How to tell if he's cheating.
ONCE upon a time, your heart was at ease and all was well in paradise. Back then, your man made it clear that you were a top priority, regardless of what was going on in his world. So if he said that he would pick you up at 9:00 p.m., you knew to expect your doorbell to ring at 8:45 p.m. And if he said he was going to hang out with friends, you knew that he wanted you to be right there hanging out with him. And if he said that he was working late, you could always count on that phone call from the workplace, reassuring you that he was on his way home, and that he couldn't wait to sink his teeth into his favorite dinner and spend some quality time with you.
But now the tide has turned and something, you can't put your hands on it, is radically wrong.
His whereabouts are unaccounted for. Sudden nondescript "emergencies" are putting you and your needs on the back burner. The sex is different; his brief kisses and even briefer phone conversations have become empty consolation prizes for his absences and unfulfilled promises.
And now your mind is asking the question that your heart may have answered a long time ago: Is he cheating?
How are you going to find out the truth? And what are you going to do with the truth once you know it--are you going to fight for your relationship, or are you going to dump him first?
Here is the best advice from relationship experts and Sisters who have walked a mile in your stilettos. Caution: As in all cases of the heart, ultimately, the choice to pursue the truth, and the decision on what to do once you know the truth, lies with you.
WHO'S CHEATING? WHO'S NOT?
Disclaimer No. 1: William July II, author of The Hidden Lover, and other relationship experts around the globe, point out there are many reasons why a man would cheat, and his infidelity may have nothing at all to do with you or the status of your relationship.
"... He isn't cheating because he doesn't have a good partner, it's because something inside him is creating a desire to go outside his relationship," July explains. "Often he's struggling with issues that are making him unstable."
Disclaimer No. 2: Not every Brother is a cheat, and there's a good chance that the Brother you're with isn't on the prowl for your replacement, at least according to recent statistics.
Although it may appear that there's a whole lot of bed-hopping and heartbreaking going on--(and, not to step on any toes, here, but a whopping 44 percent of Sisters admitted to cheating in the groundbreaking EBONY Sex Survey, October, 2004)--the reality is that no matter how bad the current infidelity trend may seem, the majority of men do NOT stray.
In fact, just a scant 22 percent of men are scandalous, according to Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), University of Chicago. Smith tells EBONY that the majority of African-Americans are vehemently against adultery, a trend that has been all but set in stone since the NORC began conducting such studies decades ago, and that the "adultery is wrong" sentiment is still echoed throughout the nation.
Yet Black women are quick to point out that the statistics about male infidelity are fluid at best. Many argue that 7 out of every 10 Brothers are creeping every now and then, or carrying on full secondary relationships.
FOLLOW THE CLUES: Telltale signs of a cheater.
Back in the old days, the signs of a straying mate weren't too hard to miss: The smell of foreign perfume lingering in his car or on his clothes; the sudden surge in so-called wrong numbers and hang-up calls received at your home; unusually long hours spent at work without the overtime pay to prove it; and an uncharacteristic interest in his personal appearance are just a few of the common red flags.
Despite the common telltale signs of infidelity, no two cheaters behave alike, experts say. Sometimes a cheater will pick an argument so that he can storm out of the house and into the arms of another; and sometimes, a cheater will become overly romantic, says television show producer and self-described cheater Bobby Goldstein, creator of the reality series, Cheaters.
"I wasn't at home a lot; I was very short-tempered with my ex-spouse, and I think I overcompensated for my actions by trying to do more and more good in less and less time," Goldstein says. "So if you receive flowers, and more attention, but the little things don't check out, or if there are expenses that are not accounted for, you need to [look out]. If a woman is smart, she will be all over this guy and make him come clean."
Here are other surefire signs of a cheater, according to Brittian Wilder, author of Is It Love or a Big Misunderstanding?:
* He is constantly saying, "I need more time to myself," even if you only see him a few days out of the week already.
* He's always finding excuses to be away from you. (Usually this is when "hanging with the homeboys" come into play.)
* Changes in the bedroom--he is rarely in the mood for sex; or he may try something new with you.
* He suddenly becomes critical of you and compares you to others.
* He develops an interest in new things, hobbies or even foods.
* He can't look you in the eye when you ask him pointblank, "Are you having an affair?"
Cheating on the Internet is just as serious as cheating in the flesh, despite the common belief that there are no victims when married partners engage in virtual sex while chatting with others online, according to Pennsylvania-area psychologist Kimberly Young, author of Tangled in the Web.
"I've discovered that people were getting hooked on the Internet the way people are addicted to drugs or alcohol," Dr. Young tells EBONY. "There are many stories of Internet infidelity that I've come across, and every couple's definition of cheating is different; some people believe that chatting on the Internet isn't cheating until they are at the point when they cross that boundary and they are going to meet the person.
She continues, saying, "A major sign that the online relationship is getting out of control is when the spouse is spending so much time around the computer that he doesn't go out with the spouse any more."
According to relationship experts, these are the common signs of an Internet affair:
* He is spending an inordinate amount of time on the Internet, especially time that used to be spent with you.
* He abruptly stops typing or turns off the computer in your presence.
* Your mate does not like to check his e-mail in front of you, or if he keeps multiple e-mail accounts.
* He has several unexpected meetings with people you don't know.
* Your mate regularly visits dating sites on the Internet.
* There are unusual credit card charges from unknown Internet merchants.
Getting to the truth online is going to be a lot harder nowadays.
One company supplies realistic alibis--complete with supporting documentation--for straying spouses; and a host of Internet companies sell computer software programs that promise to erase every site you visit, every file you open, and every person you've ever e-mailed for good. Which also means that perusing your lover's old e-mails, or monitoring their online chats and downloading activity may be a thing of the past.
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: How to Catch a Cheat (If you want to)
It used to be that most Sisters--blessed with the sixth sense of smelling a lie before it even tumbles out of a man's mouth--were quite adept at knowing, feeling, smelling, or sometime even predicting exactly when a partner has his good eye on someone else.
And for many, outwitting a cheating mate is a badge of honor, as Sisters have become quite industrious at getting to the bottom of things.
Renee * of New Jersey suspected that her husband was slipping out of the house during the wee hours of the morning as she slept, so she dumped dry copier ink at the entrance way seconds before the couple settled for bed.
"I destroyed the mauve carpet," she laughs. "But you should have seen the look on his face when I pointed out his set of black footprints returning to the bedroom."
(Renee's husband admitted to the fling, and the two are currently in marriage counseling).
Jackie * of Tallahassee, Fla., was unnerved by her boyfriend's constant mentions of a particular co-worker. She reprogrammed his cell phone so that it bypassed voice mail and automatically picked up whenever he received a call. On one Friday afternoon, Jackie called his cell phone at work and got an earful--all without his knowledge.