These are things to be conscious of, especially if you’re feeling disconnected from your partner, or have reason to suspect them of cheating. “If you can recognize the signs early, you can more quickly strengthen the relationship to avoid or heal from an affair,” Herring says. Here are a few social media habits experts say might mean your partner is starting to stray, as well as what to do about it.
1. They’re Always Interacting With People You Barely Know
When you’re in a relationship, you tend to meet each other’s friends — or at the very least hear stories about them. So if your partner’s name is constantly popping up in threads with people you’ve never heard about, take note.
“Why is your significant other engaging a random person you’ve never heard of that they don’t know from work or their friend group?” This can be cause for concern, David Bennett, a certified counselor and relationship expert at The Popular Man, tells Bustle. If they’ve never mentioned the person before, and yet it seems like they know each other well, there may be a reason why they’re being a bit secretive.
2. They Ignore Your Tags And Comments
While interacting constantly on social media is not necessary for a healthy relationship, do take notice if they are not responding to you at all, and especially so if they ask you to limit the amount of photos you share, breakup coach Lee Wilson, tells Bustle. “Whereas this is a good privacy practice anyway, if [they have] never cared before,” he says, “that could be a clue of guilt.”
3 . One Name In Particular Keeps Popping Up
It isn’t a big deal if your partner likes someone else’s posts, or if they have a running commentary with a friend or an ex. But if it seems a bit flirty, and it’s making you uncomfortable, do speak up.
“Usually you will see a pattern of a particular [person] liking your [partner’s] photos or commenting on any status updates,” Jennifer Seiter, a relationship expert, tells Bustle. “If you see something like this it is best to talk to your partner immediately and approach [them] in a calm, non-threatening manner to lessen the likelihood of cheating before it starts.”
4. Posting Flirty Photos
If your social media posts have gone from PG to NC-17 in a matter of weeks after someone you’re attracted to started following you, you might be social media cheating. Posting photos for the purpose of tempting someone other than your significant other isn’t exactly innocent, after all.
5. They Make Plans Without You
Nothing sucks more than spotting your partner in photos from an event you heard nothing about. But this type of shady behavior can go down in subtler ways, too.
“If you are seeing your partner post about activities, outings, and events that you are not aware of at all, this is also a red flag that the relationship may not survive,” Justin Lavelle, a relationship expert and chief communications officer at Been Verified, tells Bustle.
While it’s healthy for both of you to have a life outside your relationship, if your partner is committed to you, they won’t struggle to share their plans and keep you in the loop. After all, they should want to be open and honest, and feel excited to tell you about what they’re up to.
6. Using Code Names
If you’re renaming contacts in your phone or only communicating with people using fake names online, it certainly seems like you’ve got something to hide. If you’re being fully faithful with your partner, you shouldn’t feel the need to hide who you’re talking to.
7. They’re Actively Talking To Their Ex
It’s totally OK if your partner wants to talk to their ex, or follow them on social media. But take note if they’re constantly chatting with them, posting inside jokes on their photos, or liking every. single. pic.
Again, open communication will be key. Not only will it prevent you from lying awake at night wondering what’s going on, but it will give your partner a chance to discuss why they might be feeling the need to get attention elsewhere. And from there, you can find ways to become close again.
8. They’re Always Laughing Into Their Phone
Hey, the internet is full of hilarious photos and videos. So if your partner is laughing at something on their phone, it does not mean they are cheating. But if they seem to giggle while chatting on Facebook — and are doing so late into the night, hiding their phone from you, etc. — take note.
As Milrad says, if they are cheating they might “smile and laugh as they type (and you get a vibe that something is going on) and then tell you that they are just texting with a friend.” If it doesn’t feel right, trust your gut.
When a partner is being open and forthright — and not cheating — they’ll be down to talk about their friends, and share what they’re up to. While this doesn’t mean they have to read every single text aloud, they won’t be secretive about them, either.
If your partner is hiding their phone, and won’t let you know what’s making them smile, feel free to ask more questions until you feel better about the situation. Again, it’s always better to get things out in the open, than it is to pretend nothing’s happening.
9. They Are Super Protective Of Their Phone/Laptop
It’s not only about what your partner does on social media, but also how they act in real life, too. For example, “if you’ve noticed a sharp increase in your partner’s phone usage, that’s definitely a red flag,” Herring says. It might mean they’re chatting on a dating site, or messaging someone they don’t want you to know about, especially if they’re being secretive about it.
10. Their Posts Are Kind Of “Anti-Relationship”
If your partner hasn’t been feeling connected to your relationship, they might start subtly saying so via their posts. You might notice “cryptic posts or quotes and memes that seem to indicate [they’re] questioning [their] current life direction,” Lavelle says. So if it seems like your partner is posting things that seem a bit “anti-relationship,” you very might be right.