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11 Ways People Try to Hide Infidelity

These are the most-frequently-used strategies to hide cheating.

Key points

  • A partner may engage in several behaviors simultaneously to avoid being caught in an affair.
  • Individuals expend a great deal of energy to hide an affair that might cost them their marriage.

As we all know, infidelity is not uncommon. If you haven't experienced it yourself, it is extremely likely that you have consoled a friend who has. It is one of the most painful experiences within a marriage, as it is a major betrayal. Nonetheless, individuals form bonds outside of their marriage that sometimes cross the line and morph into emotional or physical affairs.

To identify behaviors that partners may engage in to hide affairs, Apostolou (2022) conducted two illuminating studies. In Study 1, he sought to identify acts that individuals engage in to hide behavior that may cost them their marriage. The participants were 297 Greek-speaking males and females who were at least 18 years old. In Study 2, he collapsed the 53 behaviors into 11 broad strategies. The study participants were 300 Greek-speaking men and women who reported that they had been unfaithful.

The results of the studies were quite interesting. People who stepped outside of their marriages engaged in the following strategies. The most commonly used were being discrete, eliminating digital evidence, and keeping the same behavior. Here is the list:

1. Be discrete—which included many of the following behaviors:

  • Meeting the parallel partner in remote places.
  • Meeting the parallel partner in isolated places.
  • Meeting in places where he/she is not known.
  • Making sure there are believable excuses for his/her absence, e.g. work, golf, etc.
  • Meeting in places where the partner is unlikely to be.
  • Meeting the parallel person while the partner is away at work or while traveling.

2. Eliminate digital evidence—which included the following behaviors:

  • Deleting messages from the cell phone and computer.
  • Being careful when using social media.
  • Requesting that the parallel partner not send messages or call.

3. Keeping the same behavior—which included:

  • Trying not to change one's attitude toward a partner.
  • Trying not to neglect the partner.
  • Being careful not to make noticeable changes in behavior.
  • Keeping cell phone in silent mode.

4. Show more interest in my partner—which included:

  • Being warmer with partner.
  • Trying to be generous with partner's demands.
  • Buy gifts for partner.
  • Try to keep sexual life active to avoid suspicion.

5. Use a different email/phone—which included:

  • Creating an additional email.
  • Having an additional phone to communicate with parallel relationship partner.
  • Blocking incoming calls and messages during certain time periods.

6. Securing electronic devices and accounts—which included:

  • Changing passwords.
  • Locking cell phones.
  • Hiding cell phones.

7. Using friends for coverage—which included:

  • Lying about being with a friend.
  • Justify absences by using work demands as an alibi.
  • Be secretive about affair with everyone including all friends.

8. Present the extra-pair partner as a friend and/or colleague—which included:

  • Lying about the actual nature of the relationship.

9. Not appearing suspicious—which included:

  • Meeting parallel partner at less suspicious times such as during the morning.
  • Starting a hobby or activity to justify being unavailable or away.
  • Asking partner fewer questions with the hope of being asked fewer questions.

10. Infrequent contact—which included:

  • Avoiding meeting parallel partner too frequently.
  • Not keeping parallel relationship for a long duration of time.

11. Keep the same routine—which included:

  • Not changing daily routine.
  • Not making changes to appearance.
  • Try to control expenses so that they don't appear unusual.

It is important to note that not all individuals who engage in infidelity utilize all of the strategies listed above. However, more than 70% of participants reported being willing to use at least 7 of these strategies. Additionally, participants who scored high In Machiavellianism (interpersonally manipulative, lack of empathy, focus on self, and indifference to morality) were more likely to engage in these strategies. The studies are illuminating but do have limitations: They did not look at strategies that people use once their partner becomes suspicious, for example; and these might be somewhat different than the strategies identified in these 2 studies.

Facebook image: antoniodiaz/Shutterstock


Apostolou, M. (2022) Catch me if you can:Strategies for hiding infidelity. Personal and Individual Differences.(189)

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