It's no surprise that being emotionally cheated on feels terrible, arguably even WORSE than regular ol' cheating. And part of that comes from simply not knowing for sure. There are no sexts or misplaced undergarments to uncover; instead, you have agonizingly smaller clues to go off of, constantly wondering if you're just being paranoid and clingy.
However subtle they may be, here are nine ways to tell if your partner has romantically checked out—and possibly moved on to someone else.
They do little things to keep you from seeing their texts.
This can be anything from strategically angling their body away from you to suddenly getting very annoyed at you using their phone to check the time. The key thing is that this is *new* behavior.
"If your gut feeling is that this is kind of atypical for this person, and they're not just privacy freaks, then yes, I think they're definitely trying to hide something from you," says Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
They're suddenly always checking their DMs.
Again, if they've always been on social media, it's much harder to tell if anything's going on. But Dr. Whitbourne says if your boo is suddenly ultra-invested in an app, like Snapchat, that conveniently erases potential evidence, or is out-of-the-blue into storying everything and frantically checking who saw them, well.
"I think any deviation from usual behavior is a good reason not to get overly paranoid about it, but to wonder what's going on," Dr. Whitbourne says. "They could be cheating—they're certainly hiding things, and I think that is reason enough to have your antenna out there."
She also notes to go in with an open mindset—they genuinely could be realizing, for the first time, how addictive Twitter is, and not necessarily cheating. But it's good to listen to your gut.
They text a LOT when you're on dates together and don't provide an explanation.
It's not that your partner is never allowed to get lost on their phone when they're at dinner with you. Bosses e-mail, and group chats drop juicy goss at the worst times—hey, it happens! But the main thing is that they apologize and tell you why you have to wait a minute.
"You're competing for somebody else's attention—without knowing who that person is, you might very well have reason to be suspicious," Dr. Whitbourne says. "Normally, if people have a work thing that they can’t possibly interrupt, they'll tell you."
And again, if your partner used to hold your hand during coffee dates and now spends half the time on their phone, look out for that.
They've stopped sharing nearly as much as they used to with you.
Generally, one of the best parts of being in a relationship is you have someone you can recap all the parts of your day to—even the super-boring, not-so-great ones. So when your partner goes from passionately venting about their day to an automated, "It was fine," that could be cause for alarm.
"If they used to be pretty open and talk about their feelings and what they're doing, and now they've clammed up, one could wonder why this happened," Dr. Whitbourne says. It's doubly suspect if they then say nothing to you but will immediately hop on their phone and text someone else.
They seem disinterested in any intimacy with you at all.
The obvious sign is that they never initiate sex anymore or seem really detached when you do have it. But Dr. Whitbourne says a core lack of intimacy in general—less kissing, hand-holding, hugging, or touching—can be a red flag if it feels like an abrupt change.
"If they've gone from hot to cold, and you've got a few of these other things going on, it would suggest you have something to worry about," Dr. Whitbourne says. Unless they have a disorder or crisis you're aware of that's making them withdraw out of nowhere, people usually don't dramatically cut down on cuddles if everything's fine in the relationship.
They hang out a lot with one person and never want you to come along.
Yup, them insisting on only spending one-on-one time with their work spouse is, uh, obviously not a good sign. But Dr. Whitbourne says being snubbed doesn't always happen because your S.O. has a crush on someone else.
"Emotional cheating could also be, 'I don't want you to get to know my friends,'" she adds. "Their interest is really with other people, not you." Yes, it's important and healthy for couples to have their own hobbies and friendships, but if your partner is adamant about separating their life from yours when they used to bring you to their group hangs, it can be a sign that they're distancing themselves from the relationship in a suspicious way.
They're comparing you to one specific person all the time.
If your S.O. is interested in someone else, chances are, they may end up weighing your pros and cons against theirs. And that's deeply unfair to you as a partner, when you're the one in the relationship while the crush gets to be in the unattainable-fantasy stage. Do you really need to hear how Kendall seems to always be in a bubbly mood while you're supposedly a perma-grump?
“There's something glittery and shiny about this person that your partner is attracted to," Dr. Whitbourne says. "You can't be 100 percent sure what it is, but it is a form of cheating in that it's putting you down in favor of somebody else.”
They're picking fights and even accusing *you* of wanting to break up.
If you find that your spats as of late are borderline-ridiculous and you have no idea how they start every time, oof. "They’re looking for an easy way out," Dr. Whitbourne says. They might even go as far as to ask you if you're cheating or wanting out of the relationship.
They want you to get so fed up that you're the one who breaks up with them, sparing them the difficult, messy task of sitting you down and ending your partnership because they like someone else or want to be single.
They're more flexible around this other person than they are around you.
They'll drop dinner with you to grab drinks with their new friend, but when you bring up a weekend trip, they're suddenly not sure if they have the time or money. They're now more cautious about carving out space for you, especially if it involves anything in the future.
"They may be in the contemplating phase, and they're exploring alternatives," Dr. Whitbourne says. "At the moment, for some reason, they're afraid to break up with you. They're afraid that they're not sure or they're not ready."
Keeping you at arm's length without making any big promises, lets them emotionally test the waters with someone new while having you as a backup option.
Ok, so this list confirms your fears, and you want to confront your partner. What now?
Dr. Whitbourne says to tread lightly. "You want to be really careful here, because even the idea of confronting is going to put the person on the defensive," she says.
Her advice is to use "I" statements and to shift the focus to how you're feeling as a partner and as a couple. Say you're feeling distant from them or as though you're not being listened to as much as you used to. Avoid bringing up any specific person or "suspect," because you still could be wrong, and the discussion can veer off track. And, if you're right, your partner may not want to own up to it.
All you can do at this point is be honest about how you feel. The only thing you know for sure is that your gut is telling you that something's not right. Listen to it.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.