When it comes to maintaining a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship, trust and honesty are two of the biggest keys to success — but what happens when that trust is broken? Many relationship experts will agree that when it comes to infidelity, the first step toward healing stems from acknowledgment and accountability from the guilty party. This is easier said than done.
To unearth the most common things cheaters say when their faithfulness comes into question, we enlisted the help of registered psychotherapist and Canadian certified counsellor Holly Behiels. Read on as she reveals the top 15 things cheaters always say.
Cheaters will tell you it didn’t mean anything
According to psychotherapist Holly Behiels, cheaters will often make this claim as a way to minimize the damage of their actions. “It can be an attempt to show a partner there was no emotion or commitment attached to the action,” she says.
These statements, explains Behiels, are most commonly expressed by those who’ve engaged in a short-lived period of infidelity, “such as a one-night-stand or a brief affair that that has ended, rather than an ongoing emotional relationship.”
Cheaters will make excuses for being away from you
This is one of the most obvious red flags to partners who suspect infidelity, according to Behiels who cites this statement as one commonly used to account for and justify missed time.
“Excuses that are given for the time away need to be believable and something that is hard to argue with,” she says.
Cheaters will play the friendship card
“Declaring a relationship a platonic friendship is one way of making an excuse to spend time with an individual and increase communication,” says Behiels. She goes on to explain that this statement is generally one used in the case of an “ongoing affair.”
Cheaters will gas light you
While this kind of response to a partner being questioned about their infidelity is so aggressive that it’s insulting — regardless of the basis in truth — Behiels notes that this statement is actually quite common in the case of cheating partners.
Behiels explains this (and the next three statements on this list) are known as “gas lighting.”
Cheaters will try to reduce your feelings
Another statement that qualifies as “gas lighting” — Behiels explains, “A cheater may make you feel as if you are damaging the relationship or personally harming your partner by seeking answers.” The end goal for the cheater? “Claiming that you are blowing something out of proportion attempts to cause the partner to be silent about the cheater’s actions.”
Cheaters try to shift blame
Yikes. Just what every suspicious partner wants to hear, right? This highly insulting retort, Behiels explains, is just a further “gas lighting” attempt to shift blame. “Blaming you for any insecurities you may experience is a way of making you doubt your concerns and instinct, deflecting on their (your partner’s) external relationships.”
Cheaters try to deny fault
No, we’re not playing that heinous Shaggy song on loop — this is actually a common statement made by cheaters. Behiels notes this retort often comes from “serial cheaters or someone who believes their infidelities cannot be proven.” Interestingly, and to our earlier comment, Behiels goes on to say, “In pop culture, it (denial) has been normalized in the song by Shaggy, in which advice is provided that despite his girlfriend having actually seen him engaged in intercourse with another person, he should insist that it was not him…” Denial, denial, denial.
Cheaters play with semantics
Cheaters thrive off the grey areas. “Cheating means different things to different people,” explains Behiels. The boundaries for fidelity within your relationship should be established early on to avoid excuses in the long-term.
“Some people might consider talking to another person in a flirtatious way or sliding into their DM’s (direct messages on social media) as cheating — while a person cheating might use the excuse that it was not sex — clearing them of an violation of relationship boundaries,” she says.
Cheaters aren’t afraid to blame technology
Another common excuse used to account for lost time and missed communications, Behiels says, “When your partner is with someone else, they will likely avoid answering your calls or texts.” According to he, it is common to use every excuse related to why they could not answer your calls for an extended period of time to account for their avoidance.
Cheaters avoid accountability
This statement is one typically used to redirect or share blame in one partner’s individual actions. “Putting distance in the closeness of the relationship or blaming you for not being bonded is a red flag that something is not right in the relationship,” Behiels warns. She adds, “This can mean individuals are seeking to have their emotional and sexual needs met by someone else.”
Cheaters will put distance between you and label it as ‘me time’
Sure, everyone needs (and should prioritize) time to themselves, but there’s a point at which it becomes pretty obvious that it’s less about “me time” and more about “time with anyone but you.”
“The red flags should appear when the need to focus on oneself extends to a degree that involves completely ignoring their partner,” says Behiels.
Cheaters will work to keep their finances secret from you
Red flags to watch out for here, according to Behiels: “The discovery of a new (and secret) credit card… bank accounts you didn’t know about… these could also be indicators that a partner is quietly readying themselves for an exit from the relationship.”
Cheaters will use social media to facilitate their infidelity
“Snapchat seems to the new way to send nudes and sexual messages,” says Behiels. While social media may seem harmless, many cheating partners are utilizing these sharing platforms as a way to communicate and carry out affairs more easily than via traditional texts or emails.
Cheaters will begin to openly question the concept of monogamy
This strategy is all about laying the groundwork for an excuse, in case a cheating partners’ infidelity should come to light: “This is all about opening the door to avoid fault being found,” says Behiels.
Cheaters will make subtle but consistent remarks about ‘the spark’ being gone in your relationship
Ouch. These subtle jabs and critiques of the relationship often signal underlying restlessness. “Passion can be addictive, and affairs offer a safety net for sexual exploration — avoiding long-term judgment by their partner,” explains Behiels.