Micro-cheating in Relationships or Marriage
How to recognize micro-cheating
Micro-cheating is a term that describes a more subtle form of infidelity in a relationship. Infidelity typically means a physical affair, but it can also refer to an emotional affair. An emotional affair is an intimate emotional attachment outside the marriage or relationship. Micro-cheating is less obvious, and you or your partner might not even realize it is damaging your relationship. However, it can often evolve into an affair.
Couples set boundaries in relationships. Boundaries define which actions are acceptable or unacceptable for their relationship. The boundaries couples set for cheating may vary. In the extreme, an open marriage allows partners to have sex with other people. However, most marriages draw the line, considering that extra-marital affairs and emotional affairs are outside the boundaries they’ve set.
It’s also important to note that couples often don’t openly discuss and set boundaries together. One partner may assume that a certain activity is unacceptable but the other may not. Especially, if they haven’t discussed it.
What are examples of micro-cheating?
The digital age has opened up lines of communication and offers more variety for cheating in subtle ways.
Examples of micro-cheating often include the following actions:
- Flirting in general
- Flirtatious text messaging or texting
- Discussing your sex life or sending sexually explicit messages or photos
- Posting suggestive or seductive comments or “liking” them
- Continuing to keep a dating profile to see if you can find a better match
- Giving your phone number to someone you are attracted to
- Fueling a crush by making efforts to look attractive
- Frequent responses to someone who is flirting with you
- Taking off your wedding ring or engagement ring when you go out
- Staying consistently in communication with an ex
- Joining others from work for drinks and not telling your partner
- While online, not telling others you are in a relationship
What are some signs of cheating?
Any attempt to hide something could be a sign of cheating. Privacy is understandable, but hiding actions that are eroding a relationship is typical of infidelity.
Some actions that might indicate your partner is keeping secrets include:
- Whispering during phone conversations
- Deleting or hiding texts or emails
- Suddenly turning off a computer or phone
- Not letting their partner see the face of their phone
- Hiding the nature of how they’re using social media
- In general, not paying attention to their partner, whether distracted or busy
How can you deal with infidelity in your relationship?
As a general rule, the following approaches can help you deal with relationship problems:
Keep your emotions at bay. While heightened emotions tend to occur with infidelity, give yourself and your partner some space before broaching this touchy subject.
Approach your conversation in a positive way. Do not blame or try to shame your partner for whatever has occurred. Instead of saying “you did,” structure the discussion beginning with “I felt…” type statements. If you were the one cheating, be sure to listen and be compassionate regarding the backlash.
Set realistic and beneficial relationship boundaries. Agree on the boundaries that you want to set regarding fidelity. Open and honest relationships can often overcome challenges and struggles.
Re-evaluate your relationship. Decide whether you want to stay in the relationship and whether you can rebuild it. If your partner is unwilling, then perhaps you need to re-evaluate. If you both are willing to compromise to keep the other happy, then plan how to move forward.
Couples Counseling Can Help
Professional assistance from a compassionate counselor can often help couples overcome micro-cheating or other relationship problems. Therapists have tools for rebuilding relationships. Get in touch and find out how we can help.