Do you want to learn how to find out if your partner is cheating online? Does it count as cheating if all their interactions are online? And due to the popularity of social media and dating apps, is it now easier to cheat? If you’ve got all these questions on your mind, then allow me to commiserate. The suspicion of being cheated by your partner is one of the worst feelings in the world.
Still, if you do nothing—if you pretend the problem doesn't exist or will go away on its own—that’s even worse. You’re setting yourself up for even more pain and heartache down the line.
And that’s why I wrote this article—to answer the questions running in your head right now. You’re about to learn:
- What counts as online cheating
- How to find out if your partner is cheating online
- And if they are, what you can and should do
Let’s unpack each area, one at a time. First:
What Counts as Online Cheating
Before the age of the Internet, cheating was easy to define: It was having sex with someone who wasn’t your partner, without your partner knowing about it. Quite straightforward.
Now, with the Internet, the definition of “cheating” has broadened vastly. With humanity so hyper-connected, there are now many more ways to cheat in a relationship, including the following:
Cybersex is simply having sex online, without the need to be physically present. The sexual act is done over chat, email, or livestream. The two parties basically show and tell in lurid detail what they’re “doing” to each other, using their imaginations to get a sexual release.
If your partner is engaging in cybersex with third parties, and they tell you things like: “It’s just roleplay, there’s nothing to worry about, it’s not a big deal,” etc., you’re in trouble. The thing is, it is a big deal, and it can very well lead to real cheating down the line.
Sending and receiving nudes
Another now-common way to cheat online is to swap one’s nude photos with a third party’s. As a taken individual’s naked body is normally “for their partner’s eyes only,” swapping nudes with strangers is a betrayal of trust, tantamount to cheating.
Online emotional affairs
This is the act of confiding in someone else instead of one’s partner.
When your partner has a serious problem, who do they turn to first—you, or someone online? If it’s the latter, that’s cause for worry. You’re supposed to be each other’s emotional ports in the storm, and yet here’s a third-party confidant in the mix. Unwelcome, wouldn’t you say?
Now, one might say: “Well, my partner’s confidant is a mutual friend, so it should be fine, right?”
Wrong. Left alone, emotional confidants tend to become physical confidants down the line. And that’s a line that should never be crossed.
Anonymous online dating
Lastly, there are the hugely popular online dating apps. There are hundreds of apps out there, many free to use, that allow people to create anonymous profiles. There are even ways to use Tinder anonymously. They then match up with a like-minded stranger, meet up somewhere, have a one-night stand, and then part ways.
Thanks to these apps, it’s become incredibly easy to cheat on one’s partner. And that should worry you. If you can, check your partner’s phone if they downloaded an app like Tinder. If you’re not in a casual or open relationship, that should raise a red flag for you.
There you have it—four of the most common forms of online cheating today. These should give you an idea of what to watch out for, because again—it takes very little for an unhappy partner to stray.
Now, let’s unpack the second part of the equation:
How to Find Out if Your Partner is Cheating Online
There are five quick ways to check whether your partner has been unfaithful to you on the Internet. If they check out on two or more of the following, then they’re definitely up to something, and you may need to intervene quickly.
#1: They’re obsessed with replying to chats and emails
When their device pings, they drop everything they’re doing to check the new message or email—even when they’re mid-conversation with you. Anything that grabs her attention from you—especially something they say is “nothing”—should worry you.
It’s even worse when they take their device and discreetly go to another room to check the message. What’s so secretive that they need to get away from you to check? Nothing good, that’s for sure.
#2: They have social media accounts you don’t know about
This is when you see them logged into someone else's social media account, and then later on, realize it’s actually theirs. They’re using a fake name. Now, why would they do something like that?
There are many reasons someone would create a fake profile: To stalk someone, as a burner account, or—you guessed it—for cheating.
#3: Their devices are password-locked
It’s normal to have your devices locked. What’s not normal is to lock your devices and not tell your partner—the person you trust the most—the passwords.
In committed relationships, complete trust is assumed and expected. That expectation extends into each other’s devices and online accounts. If your partner insists on their privacy, something’s up. What do they have to hide?
#4: Strange new behavior
Has your partner shown any sudden change in behavior, such as any of the following?
- They’re suddenly more interested in working overtime at their workplace, coming home later and later
- They’re no longer interested in spending quality time with you
- They avoid making eye contact with you
If you’ve noticed strange new behavior like this one, she could be cheating on you.
Take note of physical changes especially. If they’re suddenly paying close attention to their appearance when going out, or if they no longer want to get intimate or even have deep conversations with you, something’s up. And it’s not good.
#5: There’s evidence on your PC
Lastly, if you share a PC with your partner, check the browser history. Your partner may have left traces of online dating activity, nude photos, or other incriminating evidence.
Sometimes, your partner might forget to log out of their (top secret) social media accounts. If you can, check their messages. I hope you don’t find anything but do mentally prepare yourself for the worst.
If you spot two signs or more, you can be almost sure they’re in contact with someone else behind your back.
Now, let’s say you’ve confirmed the worst: Your partner has been cheating on you online. What do you do next?
What to Do When You Find Out They’re Cheating Online
The good news is that any relationship, even one shattered by infidelity, can still be saved. The bad news is that even if you saved your relationship, things will never be the same. Whether that’s something you’re willing to live with or not will be up to you.
That said, here are the three best courses of action at this point:
The best way to address a cheating incident is through open communication with your unfaithful partner. It’ll be raw, honest, and painful—but it’s the only way to get to the root of the problem.
From there, you can decide whether to stay in the relationship or end it. One thing’s for sure: One partner can’t resolve the cheating problem by themselves. You must work together.
I’m sure you know a few celebrity couples who went through the storm of infidelity, worked through it, and are now stronger and happier than ever before. It can happen to you, too, if you both do the work.
- You’re sure you can’t “cure” your relationship of cheating, so you quit while you’re ahead
- One of you is not willing to go through the pain and stress of fixing the relationship (It could be you or your partner)
- You feel the love has been gone for a while, and there’s no getting it back
- Any of these other signs it’s time to break up
This can be a tough choice to make, especially when you’re married to your cheating partner and there are kids in the picture. In such a situation, you might be forced to make a compromise somewhere.
Now, what if things were better than you expected? What if you found no signs of your partner cheating online, and everything’s okay after all?
My first piece of advice is to not get complacent. Again, it doesn’t take much to cheat these days. So you must be proactive and prevent even a whiff of infidelity from ever taking root.
I suggest you simply spend most of your time, money, and energy on making your relationship extremely fulfilling for your partner. You’ll want it to be the place they’ll always come home for acceptance and fun, whether it’s the physical or emotional kind.
After all, if they find everything they need with you, there’s no reason for them to look elsewhere.
So go ahead—shore up your relationship and protect it from the lures of online infidelity. Good luck!