Evidence of Infidelity: Has your partner really cheated?

Infidelity, sometimes viewed as wrong and unacceptable, sometimes tolerated, is an infringement of a simple rule whereby couples are expected to remain monogamous. A breach of such a rule is generally considered immoral, hurtful and wrong. But this common phenomenon somehow still remains a rather thorny topic that many prefer to sweep under the carpet, lock in the skeleton closet or unconsciously resort to psychological defense mechanisms such as denial.

Many websites provide invaluable articles providing those who suspect cheating with useful information and resources aimed at helping them “spot the cheater”. But can we really get “tangible proof” that a partner has been unfaithful? The answer is “yes”. Many spouses who have been victims of unfaithful partners have often found anything from revealing messages and incriminating messages on phone, items of clothing, suspicious stains, eye witness accounts and even confessions.

But let us not jump to hazarded conclusions. For Shakespeare’s Othello teaches us what jealousy brings. Once the seeds are planted, the signs might appear. But Othello strangles Desdemona, not because she has in any way cheated on him (we know that the only signs of Desdemona’s infidelity lie only in his own mind) but because his own obsessive and jealous mind has made its own unfounded conclusions. Desdemona gives one final breath, her throat clutched between Othello’s virulent fingers, and exclaims “a guiltless death I die”. Shakespeare’s, tragic but didactic, does teach a very important lesson. Suspecting infidelity and searching for signs can bring us perilously close to finding them in places where they do not actually exist. That change in our partner’s behavior, the odd late night at work, the new concern your partner shows in his or her appearance becomes incriminating evidence. But take a step back, hold your horses and ensure you do not jump to any hazarded conclusions.

In the press

The media and celebrity world has not ceased to surprise us with its own infidelity cases. Let’s take a few seconds and see what springs to mind; Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, Lady Diana, Chris Brown and Rihanna, Joe Giudice cheating on Teresa, Kristin Stewart's infidelity with married "Snow White and the Hunstman" director Rupert Sanders, Tiger Woods and the list of celebrity cheats goes on and on.

So cheating is far from uncommon but perhaps to use the word “rampant” would be farfetched.

An article in Cosmopolitan, entitled The Great Female Survey 2010 states that only 2% of women would be likely to cheat on their other half. On the other hand, this figure stood at around 5% when it came to men. But accurate statistics are hard to come by. Another article in Foxnews, entitled Cheating Statistics: Do Men Cheat More Than Women (Lisa Penn, June 07, 2012) claims that 70% of married men confess to having cheated and that around 17% of divorces are caused by infidelity.

What about any cultural differences? We cannot exclude the impact of these. Some cultures are more accepting of infidelity than others and casual adultery is part and parcel of that culture. The Italians and even the French are known to have higher rates of marital infidelity. An article in The Daily Mail, (Lucy Wadham, June, 26th, 2009) clearly exemplifies the French attitude to infidelity in the title of her article French women don't just tolerate their husbands' affairs - they expect them.

So how should you deal with infidelity?

Before taking any drastic measures such as confronting, breaking up or initiating a divorce, it is crucial to be absolutely sure that cheating has taken place and that your thoughts are founded. This is indeed the challenging bit – even mildly suggesting to your partner that they have cheated, when he or she has not in any way been unfaithful, can drive a wedge into the relationship which will undoubtedly be hard to repair. Therefore, if you have found some suspicious stain or item of clothing or anything that could turn out to be tangible genetic evidence of infidelity, then the answer to your doubts might lie in DNA testing.

What is DNA testing for infidelity?

An infidelity DNA test is an analysis of suspect genetic material, such as stains, to determine their likely donor. Let us say, for example, that you have found a stain on a garment which you suspect to be a bodily fluid. The first things that need to be determined are the following:

·         Does this stain contain my genetic material?

·         Does this stain contain genetic material of my partner?

·         Does this stain contain genetic material belonging to a third person?

Infidelity DNA testing can help answer all three of the above questions.

You may simply want to determine if the suspicious stain or item contains any DNA, and if so whether it belongs to a male or a female (often there will be a mix of both). In this case, a multiple gender DNA test can easily confirm whether there is only male DNA, only female DNA, or a mix of both. To determine the sex of the people involved, scientists analyze a gene known as the amelogenin which is a useful gender marker. This gene is present on both the male Y chromosome and the female X chromosome. The sample is analyzed using a process known as gel electrophoresis, a method which shows DNA in colored bands that are visible to various imaging techniques. Depending on the whether the DNA contributor is male or female the amelogenin gene will display different peaks in the result.

However, in some cases it may not make sense to stop at multiple gender testing. This is especially true if you suspect that your DNA might be present in the sample. You need to thus exclude the possibility that you are the DNA contributor- you must be certain that any DNA found belongs to the third person with which your partner has cheated. In this case, you will need to send in a comparison sample of your own DNA. You can collect your own DNA sample by rubbing a sterile oral swab inside your mouth.  A DNA profile will be extracted from the sample you provided and compared to the DNA profile in the stain. In this way the laboratory can determine with accuracy whether you are the donor of the genetic profile found in the suspect sample in question.

What types of samples can be analyzed?

Although one may believe that their partner is being unfaithful, simply finding a suspicious item or stain does not confirm those beliefs. A DNA infidelity test will allow these doubts to be cleared by confirming whether or not another person is involved.

But where does one begin once they have decided to go ahead with the DNA test? Ideally, contact a laboratory such as homeDNAdirect , GTL laboratories, easyDNA or any other of the many such entities offering these tests. They can tell you what there is to know about how to collect, pack and send the sample. Samples that can be examined for the presence of DNA include used condoms, hair, stained sheets or garments, semen, a used tissue and many more. Oftentimes the laboratory will advise to place the sample in a clean paper envelope however it is advisable to discuss this in advance as instructions may vary depending on the type of sample. Additionally, an oral swab sample also referred to as a reference swab, can be sent in for comparison purposes as mentioned earlier in this text.

Infidelity does not irrevocably lead to break ups. The motives and causes behind infidelity need to be understood and perhaps counseling sought to help repair the relationship. 

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