As upsetting as it may be, there are people in committed relationships who have, at one point or another, considered cheating on their partner. Although most never end up actually physically cheating on them, they may still be unfaithful in other ways.
When an attached person engages in behaviour where they form an emotional or even romantic connection — whether online or in-person — with a third party, this is generally considered micro-cheating. This form of cheating, while not full-blown infidelity, is still inappropriate behaviour for anyone in a relationship.
The difference between cheating and micro-cheating lies in the scale and nature of the actions involved. While there’s no question as to what ‘regular’ cheating is, micro-cheating is usually a build-up of minor, sometimes seemingly insignificant actions that accumulate. Ahead, we’ve listed some examples of actions that may constitute micro-cheating along with what you can do if you think you’re being micro-cheated on.
Getting emotionally intimate with others
They seek emotional support, understanding or validation from someone outside the relationship. In doing so, they may confide in another person about personal and intimate issues that they should be discussing with you.
Interacting excessively on social media
Although it’s normal for someone to interact with others on social media, these interactions may be excessive or borderline inappropriate, such as being the first to like someone’s post or view their social stories, or commenting on another person’s thirst trap posts. This leads us to our next point…
Flirtatious conversation with others
Whether in your presence or not, they engage in playful and flirtatious conversation or banter with someone else that seems excessive. Taking your partner’s character into consideration, such behaviour may be typical, but the problem is when it goes beyond what would be considered appropriate for someone in a relationship.
Maintaining a presence on dating sites
If you didn’t know by now, one’s profile on a dating site disappears from public view after a certain period of inactivity, even if the account has not been deleted. So if your friend sends you a fresh screenshot of your partner’s dating profile when you have been a couple for a considerable amount of time, it’s pretty likely that your partner has been on the site recently. (Although, that doesn’t mean you should jump to conclusions — ask them about it first!)
But if their profile is confirmed to be active, it is a pretty solid indicator that they are interested in exploring alternate romantic or emotional connections.
What to do if your partner is micro-cheating
If you suspect that your partner is exhibiting behaviour in line with micro-cheating, don’t be rash — handle the situation with care and remember to communicate.
Firstly, think and reflect, to identify specific times when you felt uncomfortable or even betrayed at their intimate or excessive interactions with another person.
Next, find a good time and place to have this conversation with them. Although you may be mad, which is perfectly understandable, focus on expressing your concerns and emotions calmly without taking on a confrontational or accusatory tone.
When talking to them, talk about how their actions have affected you and broken your trust, without blaming or attacking them.
Afterwards, hear things from their perspective. Give your partner the chance to respond and explain themselves, so you can try to understand why they did what they did. It’s possible that they were ignorant and didn’t realise what they were doing, or how their actions could have been perceived.
Assuming that your partner is willing to stop such behaviour, you can go ahead to set boundaries and limits that each of you expects from the other within the relationship. Define actions that are inappropriate or hurtful, so both parties can be more mindful going forward.
However, if you’re unable to solve the issue on your own, or they continue to engage in micro-cheating behaviours, consider going for couple’s counselling or therapy, which can be helpful to facilitate productive discussions and guide you to rebuild trust and better your relationship.
Text: Natalie-Elizabeth Tan/HerWorld