Clues Your Partner Is Cheating Through Instagram


    7 Min Read


    One of the worst things that a relationship can experience is when one partner cheats on the other. Even if there were clues, most partners feel blindsided by the betrayal. Unfortunately, the signs of cheating can be easily missed if the cheating occurs through social media like Instagram.

    For most couples the hurt and betrayal that occurs when someone cheats can be very difficult to get past.


    Social media has created new opportunities for cheating – it’s not all seedy hotel rooms and secret liaisons anymore. Cheating through Instagram, for instance, is something real that does happen and can be hard to recognize.

    Platforms like Instagram have made stepping out on your partner easier than ever. And so cheating through Instagram has become increasingly common.

    Instagram is one of the most heavily used social platforms for people under 30 and has over 400 million active users per month. Its reach is massive.

    But just how do people cheat with Instagram and how would you know?

    How Instagram Makes Cheating Possible

    Before we look at how people use Instagram to cheat, we should make sure we all know what cheating can look like these days.

    Cheating is really anything that breaks the trust you have with, and commitment you have to, your partner.


    If it’s something you feel you have to hide, even if it’s just a message exchange, it probably falls into the cheating category.

    Cyber-cheating, micro-cheating and online emotional affairs have become increasingly common.

    This means cheating can take on forms other than the physical affair that we typically think about. Of course, those still happen and the online and emotional forms of cheating can often lead to the physical as well.

    Social media has made it incredibly easy to find people and connect with them. In fact, it’s a lot easier to track someone down now than it used to be.

    Anyone whose name you know can be looked up online, especially if they have a social media account.

    You know the cute girl from work, or the hot guy from the gym? With a few keystrokes you can –

    • Find their social profile

    • See their pictures

    • Find out their relationship status

    • Understand what they like

    • See their hobbies

    and any other private facts they’ve chosen to post.

    This type of cyber-stalking is very common, and most people doing it will tell you it’s completely innocent – they were just curious.

    But curiosity can be a slippery slope and even someone who has no intention of cheating can slide down that slope very quickly.


    Dr. Kurt counsels couples dealing with cheating weekly. For many of them social media has played a role. When asked about social media, and Instagram in particular, as a factor in cheating he had this to say,

    A very common way people begin cheating through Instagram is by seeking out old love interests. 'I wonder if Julie got married?' 'What ever happened to that cute guy I worked with at McDonalds?' Reconnecting with someone from your past can be one of the biggest ways to put yourself at risk of getting into an inappropriate relationship online. I'm counseling a man who likes to post pictures of himself just to see what kind of a reaction he can get. Even though everyone on Instagram has this motivation to some degree, his behavior is driven by a deep need to feel attractive and wanted, and occurs mostly when he is lonely or feeling down. His pics are suggestive and often outright sexual. They're also primarily intended to elicit a response from women he already knows. The visual element of Instagram, as well as other social media, that allows communication to occur without words can easily be a dangerous trap for users - both for those with unhealthy and hidden motives, as well as the unsuspecting and unknowing.”

    So, where cheating once had to start rather deliberately through questions like,

    • “Can I have your phone number?”
    • “Do you want to meet for a drink?”

    Or physically,

    • Going out to bars and trying to meet people

    • Purposefully spending extra time around someone you’re attracted to

    or even just via the proximity of working together and opportunity, people can now begin to engage with other people in much more covert and seemingly innocent ways. Easily.

    Instagram is particularly well suited for social media cheating. Although it’s primarily a photo-sharing site, it’s become a hotbed for flirting and covert connections.

    Because it’s so common to see anyone – including your spouse – tapping away at their phone, many of us don’t think twice about the world beyond the screen. This has made questionable behavior indistinguishable from normal behavior. Things like,

    • Responding to and engaging with posts of people you don’t know.

    • Feelings of closeness to people you’ve never met.

    • DMing (direct messaging) once you've found someone you want to connect with.

    • Posting of provocative pictures in order to gain exposure and likes, otherwise known as thirst trapping.

    These things have given people the ability to have private conversations and share personal, even intimate, moments without ever leaving home. Its no wonder that initiating an affair via social media is so incredibly easy.

    What Are The Signs Of Instagram Cheating?

    You’d be hard pressed to find anyone today who doesn’t have a smart phone. And if they have it, they’re using it – a lot.

    Chances are they – like almost everyone else – also have a social media presence. So, recognizing the signs of cheating using social media, especially cheating through Instagram can be tricky because it can seem just like what everyone else is doing.

    While there is no hard and fast formula for detecting cheating with Instagram, there are certain behaviors that can tell you something might be going on.


    If you see your partner behaving in any of the following ways consider it to be a red flag.

    1. Obsessive connection to their phone. Most of us are far more connected to our devices than we should be. But if you notice an uptick in your partner’s screen time and their inability to be far from their phone without becoming anxious, there could be something happening.
    1. Constant typing or messaging. Texting and emailing is pretty normal these days. But changes to that behavior, like late night messaging, stepping outside to read messages, or urgency in responding to messages could be indicative of an inappropriate online relationship.
    1. Seeming amused or overly intrigued by what they’re reading. If your spouse has started to find whatever they’re seeing on their screen amusing or captivating, and they don’t want to share the laughter, you have cause to be concerned.
    1. Secretive behavior. One of the biggest tells for anyone having an affair is secretive behavior. This could be seeming overly protective of their phone or computer, spending a great deal of time behind a locked door, becoming less talkative and distant, or any other distinct change in behavior that can’t be explained.
    1. Leaving suddenly to “take a call” or “run an errand.” Unless your spouse is on call or you are genuinely out of milk and it can’t wait, a sudden urgency to return messages, calls, or run errands, especially at odd times could mean that he or she is looking for a private space to engage with someone. Even if it’s cheating with something like Instagram, people often seek privacy so that they can interact without distraction.
    1. A new interest in selfies and posting. Maybe this is a normal behavior and means nothing. But if your partner is suddenly looking for the best light, downloading Facetune, and posting pictures of themselves routinely, it could be in an effort to impress someone and communicate through their Instagram pictures or DM feature.

    Any of these behaviors could mean that your partner is flirting on social media or engaged in an emotional affair – or they could be nothing.

    Could You Be Cheating Through Instagram (Or Social Media) And Not Realize It?

    Sounds like a silly question, right?

    If you were cheating you’d know it.

    Yes and no.


    If you’re deliberately and secretly meeting someone other than your partner for the purposes of having sex – yes, you’re cheating.

    Or, if you’re exchanging romantic or sexual messages with someone other than your partner then yes, you’re cheating.

    But there are many other behaviors that cross the line even though they may start innocently or seem benign. Ask yourself these questions.

    1. Do you follow people or like posts of people you barely know just because they are attractive?
    1. Are you direct messaging someone in a way your partner or spouse would be bothered by?
    1. Do you have profiles on social media accounts your partner doesn’t know about?
    1. Do you go out of your way to post attractive or provocative pictures on Instagram or any other platform?
    1. Do you give any indications that you’re available or unattached?
    1. Have you intentionally made your relationship status questionable?
    1. Do you make flirty comments or send flirty messages?
    1. Is there anything you are doing online that you DON’T want your partner to know about or that would hurt them if they did?

    If any of the answers to these questions is, yes, you have crossed the line. Whether you are cheating with Instagram or using another social media platform it still needs to stop.

    Social media has made it easier and easier to escape from the realities of our own lives. And, because it’s online, it often seems like the connections we make and exchanges we have really have no impact on our real lives.


    People in relationships that are having troubles can find it easy to connect with others online and find comfort from the virtual companionship. Not only is this a betrayal to the relationship, but it can also easily translate into real-world actions as well.

    The idea that keeping a screen between you and someone else means everything is innocent is a misconception and often a detrimental one.

    What To Take Away

    No one expects cheating to occur in their relationship. And many people think that if their partner were cheating they’d know it – there would be obvious signs.

    Well, they’re right – there are signs, but you have to know what to look for.

    What many haven’t accounted for is how cheating can occur through Instagram and what those particular signs would look like. Sadly, this is something more and more partners need to think about.

    So, if you have any concerns about your partner cheating, especially through a social media platform like Instagram, keep these things in mind:

    • Cheating through social media looks different than physically cheating on your partner, but it’s still a betrayal.

    • You need to familiarize yourself with what online cheating can look like and what the signs are.

    • Sex isn’t the only way people can cheat on one another.

    • Social media makes it very easy to engage with other people and take things too far, so you need to be aware of your own behavior as well.

    Cheating is anything that can break the trust you have with your partner or betray them in anyway. And even if that cheating is through Instagram or another social platform, it can be just as damaging as a physical affair.

    Editor's Note: This post was originally published June 5, 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


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