How do I tell if my partner is having an affair?
Sexpert, Desiree Spierings BA (Psych) MHSc (Sexual Health); Sex Therapist; Relationship Counsellor; Director of Sexual Health Australia and Editorial Advisory Board Member of Virtual Medical Centre and Parenthub responds:
Trust is an essential element in a relationship and there are many ways in which trust can be broken; not just by cheating but also for example by not honouring your vows, not meeting your partner’s needs, or by breaking promises.
Trust has 5 components and these are honesty, transparency, accountability, ethics, and alliance. If you have a trustworthy relationship there will be honesty, which means you do not lie to one and other and always tell the truth. You will both be transparent in that you will have no secrets and there is a willingness to share more information when requested. There will be accountability, where each partner will do what they promise they would do. Also you will both have similar ethical standards, norms, and values. Last but not least you will feel a strong sense of alliance and security in that your partner has your back and is totally on your side.
When you notice your partner is lacking any of these 5 components it could be a sign that he/she is cheating or you wouldn’t get this feeling that he/she is untrustworthy. So for example, if you find out your partner did not go to a business meeting where they were supposed to be, and when you confronted them they lied about it and became very defensive and secretive, it means they are lacking accountability, honesty and transparency, which in turn can make you feel like something is up because trust at that point is broken. It does not necessarily mean he/she is cheating though.
It is then important not to stick your head in the sand, but to be in an investigatory mode that can empower you. If you do feel suspicious there is also nothing wrong with telling your partner what you are thinking and feeling, and remember if they have nothing to hide, they hide nothing.
So when they really care about you they would then want to take all your worries away by being more transparent, definitely not less.
So being aware of these 5 components empowers you to see whether you are in a trustworthy relationship. However, people can have something that is often referred to as ‘trust issues’. This means the problem does not lie with your partner, but with you instead. So your partner can be completely worthy of trust, but you still don’t see it or believe it. Trust issues can come from past experiences, from a lack of having trust in yourself, or from self-esteem issues relating to a fear of rejection. If you have trust issues, it is then important to recognise this, and to not lay the blame with your partner, but to take ownership of it and to take on the responsibility of solving it. Otherwise chances are that this is going to be damaging to not just your current relationship but also all your future ones.