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What Is Micro Cheating?

Everything You Need to Know About Micro-Cheating — and If Your SO Is Doing It

Have you heard about the latest trendy term that's sparking quite an uproar on the Internet? It is yet another form of cheating we should all be informed about, no matter your relationship status. And while the last thing I want to be is the bearer of bad news, I encourage you to keep reading so you, too, can be well-versed on the ins and outs of micro-cheating.

So what exactly is micro-cheating?

Australian psychologist and consultant Melanie Schilling recently defined micro-cheating as "a series of seemingly small actions that indicate a person is emotionally or physically focused on someone outside their relationship."

According to Schilling, this form of infidelity essentially stems from secrecy and deception. It ultimately comes down to trivial behaviors that might indicate your partner is no longer totally committed to your relationship.


Or, as Urban Dictionary defined this term back in 2008: "when someone cheats on a partner, but just a little bit."

Now, I know I can't speak for everyone, but I believe cheating "just a little bit" is still cheating, which is why it's important to know how to recognize these tiny actions that could catapult into something larger.

What are common signs of micro-cheating?

Although physical cheating is quite easy to define, micro-cheating on the other hand — just as with emotional affairs — tends to live more in a gray area. However, common examples of this type of infidelity can include:

  • Lying about your relationship status
  • Obsessively checking another person's social media feed
  • Texting or contacting someone without your partner's knowledge . . . and trying to mask the evidence
  • Listing a so-called "friend" under a code name in your phone
  • Engaging with a past lover, whether it be in person or on social media
  • Sharing secrets with someone you're attracted to outside your relationship

Can micro-cheating ruin your relationship?

While there are some people who are rather skeptical about this type of subtle betrayal, it is possible that micro-cheating can be a gateway for other forms of infidelity. Therefore, it is always important to trust your instinct and voice any concerns you might be experiencing to your partner.

But instead of allowing this latest buzzy phrase to plant seeds of worry into your mind, utilize it to strengthen your partnership and set relationship boundaries. What actions — no matter the size — do you and your SO see as forms of betrayal? By taking the time to truly listen to one another and agree upon specific boundaries, the murky waters of cheating will become much more clearer.

Because, let's face it: a relationship can only sustain itself if there is a strong foundation of trust, honesty, and respect from both parties, regardless if the disloyalty is considered micro or macro.

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