For most people, you want to assume that everything in your relationship is safe. That you and your partner are on the same wavelength when it comes to engaging with other people. Unfortunately, micro-cheating is something that you may be engaging in without ever realizing it. Although the behaviors of micro-cheating are far more obscure than sleeping with someone who isn’t your spouse, they can ultimately do damage to your marriage or relationship. So let’s answer the question of what is micro-cheating. And what are the signs of it?
What Is Micro-Cheating?
Think for a moment about the marriage or relationship you are maintaining with your significant other. You probably have spoken (and unspoken) rules of romantic exclusivity. In other words, you do not expect your partner to kiss or have sex with someone who is not you. Micro-cheating is not going to breach those rules.
Micro-cheating is small acts that cultivate inappropriate intimacy with someone else outside of your current relationship. One of the behaviors that hits micro-cheating on the nose is flirting. Most people see nothing wrong with some playful flirtation, but it is indeed an interaction that betrays the trust of your marriage or relationship.
Cultivating any kind of erotic energy or emotional closeness with someone, be it a friend, coworker, exes, or an online friend can count as micro-cheating. Wasting energy on social media or other digital forms of connection can also strain your relationship.
What Are The Signs of Micro-Cheating?
Like other forms of cheating, you may note that something is not quite right about your relationship, such as a sudden distance between you and your spouse.
If you are worried you or your partner may be micro-cheating, there are specific signs and behaviors to clue you in:
- Fixated on the phone and becoming defensive when asked about it
- Keeping the phone face down when a partner is around
- Sexual intimacy is faltering between you both
- Texting flirtatious statements or sexting
- Making a Tinder profile “out of curiosity”
- Indifference or mentally checking out during conversations
- Regularly hinting at the attractiveness of another person that is outside of the relationship
- Not expressing needs and desires to your partner
- Discussing sex with someone who isn’t your partner
- Hiding friendships
- Having inside jokes with someone who is not your partner
- Emotionally confiding in someone who is beyond your marriage or relationships
- Commenting on a crush’s social media about what you would like to do if you “weren’t married/in a relationship”
- Putting extra effort into appearance around someone other than your partner or spouse
What Does Micro-Cheating Mean About Your Relationship?
People cheat for a variety of reasons. Beyond the routine of being married or in a relationship, cheating offers up something novel and exciting. A lot of people enjoy that feeling of being attracted to and flirting with someone. A lot of micro-cheating behaviors start off innocent, too. For example, two people may be at a work dinner and start flirting with one another after realizing they have a lot in common. Of course, many people can go to business meetings, workout at the gym, or go shopping, having normal interactions with exes, old flames, and coworkers without it ever turning into cheating.
The difference is that those who micro-cheat are not 100% fulfilled in their relationships. Thus, they start searching for satisfaction and excitement elsewhere.
Although micro-cheating can be attributed to a lapse in judgment, it may also be a sign that your marriage or relationship is not as healthy as you originally thought. If you or your partner have engaged in micro-cheating, now is the time to begin figuring out what is wrong. If you are willing to learn about the issues and work to correct them, you could even use these incidences of micro-cheating to forge a stronger connection with your significant other.
Dealing With Micro-Cheating In Your Relationship
As mentioned above, when it comes to handling micro-cheating, it comes down to having conversations with one another. You must understand how such actions could be hurting one another and your relationship.
From there, it is important to do the following:
Seek Out Couples Therapy
No, heading to a therapist or marriage counselor like Couples Academy does not mean that your marriage is doomed. It means that you are both willing to work through your problems in a healthy way—always a good sign! In couples therapy, you can both express your needs and desires in a safe environment. If there are hang-ups or roadblocks, the therapist is there to smooth the way. You can also learn skills and methods for working through conflict together.
Commit To Changing Your Behavior
If micro-cheating is a continuous issue, then you need to commit to changing your behaviors for the better. That includes ending any relationships that were built on these micro-affairs. Once the unhealthy relationships are over, you can start rebuilding your relationship.
Discuss Your Boundaries
Since micro-cheating and micro-affairs can cause mistrust, you will need to reestablish boundaries. Your boundaries should support your relationship and help you both feel safe. Discuss how both of you feel about things like sharing flirty photos online or what kind of behaviors are acceptable. You should also agree to be honest with one another, no matter what. Whatever the impulse or urge, be open about it with your partner.
Build A Stronger Connection Together With Couples Academy
Micro-cheating may not be as serious as an extramarital affair that lasts for several years or an emotional affair, but it can still wreak havoc on your marriage or relationship. Any kind of flirtatious behavior that you would feel bad about disclosing to your spouse or partner is problematic and needs to be stopped. For that, consider talking to a couples therapist or marriage counselor, like those at Couples Academy.
Our mission is to change the way couples relate to one another, so you can build stronger connections and healthier relationships. Join one of our programs at Couples Academy and take your relationship to the next level.