When we think of private investigators, we envision a furtive agent dressed in all black, hacking phones, installing hidden cameras and hanging onto the underside of a suspect’s moving car. But being a private investigator is far from what you’d expect.

More realistically, the job requires surveillance and analysis to reveal ugly truths. Kyle S., Colorado PI and owner of Flatirons Private Investigations, specializes in uncovering cheating partners. After years of experience exposing betrayal and infidelity, Kyle spoke with us about the ins and outs of his profession.

What made you want to become a private investigator?
I was doing investigations in the military for over a decade before I started my own business a couple years ago. I’m an incredibly curious and analytical person, and I look at these cases like I’m solving a puzzle. Maybe my clients only need one last piece of the puzzle or maybe I have to supply all the pieces.

Even if I get a call and the client ultimately doesn’t hire me, sometimes I become so curious that I’ll still try to solve their case. It’s just fun!

What kinds of cases do you do most often?
The biggest demand is for infidelity cases, but I’ll also get calls from clients with stalkers, clients who want me to track down their 16-year-old runaway, clients who want me to prove their employee is faking an injury for worker’s comp. For one of those cases, I got a video of a guy with a neck brace, and as soon as he thinks he’s alone he rips the brace off. Really, one minute he’s got a broken neck and the next minute he’s breakdancing.

What exactly are your clients hoping for when they call and say, 'I suspect my partner is cheating on me?'
I get so many of these calls, from the husband, the boyfriend, the girlfriend, the wife, either partner of a same sex couple… Cheating is an issue in any permutation of a relationship. A lot of times when they call, it’s not just that they suspect. It’s that they know. And I wonder, why do you want to hire me when you already know? In those cases, I think I’m just providing them with closure.

Other times, I need to help a client who’s been convinced that they’re going insane. For example, I had a woman who suspected her spouse was cheating, so she called me and said,  'My husband has got me convinced that I’m crazy.' Because that’s what cheaters do. They deflect the blame onto you, and they psychologically manipulate you into questioning your own sanity. If I can prove that he’s cheating, my client gets closure, but also the validation of knowing she’s not crazy.

How is it possible that they know their partner is cheating?
When you’ve been with somebody for years, you’re going to notice all the little changes. You’ll recognize when they smell different. You’ll realize when they suddenly start working late hours, start hanging out with friends you’ve never met, or avoiding activities that they used to find enjoyable. When people become emotionally involved with someone else, they only have so much capacity for love. You’ll notice that they’ve started moving on because they’ll create distance and stop coming home.

Are there any more warning signs?
Tons. A big indication of infidelity is when they begin taking better care of themselves. You know, a guy will start working out more often and manscaping. I had a client whose husband says he’s out of the house because he’s getting an education, but when she pressed him about it he confessed that he’s actually getting liposuction.

So are people always right when they think they’re partner is cheating?
Women are right more often than men. But women also call me more often than men do. I think guys are either oblivious or avoid calling out of embarrassment or vulnerability. Women seem to be more emotional, more observant and more outspoken about what they notice.

Do you work mostly with married couples?
No, not at all. Some clients have only been in a relationship for a few months. One woman called who’d been with her boyfriend for four months, and she tells me that he’s acting strange. She hasn’t met his friends, his family, or been to his house. I didn’t even need to investigate this one. Obviously, he’s already married.

Just last night, a guy called me at 1:00 in the morning. He says, 'Me and girlfriend are on a break, and I want you to keep an eye on her because I suspect she thinks it’s okay to cheat while we’re on a break.' Then, I come to find out he’s on the phone while the girlfriend is sleeping in the other room. Something’s clearly wrong with this relationship, but I’m getting a lot of mixed signals here.

What counts as evidence of cheating?
A lot of clients have several pieces of proof before they even call me. They’ll use Find My Friends or Find My iPhone to keep tabs on their partner. One woman put a tracker on her boyfriend’s car.

We have all this automation in our houses today, and some of my clients have realized how to use that to their advantage. They can listen to all requests made to Alexa over the past 9 months. Alexa can even recognize voices and tell you who’s making the requests. One woman told me Alexa recorded her husband asking, 'Hey, what do you want to hear?' on a night that he claims no one was home.

Also, your WiFi keeps a log of everyone who logs in. People don’t realize that their whole life is being recorded. They think they’re smart hiding information on Facebook, but I can always find it. Digital forensics is amazing.

All you need is a thread of evidence against them. You start pulling at it, and all of the sudden they’re naked and exposed. When it comes to cheating, there’s really no hiding it.

What kind of dirt is considered rock solid proof?
Rock solid proof would be public displays of affection or two people in the same hotel room. Sure, I’m not in the hotel room while they’re getting it on, so I can only assume. But I don’t want to make those assumptions.

I report only what I saw and let them draw their own conclusions. And the report needs to not be subject to interpretation. I’m not gonna tell them, 'it was a passionate kiss reminiscent of a Fabio novel … ' No, it’s strictly the facts.

Do you love your job?
I do. But when too many of my cases involve infidelity, I start to wonder if I’ve chosen the right thing. My clients will tell me their life story, how it all fell apart and how unhappy they’ve become because of it. It can be emotionally draining.

I believe in black and white. I believe cheating is wrong, and people should be honest with each other. But in this profession, I’m bombarded with depravity. I wonder, is anybody faithful to anybody anymore?

[originally published December 8, 2017]