Have you heard of the term micro-cheating? I was a virgin to the term until a few weeks ago when I was enjoying a pedicure and scrolling through my phone. I came upon an article about it and was immediately intrigued.
What exactly is micro-cheating? Have I done it? Is it bad? Is this another thing to worry about in my life? And what kind of person does it make me if I don’t consider these things “cheating?”
Well, here’s what I found out:
Micro-cheating is kind of like emotional cheating — you aren’t physically cheating, but you are swimming in a gray area of thinking of a person (who isn’t your partner) a bit too much. For instance, are you dressing a certain way to grab the attention of someone you are attracted to even if you are in a relationship with someone else? According to the article, you’re a micro-cheater.
Perhaps you’ve met a new friend and want more freedom with that person, so you change their name in your phone so you don’t have to feel like you are hiding anything from your partner or sneaking around. Again, that could be a micro-cheater move.
And if you are lying about your whereabouts because you aren’t comfortable with your partner knowing how much time you are spending with a certain person, that can also be a sign you want to delve into crossing a line in the near future — you just might not know it, you micro-cheater, you.
If you ask me, micro-cheating is something we’ve all done at one point or another. Maybe not with your spouse, maybe not for decades, but you’ve probably done it. It’s normal and natural to feel attracted to someone other than your partner, and sometimes we do things like walk past their desk at work a few too many times or fantasize about them. We may not act on anything, and usually the feelings fade, but still, we wouldn’t want our partner knowing about a possible crush because that’s hurtful.
I think most would agree the bigger picture is deciding as a couple what you are both comfortable with before you go feeling like a cheater or accuse your beloved of being unfaithful because you wonder if they are having sexy thoughts about another person.
Some people are fine with their partner doing a little harmless flirting; I’ve met men and women who don’t really get jealous if they see their partner checking out someone else. I mean, I’m not one of them, but micro-cheating? I think that’s a bit too strong of an accusation.
However, if you realize you are partaking in the mini-form of infidelity and you’re making excuses for your behavior, before you know it, you may be treading deeper and deeper into tempting waters without knowing what came over you. We’ve all heard of friends or family talking about stories of those they know (or themselves) who have cheated, and looking back, they can’t quite remember when the behavior turned from innocent to crossing a line.
Emotional and physical cheating is damaging to your partner’s self-esteem and can be detrimental to your relationship, so it’s important to set limits and check your behavior if you are trying to attract the attention of another.
Dating coach Bela Gandhi told TODAY that micro-cheating is a good thing to have on our radar as “it makes us sit back and take stock of things we might not have been aware of, or might not WANT to be aware of.”
Relationships can be extremely challenging to navigate, especially if you aren’t on the same page about what you will or won’t allow in your life. Being clear about your expectations can make you feel vulnerable, but if you partner has no idea it bothers you they flirt with one of your friends, there’s no way to keep the air clean.
Gandhi advises having this talk is critical, and if your partner acts defensive on these issues, it might be a sign there is a bigger problem in your relationship that needs to be addressed.
It may not be a sordid emotional affair; you may not be sneaking around having fantastic sex in the closet during your lunch break, but micro-cheating happens pretty often in relationships and sometimes becomes the gateway to something bigger.