Dear Neil: I strongly sense my husband is having an affair. For the past five years he has not been intimate with me, saying he has no sexual desire. But now out of the blue his sexual desire has returned. My gut says he’s been unfaithful, but I need to know definitely. Some years ago you printed a list of telltale signs of infidelity but I can’t find it. Could you re-print that list?
Miserable in Lexington, Kentucky
Dear Miserable: Sure. While there are no universal telltale signs of infidelity, there often are clues:
- Has your mate withdrawn or distanced from you?
- Has communication between the two of you declined or deteriorated? How openly are the two of you addressing problems, issues or conflicts?
- Are your disagreements and resentments getting worked through and resolved, or are they constantly festering underground? What about past resentments and hurts?
- Does your mate flirt with other people? How actively? How frequently?
- Is there a lot of anger in your relationship?
- Does your mate make sexual comments to other people (or about other people)?
- How impulsive is your partner? Does s/he sometimes do dramatic things on the spur of the moment without consideration for the consequences?
- Is one of you very dissatisfied about your sex life or the frequency of sex?
- Does s/he threaten an affair to get his/her way?
- Do you trust your mate? If not, why?
- Does your mate inappropriately touch other people?
- Does s/he go to bars or parties without you and come home drunk or high?
- Does s/he go to single’s events alone or with single friends?
- Do you sometimes catch him/her in lies? Is s/he sometimes dishonest with you?
- Does your mate sometimes talk about leaving the relationship, or that s/he is very unhappy, lonely, disappointed or unfulfilled in the relationship?
- Have your partner’s sexual techniques, wishes or demands abruptly changed?
- Is s/he excluding you from social meetings or other events the two of you would normally go to together?
- Is s/he coming home at unusual hours?
Although sex is involved, an affair isn’t normally about sex. It’s about an individual (or couple) not dealing with issues, avoiding conflicts and ignoring emotions—and therefore growing more distant from each other. Thus, adultery is a form of communication. It’s a way for one person to say to their mate: “The relationship isn’t working for me. I am feeling profoundly dissatisfied, disappointed, disconnected and/or disengaged.”
See if you can validate or confirm your suspicions, and then confront your husband with the information you have. It is difficult to have a long-term vital love relationship with someone that you don’t trust.