3 Signs of Text Message Cheating


    5 Min Read


    It used to be if you wanted to have an affair it took some effort. You had to arrange secret calls and rendezvous and sneak around -- not anymore.

    Today’s technology has provided easier and easier ways for partners to cheat on one another. And sadly, text message cheating has become a simple way to cheat without much work at all.


    What makes it even more confusing is that sometimes cheating via text isn’t even intentional. Regardless of intention, text message cheating happens a lot and can wreak havoc on a relationship.

    Not sure what I mean? See if this sounds familiar.

    Someone gets your cell number (a coworker, someone from the gym, a person you met at a party) and starts sending you friendly texts. Before you know it you’re having full conversations by text, sometimes several times a day. And most problematic is that because it’s by text you can do so anytime, anywhere.

    Why Text Cheating Can Be Hard To Recognize

    It's pretty common for cheating partners to be cheating by texting messages right in front of their unknowing partner.


    I've had partners tell me that it happened when they were lying next to each other in bed, riding in the car together, and standing in the kitchen talking to each other. The phone beeps or buzzes and the partner responds to a text that is explained away as just a friend or coworker, but is really the other woman or other man.

    Here’s an interesting example of text cheating:

    We have had problems since December when I found out she was in a texting affair. We worked through that, but in February she developed a very close friendship with another woman. I started suspecting something was not right with this friendship so I confronted her and she became mad and defensive. Well it seemed ok until she started texting her like 100 times a day, then she started running into to her wherever she went. I think they were doing it on purpose, so I asked her and she became very angry again saying I was over analyzing it." -Rick

    Here’s another case showing men and women are equally vulnerable:

    I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for 3.5 years and we are both thinking about getting married. I love him, I love spending time with him, and I really want to be married, but I'm also very worried that I can't trust him not to cheat. From the very beginning it has been difficult for him to stop being always on the lookout for someone to flirt with or date, even though we are together. He had an extremely inappropriate texting relationship with a girl he briefly dated in college, which went on for the first year and a half of our relationship." -Tonya

    All cheating causes pain, but because text message cheating can literally happen while together with your partner it can be especially hurtful. It doesn’t take physical contact with someone else to cause deep wounds and break the trust that’s so crucial to a healthy relationship.

    3 Signs Of Text Message Cheating + 1

    As you can see, texting can cross the line and become a problem with any kind of relationship. It may not be physical cheating, but emotional infidelity, which can involve forming deep emotional connections or romantic attachments with someone other than your partner, is equally as painful and damaging.


    So, what are some signs of text message cheating?

    Here are 3 signs:

    1. Treating your phone like it's something you can’t be separated from. If you always have to have your phone by your side, even at home, that's a warning sign.

    2. Your phone is locked and no one is allowed to use it or look at what's on it.

    3. Apps installed that can be used to text or instant message in secrecy. I won't give their names to prevent the information from being misused, but cheating apps, and some of the everyday apps many of us already use give the option to hide communication. So, you should know what apps are on your partner's phone and what they're used for.

    Another sign is,

    • Secretive behavior while texting. Hiding text conversations, deleting messages, or being excessively protective of your phone can raise suspicions and indicate that you're engaging in behaviors you don't want your partner to know about.

    More egregious ways cheating via text occurs are:

    • Flirty or romantic messages. Sending affectionate, flirty, or romantic messages to someone other than your partner at a minimum is a form of micro-cheating.

    • Communication with an ex. No matter how amicably things ended, continuously texting an ex-partner and sharing personal information or providing emotional support can be a sign of cheating and threaten the trust and emotional intimacy in your current relationship.

    • Sexting. Engaging in sexting or sending explicit messages to someone other than your partner is a clear breach of trust and considered cheating.

    The boundaries of what constitutes cheating can vary from one relationship to another. It's crucial to have open and honest communication with your partner about what’s considered acceptable and unacceptable behavior within your relationship.


    Unfortunately, today's technology offers many ways to have a texting affair and keep it secret.

    • Phone records will show texts were sent, but you can’t see their content.

    • Flipping through the contacts list won't usually be revealing either as the names and numbers are often hidden under a false contact.

    What To Do When You're Suspicious

    Dealing with a cheating partner is tricky, no matter how it’s happening.

    The pain and betrayal can stir-up many strong emotions, especially anger.

    These feelings can cause people to act in ways that simply make things worse and lead to even more hurt, particularly if you’re mistaken about your suspicions.

    There are things you can do, however, to help determine whether there may be something to worry about.

    One thing to do to uncover text message cheating is to ask to look at your partner's phone and watch their reaction. Their behavior after your request will typically reveal more than anything you could ever find on their phone.

    I was counseling a troubled couple recently and he had been suspected of cheating. When she asked to see his phone, he wouldn't give it to her, but after a long fight he held it up 3 feet away from her face and flipped through the screens. Then he locked it and walked away.

    Suspicious behavior? You bet.

    Was he hiding something? Yep.

    There’re many excuses that can be given as to why the contents of a phone cannot be shared, but keep in mind that very, very few of us really have justifiable reasons why our partner cannot look through our phone. And if your partner says they do, be very skeptical.

    And, unfortunately, texting isn’t the only way technology can be used to facilitate an affair. Facebook and Instagram also provide covert ways for partners to cheat. Once again, smart phones provide many convenient and stealthy means for someone to cheat.


    If your partner is engaging in behaviors that make you uncomfortable or you feel like they’re cheating via text or any other means, it's essential to initiate a conversation to share your concerns.

    What To Take Away

    Although cheating by text can be obvious at times, it’s also one of the easiest forms of cheating to hide.

    If you suspect your partner of using texting to cheat, keep the following in mind:

    • Secretive behavior and being overly protective of a phone are the biggest indicators there might be something to be considered about.

    • Cheating isn’t the only reason your partner may be behaving this way, so be careful about hurling accusations.

    • Any behavior that disrupts trust and makes one partner feel uncomfortable and suspicious should be discussed openly and honestly.

    • If you can’t have a respectful and productive conversation on your own, find a professional counselor who can help you.

    Healthy relationships are built on transparency and trust. When you don't have that your relationship is going to be very susceptible to the development of text message cheating.

    Editor's Note: This post was originally published September 14, 2015, updated on October 22, 2019, and has been updated again with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


    Looking for More? Check Out These Articles

    Read Comments from Others with Similar Experiences Below

    Like what you read?

    Guy Stuff's Counseling Men Blog shares real stories from our counseling sessions, giving practical solutions and answers to the challenges men and women face.

    Use your email to subscribe below.

    Subscribe to get in-depth articles, right in your inbox: