How to Catch a Cheater- Tips and Resources from a P.I.

How to Catch a Cheater- Tips and Resources from a P.I.

As a private investigator, I am often asked how to catch a cheater.  This can turn into a trick question if the person asking does not provide enough information.  What they are really asking is, “how do I find out if my husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner is cheating on me?”

How to catch a cheater

Most of the time, people have suspicions and rarely any real proof that their partner is cheating on them.  Many times, these suspicions are completely unfounded.  Too often, the suspicions are indications that their partner is at least lying to them to some degree if not really cheating.  Perhaps they had bad news at work they do not want to share, or received some “guidance” from the doctor they are not sharing (like they have high cholesterol and need to lay off the meat but you make the greatest burgers in the world).  The signs of deception might be there for something other than cheating, but with limited information most humans tend to jump to conclusions before finding hard evidence.  Many people, once they suspect deception, want to know how to catch a cheater.  There are plenty of partners that have cheated and never been caught.  For others, there are television shows set around being caught.  While you may not want to jump onto a television show to find out if your partner is cheating, you do want some sort of confirmation that the love of your life is still faithful.  This desire to learn how to catch a cheater is likely what brought you here.  Before we review some tips, let me cover a few important elements you should consider on how to catch a cheater.

Do I need a Private Investigator?

You would think my answer to this would be “yes”, but I get so many people that want to hire me in exchange for a cup of coffee that I had to re-think my answer to this.  There is one reason you need to hire a private investigator- for any legal purpose.  If it relates to children, money, or protecting yourself from some harm (physical, reputation, etc.), hire a private investigator.


A private investigator can do a lot more than you can because your partner does not know what he/she looks like and a private investigator has no emotional investment in the outcome (so, we do not get mad and kick down the hotel door when we see the cheating).  Even if you follow everything “by the book” for collecting evidence for legal purposes, it is highly improbable that your information will be admissible in court (the Judge will not accept it as evidence).  So, before you make any hasty decisions, consider any potential legal purposes.  Most private investigators are seasoned on how to catch a cheater, so you can step away from the situation and just wait for the results of their expertise.

Signs of Deception

While some detectives think they have a human lie-detecting super power, I continue to have my doubts.  No matter how good we become at detecting lies in other humans, there are too many variables for us to be able to always detect lies without proper training.  Detectives, like many other investigative professions, have developed skills that help them identify when people are generally lying (here is a resource for the rest of us on learning to detect deception).  I say generally, because of all of those variables.  Still, there are a few physical and verbal detectors that can help you identify deception (though, this does not guarantee cheating).  While detecting deception does not indicate signs of cheating, it can help you identify how to catch a cheater.

  • Having breakfastLack of eye contact is one of the largest signs of deception. Ironically, no one really discusses the fact that we really do not have that much eye contact with people these days.  The trick to eye contact as a form of deception is that it needs to be an obvious move away from looking at you.  If someone is looking at their phone and you ask them a question, they are not likely to look up at you to answer.  If you are having a discussion with them, they do not stare at your eyes the entire time.  You need to first determine what normal eye contact is for a conversation, eliminate the other distractions (I know, it’s hard to put the phone down these days), and then look for avoidance of eye contact in the harder conversations.  To test this, you need to have a conversation that cannot involve lying.  How about over Saturday breakfast?  Something as simple as a conversation over the different brands of food, preferences in how you like your eggs, etc.  Even though you might know the information, the point is to have a discussion and see the level of eye contact that is normal for your conversations.  Then, when you discuss a topic that is a little more sensitive (hey honey, who were you talking to on the phone?), you have something to work with to gauge eye contact.  This can be one of the most effective methods of detecting deception…but keep in mind that detecting deception does not prove cheating!
  • Changing the topic is a classic. When someone has a tough time lying, they will do everything they can to avoid discussing the topic.  (You- Hey honey, who was that on the phone? Partner- Oh, just someone from work. What are you watching on television?  That looks interesting.)  Again, changing the topic does not mean cheating, but avoiding a discussion about something usually means your partner is not telling you something and can be a good sign of deception.

Lies lead to more lies

  • Lies tend to lead to more lies. You may not catch the first lie, or even the tenth lie, but eventually you are likely to catch one of the lies and when you start to dig into it, it unravels more lies.  When you are in a relationship, there really is no reason to lie to your partner or for them to lie to you.  There may be work related issues they cannot discuss with you, but generally your partner has no reason to withhold information.  If you find your partner has lied to you about something, you need to dig.  If you start to unravel more lies, it’s time to move on to the next step.
  • Fidgeting around nervously when talking about certain people or subjects can indicate there is something about the person or topic that your partner does not want to talk about. If you are discussing the person you think your partner is cheating with, take a deep breath and make mental notes.  Sometimes this can mean that your partner is trying not to tell you something (like that person hit on them and your partner is really just trying to spare your feelings).  To emphasize again that detecting deception does not necessarily equal cheating, but it can validate your suspicions that there is something going on.

If you plan on trying to detect deception yourself when learning how to catch a cheater, consider this resource to help you learn how to detect lies.  Here is a resource to learn more about lie detection.

I Detect Deception! Now tell me how to catch a cheater.

Once you have identified that your partner is lying to you about something, you have a few options.

  • You can confront your partner with your suspicions, and even with the “proof” you have collected so far. (I know you were talking to that person at 1 AM because it’s on the phone bill.) Unfortunately, if your partner is really cheating on you, this might lead to more lies and no answers.  The good liars have even worked out their excuse before you confront them (well, that’s because we were planning your birthday party for next month).  Even if you get a straight answer that makes sense, this does not always lead to the satisfaction that you have proven your partner is not cheating.  Learning how to catch a cheater takes more skills than just catching your partner in a lie and hoping they confess all, but it is a possibility.
  • Hire a private investigator. As I mentioned before, this is an option and something you should consider if you have legal reasons.  Many people react to potential cheating emotionally and rarely envision the legal considerations, but if you have children, a lot of money involved, a sensitive career where a family scandal can hurt, or you just want independent proof, spend the money and hire a professional.  While you may feel like you know how to catch a cheater, letting someone else get the proof can literally pay off financially and even emotionally.
  • Be your own investigator. This is an option!  Keep in mind that you have an emotional investment in the “investigation”, so you need to use a system.  This guide will help you with the skills and tools you need to do it yourself.  If you want to know HOW TO CATCH A CHEATER without paying hundreds or thousands to a private investigator, check it out or read my review.

If you choose the “DIY” (do it yourself) route, don’t forget to visit my reviews on SPY GEAR for some potential helpers.  Regardless of your choice, it is better to act and do something rather than let it nag at you.  While you may not have a very healthy relationship right now because you have suspicions, you can start taking the right steps for you once you know the truth and learn how to catch a cheater or determine your partner’s innocence.

-The Private I on How to catch a cheater