DEAR READERS: 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! Read on:
-- 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:
DEAR ABBY: 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.