What Is Monkey Branching? 20 Clear Signs and What to Do (2024)

Do you have the feeling that the connection to your partner is fading and that they already prepare a jump to someone else?

This is called Monkey Branching and in this article, you’ll learn all you need to know about it.

This includes:

  • What monkey branching is
  • Why people monkey branch
  • Signs of monkey branching, and
  • What to do if you’re in a monkey branching relationship.

Let’s get right into it.

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What is Monkey Branching?

Monkey branching is when someone in a committed monogamous relationship begins dating other people while still in their current relationship.

Someone who’s monkey branching will be texting, calling, flirting, and even going on dates with people who are not their partner.

A partner who’s monkey branching will have one foot in and one out of the door. This person will be keeping their options open and not fully commit themselves to the relationship.

But why would someone do that?

We answer that in the next section.

Why Do People Monkey Branch?

People who monkey branch tend to do it because they feel like something is missing from their current relationship or that there’s a chance of finding someone better than their current partner.

Someone may monkey branch because they don’t feel like their needs are being met in the relationship and hope someone else will.

Monkey branching can also happen when people get bored with their current partner or want to make them jealous by flaunting other potential partners. This could either be due to anger, revenge, or hurt feelings.

Someone could also monkey branch due to internal factors such as low self-esteem and low moral standards.

An overdependence on others for emotional support and happiness could also lead a person to seek out another relationship from their current one.

An unwillingness to solve previous issues could also lead someone to seek a backup or safety net if a relationship ends.

Monkey branching isn’t something that will occur accidentally. If you’re vigilant, it’s possible to catch your partner during the initial stages of their monkey branching behavior.

But what are the stages of monkey branching?

Keep reading to learn more.

Stages of Monkey Branching

Stage One: Initial Attraction

The first stage of monkey branching is when your partner starts getting attracted to another individual.

During this stage, your partner will exchange numbers with their new crush and start flirting.

Stage Two: Consistent Conversation and Texting

Once numbers are exchanged, your partner will want to keep the interest of their crush.

During this stage, your partner will always be on their phone. While they may not go for dates, they will constantly be chatting or talking over the phone.

And it’s not with their friends.

Stage Three: Secrets

During this stage, a monkey brancher will start keeping secrets.

They will start being secretive about their whereabouts and may start becoming more private with their phone.

Stage Four: Verbal Arguments

At this, you’ll have started noticing that something’s amiss.

Your partner may start being more critical and may start regular fights with you in a bid to drive you to end the relationship.

Stage Five: Disappointments

If you’ve not ended the relationship by now, your monkey branching partner will start actively disappointing you.

If you guys plan for dates, they will cancel at the last minute. Suddenly they’ll start becoming too busy for you.

If you notice this, don’t wait for stage six.

Stage Six: Walking out

The final stage of monkey branching is when your partner finally walks out of the relationship.

During this stage, you’re left with questions on why you didn’t see the signs.

Let’s not let that happen. Here are eighteen signs to look out for to ensure you notice monkey branching early.

Monkey Branching

20 Signs of Monkey Branching

#1. Change in Physical Appearance

One of the first signs that your partner may be monkey branching is a sudden change in their physical appearance.

If your partner rarely dresses up but suddenly starts dressing sharp when they leave the house, they could be trying to impress someone else.

And it’s not only dressing!

A sudden change in physical appearance could also entail increased visits to the gym, getting a new haircut, or a dye job.

#2. Can’t Account for Time

If your partner can’t tell you what they’ve been doing, with who, and where they’ve been, there’s a high chance they’re stepping out of your relationship.

When someone is monkey branching, they often lie about where they’ve been and what they’ve been doing.

They may also be unable to account for their time which is a dead giveaway that something’s up.

If your partner claims they were at work or studying, but their phone was dead, this could be the sign of monkey branching.

If you find yourself asking where your partner could be, this might also indicate monkey branching.

After all, who doesn’t send an “I’m on my way” text or call when stuck in traffic?

#3. Spending Uncharacteristically Too Much Time on Their Phone

If you notice that your partner is spending an abnormal amount of time on their phone, this could be a sign they’re monkey branching.

It’s normal for people to check their phones throughout the day, but if they are constantly staring at it when in front of you or when hanging out with friends, there might be another reason.

And if you notice that they keep taking calls from an unknown number, this might also indicate monkey branching.

Other than spending too much time on the phone, your partner may become more private with their phone.

If you had shared passwords, you might notice that they have changed their passwords. And on confronting them, they take a defensive stance.

Deleting the call log and messages could also be a sign that your partner is monkey branching.

#4. Change in Affection

If your partner is monkey branching, you may notice a sudden change in affection.

Someone who’s monkey branching will show less physical intimacy and attention to your needs. This could include them not having sex as much or paying more attention to the outside world than to you.

You might also notice your partner being a bit distant and less caring to you

And here’s the interesting part!

A change in affection doesn’t necessarily mean less affection. Someone who’s monkey branching could suddenly start giving you more attention than expected in a bid to throw you off their scent.

#5. Use of Dating Apps

This is the most obvious sign that your partner is monkey branching.

If you notice dating apps on their phone or come across an email from a dating website, there’s a high chance that your partner is looking to create a safety net in case you guys don’t work out.

Why else would they be on a dating site? I’m sure it’s not looking for a job!

Even if you met on a dating site, you and your partner should delete your profiles to show commitment to your relationship.

#6. Sudden Change in Behavior and Hobbies

Another sign that your partner could be monkey branching is a sudden change in behavior and hobbies.

If you notice your partner taking up new hobbies that they have never shown interest in, monkey branching could be happening.

You may also notice that he doesn’t put in as much effort as before.

And that’s not all!

A behavior change could also include a change in the places he visits. If your partner wasn’t much of a nightclub and bar person but now starts frequenting these establishments, there’s a high chance that they could be looking for options.

#7. Increased Scrutiny of Your Negative Traits

Someone who’s monkey branching will use any reason to excuse their behavior.

This is why a common sign of a monkey branching partner is increased scrutiny of your negative traits.

Once monkey branching begins, the monkey brancher will find anything that you do wrong and use it as an excuse to get away with their behavior.

Every time you argue, it’s never their fault. According to them, you’re the one who’s always making mistakes.

If you notice such signs in your partner, high chances are that they’re monkey branching.

And it’s not only the things you do.

If your partner starts being extra critical of your physical appearance, there’s a high chance that they could be attracted to somebody else on the side.

#8. Projecting Fear and Increased Accusations

When monkey branching begins, your partner will project their fear onto you.

This is why another sign of monkey branching could be increased accusations and accusing behavior.

The monkey brancher may accuse you of things that they do themselves to make it seem like they’re innocent. They’ll also try projecting guilt onto you for no reason.

If your partner starts acting like this, be careful.

You could be in monkey branching territory.

After all, nobody accuses others of no reason.

The monkey brancher will use any possible excuse to project guilt onto you because deep down, they know that what they’re doing is wrong.

#9. Many Ex-Partners

A monkey branching partner will have many ex-partners.

Therefore, you should be careful if your partner has had too many past relationships. If they’ve dated so many people before, there’s a high chance that they may be serial monkey branchers.

This could be especially true if they had very short periods between breakups.

If someone finds it easy to jump from one relationship to the other, high chances are that they are never fully committed to the relationship.

#10. Increased Flirting

If your relationship seems to be going very smoothly, and suddenly you notice that he is flirting with the server or a female passerby, monkey branching could be happening.

And it’s not only men. If you notice that your girlfriend enjoys flirting with other men, she could be preparing to monkey branch.

And it doesn’t have to be physical flirting.

Flirting could also be in the form of texts, online messages, and late-night phone calls.

If you notice any of these signs of flirting, be careful as you may be on the way to getting hurt.

#11. You’ve Not Met their Friends

If your partner is monkey branching, they will often try to keep their friends away from you.

And if their friends have already met you, your partner will not be comfortable with it and may  go out of their way to avoid meeting up with both of you at once.

This could also happen even when it seems like everything’s going well.

If this is the case, your partner could be monkey branching, and they’re not comfortable with you meeting their friends or family.

And don’t only look at what they do when you’re together. If it seems like they avoid inviting you to meet up with their friend on some weekends, monkey branching may also be occurring.

A monkey brancher will also actively avoid meeting your friends.

Either they will be too busy, or something will come up whenever you plan for him to meet your friends.

If you notice that you rarely know their friends, and they rarely want to know yours, there’s a high chance that they aren’t fully committed to your relationship.

#12. Communications When Apart Have Slowed Down

If you notice that your partner has slowly started to avoid communicating with you when they’re apart, monkey branching may be occurring.

Monkey branchers often don’t have a problem being physically close or intimate but struggle to stay emotionally connected.

They may have no problem with sending you a few texts when they’re apart, but as monkey branching begins to take place, their communication slows down.

And when you bring up the issue of reduced communication, they either get defensive or claim to be too busy with work.

Don’t take their word for it. Watch out for other signs in this list, and if you notice them, know that you’re in a monkey branching relationship.

#13. Your Relationship Feels Off

Every relationship goes through some rough patches. And while it’s perfectly fine to feel off from time to time, if you notice that your rough patch is never-ending, it’s time to do some serious thinking.

Do you feel like you’ve hit a wall? Does it feel like your partner is distancing themselves or already moving on from your relationship?

That might be a sign that your partner is monkey branching.

#14. Your Partner Is Deeply Insecure

We all have our insecurities. But some people have lower self-esteem than others. If your partner doesn’t want to work on their deeper issues and doesn’t try to move on from their lack of confidence, they might end up in an endless circle of validation-seeking behavior.

Of course, not all insecure people are necessarily monkey branchers. But if you add insecurity to the mix, there’s a chance your partner is monkey branching you.

#15. Your Partner Gaslights You

If they make you feel like you’re crazy when you call them out for their behavior, that’s gaslighting 101. They typically do this to avoid discussing the real issue – their monkey branching behavior.

Gaslighting is a form of physiological abuse and can affect your mental health. It’s an obvious sign of a toxic relationship.

#16. Your Partner Doesn’t Have Strong Morals

When a relationship is new, you’re not still aware of each other’s values. With time, you begin to get a better idea of your partner’s core values, morals, and beliefs.

If your partner doesn’t have a strong moral compass, they will be more prone to monkey branching. Pay close attention to their behavior and whether they show any signs of monkey branching aside from a lack of moral compass.

#17. Your Relationship Started Fast

Try to remember how it all started for you guys. Did it happen too fast?

If you feel like it did start unusually quickly, you may be dating a monkey brancher. Monkey branchers tend to go from one relationship to another; this is their typical behavior.

#18. They Don’t Include You In Their Plans

If your partner never wants to do anything with you, that’s a serious red flag. This is especially alarming if you used to do everything together at the beginning of your relationship.

Your partner may be looking for a new fling, so pay close attention to their behavior.

But what do you do once you realize your partner is monkey branching?

We cover that in the next section.

Monkey branching
Photo by Alex Green from Pexels

#19 Lack Of Communication

The communication with your partner dried up in the last months. You barely talk with each other.

And when you talk then it’s about everything but your feelings and what’s going on in yourself.

#20 fewer Activities Together

You barely do something together.

Every one of you does its own thing but your partner doesn’t make suggestions anymore to do something togehter.

Related: Definite Signs Your Ex Will Eventually Come Back To You

What to do If You’re in a Monkey Branching Relationship

Work Out How You Feel About Your Partner

If you notice most of the signs above and are confident that your partner is monkey branching, the first thing to do is work out how you feel about them.

  • Do you still love them?
  • Is this relationship worth fighting for?
  • Can you see a future with them? (Marriage. kids, growing old together)

Understanding how you feel about your partner will allow you to confront them when composed and sure of what to do.

Knowing how you feel about this person will also ensure you have a straightforward conversation and won’t beat around the bush when you confront them.

Confront Them

Once you’re clear about your feelings, it’s time to confront your partner about their monkey branching.

However, don’t approach the conversation in a confrontative manner. Take a more diplomatic approach.

To do this, make sure you choose the right time to talk. This should be a time when both of you are relaxed, and neither of you is in a hurry. The conversation should also be held face to face.

Don’t start the conversation angrily. Tell them what you think and what you’ve seen.

Give them a chance to talk and listen to them.

If they admit that they’ve been monkey branching, you can start working on improving your relationship or decide to call it quits.

If they insult your intelligence and outrightly deny it, yet you’re sure they’re monkey branching, it may be time to end the relationship.

Don’t Flog a Dead Horse

If monkey branching occurs in your relationship, and you’ve confronted your partner about it, but they still deny it’s happening, don’t bother getting into a long conversation.

They’re not interested in fixing the issue; neither are they capable of doing so since monkey branching isn’t something that can be fixed overnight.

Just stop wasting your time with the monkey brancher.

Dump them, and move on.

Seek Professional Help

Ending a relationship is never easy.

You may be tempted to blame yourself for your partner’s monkey branching behavior.

However, remember that it’s was never your fault. Your partner was the one at fault.

Seeking the help of a therapist or counselor could help you get over feeling as if it’s your fault.

Seeking the help of a dating coach could also help you work on your relationship issues, and in turn, help you attract more high-value partners.

Monkey branching
Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels

What to Do If You’re the One Monkey Branching?

While it’s okay to have a safety net in life, having one for your relationship will probably cause more harm than good.

But how do you stop monkey branching?

Talk to Someone You Trust.

Once you realize that monkey branching is a problem that needs to be stopped, the first step is to talk to someone you trust.

This could be a friend, a close family member, or a religious leader.

Talking to these people about your problem committing allows you to get a different perspective on your problem.

As the adage goes, a problem shared is a problem half solved.

Build Your Self Esteem

As mentioned above, monkey branching could be due to low self-esteem or low moral values.

If you’re a chronic monkey brancher who wants to stop, it might help to start working on your self-esteem issues.

Some of the things you can do to improve your self-esteem include:

  • Eating healthy
  • Exercising regularly
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Getting enough sleep.
  • Spending time with good friends

Another way to build your self-esteem is to:

Focus More on Your Self-improvement

One of the best times to work on your self-improvement is when you’re not dating.

At this time, you have all the time to spend on improving your skills. So, rather than jumping from one relationship to another, use the time after a breakup to work on a skill or new hobby.

Even when in a relationship, always work on your self-improvement.

Rather than chatting up with other people, take this time to read a book. Rather than planning for dates with people who aren’t your partner, use the time to join a gym or build a side hustle.

By working on yourself, you won’t have the time to give attention to other people who aren’t your partner.

Work on Your Moral Values

It’s said that monkey branching is a form of cheating.

And one thing people who cheat do is to disrespect their partner and the relationship they’re in by monkey branching.

So, if you want to stop monkey branching, work on your moral values. Ask yourself why you’re never able to stick to one partner and what cheating means to you.

If you find it hard to answer these questions, it may be time to seek professional help.

Seek Professional Help

Childhood trauma could be the reason why you always find it hard to commit. Maybe you were abandoned as a child or never received enough attention, which has resulted in you seeking love from anyone willing to offer.

If such is the case for you, seeking a therapist’s help could help you finally put an end to your monkey branching behavior.

With the help of a therapist, you’ll be able to uncover why you can’t commit. Working with a professional also means you’ll develop a [plan to help you overcome your monkey branching behavior.

Monkey Branching FAQs

Do Monkey Branching Relationships Last?

Monkey branching relationships rarely work out. This is because the relationship was built on a foundation of cheating and lies.

While the relationship may start with a lot of passion, it quickly fades, and the monkey brancher starts looking for another relationship.

Will my Ex Come Back After Monkey Branching?

Short answer! Yes.

Since monkey branching relationships rarely last, your monkey branching Ex could come back in a bid to fill the emotional gap that their new relationship couldn’t.

To learn more about why your monkey branching ex may come back, check out our article on why an Ex might come back after you’ve moved on.

Is Monkey-Branching a Form of Rebound?


While not in the traditional sense, monkey branching can be considered a form of a rebound since the monkey brancher uses the new relationship to get over the current one despite not ending the current relationship.

There you go.

All you need to know about monkey branching.

Don’t let yourself fall victim to this form of infidelity. Always be on the lookout for the signs above.

And if you’ve noticed some of these signs in your partner, we hope this article will help you decide on the way forward.

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About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.