Can There Be a Silver Lining Around the Cloud of An Infidelity?
Section III: In Today’s High Tech Era It Is So Easy To Begin a
Secret Relationship And So Easy To Be Discovered
Infidelity In A High Tech Era: Secrets And Exposures
Reuben E. Gross, PhD, ABP, ABPP, LMFT
Note: Both men and women cheat on their spouses. But it would be confusing if I switched genders in every sentence. Since men do this more frequently, the article is slanted in that direction i.e., the husband is the offending party and the wife is the hurt party. However, all statements go in both directions and the words “husband, wife, partner” are interchangeable. The words “marriage, relationship” are also interchangeable.
Unfaithful partners are seeking their own emotional satisfactions and/or physical pleasures. They do not wish to hurt their spouses. They delude themselves into believing that their spouse will never find out, and what they don’t know won’t hurt them. The purpose of this article is to highlight the fragility of this self serving belief and hopefully deter those individuals who are on the brink of an affair. Further, for those already involved, it is always better to confess and reveal rather than be discovered. The devastation of an affair can be addressed successfully (click here for article “Can There Be A silver Lining Around the Cloud of Infidelity?” Rebuilding trust is more difficult when the hurt party makes the discovery by herself.
Then vs. Now
In olden times, at least among Native Americans, people would communicate with smoke signals from mountain tops, and everybody saw the communication. Until the advent of the telephone, and later the car, people lived in fairly isolated communities and had very little access to others not living very close to them. In small villages and towns, people often knew what others were up to, and so it was hard to keep an ongoing relationship secret.
In today’s high tech era, and especially for people who live in cities, a person can easily engage in secret relationships with others. both within as well as outside of his/her own community, and even with a person who lives thousands of miles away.
People augment their mobility by the use of cars and airplanes; they achieve privacy for their secret meetings by the proximity of motels. When they are visiting out-of-town, or out-of-the-country, they have an even greater choice of secret meeting places.
Nor do individuals have to meet their secret acquaintances face to face to communicate. They can reach out to each other via ordinary telephone, cell phone, and email . They can even see each other via video conference with complete privacy within moments at the press of a single memory button on their Ipad Iphone or a click of the “mouse” on their computer. In a split second, they can send text messages and photos of themselves to a person who lives thousands of miles away. In view of the fact that many people sometimes work late, entertain out-of-town customers, have changing shifts, or need to travel on a regular basis, many spouses do not know from hour to hour, day to day, or even week to week (unless their partner “remembers” to give them the “updated” itinerary) where their spouse is supposed to be at any given time, much less where he actually is.
The Truth Will Out
Often, discoveries of hidden communications or relationships with a third party are made by an unsuspecting partner by accident. This may happen when a partner, e.g., the wife, comes across a very personal text message or email to (or from) her husband, sometimes with attached pictures, from a member of the opposite sex. Such an accidental discovery may come about when a wife is innocently using her husband’s computer to check his email while looking for a particular communication. Or, the unknowing partner might see her husband’s cell phone in some forgotten corner of the house, pick it up to return it to him, and notice a suspicious text message. This might cause her to check incoming and outgoing calls and discover a certain phone number occurring again and again. It is especially suspicious when these calls are lengthy and made at odd hours.
One woman told me that she found it peculiar that her husband took his cell phone with him at all times, even into the bathroom. Another woman was surprised when she was close to her husband’s phone and picked it up when it rang and he grabbed it from her. Sometimes a behavior does not raise a suspicion, but when added to another unusual behavior, the woman thinks back to the first behavior and starts putting two and two together.
At other times, a wife might accidentally come across a female’s name and phone number on a piece of paper, or find a receipt from a jewelry store, clothing store or motel while going through her spouse’s clothing before sending them to the dry cleaners, or she may have been searching his attaché case or wallet for some needed object or information. I’ve had situations where a husband left the room, or car, for a few moments and when his cell phone rang, his wife answered the phone. Imagine her shock when the wife learned that the female caller was surprised to hear a woman answering her “boyfriend’s” cell phone.
Other Sources of Suspicion: Tell-Tale Symptoms of an Affair
Other sources of suspicion that clients have told me include smelling perfume on a husband as he walks into the house. Finding a lipstick or other female item in the husband’s car would certainly have to be explained. However neither of these items are “smoking gun” evidence since he may have done a heavily perfumed female colleague a favor by dropping her off at the train or bus station or by giving her a ride somewhere after work. On the other hand, a “hickey” would be hard to explain.
Sometimes, the wife becomes suspicious when she discovers a cell phone in her husband’s possession that she did not know existed. Or she may note E-Z Pass charges for trips across the G.W. Bridge or the Lincoln Tunnel, not at the usual commuting times of her spouse. On one occasion, a husband told his wife that his arrival time from his out-of-town business trip was at 8:22 p.m., and in fact, he did come home shortly after that time. The problem was that the bill from the chauffer service said that he was picked up at the airport at 1 p.m. The wife wondered how her husband spent his time between the 1 p.m. pickup and his arrival at home at 9:30 p.m.
At other times, a wife’s visit to her husband’s place of business or a chance perusal of her husband’s business credit card bill arouses her interest. Charges from florists, restaurants, motels, gift shops, or female clothing stores that neither she nor her husband frequent will certainly arouse suspicion. In one case, a wife raised her eyebrows when she spotted a charge from Victoria’s Secrets for items that her husband had not given to her. Nor would she ever have worn those items in the first place. And since her husband was well aware of his wife’s taste in that area, she did not buy his explanation that he purchased them for her as a surprise for her next birthday which was six months away anyhow.
Suspicions are also aroused when a husband makes a cluster of changes e.g. his choice of after shave cologne, takes an increased interest in how he looks, joins a gym, loses weight, buys new clothing, or gets spruced up more frequently than usual because he has “an important client” to meet that day. Another symptom of an affair would be a change in the male’s sexual behavior. Sometimes a man will slack off in frequency, claiming he is tired or busy. But in other situations, the opposite occurs in that the errant husband becomes more creative and passionate with his unsuspecting and deluded wife.
Other reasons for a wife’s suspicions arise when her husband spends more and more time away from home or seems more distant or uncaring. At other times, a wife might complain that she called her husband’s cell phone all evening when he was “out with some friends,” left numerous messages, but he never answered his phone, or called her back. Why not? Excuses may range from “I left it off by mistake” to “it was so noisy that I didn’t hear it ring,” or “I left my phone in the car.” How many of these excuses must she hear before she becomes suspicious?
A wife will certainly become suspicious if she catches her husband in a lie, e.g., where he was the evening before. In one situation, the husband told his wife that he came home late because he was delayed at the office. But the wife said that she had called his direct line at the office a few times and he did not answer the phone. Why not? In another case, the husband left the house Saturday morning saying that he was going to his office. His suspicious wife drove to the office a half hour later and did not see his parked car. Where was he?
Except for cases where the husband’s job requires that he meet many people in a variety of settings, the knowledge that her husband was seen in public with another woman would be a cause for great suspicion for most wives. I once had a situation in which the wife’s parents saw their son-in-law come out of a movie with a woman that they did not recognize. On another occasion the errant male, who had a 9-5 office job which did not include out-of-the-office meetings, or entertaining customers was spotted tete-a-tete with a woman by the wife’s friend in a clearly non business setting who immediately communicated this information to the wife by cell phone.
Playing With Fire is Dangerous
An upsetting behavior may range from a comparatively innocent, but secret, phone call or email to someone the husband met in a chat room to the more serious secret phone call, email, or “lunch” with an ex. This latter type of errant behavior is all the more damaging when the hurt partner personally knows, or at least has heard about her spouse’s ex, and has specifically asked her spouse, or committed partner, to cut off all ties to that person…and he did promise to do so. Sometimes, he will actually call the “other woman” with his wife in the room as he tells his ex that since he is now married and does not wish to upset his wife, he is cutting off all ties, and asks the ex never to call him either. But he fails to keep his promise.
A suspicious behavior or event can be explained, but not necessarily to the satisfaction of the wife. One wife told me that she found a box of condoms in her husband’s car, and one condom was missing. She did not believe that a friend of his had borrowed his car and “must have left them there.” Another item to consider is that when suspicious evidence piles up, even plausible explanations are not believed. Should they?
Conscious or Unconscious Denial
Sometimes, a wife will close one eye to the suspicious behavior of her spouse. She may even brush off the delicately-put comments of her alert and suspicious close friends. Such a woman may flit in and out of denial, ignoring signs of infidelity because she fears a confrontation and the possibility of the breakup of her marriage. I’ve had situations where this went on for years, and even decades.
Technology Tells All: You Can’t Really Hide
However, in most cases, upsetting discoveries by a spouse are not ignored. The offended partner will then make a concerted effort to retrieve from the computer’s “trash can” the suspected partner’s deleted email messages, and attachments. She will carefully search electronic records of (hopefully undeleted) incoming and outgoing cell phone calls. The suspicious wife will now scrutinize all hard copy phone bills looking for frequent calls to or from a certain number, especially if they were made at a “suspicious” time or will go online to get a list of charges for calls to, or from, her husband’s cell phone. Sometimes, the female partner will simply ask her partner who the phone number belongs to, and at other times she will call the number herself and become very upset if a female answers the phone.
In today’s high tech era, once suspicions are aroused, secret connections are easily traced by the suspicious spouse herself, and the findings often confirm her doubts and support her growing loss of trust. I have also known spouses who were unable to retrieve any “smoking gun” data by their own efforts, but could not ignore the various changes and events that took place in their relationship. In order to clear up the matter they hired a private eye to follow and document the movements of their husbands. Following the investigator’s report, the wife would “innocently” ask her husband how he spent the previous day, or how come he came home so late the previous evening. If her husband’s reply contradicts that of the investigator, it would be a dead giveaway to his wife that he has broken her trust. This scenario is then followed by a confrontation, especially if the investigator presented “smoking gun” information such as pictures, or tape recordings. Private eyes charge by the hour and are expensive.
Do-it-Yourselfers Can Also Uncover The Truth
The do-it-yourselfers, who suspect that their spouse is using the home phone for surreptitious calls, can go to uspystore.com and purchase numerous “spy equipment.” This website has a special section called “Spouse Cheating” and offers a plethora of equipment that suspicious “do-it-yourself” wives may wish to try out. Wives who wish to trace their spouse’s computer activities can buy “007 Spyware” at e-spy-software.com which will track every key pressed including as well as log-ins to such sites as “Facebook,” “Twitter, “Married But Lonely,” EHarmony.com.” “Asian Women,” “Match.com,” “Plenty of Fish,” as well as pornographic and other sites offensive to the wife. These keyword logger applications help a person discover email passwords, incoming as well as outgoing emails, and internet chats. Other spouses buy voice-activated recorders and place them under the seat of their husband’s car, thus determining who he talks to while driving his car. Other sources sell a “Home Evidence Collection Kit” which will analyze stains including body fluids on clothing, car seats or elsewhere.
And for those spouses who wish to track the physical movements of their husband or wife, there is a real-time tracking system that can be hidden in a car, a GPS tracking device, which gives a detailed report of the car’s location and activities. A GPS Live Tracking gives the vehicle’s current location immediately and you can log into this information from anywhere that you have internet access.
Other applications that can be uploaded onto her husband’s cell phone can track his whereabouts by the minute.
Some women go to Internet programs such as “reverse lookup” on Switchboard.com or on Google.com that give the name and address of the person whose phone number is typed into the search bar. Women have told me that once they discovered the name of the other woman, they looked her up on Facebook. They then found pictures of their husband together with the other woman (whom he had denied knowing) on the Facebook page of the woman he had been calling.
One high-tech savvy woman told me that she did not believe her husband when he said he’d be sleeping at a hotel close to the out-of-town meeting he had the next morning. She suspected that he would be at another woman’s house. When she called him at 10 pm and he said he was in his hotel room, she told him to hang up, take a picture of the room with his smart phone and email it to her on the spot. He did not reply with her request.
In her book “Is He Cheating on You?” Ruth Houston relates 829 different signs of cheating. And in addition to all of the tell-tale signs that have been noted here, let us not ignore a woman’s intuition. Many, many women have reported to me “I just had a feeling.”
In summary, the suspicious behavior of a spouse may embrace a wide range of activities. A spouse who is suddenly “busy” at the office may not arouse suspicion, but doubts may begin to grow, possibly at a subconscious, or even conscious level when a person is questioned and offers a vague explanation for a lateness or absence. Understandably, when a wife catches her husband in an outright lie, or when there is other “smoking gun” evidence, suspicion is extremely high, and a confrontation will ensue. In today’s high tech era, it is easy to start a secret relationship, be it physical or emotional, and maintain it for sometime. But once suspicions are aroused, detection is fairly rapid by most women and certainly by a high-tech savvy wife.
Infidelity can bring havoc to a relationship, but need not destroy it. In fact, it can be a wakeup call to the couple. With proper professional guidance, with true remorse and contrition by the offending party, a healing process can take place, the couple can reassess their lives and their importance to each other, and embrace a mature understanding of the value of their relationship. The couple can very well end up with a better relationship than they ever had.
One of the many hurt women I have helped (as part of a couple that came because of an infidelity), remarked that her husband’s errant behavior was “a blessing in disguise.” It was a shock to both of them and constituted the “wakeup call” that Janis Spring, PhD mentions in her book “After The Affair.” It opened this couple’s eyes to the gradual deterioration of their marriage, the vulnerability of their relationship and their need to stop ignoring the situation. It galvanized them (as it does to others who do not wish to give up) to throw their best efforts into their marriage and make it a number one priority. More on this in my article ”Can There be a Silver Cloud Around The Cloud of an Infidelity?”
Often, an infidelity takes place in a marriage that is vulnerable. However, infidelities can also occur even in good marriages where both spouses they are happy in the relationship. But even if a marriage is “good” after going through a properly conducted healing process following an infidelity, it can become a lot better.
End of Section 3: "In Today’s High Tech Era It Is So Easy To Begin a Secret Relationship And So Easy To Be Discovered" ("Can There Be A Silver Lining Around the Cloud of Infidelity?")
Click here for Section 1 of this article "The Hurt and Pain of Infidelity"
Click here for Section 1 of this article "An Infidelity To A Marriage Is Like An Earthquake To A House"
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