- “Micro-cheating” involves seemingly trivial behaviors that suggest a person is emotionally or physically involved with someone outside the relationship, an Australian psychologist told the Daily Mail.
- The top signs are secrecy and deception, such as if your partner hides their online chats with someone.
- Ultimately, every couple has to set their boundaries for the relationship.
The Daily Mail on Thursday published an article on “micro-cheating.” And depending on your perspective, it could help validate the fears you’ve been having about your relationship – or create new insecurities.
Melanie Schilling, an Australian psychologist, told the Daily Mail that micro-cheating involves seemingly trivial behaviors that suggest a person is emotionally or physically involved with someone outside the relationship – think listing a “friend” under a code name in your phone.
Micro-cheating, according to Schilling, is fundamentally about secrecy and deception. If your partner is hiding any aspect of their relationship with someone else – say, if they close Gmail the minute you walk into the room – that could be a sign that something’s amiss.
Schilling isn’t the first to comment on so-called micro-cheating. Urban Dictionary’s entry for “micro-cheating” – “when someone cheats on a partner, but just a little bit” – dates back to 2008.
A 2016 Thought Catalog list titled “33 Ways Your Boyfriend is Micro-cheating (and Totally Getting Away With It)” included an example of a boyfriend “gifting his girlfriend with a bottle of the perfume his crush wears so she’ll smell like his latest fantasy chick.”
It’s important for couples to set boundaries for their relationship
The term micro-cheating recalls the similarly salacious and hard-to-define “emotional affair.”
As Kristin Salaky at INSIDER reported, emotional affairs are increasingly common. That may be at least partly because of the rise of digital technology and social media, which allows people to keep in touch with exes or have late-night conversations that cross the line without ever getting physical.
If you feel as if micro-cheating – or any kind of cheating – is happening in your relationship, it’s important to specify which behaviors are bothering you, Schilling told the Daily Mail. She gave an example: “When you add all the heart emojis in her/his post comments it makes me feel like she/he is your partner, rather than me. Next time, it would be great if you could reserve the online love for me.”
A commenter on the subreddit Ask Women, writing in response to the Thought Catalog list, put it nicely:
“I don’t understand the concept of ‘micro-cheating’. What I do understand is the concept of relationship boundaries. Every relationship partner should have their boundaries and if their partner goes outside of the agreed upon boundaries, then I think that is a betrayal by their partner. Whether or not they want to call that cheating, ‘micro-cheating’, or whatever doesn’t matter to me.”