So I came across a word recently; I never knew that the word existed. MICRO-CHEATING! We’re all aware of how widespread cheating is. Of course, not everyone is guilty, at least not of the obvious form of infidelity that everyone despises. You probably have not slept with someone else or partaken in the known acts of cheating; as a result, you’ll claim innocence at any given point, are you really innocent? So, what is micro-cheating? Are you guilty of micro-cheating?
“Micro-cheating refers to small acts that are almost cheating,” according to Tammy Shaklee, LGBTQ relationship expert and founder of H4M Matchmaking. She further explained in one of her interviews that: what counts as “cheating” is different in every relationship, so what qualifies as micro-cheating can vary, too. According to Gabrielle Kassel, micro-cheating is generally anything that’s more emotionally, physically, or sexually charged than what’s considered proper in your relationship. A funny definition according to the Urban Dictionary’s (which dates back to 2008) for micro-cheating is given as: “when someone cheats on a partner, but just a little bit“. According to couples therapist Alicia Muñoz, LPC, micro-cheating is the practice of cultivating inappropriate close relations outside of your relationship in subtle ways.
Abby Moore states in mbgrelationships that this type of subtle cheating does not involve physical intimacy with the other (they haven’t kissed or had sex with another person), but the actions violate a couple’s agreements regarding romantic exclusivity in other ways. AASECT-certified sex therapist Jessa Zimmerman believes that many individuals do not consider emotional affairs to be cheating because they do not involve sex, yet the secrecy and betrayal of trust cause the most harm. The most crucial question now is: which behaviors count as micro-cheating? We have to understand firstly that it all depends on what things count as cheating in your relationship.
Downloading a new dating app “just to check it out!” playing with a friend’s hair, liking an ex’s Instagram photo, or having regular, extended lunches with a coworker could all be considered micro-cheating. Cultivating intimate or erotic energy with others, cultivating a fantasy of emotional closeness with others, seeking out repeated intimate interactions with exes are some other examples. Others could include: seeking out repeated intimate interactions with attractive people, returning to a person when you are unhappy in your committed romantic relationship, Using social media or other digital means to drain your erotic energy regularly, causing an intimacy drought in your relationship, and always replying to a specific person’s Instagram story. At a party, paying more attention to someone other than your partner than to your actual partner, muting or deleting a text exchange so your partner doesn’t know you’re chatting, and sharing personal details about sexual tastes, kinks, and fantasies with someone other than your partner.
What are those signs that you or your partner are micro-cheating? It could be spending too much time with a coworker – imagine long work lunches, picking up coffee for them every morning, or messaging after hours. It might involve liking someone’s old pictures, viewing their profile repeatedly, or sliding into their DMs on social media. It could also mean dressing up when you know you’ll be seeing a certain someone (“dress to impress”), or not mentioning your partner to someone you find attractive. Being preoccupied with your phone when you should not be, causing you to be absent from the relationship. Being indifferent or disinterested when your partner is speaking to you, directly, and with vulnerability. When you’re asked about a recent interaction or social media exchange, you become defensive. Your partner frequently makes observations about other people’s attractiveness but never expresses their needs and feelings to you explicitly. For long periods, withdrawing and becoming detached—especially during times of stress or conflict. Generally overinvesting time, energy, or headspace in a person who isn’t your partner is a sign of micro-cheating. If your gut tells you that your partner would feel uncomfortable by your actions or gestures — or you feel uncomfortable — it’s a pretty good indication that you’re micro-cheating.
How do you deal with micro-cheating? Talk about it! The first step in combating micro-cheating is to identify it. Have an open and honest conversation with your partner, expressing your feelings and providing instances of the things they’re doing that you don’t like. If your partner reacts negatively, then that’s a good reason to reconsider your relationship. Your relationship may grow stronger if your partner responds with care and is willing to change their behaviour and set boundaries. Take efforts to strengthen your relationship by talking about what constitutes infidelity and micro-cheating, discussing boundaries and agreements, and committing to changed behaviours.
Micro-cheating, in its most basic form, is cheating without physically crossing the line, according to Metro UK. And that, in a nutshell, is how the concept is defined. Micro cheating is normally undetectable, so undetectable that you may believe you are not doing anything wrong when, in reality, you are making extra small efforts, putting small additional touches into looking different or just about anything else to catch somebody else’s attention, look attractive for them, or bedazzling to them. So, even if you haven’t slept with them or have no intention of doing so, you could be just as guilty of cheating as someone who has, writes Ayoola Adetayo. Understanding micro-cheating and its consequences will help you become a better partner who is aware of their partner’s feelings by avoiding doing things they would not like at all, rather than someone who does these things and hopes their partner never finds out.
The bottom line: micro-cheating is not as glaring as physical infidelity, mainly because each couple will interpret it differently based on their boundaries. What constitutes micro-cheating varies by relationship, depending on what has been agreed as cheating. If you’re unsure whether your actions count as micro-cheating, or if you’re concerned that your partner might be doing it to you, or if it occurs, it’s critical to address the issue by having an open and vulnerable conversation about it with one another. Also, make a plan to prevent it from happening again.