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How To Catch a Cheating Spouse

By Jason K Jensen, Private Investigator

A. Signs of a Cheater.

Cheating goes up when times get tough. Fighting at home over finances tends to drive couples apart more than it draws them closer. So do you wonder whether your spouse is a cheater? There are ways to find out.

First, here are some tell-tale signs:

  1. Alleged change of work schedule. He/she allegedly is held up at work later and later, increasingly he/she has to return to the office. However, there is no increased income or the spouse doesn’t complain about having to stay late or return.
  2. Increase phone/text/computer activity. He/she always seems to be on the telephone or computer, but not with you. Frequently, you find the phone or computer history is deleted or passwords are changed to prevent you from discovering the activity.
  3. Increased avoidance of spouse or family. He/she misses family functions that were once important. Heavy traffic or other excuses become more frequent.
  4. Increased secrecy. He/she avoids detailing daily activities. As mentioned above, passwords are changed and information is deleted or omitted.
  5. An unexplained new look. He/she is trying new hair styles or new clothes. For instance, once tight with money, he/she now shops more often, and shops alone for himself/herself.
  6. New under garments. The old underwear or granny-panties are gone. Briefs may be traded for boxers, or lace and colors are now in. However, these changes are claimed to be for spicing up your own love-life without an actual corresponding increase or effort.
  7. Increased incidents of hostility. He/she seems increasingly angry at you. Once tolerant of your faults, he/she frequently now points out your many mistakes, and blames you for his/her unhappiness. In addition, cheaters don’t trust. If he/she is accusing you of cheating, it’s probably because he/she is cheating. It’s human nature to normalize deviant behavior. Cheaters think "everyone is doing it."
  8. Division of previously joint money. You used to be responsible for the household bills or there was a team effort previously. Now he/she wants to divide the finances into "his" and "her" debts. But despite the change he/she neglects his/her own bills. At times, one member of the couple may suggest that the two should divide household expenses between them like "roommates."
  9. New habits or hobbies. He/she is now into new activities or sports where there was no interest before. However, you are not invited to come along or join the fun.
  10. New gym membership. He/she has lost a lot of weight. He/she wants to look good, but it appears it’s not for you to admire. Again, no increase in sex or effort.

You may have noticed that change in sex or sex-drive was not listed as a sign of a cheating spouse. That is because cheaters will frequently avoid detection of their extra-marital relationship by still engaging in intercourse with a spouse while carrying on an extramarital affair. Having multiple sex partners is the primary cause of the increase in guilt and increased hostility described in paragraph 7, above. When sex ends, that is not a sign of a new paramour (the extra-marital boyfriend or girlfriend), that is a sign that the marriage is over.

If you are alarmed by noticing a significant number of these signs of cheating occurring in your marriage, you may have a problem on your hands. Now that you fear he/she is cheating on you, what can you do about it?

There are two types of professionals from whom you can seek help. Depending on whether you want to end the marriage or salvage it, you can meet with your pastor or other religious leader(s), a marriage counselor, or a divorce attorney.

Some people may want to confirm that his/her spouse is cheating, but feel suspicions are not enough. If you are proceeding with a divorce action, your attorney may want corroborating evidence of adultery. Some religions require you to demonstrate adultery as the basis for a divorce to maintain your good standing in the church.

You can attempt to conduct your own investigation, or you can hire a private investigator. From experience, I would caution you against taking matters into your own hands. Many spouses who were caught spying become victims of domestic violence, or are hit with protective orders or stalking injunctions. Private investigators are professionals of discreet investigations.

There are two approaches to catching a cheater: Technology and/or surveillance.

B. Technology.

Computers and cell phones are the means in which cheaters maintain contact with their paramours. With or without a private investigator, there are ways to catch a cheater using the computer or cell phone. Inexpensive devices or software can be obtained to turn your computer or a cell-phone into a snitch. However, use them for short periods of time or you will be discovered, eventually.

Computer keyboard keylogger. A computer keyboard keylogger is a device that can be easily installed onto the back of your computer. Either it is a flash-drive device or your keyboard cable is plugged into it and the device is plugged into the CPU. The keylogger device records keystroke for keystroke detailing where someone surfs on-line, what their passwords are, and yes, even what messages are being typed. Since it is easily discovered by inspecting the back of the computer, prolonged use of a keylogger is discouraged.

Cell phone SIM card reader. Cheaters text SMS messages a lot. Just as soon as messages are sent or received they are deleted. A simple way to view deleted SMS messages ("text messages") is with a SIM card reader. These are SIM card recovery devices. Many times SIM card readers can recover up to 10 deleted text messages. The process is not always guaranteed and they are not compatible with every device. Even the same phone device model with back-to-back serial numbers doesn’t always work. It can work with one phone but not the next.

Covert video monitor. Nanny cams can be a good tool to bust a cheater. Video equipment can be purchased in stuffed animals, wall clocks, smoke detectors, table plants, and many others. You can point the video towards the computer or leave the device running in the family car. The recording can yield video of a taboo conversation or catch them video conferencing on the computer. There are no guarantees though. And what if you are caught?

GPS Tracking. GPS tracking loggers and real-time GPS devices are available everywhere. Many cell phones even have built-in GPS. Devices can be placed on vehicles or in bags, and later reviewed to identify places where a cheating spouse travels.

C. Private Investigator Surveillance.

To play it safe, you may want to hire a private investigator in order to avoid detection. Hire only experience. An experienced private investigator will know best which devices to use, when to use them or where to place them to avoid discovery.

You may be hiring a PI to collect evidence for your attorney, or you may want confirmation to give you peace of mind. You may want answers to support or dispel your suspicions. Who knows? Maybe you're just paranoid and he/she isn’t cheating at all. Once I had a client who was caught cheating in the past. In the 1990s he was caught with a co-worker. Instead of divorce, his wife reconciled for the sake of the children. But he was always vigilant of her actions attempting to catch her cheating – he probably needed to clear his own guilty conscience. He hired me several times hoping to catch her. I never did observe her doing anything wrong.

A private investigator will usually offer you photographic or video evidence of the spouse’s activity when he/she is involved with the opposite sex, particularly if the conduct is inappropriate. Reports and detailed activities logs can also be requested of the private investigator for use by your attorney in court, if need be.

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