Women like me who have been cheated on, get a shiver of pain down our spines even years after the affair, the betrayal. The lies, the little clues to his infidelity we only ever saw looking back, the suspicion, the gaslighting, the shame, but most of all the self-recrimination.
Yes, the eternal questions — how could I have been so stupid? Why didn’t I realize my partner was cheating? Why are even intelligent, clever, successful women so blinded by love we can’t see what’s in plain sight?
I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I was the biggest fool of all. Even though I had been cheated on before, I was so desperately in love with my partner of five years, I ignored all the signs. Even the obvious ones: that he started sleeping with his mobile under his pillow — as he was expecting an ‘urgent work call from New York’ — and recharged it at work (not on the kitchen table as he always had). That his routine changed and he was suddenly called to work late, or to travel on business overnight to far-flung places where the reception was always terrible and it was impossible to call.
And, of course, when he got home, he walked the dog a lot more, too, giving him plenty of time for illicit calls or texts.
I was actually proud of him that he had such a great job and was so invaluable to his company that he had to drop everything at a minute’s notice. I was understanding, loving, accommodating — and, as it turned out, a bloody big idiot.
Eventually, suspicious of his mood swings and constant trips abroad, I confronted him over lunch in our favorite Italian restaurant near his office. I didn’t shout, I didn’t cry. I just said I knew something was wrong between us and I feared he was seeing someone else.
His response was to turn on me rather nastily and tell me not to make a scene, that some of his colleagues were there. He told me I was delusional and to get a grip on myself.
Looking back, that was the beginning of his gaslighting, where if ever I questioned him about anything, even when he might be home for supper, he’d turn it back on me saying I was checking up on him, stalking him, suffocating him.
He made me feel like I was going mad, insisted that he loved only me and always would, and that I was spoiling everything with my jealousy.
As it happens I have never been a jealous woman, more a trusting one. And we still had great and very regular sex.
Yet I knew I wasn’t going mad. In my gut, I knew he was cheating on me. If you love someone you have an antenna as sensitive as a butterfly’s to every tiny change in them.
It was only in bed, after making love on his return from a scuba-diving trip with his sons, that the penny finally dropped. The clue? He’d shaved his nether regions, claiming it was because the hairs tugged on his wetsuit. But I knew instantly that it was a lie.
A manly guy, he’d never have done that of his own volition. And I was later to learn that men going hairless down there is a new trend — and only really favoured by much younger women.
So I did what most sensible women wished they could do: I hired a private investigator.
Two weeks later, I had a complete file: photos of her flat; pictures of them emerging holding hands; in ‘our’ favorite Italian restaurant; and, utterly heartbreakingly, kissing in the street.
I wasn’t delusional after all. I knew when something had changed in the man I loved and finally had the evidence to prove he was a pathological liar.
Needless to say, I ended the relationship and with some satisfaction made him pay for the private investigator. Such was his shame, he did.
Yet still he insisted his affair was a terrible mistake, a meaningless fling, and professed his undying love for me. He pleaded with me to give him a second chance. I did not.
Let me state emphatically here that this betrayal never dulled for one moment my belief that there are great guys out there, men who are loving and loyal — my father, my brothers, and many friends. It’s the cads who give men an undeserved bad name.
I’ve been cheated on twice, and I have countless girlfriends who have been betrayed, too. And I’ve learned that, while it’s important to maintain trust in a relationship, it would also be foolish to ignore the telltale signs when they are staring you in the face.
I’d like to spare other women reading this the pain of finding out the hard way. And so, using the hard-won wisdom of many a betrayed partner, I have compiled my thoroughly unscientific but utterly genuine list of signs your lover is cheating.
IF HE STARTS 'MANSCAPING', HE’S HAVING AN AFFAIR
As I learnt to my despair, any changes in body hair, up top or down below, are a warning sign.
One friend said she knew something was up when her husband started trimming his chest hair — even though he knew she loved running her fingers through his furry chest.
He clearly wasn’t trimming it off for her, and he’d also started wearing his hair longer in an attempt to cover his bald patch. It was a dead giveaway he was having an affair.
She was proved right and the marriage ended.
HIS TASTES GO ODDLY HIGHBROW MEANS HE’S HAVING AN AFFAIR
Look out for changes in his taste in films and TV shows. For example, a man who could watch the entire Jason Bourne franchise in one sitting and would even say out loud the famous line ‘Get some rest, Pam, you look tired’, suddenly likes subtitled art movies.
As one friend recalled: ‘I knew he was cheating when he didn’t sit next to me on the sofa watching TV at night. Even worse, he wanted to watch Hiroshima Mon Amour.’
IF HE SAYS HE’S DOING THINGS ‘FOR YOU’, HE’S HAVING AN AFFAIR
A girlfriend of mine was initially pleased when her overweight husband started going to WeightWatchers twice a week, for three hours each time.
But then it got a bit strange. ‘I didn’t know the sessions went on so long,’ she had the temerity to say, ‘and why do you always come home looking so flushed?’
He turned on her and said she was always criticizing him when he was just trying to do something for ‘them’. The ‘them’ turned out to be one of his work colleagues.
They divorced. He’s still fat.
IF HE’S HAVING AN AFFAIR, HE’S ALWAYS SQUEAKY-CLEAN
Unusual patterns of showering should arouse suspicion. If the moment he walks through the front door, he says he’s exhausted from sweating like a pig from earning the money to keep the family afloat, then jumps straight into the shower, he’s probably cheating.
One friend said her ex’s excuse was that, after a hard day’s work, he liked to be ‘clean for her’. When, in fact, he was washing off the scent of another woman — and in the end, sadly, their marriage ended up down the drain, too.
In fact, a sudden display of grooming in general should raise eyebrows.
If you’ve put up for years with his horribly scaly feet and untended toenails that scratch you in bed and are in danger of ripping the sheets, yet suddenly his soles are soft as a baby’s bottom, you know he’s not doing that for you.
That goes for fingernails, too. One friend said she knew her marriage was over when she saw he’d started having manicures.
HE’S HAVING AN AFFAIR IF HIS DRINKING HABITS CHANGE
Abandoning his favourite tipple is another clear giveaway — since alcohol is so often the fuel for an affair.
A friend of mine married for 20 years knew something was up when her white wine-loving husband, who had always been happy with his glass of Tesco Chablis at the end of the day, came home with an expensive bottle of Chianti.
When she asked how, on their family budget, they could afford it and when had he started liking red wine, he turned on her and said not to be such a bore. He told her it was time to try something different.
It turned out he had been doing so for months with the girl in the local wine shop.
HE BINS THE MARKS & SPENCER UNDIES
Banal as it may sound, a man’s infidelity is intrinsically linked with his underwear, which is something we should spot, not least as many wives buy their husbands’ pants for them. One friend was surprised when her partner said he was no longer happy with his £15 Marks & Spencer five-pack of pure cotton white trunks. He said he felt that, at 50, he needed a bit more support down there and bought himself those bits-clinging black Calvin Kleins at £25 a pair instead.
She admitted he did look good in them, but was left wondering (not for long, he soon dumped her) who he was really buying them for.
HE FOBS OFF YOUR FRIENDS
He’s always seemed to genuinely like your friends. Yet suddenly he’s finding fault with everything they say (something no woman should put up with, no matter what the cause!). Then he says he won’t be coming with you to that dinner party you RSVP-ed to and makes vague alternative plans for the nights you do see pals.
When he declares he can’t stand the sight of your family so cops out of weddings, birthdays and anniversaries for some ‘alone time’ — but he’s happy to run countless errands for you while he’s home, giving him an excuse to get out of the house and make a call to who-knows-who — he is cheating.
HE GIVES YOU A N0-NAME NICKNAME
The moment he stops calling you by your name over breakfast and especially during sex, and uses ‘baby’ or ‘darling’ instead, alarm bells should ring.
That’s one of the most callous giveaways as he has cannily realized the last thing he wants to do in a moment of passion is call you by his other lover’s name.
This happened to me when my partner once called me ‘poss’, a silly nickname he’d never used for me. When I confronted him he said I was delusional and claimed he was calling me ‘boss’, as I loved Bruce Springsteen and I was the boss of his heart. I never did get to the bottom of that one.
SEX IS BETTER THAN EVER, IF HE’S HAVING AN AFFAIR
Finally, and most importantly, it’s often not in his kiss.
Women think if their partner is having an affair, he will go off sex with them. Not true. For some unfathomable reason, a cheating man is capable (some even with relish) of having sex with more than one woman at the same time and lying to both.
It can actually increase their libido, leaving you duped into thinking his passion equates to love and fidelity. It’s only when you see the scratches on his shoulders and he explains them away as a playful rough and tumble with the dog (a dachshund), that you know he’s a liar.
Of course it’s not just men who are unfaithful. Women are, too. Yet I’ve aimed this list at women, not just because that’s what I’ve experienced myself, but because I suspect we stand more in need of help to work out what’s going on.
Perhaps I’m just defending the sisterhood too much but I believe women are not such good liars as men. Dare I venture that we are more intrinsically monogamous or at least not innately able to run two lovers at the same time?
The telltale signs of a woman having an affair are perhaps most powerfully shown in the movie Unfaithful, where husband Richard Gere watches his wife of ten years Diane Lane languidly washing the dishes after she’s made love for the first time with the much younger Olivier Martinez.
When he finally confronts her, she asks: ‘When did you first know?’ He says it was from the very beginning. That he knew immediately something had changed, because he knew her.
I’ve found in life that men are often better at concealment. For some males, cheating is second nature — they hide it easily; women not so easily.
When a woman is having an affair it shows. She glows with sex. I recall a friend, married for ten years, coming to dinner at a restaurant without her husband and looking utterly radiant. The dowdy mum of four was suddenly slim, looking years younger in skinny black jeans — a 45-year-old transformed into Sandy in the final scenes of Grease. She arrived late and left early, leaving all of us astonished, but agreeing on one thing: she was having an affair.
So what’s a worried partner to do? My advice is to give your other half the benefit of the doubt, meet them at a quiet restaurant where you can be alone, stare them straight in the eye and ask outright if they are having an affair.
That’s what I finally did, a few weeks after my first attempt in that crowded Italian place ended in raised voices and denials.
This time, I swear his beautiful blue eyes cracked, like an ice cube tossed into a gin and tonic. He just shook his head, not angry any more but denying it and tearfully pleading that he loved me.
Only then, after he’d lied to me for the last time, did I slide across the table the private investigator’s report, the opening page containing pictures of him with his mistress.
I stood up and left with as much dignity as I could muster and a pain in my heart that would take years to heal. My only consolation was knowing he’d be cheating on his other girlfriend before long.
(Confession in the Daily Mail by AMANDA PLATELL.)