How to Catch a Spouse Cheating: Your Complete Guide (Updated in 2024)


How to Catch a Spouse Cheating: Your Complete Guide

As you find yourself reading this, it’s likely that doubt has crept into the corners of your relationship, casting shadows on the trust and bond you once thought unbreakable. 

The suspicion of a cheating spouse is a deeply personal and heart-wrenching experience, one that often brings with it a torrent of emotions – confusion, betrayal, anger, and an overwhelming sense of loss.

Facing the possibility of infidelity is like standing at a crossroads, with each path shrouded in uncertainty. The decision to seek clarity is not just a step towards uncovering facts; it’s a journey towards peace of mind, towards a future where doubt doesn’t cloud your every interaction with your partner. It’s about reclaiming your sense of control, your right to the truth, and your ability to make informed decisions about your life and relationship.

Here, you’ll find insights into the subtle signals that may have sparked your doubts, the methods used in investigations, the emotional and financial considerations involved, and guidance on how to proceed with the information you uncover. 

For over thirty years, we’ve been helping people find out if their partners are being faithful. In that time, we’ve seen it all and learned a lot.

This guide serves as an overview of how to find out if your spouse is cheating. We’ve written detailed articles on each topic; you can find links to them at the start of each section. Feel free to jump to any part that matters most to you right now.

We keep this guide and all the related articles up-to-date, and we’ll add new topics that might be helpful to you.

2024 Infidelity Statistics: How Common Is Cheating and Why

Our 2024 Infidelity Statistics: How Common Is Cheating and Why article goes into further details these and other studies along with citations from their sources.

A University Professor Presenting Research on Infidelity, A White Board Showing Statistics of Infidelity and How Common Cheating is in Relationships in Background.

We dove into the results of research studies and literature to better understand how common infidelity is, why it is so prevalent, and can relationships not only endure but thrive after an affair has been discovered or disclosed.

Infidelity in relationships is a common issue, with research indicating that about 25% of all marriages experience cheating over their lifetime. When participants of a study were given a checklist to identify specific behaviors, the reported rates of infidelity increased, suggesting that direct questioning may not capture the full extent of cheating.

The likelihood of infidelity in marriage varied across different age groups, with men generally most prone to cheating between the ages of 70 and 79. At the same time, women were most prone to cheating between the ages of 60 and 69.

Who Cheats More Men or Women?

Married men had the most likelihood of being unfaithful to their spouses throughout life, except for a notable exception between the ages of 18 and 29. Recent decades have seen a 40% increase in women admitting to infidelity, though, which may reflect changing societal norms and attitudes towards female sexuality.

Why is Cheating So Common?

The reasons behind infidelity are complex, often stemming from unmet needs within a relationship, according to the Deficit Model of Infidelity, whether emotional or physical. Interestingly, even individuals in happy marriages can find themselves involved in affairs, challenging the notion that only unhappy people cheat.

Research suggests that women are more likely to seek emotional connections outside their marriage. At the same time, men tend to pursue sexual experiences. Personality traits, such as neuroticism, and attachment styles, like avoidant attachment, can influence the likelihood of infidelity. Those with avoidant attachment styles may be more open to alternatives and infidelity due to their lack of commitment to their partner.

Can Couples Build a Stronger Connection After an Affair?

Despite the challenges infidelity poses, many couples choose to stay together and save their relationship. A study from Texas Tech University outlined a four-stage healing model for couples recovering from infidelity, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging the harm, open communication, rebuilding trust and intimacy, and ultimately strengthening the relationship. This model suggests that with commitment, open communication, and a willingness to forgive, relationships can emerge stronger and more resilient after infidelity.

Signs of an Unfaithful Partner: Red Flags to Watch For

You can read the full article at Signs of an Unfaithful Partner: Red Flags to Watch For.

Woman lying in bed beside spouse with a concerned look on her face as she contemplates the possibility of his unfaithfulness.

The first step in dealing with suspicions of infidelity involves recognizing changes in your partner’s behavior. This change could manifest in various forms, such as sudden secrecy around phones or computers, alterations in routine without plausible explanation, emotional detachment, or even unexpected showers of affection. Noticing shifts in intimacy levels, both emotional and physical, can also be indicative of something amiss.

It’s crucial to differentiate between intuition and paranoia. While you should trust your instincts, they should not be the sole basis for concluding your partner is unfaithful. Observing consistent patterns and gathering concrete evidence is key before reaching any conclusion.

Below is a List of Typical Signs Exhibited by a Cheating Spouse / Partner:

  • Guarding their mobile phone or adding/changing password
  • Increased phone, computer, or social media use
  • Frequently deleting call logs or messages
  • Distant, indifferent, or unusually secretive behavior
  • Superficial, defensive, or argumentative communication
  • Increase or decrease in affection or sexual activity
  • Increased workload or unexplained absences
  • New interests or social groups you’re not included in
  • Changes in spending or decreases in shared financial resources

Communication Shifts: One aspect to consider is the change in communication patterns. This might include avoiding meaningful conversations, becoming overly defensive, or showing a sudden increase in privacy. These shifts can sometimes hint at more profound issues in the relationship. 

Time Management Clues: How your partner manages their time can offer significant insights. New hobbies, unexplained absences, or changes in routine may raise suspicions. If they previously enjoyed spending their leisure time with you but are now continuously finding excuses to be elsewhere, it could be a cause for concern. However, it’s important to consider that these could also be due to other life stresses or alterations. 

Digital Footprints: In the digital age, online behaviors can be telling. Increased privacy on digital devices, unusual hours spent online, changes in social media interactions, and frequent clearing of browser history can be potential red flags.

Financial Indications: Unexplained expenditures, secretive financial decisions, or changes in spending patterns can sometimes signal infidelity. This includes unexpected charges on joint accounts or your partner suddenly very concerned about their financial independence.

Phone Privacy: A partner’s altered behavior towards their mobile phone can be revealing. Sudden use of passwords, taking calls in private, and regular deletion of call logs or messages may suggest they have something to hide.

Emotional Distance: Do they avoid answering questions about their day or get defensive when you ask about their plans? Diminished emotional intimacy, such as less interest in your day, emotional withdrawal, or decreased shared experiences, can signify a partner straying away. 

While these signs can be indicative of infidelity, they are not definitive proof. Other factors such as stress, mental health issues, or personal changes can also account for these behaviors. It’s important not to jump to conclusions but to seek clarity. This could involve open communication with your partner, seeking professional advice from counselors, or pursuing concrete evidence with the help of a professional investigator.

Infidelity Cases Methods of Investigating

You can read the full article at Infidelity Cases Methods of Investigating.

Private investigator obtaining video footage of an affair couple.

Methods private investigators use to investigate infidelity include:

  • Surveillance: To monitor a spouse’s interactions with their affair partner.
  • Polygraph/lie detector testing: To reveal a spouse’s deceit when answering questions.
  • Background check searches: To gather more details about the affair partner.
  • Open-source intelligence (OSINT): To find and document photos, check-ins, or other evidence posted online.
  • Digital forensics: To uncover secrets hidden in phones and computers.

When facing the distress of a partner’s possible infidelity, understanding your options with the methods for investigating such situations is a crucial step toward uncovering the truth.

Private investigators use traditional and modern methods to confirm or dismiss your suspicions of infidelity, all while ensuring utmost confidentiality and respect for your situation. The goal is to clarify whether it confirms suspicions or reassures you of your partner’s fidelity.

Initial Steps: An investigation begins with a consultation where you share your concerns and suspicions. Each infidelity case is unique, and strategies should be tailored to your circumstances. Understanding your options and the costs of each are key aspects of the planning stage.

Surveillance Techniques: Surveillance, a standard method in these investigations, involves discreetly observing and documenting your partner’s activities. Investigators conduct this direct observation legally and respectfully while utilizing their skills and specialized equipment to gather evidence without detection.

Polygraph Testing: Polygraph tests measure physiological responses to questions, indicating stress that may suggest dishonesty. However, they are not foolproof and are most effective with other methods.

Background Checks: Specific basic searches typically come into play for these cases after initial surveillance has identified the affair partner while helping to create a complete picture. This tandem approach ensures a more thorough investigation. 

Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT): OSINT refers to gathering data from publicly available sources, such as social media or public records. Affairs are often shrouded in secrecy, with individuals typically going to great lengths to hide their actions, especially within accessible digital platforms. This method can be helpful once the identity of the affair partner is known to locate and document any evidence they have posted online.

Digital Forensics: This method of digital forensics involves analyzing data from digital devices, like texts, emails, and social media activity, to uncover hidden patterns or evidence of infidelity. These examinations are often capable of retrieving data that has previously been deleted. Forensic specialists can often limit the scope of the analysis to agreed-upon parameters, focusing solely on any information found that would indicate infidelity. It’s important to note that your province or state may require the owner’s permission to conduct a forensic analysis of any device legally. This is often a critical legal requirement strictly adhered to in investigations. 

Delivering Results: Once the investigation is concluded, you will receive a detailed report with video and photographic evidence from the surveillance, if conducted. Reviewing this information assists you in making well-informed decisions based on the case results.

Legal Considerations: The admissibility of evidence gathered in court depends on various factors. While investigators operate within legal boundaries, it’s crucial to consult a legal professional to understand the best use of this evidence in legal settings.

Infidelity investigations can employ a mix of surveillance, polygraph testing, digital forensics, and OSINT to provide a clear picture of your partner’s fidelity. Each method has its strengths and limitations, and their effectiveness varies based on the specifics of each case. A skilled investigator will guide you through each process phase, updating you on available choices as new information emerges.

Costs of Investigating an Unfaithful Partner

You can read the full article at How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Private Investigator For a Cheating Spouse.

Woman Contemplating Infidelity Investigation

Understanding the costs of infidelity cases is crucial if you’re contemplating hiring a private investigator to confirm or dispel doubts about your partner. Here, we list the fees investigation companies typically charge, followed by the specific fees of our company.

Surveillance Costs: Surveillance, often the most effective method of collecting evidence in infidelity cases, typically involves an hourly rate for monitoring your partner’s activities. Factors affecting the cost include the hours required for surveillance, mileage, incidental expenses (like restaurant or event fees), and a final report compilation fee. The total cost varies for each case; no investigator can predict the exact hours needed beforehand.

Polygraph Testing Fees: Polygraph tests, or lie detector tests, usually have a fixed fee. This cost covers the entire process, including pre-test interviews, the test itself, and the analysis of results. You’re paying for the expertise of a qualified examiner and the use of specialized equipment.

Background Check Costs: Specific basic searches and comprehensive background checks are other tools in infidelity investigations. Basic checks often have a fixed fee, while comprehensive checks are typically charged hourly due to their depth and complexity. These checks can provide essential insights and are priced according to the level of detail required.

Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) Costs: OSINT investigations, which utilize publicly available sources such as social media, are generally billed hourly. The cost varies based on the depth of the investigation and any additional database access fees.

Digital Forensics Fees: Digital forensics, which involves analyzing digital devices like phones or laptops, usually has a fixed fee per device. This service can be pivotal in providing crucial evidence but requires the owner’s legal consent for the analysis.

Specific Fees for Infidelity Cases at Shadow Investigations

Here, we list a comprehensive breakdown of the costs for our investigative services at Shadow Investigations Ltd, operating in BC, Canada.

1. Surveillance Fees

  • Hourly Rate: Surveillance is billed at $75 per hour. This covers the time our investigators actively monitor and document your spouse’s activities and travel to and from the surveillance locations.
  • Mileage Fees: We apply a charge of $0.79 per kilometer, which encompasses travel during active monitoring and transportation to and from the surveillance locations.
  • Out-of-Pocket Expenses: Any additional costs incurred during surveillance, like parking fees or venue entry, are billed as they occur.
  • Report Compilation: A fee of $100 is applied once the case is complete upon request to assemble a detailed report with video and photographs.

2. Background Checks Fees

  • Basic Checks: Flat fees range from $30 to $350 depending on the search type from public records.
  • Comprehensive Checks: Our hourly rate is $95 per hour plus disbursement fees. These typically range between $500 and $1,000, covering detailed reports on the individual’s employment history, financial status, criminal record, access to specialized databases, interviews, and other personal details that require more intensive research.  

3. OSINT/Social Media Investigations Fees

  • Open-source intelligence and social media investigation fees are $125 per hour. We can run basic searches between 2 and 4 hours with the typical costs ranging between $250 to $500, plus disbursements if subscription-based databases are accessed. This includes scouring online platforms for pertinent information, documenting the evidence, and compiling a detailed report.

4. Digital Forensics Fees

  • The fee for forensics of a mobile phone or laptop is $700 per device, with the requirement that we have the owner’s permission to conduct the analysis.

5. Polygraph Testing Fees

  • A polygraph or lie detector test is $600. This includes the pre-test interview, the test itself, and the analysis of the results.

Balancing Financial Considerations and Investigation Needs: Embarking on an infidelity investigation involves balancing your need for clarity and peace of mind with the investigation’s financial costs. These investigations aim to bring you the truth, offering relief and a way forward for reconciliation or closure. It’s important to balance these options with your financial capacity.

How Holidays Such as Valentine’s Day Expose Infidelity

You can read the full article at How Valentine’s Day Exposes Cheating Spouses.

A man and woman smiling at each other affectionately while seated in a restaurant during Valentine's Day. Flowers and chocolates are seen on the table.

Valentine’s Day, typically associated with love and romance, ironically serves as a revealing time for those suspecting infidelity in their relationships. As experienced private investigators, we’ve observed that this holiday often exposes the actions of cheating spouses. 

Valentine’s Day Patterns in Infidelity: Unfaithful spouses often feel the pressure to divide their time between their significant other and their affair partner during this period. Valentine’s Day often prompts them to meet their affair partner, leading to noticeable absences or vague explanations about their plans. The days surrounding Valentine’s Day, the day before and after, are equally telling. The day before might involve secret meetings under the guise of Valentine’s Day preparations, while the day after might be used to compensate for not being with the affair partner on the holiday itself.

Gifts, Flowers, and Dates as Clues: Key indicators of infidelity around Valentine’s Day include unusual gift purchases, flower exchanges, and romantic dates. These activities often become evident through careful observation with surveillance. They can be telltale signs of a divided focus, leading to slip-ups.

Practical Strategies: Surveillance is most effective around Valentine’s Day and adjacent days. It involves discreet observation using unmarked vehicles and high-definition cameras to document interactions and gather conclusive evidence. 

Valentine’s Day can be a critical time for those suspecting infidelity, as cheating partners’ actions become more pronounced and detectable. Understanding the patterns and employing professional surveillance can uncover hidden truths, providing clarity and evidence for those grappling with relationship doubts.

How to Setup an Infidelity Case to Catch a Cheating Spouse

You can read the full article at How to Setup an Infidelity Investigation.

Woman Sitting Laptop Filling Out a Surveillance Intake Form

Here, we cover everything from the initial steps to take while gathering helpful information to choosing the right investigation company to work with. Below is an overview of initiating an investigation and key factors to consider.

Determining Your Objective: Defining what you hope to achieve before contacting an investigation company is crucial. This understanding helps to focus the scope of the investigation, allowing you to make a confident decision about when to end the case.

Gathering Initial Evidence: Any information leading to your suspicions, such as text messages, call logs, or unexplained expenses, should be compiled. This data will provide a starting point for the investigation.

Choosing a Reputable Investigation Company: Look for firms with proven expertise in infidelity cases, valuing discretion and professionalism. A trustworthy company can handle the sensitive nature of such cases.

Scheduling a Consultation: Discuss your situation during the initial consultation. Transparency with the investigator ensures they fully understand your case and objectives.

Discussing the Investigation Plan: The investigator will outline their approach, methods, and communication strategies. Ensure you are comfortable and informed about how the investigation will proceed.

Agreeing on Terms and Conditions: Understand the fees, confidentiality agreement, and other terms before the investigation begins. It’s vital to be comfortable with all aspects of the agreement.

Initial Information Gathering for an Effective Investigation:

  • Personal Details of Your Partner: Provide as much pertinent information as possible, including routines and physical descriptions. Private investigation companies will usually have an intake form to guide you through the setup process.
  • Communication Patterns and Digital Footprints: Note any changes in communication habits and digital activities while respecting privacy laws.
  • Vehicle Information: Provide the make, model, color, and license plate number of your partner’s vehicle, along with any other vehicles that may be of interest.
  • Financial Records and Unexplained Expenses: Document any unusual financial activities seen from shared accounts and note if there are any patterns for days of the week these come up.
  • Your Observations and Suspicions: Share your observations and reasons for suspecting infidelity, as they provide valuable context.
  • Secure Contact Method: Provide the investigation company with a secure contact method so they can keep you updated on the progress.

Choosing the Right Investigation Company:

  • Licensing and Credentials: Ensure the company is licensed, indicating professional standards.
  • Experience and Expertise: Look for firms with experience in infidelity investigations.
  • Approach and Methods: Understand their investigation methods and commitment to legality and discretion.
  • Communication and Updates: Clarify how the company will keep you informed throughout the investigation.
  • Costs and Services: Compare fee structures and services to balance quality and affordability.

Initiating an infidelity investigation is the first step toward finding the truth in a respectful, lawful, and discreet manner. This process is about uncovering facts to guide your future decisions. Choose a company that aligns with your values and respects the delicate nature of such investigations.

Confronting an Unfaithful Partner While Navigating Intense Emotions

You can read the full article at Navigating the Emotional Maze of Suspected Infidelity.

a woman Gazing Out a window concerned about confronting her spouse who had been cheating on her.

Navigating the emotional complexities of suspected infidelity is a challenging and heart-wrenching journey, filled with a gamut of emotions from confusion and hurt to anger and vulnerability. Here, we provide suggestions to guide you through the maze of feelings and considerations that might arise when you suspect your partner is unfaithful.

Validating Your Feelings: It’s natural to experience a whirlwind of emotions. Acknowledging these feelings is the first step in managing them. They reflect your deep care for the relationship and are a response to the fear and uncertainty of the situation.

Emotional Rollercoaster: The suspicion of infidelity can send you on an emotional rollercoaster. You may oscillate between confusion, hurt, anger, fear, and even moments of hope. These feelings are normal and part of processing the situation. Handling anger constructively and balancing hope with seeking the truth is essential.

Heightened Observation: Suspecting infidelity often leads to increased vigilance in observing your partner’s behavior. Changes in routines, habits, and social interactions can fuel your doubts. Though important, paying attention to these changes can intensify your emotional turmoil.

Confronting Your Partner:

  • If you decide to confront your partner, we suggest doing so thoughtfully.
  • Choose a calm, private setting, use direct but gentle communication, and listen to their responses.
  • Stay composed, even if the conversation becomes emotional, and consider involving a counselor if the discussion becomes too challenging.

Considering the Outcome: Whether or not your suspicions are confirmed, it’s crucial to consider your next steps. If infidelity is confirmed, give yourself time to process your emotions and decide whether to stay in the relationship or move on. If your partner is found faithful, consider how to rebuild trust and address any underlying issues.

Focus on Well-being: Regardless of the outcome, prioritize your emotional health. Engage in self-care, lean on supportive friends and family, and seek professional help. Your well-being is paramount as you navigate through this challenging phase of your life.

Facing the suspicion of infidelity is an emotionally taxing experience. It requires acknowledging and managing your feelings, making informed decisions, and prioritizing your emotional health. 

Post-Infidelity Steps: Making Informed Decisions

You can read the full article at Post-Infidelity Investigation Considerations.

Woman Upset While Confronting Spouse with Infidelity Investigation Report

Whether the results of an infidelity case reveal unfaithfulness or not, you’re likely at a pivotal point in your relationship. Here, we offer advice on handling the results, addressing your partner, thoughtfully deciding if and how to share the information with others and strategies for avoiding similar situations in the future.

If No Evidence of Infidelity is Found: A clean investigation report often brings relief but may also leave lingering doubts. Considering the investigation’s scope is important – was it comprehensive enough? If doubts persist, reflecting on their origin and discussing your feelings with a trusted person or a counselor can be beneficial. It’s also crucial to consider further steps that may bring you peace of mind, like continued investigation or open communication with your partner.

Rebuilding Trust: If you stay with your partner, focus on rebuilding trust. This process often involves honest communication, transparency, and professional counseling. It’s a commitment from both sides to heal and strengthen the relationship.

Self-Care and Emotional Well-being: Regardless of the outcome, prioritize your emotional health. Seeking support from friends, family, or professionals is crucial in managing stress and complex emotions.

Considering a Follow-Up Investigation: If unresolved doubts remain or new information surfaces, a follow-up investigation or a different approach might be necessary. Consult with an investigator, consider the financial implications, and ensure the decision aligns with your quest for peace of mind.

Confronting Your Partner: If infidelity is proven, approaching the conversation with your partner requires emotional preparation. Choose an appropriate time and place, present the evidence calmly, and express your feelings honestly. Listen to your partner’s response and avoid making immediate decisions about the future of your relationship.

Exploring Legal and Personal Options: When infidelity is confirmed, understanding your legal rights and financial position is essential, particularly if you’re contemplating separation or divorce. Remember to consider the well-being of any children involved and plan for your future, with or without your partner.

Managing Impact on Family and Friends: The effects of infidelity often extend to your social circle. Be selective about who you inform, protect your children from adult issues, and avoid negativity or blame in shared social circles. Professional family counseling can offer a safe space for family members to express their emotions.

Preventing Future Issues: To safeguard your relationship from future problems, establish open communication, set clear boundaries, and invest in relationship building. Address any underlying issues, maintain transparency, and foster trust and respect. Stay attuned to changes in your relationship and encourage each other to keep individual identities.

Navigating post-infidelity investigation scenarios requires a balance of introspection, open communication, and professional guidance. Whether it’s about rebuilding the relationship, moving on, or managing the impact on your personal life, the focus should be making choices that contribute to your well-being and peace of mind.

The Cost of Waiting in the Shadows

As you stand at this crossroads, pondering your next move, it’s crucial to understand that inaction, while seemingly safe, often comes with a hidden cost. 

The sleepless nights, the constant wondering, the mix of hurt and confusion that gnaws at your peace of mind don’t just disappear. Waiting and wondering often lead to more uncertainty and distress. 

Whether the outcome brings good news or bad, knowing the truth allows you to take the necessary steps to heal, grow, and move forward with your partner or on your own. 

Deciding to investigate your partner is never taken lightly. It’s a step filled with emotional weight and possibly significant consequences. 

Everyone deserves to live a life free of doubt and uncertainty, where they can make informed decisions about their future. The role of professional investigators is to illuminate the truth, to bring what’s hidden into the light.

Knowledge is power, and action brings clarity.

You’re not just uncovering a potential betrayal. You’re taking control of your narrative, protecting your interests, and, most importantly, taking a step toward peace and certainty in a situation filled with doubts and shadows.

Learn more about our infidelity case services at Shadow Investigations Ltd operating in BC, Canada.

For a complimentary, obligation-free consultation, please get in touch with us at, or fill out our contact form below with your preferred contact method and a brief overview of what you would like assistance with. We keep all information confidential and only use contact information to respond to inquiries.

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About the Author

Photograph of Janet Helm, the Co-Founder and current Managing Director of Shadow Investigations Ltd.