How To Tell If Your Partner Is Lying About Cheating?

how to tell if your partner is lying about cheating
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How to tell if your partner is lying about cheating? On one hand, you have this gut feeling that something is not right. On the other, a voice inside your head tells you that maybe you are just overthinking and being paranoid. Well, you really cannot unless you have got the superpower to read minds. But you sure can detect those nasty small lies and identify a lying partner.

There could be millions of nagging questions popping into your head – Is cheating a pattern? Why don’t cheaters admit to their transgressions? How to find out if your partner is talking to someone else? Don’t let them wreak havoc with your sanity. Cheating in relationships is widespread. As per a study conducted by the Institute for Family Studies, around 20% of married men reported cheating on their partners while approximately 13% of married women reported cheating on their spouses.

With infidelity being so common, it is natural for you to end up feeling like Sherlock Holmes, trying to investigate and analyze every move your partner makes. But, spoiler alert! You are not Cumberbatch. You don’t own a trench coat and you don’t play the violin. You don’t have a Watson and so you definitely need some expert tips to help you figure out if your partner is lying about cheating. 

To shed more light on the things cheaters lie about, we spoke to emotional wellness and mindfulness coach Pooja Priyamvada (certified in Psychological and Mental Health First Aid from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Sydney), who specializes in counseling for extramarital affairs, breakups, separation, grief, and loss, to name a few.

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How To Tell If Your Partner Is Lying About Cheating? 9 Expert Tips

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzche once said, “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” White lies in relationships not only break trust and faith but are also difficult to catch in the first place. As Pooja points out, “Poker faces are often seasoned liars. It is almost impossible to catch the kinds of liars who lie with a straight face.” So then how can you find out if your partner is lying about cheating? Here are some expert tips:

1. Evasive body language

According to Pooja, “Evasive body language is a sure-shot sign of compulsive cheating and lying. A lying partner will avoid eye contact, fiddle, fumble, and try to make some excuses.” People’s lips become pale and their faces become white/red when they lie. In spite of all their pretended ease, their body language will have a different story to tell.

Take this quick quiz to tell if your partner is lying about cheating:

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  • Do you notice hesitation in your partner’s speech? Yes/No
  • Do they blink rapidly or sweat while trying to come up with a believable story to cover their tracks? Yes/No
  • Have you observed them exaggerating a simple story? Yes/No
  • Do you often find your partner avoiding eye contact while talking to you? Yes/No
  • Are they beating around the bush trying to lie about their whereabouts? Yes/No
  • Do you find them restless or fidgety when they talk to you? Yes/No

If you have answered in the affirmative to any three of the above questions, chances are that you have a lying partner who is cheating on you. Paying close attention to their body language (like their voice suddenly cracking or becoming high-pitched) is one way to tell if your partner is lying. 

Related Reading: 13 Sure-Shot Signs Someone Is Lying To You Over Text

2. Gives too many or vague details

Your spouse could be lying about cheating by creating a smooth narrative. Well, liars can be great storytellers. They will paint an elaborate picture for you and overwhelm you with little details of their stories. They will describe everything so minutely that it becomes unfathomable for you to understand that they could lie in such great detail. 

On the other hand, some cheaters get really vague about details in an attempt to hide their lies. They may evade questions or change the subject. If your partner gets defensive when you ask them questions like “Where have you been?”, it could be one of the signs he is lying when confronted or she is being evasive to avoid getting caught.

But why would someone lie and cheat and yet stay in a relationship? It could be because they are thrill-seekers or want to explore what non-monogamy feels like. Also, one of the warning traits of serial cheaters is that they develop defense mechanisms to justify their actions. For example, a cheater may tell themselves, “It’s not like I’m having an extramarital affair. It’s just sex outside of a relationship.”

Another possible reason could be that they are still carrying the trauma of their abusive past relationships and end up self-sabotaging the moment the intimacy starts overwhelming them. This could be the result of an avoidant attachment style.

Related Reading: Avoidant Attachment: Causes And How it Affects Relationships

3. Protect their devices

Cherly Hughes writes in her book, Lovers and Beloved, “The truly scary thing about undiscovered lies is that they have a greater capacity to diminish us than exposed ones.” But how do you get to these undiscovered lies? How to tell if your partner is lying about cheating? Here are a few signs to watch out for:

  • They start password-protecting their devices all of a sudden
  • Their phone is always kept face down
  • They go to a corner to pick up some calls/Do not pick up calls when you are around
  • They get defensive and angrily say, “How dare you look at my email?” 
  • They hide their texts from you
  • They carry their devices around like a limb, lest you chance upon something they don’t want you to

If your partner has been displaying most of these tendencies, there is a good chance you are caught in the thick of lies cheaters tell. Cheaters are not just protective about their devices but about certain places too. For example, “You shouldn’t just show up at my workplace” or “Hey, this is my man/woman cave. Don’t touch anything here and respect my privacy”.

compulsive cheating and lying
Has your partner become possessive about his devices all of a sudden?

4. How to tell if your partner is lying about cheating? Gaslighting

The word “gaslighting” takes us back to the lyrics of a famous Sam Smith song, “You say I’m crazy, ‘cause you don’t think I know what you’ve done. But when you call me baby, I know I’m not the only one.”

How to know if you are the ‘only one’ or not? What are the signs he is lying when confronted or she is cooking yet another story to prevent you from getting to the truth? A lying partner will make you feel that there is something wrong with you. Or will accuse you of being paranoid and say things like, “It’s unbelievable! Why are you being so insecure? Why can’t you just trust me?”

Rick, a 28-year-old librarian, shares his brush with gaslighting. Amanda, his girlfriend for 2 years, was avoiding talking to him after they attended their common friend Dan’s party. She stopped picking up his calls, pulled a disappearing act every now and then, and always came up with a different story justifying her frequent hangouts with her friends.

Related Reading: 12 Signs Of A Lying Spouse

As his girlfriend lied about her whereabouts, she put the entire blame on him – “Do you even remember the last time we spent quality time together? You never think about me. What am I to do? Just sit at home and wait for you to return? You have to mend your ways before you point your fingers at me!” In Rick’s case, confronting a partner who lied about her whereabouts led to blame-shifting and gaslighting.

You know your partner is lying and cheating when they make you feel guilty about their actions. As a result, you start questioning your sanity. They will manipulate you to such an extent that you will start doubting yourself. Gaslighting in relationships is a classic tactic used to cover up compulsive cheating and lying.

5. Missing time

How to tell if your partner is lying about cheating? Pooja advises, “There will be a lot of time unaccounted for in their schedule. To avoid having to explain where they were during this time, they would either act distant or shower you with expensive gifts without any reason.”

To ascertain if your hunch about your partner lying to you has any merit to it, ask yourself:

  • Does your spouse suddenly have a hectic schedule with no time to spend with you?
  • Do you often hear complaints of an increased workload?
  • Have their office meetings been getting stretched late into the night?
  • Are there any sudden, unexplained disappearing acts?
  • Do they always have errands to run?

If you see them working overtime or coming home late almost every night because they were “helping out a buddy in crisis”, it could be one of the classic lies cheaters tell. If this behavior is new or recent, then there is definitely something fishy going on. 

6. How to tell if your partner is lying about cheating? Altered behaviors

How to tell if someone is lying about cheating over text? You may notice that they’ve started saying, “I love you” more often or sending you cheesy texts. Suddenly showering you with gifts or romantic texts is one way for a lying spouse to deflect your suspicion.

Is he lying about cheating? Does she have something to hide? How can you find out? How are most affairs discovered? One way to tell if your partner is lying is to notice changes in behaviors. Is he dressing better as if to impress someone? Or is she becoming detached when it comes to your family and friends? 

Other signs of a cheating partner could be acting withdrawn, less affectionate, and uninterested in future plans. Also, a cheater gets constantly distracted, picks up unnecessary fights, and is guilty/anxious all the time. He/she might stop discussing finances with you (to avoid having to offer explanations for money spent on their clandestine rendezvous) and may even have new hobbies that exclude you.

When you suspect your partner is cheating, look out for these signs:

  • Unexplained behavioral changes
  • Diversions in a confrontation
  • Excessive sugary/romantic gestures
  • Avoidable arguments
  • Disinterested detachment

Related Reading: How To Regain Trust After Cheating: 12 Ways According To An Expert

7. Change in behaviors of their friends or family

There are a lot of things cheaters lie about. But chances are that someone in their life is privy to all that they’ve been trying to hide from you. Perhaps, they confide in their best friend to cope with the cheater’s guilt that’s overwhelming them. Or maybe their sibling or cousin covers for them when needed. 

Going back to Rick’s case, what set off his suspicion was Amanda’s sister behaving strangely and mysteriously. Every time he called her up to find out about Amanda, she’d cook up implausible stories to draw a veil over Amanda’s furtive affairs. Once, she even hung up on him without even uttering a word. Clearly, she felt uncomfortable and probably guilty too.

How can you catch a partner who lies about cheating? Notice the behaviors of their close friends or family members.

  • Are they treating you differently?
  • Do they get uncomfortable around you?
  • Do they avoid you or display negative emotions toward you?
  • Are they increasingly becoming indifferent to you?
  • Do you find them disengaging or distancing themselves from you?

If the answer is yes, then it could be because they already know the uncomfortable truth.

8. Expresses dissatisfaction with the relationship

To understand cheating, we have to understand how cheaters feel about themselves. So, what is the psychology behind cheating and lying? Pooja answers, “The psychology behind cheating and lying is to have my cake and eat it too. To keep the relationship stable as well as have something going on the side.” Maybe, the good parts of your relationship are so good that your partner is unable to leave but when it comes to the rough patches, they find ways to escape.

Can a person be in love with their partner and still cheat on them?

Apart from wanting to have the best of both worlds, the feeling of unfulfillment in the relationship could be one of the reasons behind their cheating. To find out if your partner is lying about cheating, look for a few indirect signs. Before you grumble, “My wife lied about talking to another man. It’s unbelievable. How could she do this to me?”, introspect whether you’ve turned a deaf ear to her complaints about certain relationship issues.

This reminds me of the movie Marriage Story, which captures the various complexities of infidelity. There is a scene in which Nicole confronts Charlie about his infidelity and he says, “You shouldn’t be upset that I fucked her. You should be upset that I had a laugh with her!”

Stories on cheating

9. See it in the small lies

You know your spouse is lying about cheating when your conversations are peppered with seemingly innocuous lies. The small lies are the initial red flags in a relationship that you should not ignore. Sooner than you realize, the seemingly trivial lies often turn into big lies. Did he tell you he doesn’t watch porn but you caught him doing so one fine day? Or did she tell you she quit smoking but you could smell it on her shirt while doing the laundry?

If you notice small instances of dishonesty, remember that they are not so small. Also, what to do when such small lies become big lies, like cheating? Pooja says, “Confront them with the truth. That is the only way to deal with this. Also, make notes. False stories often contradict themselves.”

Related Reading: How To Deal With A Lying Husband?

When confronting a cheater, make sure you choose the right time and place. Also, make sure you have the evidence in place and approach him/her in a calm and neutral manner. Moreover, be mentally prepared that they are going to deny your allegations. 

Key Pointers

  • Notice even the smallest of behavioral changes in your partner
  • The way your spouse is speaking to you, their body language, their tone, their eyes, and hand gestures can all be dead giveaways of their lies 
  • Take note of how their friends and family are with you
  • Playing blame games, picking up fights, making up endless stories, and expressing dissatisfaction with the relationship are some of the signs to watch out for
  • Instead of ignoring or trivializing the issue, talk it out with your partner

Finally, infidelity is traumatizing and it might leave a serious dent in your self-esteem and riddle you with trust issues for life. Coping with something like that needs healing on a deeper level. Seeking professional help becomes the need of the hour in such cases. Our counselors from Bonobology’s panel, like Pooja Priyamvada, hold your hand through this journey. 


1. How can you tell if your partner has cheated?

Avoiding eye contact, fiddling with things, touching your face, covering the mouth could be some of the nonverbal expressions that denote lying.

2. How do cheaters react when confronted?

This can vary from getting absolutely aggressive to being in complete denial. One of the shocking things cheaters say when confronted is “It was just physical, not emotional. It was nothing. It didn’t mean anything to me. The other woman/man enticed me.”

3. Can you trick a cheater to confess?

Not really, tricking in an already messy relationship won’t work. However, you can confront them with facts like pictures, records of conversations, meetings, etc. if you have them.

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