It’s not too late to stop it. Here are 5 signs your relationship is at risk for cheating.
It started out innocently. My friend and I were on a trip together. We chatted over coffee as we talked about the trip, marriage, and children.
Mere minutes passed by. Ding. Ding.
That was the fourth text message she received within a few minutes. I didn’t want to seem nosy, but at the same time, something felt amidst. Casually I asked, “Who’s that?” She lit up as she spoke about a friend she had met. He asked for a photo. Although she felt awkward about it, she took the selfie and sent it anyway. She explained how this person had become a close friend and a listening ear. Her and her husband had been arguing more and more and this guy had been there for her.
Warning alarms were sounding off in my brain like bottle rockets on the fourth of July. Unfortunately, this story is all to familiar.
Cheating is usually a gradual process; a slow descent into an affair. Aren’t there people who purposefully set out to cheat on their spouse? Absolutely. But for the rest, it’s a slow slip into a place they never imagined they could go. Most people don’t start out thinking, “One day I will cheat on my spouse.” They can’t imagine that years down the road, they will feel disconnected and vulnerable to an outside relationship. That’s never the plan.
Let’s discuss five signs that you may be at risk for cheating.
Most of us want to determine if our spouse is cheating or at risk of cheating, but I want to focus on if we ourselves are becoming vulnerable to infidelity. Guarding our own heart is extremely important. Only we can make the choice to love our spouse daily. We are the gatekeepers of our heart when it comes to who we connect or disconnect with. Even in the face of disconnection, anger, and resentment, we can choose to reach out for help in order to make our relationship stronger instead of weaker. We can choose forgiveness. It helps to see the warning signs though! How can we protect our hearts and our marriages if we don’t recognize the signs that our relationship is at risk?
Spoiler alert: we can’t.
5 Signs Your Relationship is at Risk for Cheating
1. A person other than your significant other is giving you complements that you can’t wait to get.
When we are in the trenches of raising children, feeding our family, and working full time, life has a way of sending our relationship into autopilot. Suddenly there is another person eager to listen to us, perhaps a coworker or friend. A simple, “You look beautiful today” may be innocent, but it may not be. When we are feeling overlooked in our day to day life, we must be on guard that another person isn’t filling our emotional needs that a spouse should be filling. Ongoing text messages, direct messages, or complements is a warning sign that you need more boundaries in the relationship. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that it’s not a big deal. It is! Change jobs if you have to. It will save you from hard decisions and a broken heart down the road.
2. You are feeling disconnected from your spouse and feeling more connected with another.
Disconnection typically happens slowly. We have an argument, and we feel not listened to. We think, “Does our feelings even matter? How come we don’t feel pursued?” We feel alone. Unforgiveness settles in our heart, and the cycle begins to repeat when we aren’t able to push through the hurt and into conflict resolution. Our unforgiveness then leads to bitterness, and we wonder how our marriage got this way. How did we go from that in-love couple at the altar to these people who don’t even watch tv together? This is when we need to learn how to go from an okay marriage to a great marriage. We weren’t meant to just be roommates. Marriage was never meant to be a co-parenting situation where we just put up with each other until the kids are grown. We must learn to fix this disconnection before our hearts become connected to another.
3. You are deleting messages or hiding conversations you are having with another person from your spouse.
Do not believe the lie that you would never cross the line of infidelity.
“I would never do that. These are just playful conversations. I deserve to feel good and be happy.”Everyone
These are red flag thoughts, my friend. Remember, most people find themselves in an emotional relationship before a physical one. The friend I told you about in the beginning of this blog was finding herself in emotional unfaithfulness. If this type of relationship isn’t put in check, it will eventually lead to a full blown physical affair. And please hear me, emotional unfaithfulness is wrong as well. There are painful consequences to you, your spouse, and the other person with any type of infidelity. Boundaries are best. Your spouse deserves your emotional faithfulness, and you deserve theirs. I can promise you that it hurts much less to enforce boundaries now, instead of after more-than-you-bargained-for has happened.
4. You find you are feeling more and more uncomfortable with what the other person is asking from you.
A simple friendship isn’t enough for many people. Sorry to burst your bubble here. You may believe these conversations are playful, and “we are just friends” but the other person may have more in mind. I’ve heard multiple times, from women especially, of how they lost someone they considered a dear friend because they enforced boundaries, only to have the other person drop them completely. And the most painful thing to these women was that the person they believed cared about them so much, and had spoken all of those sweet things, had moved on within two weeks. The very “sweet things” that were being spoken to them, were now being spoken word for word to another. (Or perhaps even more hurtful, the other person had actually been talking to multiple people but telling her that she was “the only one for them.” Ouch! That’s a character issue, and you can thank Jesus for saving you from that. That’s not a friend you want.)
If a person is asking for photos or videos you are uncomfortable with, this is a red flag. Run away if they are pushing you to do things you’ve already made clear you didn’t want. This will not end well, and the ending will only get worse the longer you wait.
5. You make sure that you look your best around a certain person.
If you find you are extra attentive to the details of what you are wearing or the way your makeup looks, you could be caring too much about impressing someone who isn’t your spouse. Are you suddenly wearing perfume to the gym? Or making extra sure that smoky eyeshadow look is perfect for a regular day at work? Chances are you don’t even realize you are doing this as a way of meeting an emotional need by catching the other person’s attention and gaining complements or sweet looks. But that’s what it is. This is a sign something is missing at home and your heart is in a vulnerable place.
Every one of these signs doesn’t make you a bad person. Read that again. If you have found yourself in any of the cases above, you aren’t a bad person. What it does signal is the need for a heart check. Ask yourself what’s wrong in your relationship. Do you have resentment towards your spouse? Is there disconnection?
These are the real issues that lead to infidelity.
If we shine light on the issues of the heart, we can prevent major heartache and pain from infidelity in the future. Your marriage is worth fighting for. A connection to your spouse is worth working on. You married them for a reason. Find that reason again. And there is no shame in going to counseling. Even if your spouse won’t go, you start!
A great communication and connection tool is the book Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk. It will help your relationship.
You may also like Lies We Believe in Marriage or The One Single Word that Stops Almost Every Fight in Marriage