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Micro Cheating Strays Slightly Outside The Bounds Of A Relationship: Is It Infidelity?

Micro Cheating Strays Slightly Outside The Bounds Of A Relationship: Is It Infidelity?

Micro Cheating
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We have all been here – either we did it, or it happened to us. Liking that particular thirst trap on Instagram. The flirty conversation went on and on for a little too long. Giving a compliment to that one hot friend with just the right touch of sexual tension disguised under the seemingly innocent compliment. Sliding into your former partner’s DMs.

These actions are not necessarily cheating, but it does feel like we are getting awkwardly close to that grey area. We have a name for this grey area – it’s called Micro cheating. Micro cheating refers to those acts that are not as serious as actual infidelity but do feel like betrayals in themselves.

Such acts can be upsetting, especially if your partner is doing it to you.

The Dating Dairy spoke to multiple people who have done it, people who have been oblivious while their partners have done it to them, and experts about the concept of micro-cheating, why it happens, and honestly, what on earth anyone is supposed to do about it. So without wasting time, let’s dive in!

So, What Is Micro Cheating?

What is micro cheating?

Simply put, micro-cheating isn’t like a full-blown affair. Micro cheating includes engaging in inappropriate interactions or behaviors that teeter in and around the boundaries of facilitating intimacy or intimacy with someone who is not your partner.

What To Do If Your Partner Is Micro-Cheating

Typically, micro-cheating includes behaviors such as,

  • Flirting with someone or feeding someone with sexual energy.
  • Complimenting or liking provocative content that someone is posting on socials.
  • Maintaining a flirtatious or emotionally intimate relationship with a former partner.
  • Refusing to set any clear boundaries with anyone who seems to be romantically interested in you or even hiding your relationship from them.
  • Signing up on a dating app to browse for single people.
  • Speaking negatively about your actual partner or relationship, especially with someone you are romantically interested in.
  • Maintaining ongoing interactions with someone and not hiding the same either partially or completely from your partner.
  • Seeking connection and comfort from someone when your relationship is going through a bad time.

However, at the same time, what is considered micro-cheating or even straight-up cheating to you might not make any sense to us, and vice versa. It is actually very difficult to create any specific list of behaviors that can be considered as micro-cheating universally since every couple has their own definitions for cheating and where boundaries are drawn.

What ‘Counts’ As Micro Cheating?  

Yes, cheating isn’t always physical – but what exactly counts as micro cheating? Let’s attempt to find an answer to this complex question.

What ‘Counts’ As Micro Cheating

Micro-cheating can be both unintentional and intentional. From liking your ex’s posts on socials to downloading Tinder on your phone, micro-cheating can be pretty rampant, even when you never intended to meet anyone on the platform, or your ex for that matter.

Sometimes, we do not realize how our actions will actually influence our partner or even understand where the boundary stands. This is why it is vital to discuss and set boundaries early in your relationship. And it is also vital that you continue to reevaluate those boundaries while you move through multiple stages of life.

For instance, what was fine as a new couple in your early twenties might feel like a major betrayal a decade later.

These are not some one-on-one conversations – as you grow and evolve as individuals, the needs and boundaries of the relationship begin to adjust with you.

If there is zero communication like this, partners can end up making assumptions while setting boundaries for cheating in case of physical contact. As a result, people can step into a completely grey area unintentionally – they might not even perceive this as cheating, while their partner can think vice versa.

It is crucial to understand that every person has a different way of perceiving what is hurtful or what makes them vulnerable. So, it is best not to assume that your boundaries and those of your partners are on the same level – what is healthy for you might be a red flag to your partner.

Um, Am I Micro-Cheating?  

Okay, so you skipped a few boundaries of having a conversation with someone attractive. And that’s fine…for now.

Um, Am I Micro-Cheating_

But there are some pretty obvious signs that you might have been micro-cheating, and its time you think about your behavior – along with the intention behind the same. While there is no definitive rule book for what is and is not classified under micro-cheating or what are the examples of micro cheating, there are some tell-tale signs.

If you are actually consciously aware of how your interactions with another individual can easily make your romantic partner feel very uncomfortable, it definitely falls under the category of micro-cheating! The first step towards finding out whether you are cheating or not is by being honest and transparent with yourself – chances are you already know!

  1. Are you building an emotional connection or an intimate bond with another individual outside your relationship? Does this bond have a sexual element attached to it?
  2. Do you know whether or not your partner will feel uncomfortable with how you have been behaving with another individual?
  3. How would you feel if your partner did the same thing to you?

If your answer is a ‘yes’ to any or all of the above questions, chances are something is definitely not right. If you don’t have any answer, the next step might just be to have a conversation about discussing your boundaries regarding cheating. That way, both of you can enjoy your lives without even hurting each other.

Why Do People Micro-Cheat?  

There are certain people who genuinely do not understand they are actually micro-cheating simply because the act seems fine to them, while it causes discomfort to their partner. And it also means that they have had no conversations aloud together.

Why Do People Micro-Cheat

The micro cheating psychology is complex but there is one thing that stands – if you are uncomfortable about your partner finding out who were you texting all night then chances are you are micro-cheating!

But then there are people who intentionally make bad moves in the relationship. These individuals are generally trying to get their different needs met in unhealthy or immature ways. They might have insecurities that they want to sort out through attention from others.

They might also be struggling with conflict internally about staying committed in a monogamous relationship and dealing with a part of them that is not happy with monogamy.

Often, these people externally or internally rationalize their behaviors as ‘technically not cheating’ – basically getting out scot-free due to technical issues – so that they can easily be forgiven while permitting themselves to engage in different self-serving connections.

What Effect Does Micro-Cheating Have On A Relationship?  

The flirting, the secret, and the emotional intimacy involved in micro-cheating can easily erode the security, trust, and connection of a relationship. Typically, committed relationships take a whole lot of consistent effort.

What Effect Does Micro-Cheating

Moreover, directing your physical and emotional energy to someone else who is not your partner means you are allowing the relationship intimacy you have with your partner to stagnate.

Of course, this is not to say partners should not have any close and intimate connections with friends and family. In fact, they must form those bonds. But going on private lunches, sexting, and flirting with a colleague, for example, can not just feel like a basic betrayal to your partner but will also distract you from putting in the effort to make your actual relationship strong.

Micro-cheating is often considered to be an incredibly hurtful affair since it interrupts a partner’s basic sense of emotional security in the relationship. When you micro-cheat on your partner, their feelings of being respected, honored, protected, cared for, secure, and loved get challenged suddenly.

Refusing to understand why your partner micro cheated can actually heighten relationship anxiety, sometimes even making you question your own attractiveness, worth, or lovability. Plus, it is normal to struggle with trust that it will not happen again.

When Does Micro Cheating Cross the Line Into Full-Fledged Cheating?  

The thin line between outright cheating and micro-cheating is murky, given that couples can actually define the infidelity spectrum differently.

Full-Fledged Cheating

As per Very Well Mind, in the United States, most relationships come with expectations for monogamy – 70% of unmarried couples and 20% of married couples engage in cheating. Research also points out that men are much more likely to engage in infidelity than women.

There are factors that indicate micro cheating days are gone and have safely transformed to become full-fledged cheating.

1. Intent:

The person is seeking romantic, emotional, and physical fulfillment outside the boundaries of the relationship.

2. Secrecy:

The person has begun hiding social media interactions, messages, and conversations from their partner or even deleting evidence so that their partner does not find it.

See Also
Monogamous Relationship

3. Relationship Impact:

The person’s behaviors have begun eroding the commitment and trust in the relationship.

4. Emotional Involvement:

The person has ended up developing genuine feelings for an individual outside the relationship.

5. Physical Intimacy:

The person has been intimate physically with someone else outside the relationship.

What To Do If Your Partner Is Micro-Cheating?  

There are certain strategies that can help you deal with your partner’s consistent micro-cheating habits. Since there are no particular signs of micro cheating. Here are some strategies that might work out if you think your partner is micro-cheating.

1. Avoid Reacting Emotionally:  

If you think your partner might be micro-cheating on you, then it is only natural to feel ashamed, insecure, betrayed, upset, or even angry. You do not have to hide your familiarity with the situation or even become passive-aggressive about it.

Instead, take some time off and cool down to think about what really happened and how it is making you feel. Then, simply have a discussion with your partner when you are ready.

2. Define Your Relationship Boundaries:  

For example, you might decide that you just want to maintain intimate physical contact, and a monogamous relationship with others is unacceptable.

Or you might be intrigued by the idea of simply opening up your relationship as well as deciding to try out a monogamish arrangement where both parties can easily explore interactions with others based on certain boundaries and rules.

3. Strengthen Your Bond With Your Partner:  

Taking responsibility for yourself, your emotions, and your actions will only help you to improve the relationship as long as it comes from both ends. This can lead to forgiveness and deeper levels of intimacy, satisfaction, and connection in the relationships.

Can A Relationship Survive Micro-Cheating?

Micro-cheating isn’t going to end your relationship – or will it? Again, it’s about the boundaries you set for your relationship, together with your partner.

Breaches of trust in any relationship are incredibly painful, especially to recover from – it doesn’t matter whether it’s intentional or not, especially if it’s consistent. Micro cheating can also feel like a violation, just like regular cheating.

It can take plenty of work – sometimes months or even years to actually repair the damages of micro-cheating, but it is possible if both parties in the relationship truly want to make the relationship work. Firstly, the pair needs to work as a team to rebuild their trust.

There is no shortcut for this – it simply needs to show up for your partner every single day with an aim to connect, be authentic, and, most importantly, transparently.

Both parties also need to invest time and put in the required emotional work in order to improve connection and communication. Part of actually improving connection as well as communication is understanding each other’s actual perspective.

Why did one of you micro-flirt, for example? And how did the micro flirting impact the other partner? Is there anything missing from the whole relationship? Can you address it?

Also, it can be helpful to look for professional support from a licensed couple therapist. That way, your therapist can help you effectively and constructively repair the relationship after any betrayal.

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