In the U.S. it’s estimated that around 20-40% of divorces are caused by one or both parties having an affair.
Affairs are secretive by nature, so how are most affairs discovered?
There is a range of ways, from the obvious to the bizarre and pure chance.
If you’re interested to know more, here are the top 10 ways affairs are discovered:
How Are Most Affairs Discovered? (10 Common Ways)
1. Confession or ‘Coming Clean’
The most common way an affair is discovered is when one of the parties involved confesses, or ‘comes clean’.
This could be for a variety of reasons, such as feeling guilty, wanting to end the affair, wanting to end their marriage, or many other reasons.
At the end of the day, all of the sneaking around and the guilt takes a toll on most people having an affair, and there is only so long they can’t keep it up.
In some cases, a confession may also be coerced out of someone if their spouse or partner strongly suspects they are having an affair and demands to know the truth.
2. Texts or Calls Are Discovered by A Spouse
This is a heartbreaking way for anyone to find out about a cheating spouse (anyway is heartbreaking, to be honest).
But one of the biggest paper trails, for want of a better word, cheating spouses leave are text messages, chat logs and call logs.
It’s getting harder and harder to hide these things, especially with technology the way it is today.
There are a number of ways your spouse can discover these communications, such as going through your phone when you’re not looking, or by checking your computer or social media accounts.
3. A Family Member or Friend Spills the Beans
This is probably one of the more painful ways to find out your spouse is cheating.
If you have a close relationship with your family and friends (it doesn’t even have to be close) and they find out about your spouse cheating, they might tell you.
This is particularly painful because it makes you feel like you’re one of the last people to know.
It makes you question how long this person has known, how many other people know, and it’s just hurtful finding out via a third party.
No one should have to find out that their partner is cheating this way, but keep in mind that at least you’re finding out.
4. A Random Person Tells the Spouse
This is a pretty rare way for an affair to be discovered, but it does happen.
The most common scenario is when the person cheating is seen in public with their lover by a complete stranger.
In some cases, this person may know the spouse of the person cheating and they’ll feel compelled to tell them what they saw.
I’ve heard about anonymous notes and phone calls over the years, as well as someone actually knocking on the door of a friend to tell her that her husband might be cheating.
This is always a risky thing to do from the perspective of the person who is trying to ‘do the right thing’, if they get it wrong it could backfire spectacularly and cause some serious issues.
5. The Mistress or Other Guy Tells the Spouse
Sometimes the mistress of the husband or the other guy if the woman is cheating will come forward and tell their partner’s spouse.
They will usually do this because they feel guilty, or because they want their partner all for themselves.
This is a pretty devastating way for someone to find out about an affair, but unfortunately, it does happen.
It’s hard enough to find out about a cheating spouse, but finding out from the person they’re cheating with is just salt in the wound for a lot of spouses.
Maybe they didn’t know about this person at all. But in some instances, it’s also the revelation that their spouse was cheating with someone they knew, and maybe even trusted.
6. Suspicious Financial Activities Are the Catalyst
This is a more common way of finding out about an affair than you might think.
If your spouse has been hiding their spending from you or there are sudden and unexplained financial activities, it could be a sign that they’re having an affair.
They may be spending money on things like hotel rooms, gifts for their lover, or taking them out for expensive dinners.
In some cases, a spouse may even start giving them money outright or helping them out financially in some way.
I’m not suggesting you monitor your partner’s spending closely, but at the same time, it usually becomes obvious when they’re financing a secret life.
7. An Alibi or Excuse Doesn’t Check Out
When someone is cheating they need to constantly make up excuses and set up alibies so they can sneak around and see their mistress/affair without getting caught.
Without making light of cheating, it’s exhausting work and very tricky in most relationships to get away with it for a long time.
At some point, the lies will catch up with them and their alibi or excuse won’t check out.
This is a common way for an affair to be revealed.
Sometimes the lies will add up to create an overall picture of decent or the feeling that something isn’t right, other times a big lie will just bring everything down.
8. A Suspicious Spouse Tracks Their Partner
This is definitely a more devious way of finding out about an affair, but it’s fairly common for suspicious spouses to start doing private eye work.
A suspicious spouse may hire a friend or a private investigator to follow their partner and see if they can catch them in the act.
Or, in some cases, the suspicious spouse will do this themselves.
Some spouses will go as far as to put a GPS tracker on their car, bug their phones, and even use software to monitor their internet usage.
There are loads of creative ways people find out their partners are cheating, and there is usually a trail to be found when someone is cheating.
9. A Spouse Comes Home and Catches Them Red Handed
This is probably one of the most devastating ways to find out about an affair.
One way affairs are revealed is when a spouse comes home unexpectedly and finds their partner in bed – or engaging in some other activities – with someone else.
It’s a hard thing to come back from (and unsee), and it usually results in an explosive confrontation.
Catching them red-handed is definitely the worst way to find out about an affair, but unfortunately, it does happen.
It’s a pretty clear-cut case of infidelity, and there’s not much that can be said to defend it.
10. Messages or Computer Activity Is Discovered
In the age of technology, it’s not surprising that a lot of affairs are discovered via text messages, emails, social media messages, or some other form of electronic communication.
A suspicious spouse can often easily go through their partner’s phone or computer and find incriminating evidence.
Or they may accidentally come across something while they’re using their partner’s phone or computer.
In some cases, a spouse may even use some spy software if their spouse is very secretive or locks their computer.
Where Do Most Affairs Happen?
The workplace is the most common place for people to have affairs, followed by online (such as through dating websites), at bars or clubs, and through mutual friends.
Cheating can happen anywhere there is an opportunity for it, but these are some of the most common places affairs start.
However, you don’t always need to find or go to the source to discover an affair.
As I’ve explained in the 10 common ways affairs are uncovered, there are always clues closer to home.
If you suspect your partner is cheating, you have the right to do some investigating and look into it.
Don’t feel bad about checking up on them, as long as you’re not doing it obsessively it’s perfectly fine to put your doubt to rest (I hope).
How Long Do Affairs Last After They Are Discovered?
The answer to this question really varies quite a lot.
Some affairs are immediately ended once they are discovered because one or both partners realize it was a mistake and they want to save their relationship.
Other times, an affair may continue even after it has been discovered because the person who was cheated on decides to forgive their partner and give them another chance.
Only for their partner to carry on the affair behind their back despite saying they will end it.
There is no easy answer, although it’s fair to say most affairs either end when they are discovered.
Or the cheating spouse actually continues the relationship with the person they were having an affair with and it’s no longer an affair.
Image credits – Photo by Malte Helmhold on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.