Let’s say you have a feeling the guy you’ve been seeing is a cheater. You can’t quite put your finger on why you feel this way but something about him is inexplicably making your gut scream, “RUN!” Well, the reason behind that pit in your stomach could be that his body language is setting off alarms in your subconscious mind.
“One of the fabulous things about body language is that your central nervous system will alert you when there’s something wrong,” explains Patti Wood, body language expert and author of SNAP: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma. “It may make you feel off center, it might make you feel nauseous, it might give you a headache, it might make you feel frantic. Your body is telling you with these physiological cues that something’s not right.”
She explains that what’s happening here is your body’s limbic system (AKA your subconscious brain) is picking up on causes for concern in your BAE’s behavior that are so subtle your conscious mind hasn’t even noticed them.
So how do you train your conscious brain to start picking up on these subtle cues? You read this, that’s how.
He self grooms when the topic of infidelity comes up
If you notice him “self grooming” (i.e touching his hair, rubbing his arms etc.) when you start telling him about your friend who got cheated on, Wood warns this could be a pretty big sign that something’s up. “Why is he anxious about somebody else being unfaithful? That doesn't make sense.”
He nods “yes” when he says “no.”
This is a pretty classic one. Traci Brown, body language expert and author of Persuasion Point: Body Language and Speech for Influence, says if you ask a simple “yes or “no” question like, “hey are you cheating?” and he says “no” but his head is nodding “yes,” that’s a pretty massive sign that he’s lying to you.
He doesn’t stick around to cuddle after sex.
If your dude never wants to stick around post-sex, Wood warns this could be a big sign that he has another partner he’s more emotionally attached to. He feels strongly about this other person so he’s reserving this level intimacy for them. But keep in mind he could just not be much of a cuddler. Try asking him why he’s not sticking around afterwards; if he gives off some of the other lying tells when he gives you his explanation, then it’s a cause for concern.
He pats you on the back when you go in for a hug.
“You know how sometimes a guy goes to hug you and you actually don’t want to hug them so you just pat them on the back? That is actually a sign of infidelity in a mate,” Wood says. “Bizarrely, it’s so subconscious they don’t even realize they’re doing it and what they’re doing is making it less intimate and less sexual.” She also notes this gesture is only significant if he went for a full on hug the first few dates. If he does this from the get-go it could just be a sign he’s not that into you.
He has a look of rage on his face—even if it’s for a split second.
“Micro facial cues are facial expressions that go quickly across the face,” Wood explains. “It might be a fraction of the second—like a 40th of a second—of a different facial expression. It’s one of those things that the limbic system picks up on but your conscious mind might not.” Try testing infidelity by asking questions like, “are you seeing other people?” and noticing if a sudden look of fear or rage swipes across his face. “It might not stay there,” she notes. “It might just flash across the face but you'll see an emotion that doesn’t fit the conversation that you’re having.”
He hides his palms.
“When people are showing you their palms it means they’re telling you their truth,” says Brown. By that same token, if your ~BAE~ puts his hands in his pockets or under the table, that’s a sign of dishonesty. Try asking him a question about fidelity and pay attention to what he does with his hands.
He covers his mouth when discussing fidelity.
Couldn’t tell if he was lying when you asked how he feels about cheaters? Think back to what he was doing with his mouth. “If they cover their mouth, the next thing that comes out is always somewhere between a half truth and a lie,” warns Brown. “They’re holding back information.” Wood adds that another clue they might be lying is that they tense their lips and mouth.
His eye patterns change when discussing touchy subjects.
If his eye pattern shifts significantly from his norm when you ask a specific question, that could be cause for concern. For example, if he usually looks up and to the right when answering questions but suddenly he’s looking down and to the left the second you ask him something regarding fidelity, that’s a huge sign. “When people lie they’re in cognitive overload and they’ll start to do different things with their eyes because they’re actually doing something different in their brain with making up the answer or hiding an answer that’s true,” explains Brown.
He’s super private with his phone.
I really hope most of us already knew that a dude who’s hellbent on keeping his phone screen away from a woman he’s seeing is bad news. But, in case you didn’t, take Wood’s word for it. She highlights this concern by stating that, if the dude your dating is going out of his way to keep his phone screen out of your eyesight, it’s a pretty telling sign that he’s got stuff on there he doesn’t want you to see (**cough**cough**CHEATER**cough**cough**).
His speech patterns change when he talks about fidelity.
According to Brown, if you notice a shift in his speech pattern when he’s talking about being faithful (i.e his voice gets higher or louder than usual), this is a huge sign he could be lying to you.
He spends a lot of time preening.
If you catch him doing things like sticking his chest out, pulling his hair back, checking himself out in the mirror, and sticking his legs out further, Wood warns this could be because he’s “getting some and he’s feeling proud of himself for getting some.” Obviously, this is mostly just a cause for concern if he’s not currently getting some from you.
At the end of the day, Wood suggests the biggest indicator that this dude may be a cheater is that you have a feeling he is. Listen to your gut. Odds are it’s right.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.