Suspicions of an Affair
by Peggy Vaughan

Often the first signal of an affair is a gut feeling that something is wrong. Most people reported having this feeling, although it varied in the way it appeared. For some it was a sudden feeling that resulted from a "casual comment or incident," while for others it came as a growing feeling of uneasiness, simply "intuition."

Casual Comments or Incidents:
Sometimes the first signal of an affair is a casual comment or incident that seems harmless on the surface, but is felt as an indication that something is wrong. Even though it may seem plausible on a "rational" level, on an emotional level it "registers" as some kind of danger (stimulating a kind of "fight or flight" reaction).

The first signals are seldom the stereotypical things like lipstick on the collar or strange phone calls. They're usually much more subtle, more of an intuitive reaction to changes in a partner's behavior, a sense that "something is different."

Following is a list of some of these changes.

  • more distant
  • more preoccupied with job, home, or outside interests
  • more attentive to clothes and accessories
  • more focused on weight and appearance
  • more absent from home with time unaccounted for
  • more glued to the TV set than usual
  • more interested in trying new things sexually than before
  • less attentive
  • less willing to talk or spend time together
  • less available emotionally
  • less interested in family issues
  • less interested in sex than usual
  • less involved in shared activities

It's tempting to look at this list, find that many of the items fit your partner's behavior, and jump to the conclusion that they're having an affair; but it's not that simple. Determining whether or not there's any significance to the changes in behavior depends on evaluating both the number of areas of change and the degree of change. For instance, changes in only a few areas would not be as significant as changes in many different areas. And very slight changes would not be as significant as more drastic ones.

But even if there has been a great deal of change in a large number of areas, this does not necessarily signal an affair. There are many reasons for such changes in behavior that have nothing to do with affairs, one of the most likely being an increased level of stress in the work environment. Other possible causes include concerns about health, aging, family, or finances. Whether or not the changes are due to an affair, they indicate a problem that needs to be discussed.

Adapted from my book, "The Monogamy Myth.

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