Micro Cheating: What Is it and Are you Doing It? 9 Behaviors That Cross the Line

Most of us agree: If you’re in a mutually-agreed upon committed relationship, and one of you has sex with or goes out on a date with another person (without permission or consent), it’s cheating.

But what about other behaviors? Behaviors that the other partner feels in the pit of her stomach, or cause her to just not “feel right?”  You know..those things that seem “off”, but you might not bring them up because if you do, then you may come across as “paranoid”, “insecure”, or it might result in an argument? I call these behaviors “micro cheating” and you might just be doing them and thinking they’re ok.

1. Confiding in someone that you’re attracted to instead of your partner.

Talking to another person outside of your relationship is often times healthy and needed; especially if you need advice about your relationship. However, the slippery slope here comes with the choice of the person. Choosing someone with whom you are attracted can lead to emotional intimacy and connection.  Especially if you are choosing to confide in this person about very personal issues instead of your partner.  

2. Purposely not mentioning that you have a significant other to someone you are attracted to.

While not technically cheating, this is definitely something that undermines your relationship and speaks volumes about how committed you are to your partner. There is something you need to look at in terms of why you are hiding your relationship and want to have this other person think you are available.

3. Purposely not acknowledging or lying about your relationship on social media or in public (including taking off your wedding ring/engagement ring).

Similar to the last one, this is technically not cheating, but you are saying to the world that you are definitely NOT in a relationship.  You are clearly communicating that you are single, free and open to other people pursuing you.  If your partner knew about this, they would have a right to feel insecure about your relationship and your feelings about them regardless of if you had actually ever even so much as flirted with another person. The underlying intent and openness to the possibility of cheating on them is there. 

4. Calling, chatting or texting with someone you’re attracted to: A) late at night, B) daily, C) or in a flirty way.

The only person with whom you should be devoting late night, daily or flirty communications with, is your partner.  If you are doing that with someone else, while not physical cheating, is definitely emotional cheating.  Certainly if you were to have your partner read or listen to your conversations with this other person, they would be hurt and feel betrayed. 

5. Sexting someone other than your partner but never actually having sex with them.

Similar to #4, this is absolutely micro cheating. The intent to do something sexual is present, despite not actually engaging in the act.  Intimacy (sexual and non-sexual) is to be done only with your sexual partner.  Going outside the relationship to engage in any sexual activity (unless mutually agreed-upon that you have an open relationship) is cheating. 

6. Repeatedly visiting the social media profile of someone you find attractive.

While not really cheating, giving attention and time to someone other than your partner that you find attractive can undermine your relationship.  What if you took that time and attention that you are spending visiting that other person’s profile on your relationship? 

7. Liking the social media posts of someone you find attractive.  Especially many of them.

Similar to #6, your partner probably would not appreciate knowing that you are giving attention and time to another person that you find attractive and letting them know it with so many “Likes”.  Ultimately it comes down to you needing to pay that time and attention to your partner and “liking” what your real life partner has going on instead. 

8. Going to lunch with a colleague you are attracted to.

Now this gets a little messy. You see your work friends every day and sometimes you eat lunch with them too. Obviously, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do that, but again, it’s a question of intention: Do you anticipate these lunches because you’ll get to see this person? Do you hide the fact that you have these lunches so often from your partner? Ask yourself why you are really choosing to spend time with this other person you are attracted to on a regular basis. 

9. Listing someone you are attracted to by a fake name in your phone.

If you feel the need to fake someone else’s name in your phone, then there are some major trust issues going on in your relationship and you’ve crossed a super large line that I’m not sure can be considered micro cheating anymore. Why the need to hide this person from your partner?  In a healthy relationship, there are no secrets and nothing to hide from each other.  Having a “hidden” and “secret” person in your life that your partner knows nothing about is crossing the line.

Cheating ultimately is betrayal

It is breaking the trust in a relationship by bringing someone else into it through lying or deceit, usually without the other person knowing.  It is selfish and hurtful. 

The worst part about micro cheating it is that there are many forms

It is subtle and many can argue that it really “isn’t cheating”. Yet, the partner who experiences it feels uneasy and insecure in their relationship.

There does not need to be solid “proof” that someone is cheating on you. You don’t need someone to agree with you about what you believe is cheating and not acceptable in your relationship.  If you feel betrayed and are not ok with your partner’s behaviors, then you are not ok with them.  There is no need to stay in a relationship where you feel insecure or question whether or not you can trust them.

If you read any of the above and are engaging in any of those behaviors, ask yourself if perhaps you might want to change some of your behaviors so that you can help your partner to feel more secure in your relationship and create a healthier, stronger relationship going forward. 

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