They're in a relationship with you but they're already lining up their next one. Instead of focusing on you, they're actively pursuing other people.
In other words, they've got you in the cart, but they're still shopping.
Much like a monkey swinging from branch to branch, they’re hoping to latch onto the next best thing. If you think that's pretty shady, and it sounds an awful lot like cheating, you’re right.
Monkey branching is a form of infidelity, and infidelity always leaves tells in its wake.
Things to know
- If your partner is focusing on someone else, you’re going to feel a shift in emotional and physical intimacy.
- Deception, secrecy, and sudden changes in behavior may also point to monkey branching.
- Being defensive, picking fights, or refusing to communicate may signify that your partner has given up on your relationship.
Want more clues to help you spot monkey branching? Hang tight. Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:
- Is Monkey Branching Cheating?
- 12 Simple Clues To Spot Monkey Branching
- They're Monkey Branching, Now What?
Is Monkey Branching Cheating?
That's a big fat yes. Monkey branching is cheating. With its secretive and deceitful nature, it's no surprise that monkey branching is a form of infidelity. As with infidelity, monkey branching typically manifests as:
- Changes in behavior
- Secrecy and deception
- Emotional and physical distance
- Changes in routines and habits
- Defensive behaviors
- Increased conflict
12 Simple Clues To Spot Monkey Branching
Let’s dive into the 12 simple clues to spot monkey branching below:
1. Changes in behavior
Changes in behavior tend to point to a shift in a relationship's dynamic and are a common sign that someone is being unfaithful.
If your partner is behaving differently, something is different. It might be that they're pursuing someone else or that your relationship isn't a priority anymore.
Whether it's behaving out of character, being secretive, or pushing you away, you'll sense a change in your relationship if they're keeping their options open.
Denying that they're different, despite clear evidence that they are (pulling away, avoiding you, etc.) is a form of deception. If they call you crazy or accuse you of imagining things, they're engaging in a manipulation tactic known as gaslighting.
2. Changes in phone habits
Monkey branchers often use texting as a way to meet new people. So, if your partner is constantly texting and smiling at their phone, they may have their sights set on someone else.
Do they sneak off to take calls and text through the night? When you ask them about their behavior, do they become defensive about their privacy? If you answered 'yes' to either of these questions, your partner is being secretive — another red flag.
3. Changes in their routine
Gradually, a monkey brancher may start sneaking around and keeping their whereabouts a secret. Their routine might change and to feel closer to a potential 'branch', they may take on new hobbies and interests.
If your partner is disappearing for long hours and blaming it on friends, co-workers, or work commitments, it's likely they're avoiding you or spending time with someone else.
4. Increased conflict
When they're not on their phone or pretending you don't exist, they might pick fights. Everything you say might be taken the wrong way and used as ammo for another fight. It doesn't stop there — they might start coming for your career choices, habits, or even your looks.
Even when you bring up valid concerns, they might attack your character and use your shortcomings as an excuse for their actions.
The bottom line is, now that they've got someone else lined up, you're in the way. Monkey branchers usually wait for their partners to end things, so every day you don't walk away gives them a reason to take their frustration out on you.
Just like cheaters, monkey branchers tend to accuse their partners of cheating. It's a common tactic used to avoid talking about their suspicious behavior.
These accusations are usually a way to ease their guilt or justify their actions. After all, monkey branching is a way of ‘protecting’ themselves.
If your partner is accusing you of cheating when they're the one treating you like an option, they're trying to deflect. You’ll notice that they do this anytime you question their behavior.
In the conflict that ensues, the real issue is long forgotten and while you’re off licking your wounds, they’re off catching up with your replacement.
6. Emotional distance
As a monkey brancher shifts their emotional investment to someone else, their current relationship becomes increasingly one-sided. They distance themselves emotionally and become less responsive to their partner's needs and concerns.
If it feels like your partner has put a wall up between you, they might be emotionally involved with someone else. Other signs of emotional distance to look out for include:
- A lack of empathy or concern for your mental health or emotional well-being
- Being dismissive when you try to confide in them
- Not initiating conversations
- Refusing to communicate or give you their undivided attention
7. Physical distance
Partners engaged in monkey branching don’t just pull away emotionally, they become less affectionate and hardly initiate physical contact. They're disinterested and tend to make excuses to avoid sex.
Things drying up in the bedroom is usually a sign of something brewing beneath the surface. If your partner won’t look at you, let alone touch you, this might indicate that their attraction has shifted to someone else.
8. A history of jumping from one relationship to the next
Due to low self-esteem, monkey branchers engage in serial monogamy or overlapping romantic relationships.
If you and your partner got together just hours or days after their previous relationship ended, they have a pattern of jumping from one relationship to the next.
If you’re getting the sense that they’ve 'checked out' or that they're simply waiting for you to pull the plug on things, they’re up to their monkey branching ways again.
9. Seeking out and flirting with other people
Because they need a backup plan, monkey branchers never stop looking. They take any opportunity to flirt with other people. They don't retire their dating profiles and wait to fire them up at the first sign of trouble.
When a serial monkey brancher wants to move on to the next person, they tend to sabotage their current relationship. It’s not uncommon for them to engage in exit affairs. By dating someone else while they're still in a committed relationship they’re making sure they have someone there to fall back on.
If your partner is on dating apps, it's not for the fun of it, they're actively searching for someone else.
10. Excluding you from plans
Monkey branchers avoid talking about their needs and concerns, preferring to quietly quit a relationship. This often looks like:
- Not honoring plans
- Not making plans
- Excluding their partner from future plans
- Deleting shared social media accounts
- Blocking, unfriending, or unfollowing their current partner
- Removing evidence of their current partner on social media
- Moving out and other distancing behaviors
The bottom line is: if your partner is distancing themselves in any of the ways listed above, it's a clear sign they're already moving on.
11. They have attachment issues
Partners with attachment issues are prone to monkey branching. They have difficulty forming and maintaining close, emotional bonds and may struggle with commitment and fidelity in relationships. This, and a questionable moral compass, may compel them to pursue other people.
If your partner has attachment issues, there's a possibility that monkey branching is their way of not getting too emotionally involved with you (or anyone).
12. They have a fear of abandonment
For some people, monkey branching is a way to shield themselves from pain and loneliness. If your partner has been in a string of toxic relationships, they might struggle with trust and commitment.
Trust issues and a fear of abandonment might drive them to seek out a safety net in the form of multiple partners or 'branches'.
They're Monkey Branching, Now What?
If your partner is guilty of monkey branching, it's unlikely they'll genuinely be willing to work on things. After all, they're stringing you along only because they're afraid to be single.
Rather than working through issues as a couple, they're content to do the bare minimum while keeping their options open.
The truth is: if they truly valued you, they would try to work on your relationship, not monkey branch.
Don't settle for being an option; move on, find someone who's all in, and thrive.