Dealing with a cheating partner can be one of the most difficult challenges a person has to face. In addition to the emotional turmoil that comes from the betrayal, there is often confusion about how to manage a problem you’ve never encountered before.
When a suspicion arises, sometimes it’s difficult to know for sure whether a partner is actually engaged in infidelity. Without a definitive answer, you’re going to be stuck in a state of uncertainty until the situation is resolved and that could take months, even years if you don’t act prudently.
As a private investigator, I deal daily with people who are victims of two-timing. I also regularly assist lawyers in the resolution of settlement and custody issues relating to family law disputes between former partners.
In my experience, deception is a pattern of behaviour so, if your partner is lying about something, it’s likely he or she is lying about other things as well. Because of this, I like to take the time to learn about our clients’ lives so we can endeavour to solve problems that may not have even arisen yet. Tailored, personal advice is always optimal but here’s the advice I would generally give a person who believes he or she is a victim of infidelity.
In most cases, a suspicion that a partner is cheating is proven to be accurate. Emotion is nature’s insurance policy but it is better to use it as a threat detector than a problem solver. In order to be able to plan a solution, it’s important for you to think calmly and logically so take a deep breath, go for a walk or meditate and try to get your sadness, shock or anger under control so you can prepare to solve your problems.
If your partner is guilty of infidelity and learns that you suspect him or her, it will be much harder to prove your suspicions as the cheater’s behaviour will change. Additionally, if your partner is lying about his or her faithfulness, it’s possible lies will also be told about the assets/income of the relationship in any financial settlement and the nature of the care you provide to the children. Because of this, you should act discreetly to properly prepare for any such deceit. Additionally, in rare circumstances, confronting a partner about infidelity could lead to violence.
If you want to determine whether your partner is cheating, rather than confronting him or her, you should discreetly discuss an investigation with a private investigator. Evidence of infidelity itself is generally not relevant to divorce proceedings in Australia but you may wish to get proof for yourself, your family (if they could blame you for the divorce later on) or to comply with your religious obligations. If there is going to be an asset settlement and/or a dispute over care of the children later, it might also assist you to identify the person your partner forms a new relationship with. An investigator can endeavour to help with that.
If you do decide to confront your partner, that is your choice but we would suggest it is done after considering and mitigating the potential risks arising from that course of action discussed here.
Sometimes, the unfaithful are narcissists, sociopaths or pathologically deceptive and such people may go to extraordinary lengths to invade your privacy or control your life. If you feel your partner could take advantage of you in any way, pay particular attention to this section.
To deal with infidelity, you’ll possibly need the help of a lawyer, a friend, a counsellor, a private investigator and/or possibly others so let’s ensure you can communicate with those people securely without your current or former partner’s knowledge.
With the right technical know-how and/or assistance, your partner can: hack your phone, tablet or computer; access your online and offline accounts including email, social media, banking, phone, etc; follow your movements via GPS monitoring of your phone or vehicle or through physical surveillance or drone surveillance; watch and listen to you through covert cameras, listening devices or access control systems in your home, vehicle or workplace; intercept your physical mail before it reaches you or after you discard it; physically access your home/car/office when unoccupied and more.
The most straightforward way for you to ensure your communications are secure is to use the phone or email account of a trusted friend or relative whom you believe is unlikely to be the target of any improper monitoring by your partner. In circumstances where you don’t have a trusted friend or relative nearby, attend a library, community centre or a doctor’s office and seek help from the staff to use their communication tools. When you discuss anything sensitive with anyone, ensure your phone and any other digital devices you carry that could be subject to monitoring are not within earshot as they could be compromised by spyware.
If you need emotional support, contact a counsellor. If you need evidence of infidelity, hacking, stalking or other improper conduct, contact a private investigator. If you need legal advice about any aspect of separating, contact a lawyer. If you believe a serious crime has been committed, contact the police. If you believe you’re likely to be subjected to violence or threats in future, contact a licensed security professional and consider obtaining an Apprehended Violence Order, or similar.
Don’t hesitate to contact more than one type of expert, as required. If you are struggling financially, legal aid may be able to assist. The police are often too busy to help with anything other than very serious crimes so you should consider also consulting an investigator and/or lawyer if you are a victim of crime.
It is extremely important to differentiate between a competent expert and someone who is not competent. As anyone who has had a bad experience will tell you, using the wrong lawyer can set you back considerably, both financially and strategically. Do your research before making a decision about any type of expert – consider discreetly asking friends for recommendations if possible. Then, when you are ready, devise a strategy with your experts and put it into action.
Proof of infidelity usually comes in one form – video evidence of intimacy or affection captured by a licenced private investigator. As any experienced investigator will tell you, this is the form of evidence that leaves no doubt as to the culpability of the cheater because it cannot be denied.
Hearsay, SMSs or emails, odours on clothes, unfamiliar phone numbers – all of these forms of evidence can be helpful in raising a suspicion or perhaps even identifying a suspect third party but, unlike video evidence, they will rarely ever be conclusive. The level of evidence you need is up to you but try to consider whether you will need more evidence than what you presently have in future.
Don’t try to get evidence yourself because you’re likely to be caught and don’t put yourself at risk of a jail term by doing something illegal, like intercepting phone calls or text messages. Leave it to the professionals and get the answers you need.
If your partner is deceptive, we have discussed how he or she might seek to gain an unfair advantage in the financial settlement and/or with respect to the orders regarding care of the children. For example, your partner might hide assets or claim you are neglecting the children or, indeed, engage in other behaviour that is controlling, manipulative or abusive. In extreme cases, a cheater may create evidence that makes it appear you have committed a crime or commit identity fraud against you – this is something we have seen.
If you or your children are at risk of any of the above, keep a written diary if it is safe to do so. Photographs of any relevant evidence are also worthwhile. Do not document any form of evidence on any device that could be subject to monitoring or could be found by your partner. Digital devices that are the property of the relationship can contain useful evidence and should be secured, along with any physical evidence, where it is safe to do so.
Once you are in possession of the evidence you need, ensure you have a strategic plan in place. You don’t want to “win” a relationship dispute by rubbing the truth in your partner’s face – you want to make decisions and take action that will result in you being in the best possible position in future. Some victims of cheating partners even stay with their partners and that is the choice of any person who finds him or herself in that situation, provided it is an informed decision.
Consider consulting a lawyer and a counsellor if you have not already done so and use your informational advantage to your benefit. If you are worried about an abusive response from your partner when you advise you are moving on, take steps to ensure that when you advise him or her, you are doing so from a safe place where you are not exposed to any risk.