The Internet exploded yesterday when a woman posted a TikTok alleging her affair with Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine while he was still married. Throughout the afternoon, online sleuths discovered more details about the affair and long story short, it’s not looking great for Levine.
It’s not the first time a celebrity has cheated, and it likely won’t be the last. Infidelity is fairly prevalent in our society, but it doesn’t always look like sending a DM to an Instagram model. And it rarely happens over night. Often, there are signs leading up to it. It can start through a small conversation that builds into something else.
But not all communication is verbal. Many would argue that they can individually control the messages they are sending to the opposite sex.
Unfortunately, they are wrong.
Though we can take every effort to be intentional with how we create our messages, we cannot control how someone is going to interpret those messages. There are countless nonverbal factors that if not stewarded well, have the potential to lead to marital infidelity.
Here are most important nonverbal communication channels and red flags you should be aware of.
We’ve all flirted with the opposite sex at some point or another.
Catching their eyes is sometimes a game. When one looks up at the suspecting gazer, often times they then immediately look down, only to look up again intentionally to let you know they notice you noticing them. Whether sitting across the room or directly in front of them, maintaining consistent eye contact can arouse our emotions, both relational and sexual.
This can be devastating to marriage when eye contact is used to achieve these ends.
When manipulated, consistent eye contact with someone of the opposite sex other than a spouse may encourage an invite to chat. Once the two are together in a conversation, topics may begin innocently, which once again, in and of itself is not immoral, but often times innocent topics lead to discussing topics that typically are reserved for spouses, such as feelings and desires.
This type of conversation is exponentially increased when conversation is taken to social media and private chat conversations that provide a false-sense of security.
So what can you do? Monitor your eye gaze. This is something I have had to work on simply with my observation tendencies.
I’m a people watcher. Many of you may be as well. Be careful that your people-watching tendencies aren’t misinterpreted. As a married person, you have a responsibility to mind your eyes.
Job made a covenant with his eyes not to look at a woman lustfully. Similarly, as a married man or woman, though it takes time, you can train your eyes to avoid unnecessary eye contact with the opposite sex that may be on the prowl. Eye contact is important when carrying on everyday conversations, but monitor your gaze.
Simply put, avoid giving the opposite sex the kind of looks you only give to your spouse on date night.
Research has long supported the advantages of touch. Physically, touch can help decrease blood pressure, heart rate and mental stress. Emotionally, touch provides support and encouragement in times of grief, as well as in times of joy. When touch is used improperly or in vain, the individual receiving the touch may interpret it in a manner unintended by the giver.
Leaving your hand on the arm of a colleague or co-worker of the opposite sex for a long period of time during a conversation in your office may communicate emotional or sexual messages that you would never dream of communicating to them intentionally or even verbally.
This may cause you or the person you’re touching to have feelings or desires that are meant exclusively for your spouse. If you’re not the one connecting with the opposite sex through your touch, that certainly does not mean they aren’t connecting with you.
Monitor your touch when talking with the opposite sex. Make mental notes of how often touch accompanies your words. Then, avoid getting into these situations again by all means possible.
Time Spent in Private Text Communication
Text communication provides a false sense of security; a blanket almost, falsely protecting you from damages to your real-world marriage. Time communicates; it can communicate desire, both through emotions and sexual topics.
Consistent text communication with the opposite sex says, “I really enjoy talking with you.” This then is either innocently interpreted or dangerously misinterpreted. It may not take long to begin discussing topics that should only be discussed with your spouse.
You may be able to avoid connecting with someone through text when talking about feelings and desires, but the individual on the other end of that conversation, whether single or married, may not be able to control whether they do or not.
Avoid private text conversations with the opposite sex at all costs. Don’t even go there. Communication like this is a slippery slope. It is very hard to monitor your subtle emotional messages when sending and receiving private texts. It is equally hard to avoid temptation when in the middle of these consistent conversations. When you spend time talking with someone through text privately, it is easy to send mixed signals, whether emotional or sexual.
Finally, check the status of your heart. Yes, that’s right. I’ve heard the argument too often that, “My spouse and I do what’s best for us.” No, with the nature of the human heart, you are evidently doing what’s best for you. Selfishness is why marriages fail, and why divorces often follow that failure.
Consider it a red flag if you are or want to be married, but don’t find it necessary to monitor some or all of your interactions with the opposite sex.
Have an honest conversation with yourself. Check your heart. Whether you are knowingly not monitoring your nonverbal communication with the opposite sex or whether you’re naïve, you are responsible for the words and messages you are sending.
The nonverbal behaviors we receive and send also have the ability to snare the heart and soul of another.
We’ve been wired by our Creator for both verbal and nonverbal communication with others, including the opposite sex. However, as we live in a fallen world, that communication with others cannot be done effectively or appropriately without strategy and intentionality.
To respect your spouse fully, means to respect them with your words, with your actions, face to face and online, until death do you part.
Editor’s note: A version of this article appeared in 2016.
is an assistant professor of communication at Taylor University. His teaching and research efforts are conducted through the lens of social psychology. He focuses primarily on marriage fidelity, relationship development/management, the self, nonverbal communication, persuasion, social influence and social media. He lives in Indiana with his beautiful wife, Stacey.