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Infidelity is a tough topic.
Not that long ago, marriages were almost always more about economics, power, and developing family ties than about love. Getting married was, for many people, a political rather than a personal act, and whether future marital partners loved each other, liked each other, or were even attracted to each other was an afterthought at best. Indeed, this is still the way marriage works in much of the world. You can hardly blame someone for being unfaithful in an arranged marriage to a person they don't like.
I asked some married folks to share their thoughts about cheating on a partner to illustrate just how people in modern western societies feel about unfaithfulness. Wendy, who has been married for 13 years, says: "Infidelity disgusts me. I have nothing against open relationships though I wouldn't want one myself, but the lying and cheating? Yuck! I'd file for divorce if I found out that my husband was cheating, but he isn't."
Shelly agrees. She says people who cheat "are thrill seekers who seek personal satisfaction without any concern for the people they are hurting". Laura admits to having had an affair with a married man when she was younger, but says she is deeply ashamed. JC, a man, says that infidelity is only OK if both partners agree that seeking relationships or intimacy outside of marriage is acceptable. He says going behind someone's back is wrong and he'd be devastated if his wife cheated on him. Richard believes that monogamy isn't natural for most people. Because he doesn't want to deceive anyone, he's in a poly relationship in which "openness is the most important thing — having relationships without mentioning it is a no-go".
Despite the fact that almost everyone would agree that cheating on a spouse is not OK, infidelity happens. If you suspect your partner is cheating on you and you want to know for sure, you're in for a painful road. The first step, however, is probably recognizing the signs of infidelity. What are they?
Infidelity requires secrecy to thrive. If your partner is suddenly working late, took up a new hobby but won't share the details, is seeing friends a whole lot more than before, or keeps going on business trips, you may have a reason to be suspicious.
People who are having an affair will also typically conceal their actions by hiding physical things from you, including:
- Clothes — immediately placing clothes in the washing machine upon return home is worrying, if your partner didn't do this before.
- Email messages, internet browsing behavior, or text messages.
- Their friends, who may know about the infidelity. If your partner is worried about you seeing their friends or relatives, while you saw them regularly before, that is a red flag.