At the end of a recent column, I printed a short letter from a reader signed "Suspicious Texan," asking what are the telltale signs of a cheating spouse. (I listed eight -- secretiveness, a sudden change in manner of dress or grooming, unexplained absences, less affectionate, unfamiliar charges on credit card bills, strange numbers on the phone bill, hang-ups on your home phone, and more business trips than usual.)
I then asked readers if they cared to add to the list. The response was so great, it nearly gave my mailman a hernia!
I play more "golf." (That's good for five or six hours.)
You find birth-control pills in her medicine cabinet, and you've had a vasectomy.
Mutual friends start acting strangely toward you. (They either know about the cheating, or have been told stories about what a horrible wife or girlfriend you are.)
He stops confiding in you and seeking advice from you.
Sets up a new e-mail account and doesn't tell you about it.
He leaves the house in the morning smelling like Irish Spring and returns in the evening smelling like Safeguard.
He refuses to let you take him to the airport when he's leaving town.
He carries condoms and you are on the pill.
Begins to delete all incoming phone calls from Caller ID.
Deletes all incoming e-mails when they used to accumulate.
He becomes "accusatory," asking if YOU are being true to HIM, usually out of guilt.
Raises hypothetical questions such as, "Do you think it's possible to love more than one person at a time?"
He buys himself new underwear.
He insists that the child seat, toys, etc., are kept out of his car.
She stops wearing her wedding ring.
Has a sudden desire to be helpful with the laundry.
Has unexplained scratches or bruises on his or her neck or back.
Suddenly wants to try new love techniques.
Supposedly works a lot of overtime, but it never shows up on the pay stub.
Picks fights in order to stomp out of the house.
You find out by accident that he or she took a vacation day or personal time off from work -- but supposedly worked on those days.
Shows a sudden interest in a different type of music.
Spouse's co-workers are uncomfortable in your presence.
Has a sudden preoccupation with his or her appearance.
Spends an excessive amount of time on the computer, especially after you have gone to bed.
Suddenly works long hours or weekends and never seems to be at his/her desk to answer the phone. Calls back later with a reason such as, "I was working in the conference room where there was more space."
Has lots of "emergency errands" -- then comes home empty-handed, saying, "They didn't have what I needed."
He throws up a lot because he just ate at his mistress's house, and had to eat the dinner I prepared when he got home.
The telltale sign of a cheating spouse? Having to ask that question in the first place. LISTEN TO YOUR GUT!
And last but not least:
My wife scores five out of the eight telltale signs listed in your column.
However, she and I agree that most of them fit her job description.
She's a real estate agent.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.
(c)2002, Universal Press Syndicate