Have You Been Subconsciously Micro-cheating On Your Partner?

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If Dua Lipa has “New Rules” for dealing with an ex-boyfriend, here are some rules for you to avoid “cheating but only a little bit.”

There was a time when cheating meant physically hitting on somebody other than your partner. Perhaps even pursuing them! But social media and dating apps have totally changed the meaning of cheating. Now you don’t even need to go out on dates to cheat. Yes, you read that right!

Welcome to the crazy world of micro-cheating. 

Micro-cheating is not what you thought it was! 

Micro-cheating is a term used to define instances wherein a person indulges in subtle acts that might count as cheating or lead to it. Some refer to it as “cheating but only a bit.”

According to Dr. Martin Graff, a professor of psychology at the University of South Wales, UK, micro-cheating is defined as the “grey area which falls between flirting and unfaithful behaviour.”

However, this is not a new concept. Some experts suggest micro-cheating dates back to the 18th century. 

But it’s not exactly a new concept

Nichi Hodgson, the author of The Curious Case of Dating, says micro-cheating is old behaviour. Only the term was coined only recently.

She says that people from the 18th century indulged in micro-cheating by sending inappropriate letters and/or writing their thoughts in their diaries.

So what makes micro-cheating different now?

Well, we have new tools such as social media that helps make micro-cheating easier than before. But this freedom has come with a cost. 

Micro-cheating has made it difficult for people to draw the fine line between friendly conversations and micro-cheating. Some people still think hitting up your ex or talking about them or being on a dating app is ‘normal’ behaviour. But let’s break it you—it’s not.  

Wondering how? Here are some “rules” you can abide by in order to know whether your partner has been micro-cheating on you or you’ve been indulging in it yourself. 

1. Messaging the ex

Some people think that keeping in touch with an ex is not exactly bad. Sometimes it even means that both parties are mature enough to be friends or to at least stay civil after a break-up.

However, Hodgson reminds us to be aware of the limitations of this kind of re-connection.

“This situation is fine if you aren’t secretly angling for a reconciliation or bored and in need of attention. A lot of people message their exes for a quick ego boost if they know that the ex might still harbour feelings for them,” she says.

Of course, it is better if your current partner is aware of your connection with your ex.

Relationship expert Leila Collins, on the other hand, believes that whatever the intention is, keeping in touch with an ex is still cheating.

2. Liking posts on social media

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If you’re in bed with your partner but are still checking out another person’s post then that’s definitely micro-cheating | Image courtesy: Pixabay

We can all agree that liking someone other than your current partner’s posts is not the most horrible thing to do. But here’s where it all gets fishy: you’re scrolling through their profiles and liking the same person’s posts regularly.

According to Dr. Graff, the time window in which you liked somebody’s post is also a good indicator whether you are cheating or not.

If you’re in bed with your partner but are still checking out another person’s post then that’s micro-cheating.

3. Online ‘platonic’ relationships

Building friendships is good. Finding someone who shares your interest is great. But if you’re in a stable relationship, you have to be extra careful about these ‘platonic friendships.’

Hodgson advises us to be very clear about it and avoid misinterpretation on the other person’s part.

Engaging in secretive means of communication such as swapping direct messages means that you are hiding something.

4. Being on dating apps

You are already in a relationship. What do you need those dating apps for?

For Hodgson, this move is “completely inexcusable.” It makes your partner anxious knowing that you still have your profile working.

Collins is also against the idea. “This is cruel and unacceptable. It’s not only micro-cheating, but full-blown macro-cheating. Why would you want to communicate with somebody else if you’re in a relationship?”

She even considers all communication not disclosed to your partner as infidelity! 

5. Thinking of somebody else while having sex with your partner

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Imagine your partner focusing on something (or someone) else while making love with you. Ouch! | Image courtesy: Unsplash

While Collins and Hodgson believe that fantasising is not cheating, acting on it (such as sending a message) definitely gets a thumbs down.

Hodgson continues to explain that fantasies are one’s safeguard against cheating. It is very common and a lot of people do it.

However, be very careful when doing the deed with your partner. They might sense your lack of focus towards them even without reading your mind.

Imagine your partner focusing on something (or someone) else while making love with you. Ouch!

If you find yourself or catch your partner doing some or at least one of these things, then you definitely have to have a serious talk ASAP!

Sources: BBC, University of South Wales

(Feature & lead image courtesy: Unsplash)