suggests having separate checking accounts.

3. Attitude Changes. There are definite and unaccountable changes in your partner’s mood and attitude. Examples include:

» Your partner is indifferent to family events like birthdays and holidays.

» You find your partner has been lying to you about a variety of things.

» Money becomes more of an issue between the two of you.

» Your partner doesn’t want to go anywhere or do anything with you anymore.

» You can’t even get your partner to fight with you.

» You feel as if you are being avoided.

» Your partner abandons religious faith.

» Your partner seems more secretive.

» Mutual friends start acting strangely toward you. They either know about the cheating or have been told stories about you.

» Your partner seems bored. Bored with you, with job, with kids, with hobbies, with life in general.

» Your partner seems to want danger or thrills in his/her life.

» You notice your partner has a sense of confusion about self.

» You partner has become lazy, especially around the house.

» Your partner gets very defensive if you mention infidelity or affairs, or when watching a movie involving themes of infidelity.

4. Changes in Daily Behavior. There are definite and unaccountable changes in your partner’s daily routine and typical behaviors. Examples include:

» Odd things found - a gift in the car, a greeting card with love or suggestive writings in it.

» Possessive of wallet, pocket calculator, briefcase - Because there could be receipts, phone numbers, photos, etc. 

» Come home with alcohol on breath - particularly if the person is late coming home from work.

» Car manners - Car is kept clean of wife and child paraphernalia. 

» Appearance - Partner often forgets to wear engagement/wedding ring, takes a new interest in clothing and appearance, smells freshly showered at 1:00 am, smells of different, unknown cologne or soap, starts keeping an overnight bag in car or office.

» Conversation - talks about subjects never interested in before, use new words and phrases.

» Trips/recreation - partner encourages you to go alone to visit family and friends, spends more time with “old friends,” starts new hobby, talks about movies or other fun things that were not seen with you, orders new and different dishes in restaurants, if you want to go, there is some reason why you shouldn’t (“you wouldn't have a good time there anyway”).

» Partner stops confiding in you and seeking advice from you.

» Partner refuses to let you take him/her to the airport when leaving town.

» Partner has unexplained scratches or bruises on his or her neck or back.

» Picks fights in order to stomp out of the house.

» Shows a sudden interest in a different type of music.

» Never seems to be at his/her desk to answer the phone.

 5. Changes in Phone and Computer Use. There are definite changes in your partner’s communications. Examples are:

» Partner sets up a new email account and doesn’t tell you about it

» Partner spends an excessive amount of time on the computer, especially after you’ve retired to bed.

» Cell phone or text messages made or received at odd times - with partner not wanting you to see the cell phone.

» You see unusual codes on the display, like 911, or 11111, etc.

» Locks the cell phone or quickly erases the call log.

» Partner deletes all incoming emails when they used to accumulate.

6. Changes in Your Relationship. There are definite changes in behavior towards you – the cheater, out of guilt, can start acting mean, short, curt or otherwise abusive towards you. The motivation is to find something to justify the affair and ease a guilty conscience. Other changes and oddities are:

» At the beginning of an affair the cheater is more attentive to you. This is due to guilt that the cheater may be feeling at the time.

» “Tending” behavior, where the cheater has to know where you are all the time so that s/he can work in the affair around your schedule.

» Sex changes - after a very healthy physical relationship, lately there has been a large drop-off. Perhaps the partner sleeps in another room sometimes. Conversely, because the partner also might be wanting to avoid suspicion, there might be an increase in sex- but what also might occur is some new or unusual sexual positions, calling out someone else’s name during sex.

7. Your Intuition. The single most telltale sign of a cheating spouse is the situation where you feel compelled to ask that question in the first place. An intuition or gut-feeling that something is not right usually is a sign you may have a cheating problem. “When in doubt check them out.”

Related Links:
» Women More Likely to Snoop than Men
» Reading Partners Emails

> - The best approach to find the one. <

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