Remember when you were young and you thought love was this invincible, bulletproof force that was immune to outside influence, impervious to evil and capable of overcoming all obstacles? And, then you found out your girlfriend was sleeping with your best friend since a week after you met, and that bubble was ruptured, never to be restored again.
Sorry. Maybe we got a little personal on that one. Maybe, you’re one of the lucky few who remains a fool for love, and the wool has yet to wear away before your eyes. We hate to single-handedly destroy your remaining naivete, but women do cheat. Thankfully, more often than not, these kind of things don’t often happen without some sort of warning. Or in some cases, many.
Here are intimations of infidelity that should tentatively raise flags: 10 Signs Your Girlfriend Is Cheating On You.
She pays more attention to her phone than you.
If you inevitably spend every dinner glaring at her as she pivots between various social networks and replies to every text message that springs up, don’t be too quick to write her behavior off as a sign of the times.
Sure, we’re all guilty of being so overly engrossed in our digital lives that we neglect the present moment. But if she makes a continual habit of talking to her Twitter followers more than you during dinner dates, it may point to her lack of investment in the relationship, not just her fleeting attention span. We don’t want to say she might be spending your night together making plans with someone else, but stranger things have happened.
Saturdays used to be your day. Nothing was said, no plans were made; it was just assumed that you’d be spending time together. But lately, it seems something more important to her comes up each week. Your weekly dates are no longer set in stone, and everything and everyone else takes precedent.
If you see your quality time slowly dwindling away, it absolutely points to her waning interest in the relationship, and it could mean she has transferred her affections elsewhere, or is at least entertaining the thought.
Independence is healthy, but a new-found focus on partying with her friends could mean she’s putting herself out there again and is seriously considering pulling the plug on your love.
If your girl goes into makeover mode and tears through the mall like Sonic the Hedgehog on a mission, you should take notice. Most women have an affinity for retail, but if her shopping takes on a rabid focus seemingly out of nowhere, you should ask yourself why she has become invested in reinventing herself.
Again, it’s about a departure from the norm. If your girl normally puts on a full face of make-up to run errands, don’t think twice about her putting on mascara to go to the dry-cleaners. But if she’s a sweats-and-Chapstick type of chick, and she suddenly starts taking an hour to get ready to go out (particularly, without you), you have a reason to worry.
Remember when you first met and every day was peppered with a constant exchange of flirty, borderline-salacious text messages? It’s normal for your text game to fall off from that initial honeymoon phase, but if she takes hours to respond without explanation, and can’t muster up an ounce of enthusiasm when she does, it’s not a good look for your relationship.
There’s a real possibility she’s under stress at work, or just in an emotional rut. But if you’re able to rule that out (which you can do with a few simple questions) and you notice she rarely takes the initiative to text—and if she does, it’s to ask where you are—she might be tracking your whereabouts for less than innocent reasons. We hate to be the ones to say it, but she’s not suddenly interested in the minutiae of your day—she’s covering her ass.
If you look in your iPhone’s calendar, are the upcoming months looking unusually devoid of commitments? None of her 200 cousins has a wedding planned, you’ve yet to confirm any plans for your accrued vacation days, and hell, you haven’t even heard about one of those double dates with her best friend she usually forces you to pencil in each month.
It’s possible she’s overwhelmed at work or otherwise preoccupied; it’s also possible she’s plotting an escape and is hesitant to extend any invitations knowing she’ll eventually have to rescind them. Or, even worse, she’s too invested in someone new to realize she’s been neglecting your shared social schedule.
Every couple has sex routines. Maybe three times a week is your norm; maybe you get it in every night. But if your norm inexplicably changes, and you find you’re battling a new excuse every night, you may want to investigate what lies at the root of the issue. Is she really too tired (every damn night)? Has your sex life just gotten that boring? Or, is she simply disinterested in humping you…because she’s getting it elsewhere?
We’re not saying you should draw wild conclusions from a single “not tonight,” but be aware of what normal looks like so you know when your sex schedule diverges from it, and take the time to discuss what the real issue is.
This points to larger issues of being attention-starved, having an insatiable ego, and otherwise being insecure. But more notably, if she’s comfortable batting her eyes at other people in front of you, what is she doing when you’re not there?
If your previously secure girlfriend suddenly goes into paranoia mode, you should take notice. If she snaps at you over seemingly innocent actions (basically, anything on this list, but in small, completely commonplace increments), she might be trying to throw you off her scent. By focusing your attention to your perceived failings, you’ll be less apt to interrogate her about her actual foul play, which is just the way she’d like it.
It’s easy to misinterpret any of the aforementioned signals as infidelity when in actuality, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation. But, if you start noticing that the signs are slowly piling up, and she’s recently admitted she’s no longer happy in the relationship, you might be on the verge of a full-fledged confession.
Guilt is a tricky emotion, and she might feel that by fessing up to her flailing satisfaction in the relationship, she is offering you (and herself) an explanation for her selfish actions. Or, she could be gearing up to act on a long-held impulse, and making her excuses in advances so she can later utter, “I told you so,” with aplomb.
So, she disappeared for five hours for the third time in a week and blamed it on falling asleep, and you actually believed her? That’s cute. We guess what they say is true—love is actually blind.
We hate to be the ones to pry those stubborn eyelids open, but if your girl goes M.I.A. for days at a time, you need to stop making excuses and start getting answers.
Shanté Cosme can be reached @ShanteCosme. This post was first published on Complex.