What Exactly Is Micro-Cheating?

It’s a new year and 2018 already has a new word. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have to do with some random social media trend. This time it has to do with relationships. Nope, it doesn’t have anything to do with #relationshipgoals or new nicknames to call bae. It has to do with cheating.  And the term is micro-cheating.

We all know about cheating, and now we have micro-cheating. It sounds science-y, weird, sneaky, and a bit scary. If you’ve been online this week, you might have noticed it. But, if you didn’t come across it when you were looking at cat videos, don’t worry, because I’m breaking down what’s the deal with the new lingo. Listen up.

So, what exactly is micro-cheating?

As per, the top definition on Urban Dictionary, micro-cheating is defined as, “When someone cheats on a partner, but just a little bit. Like copping a feel or kissing.” However, it’s actually a little more complicated than that as it’s not just restricted to physical stuff.

Dating expert Melanie Schilling told HuffPost Australia, “Micro-cheating is a series of seemingly small actions that indicate a person is emotionally or physically focused on someone outside their relationship.”

How is it different than regular cheating?

The thing about micro-cheating is that people might not really realize that they’re doing it. If you’re hooking up with someone who isn’t your significant other, you’re pretty aware that what you’re doing is classified as cheating whereas micro-cheating is more subtle.

Okay, give me some examples of micro-cheating.

Think about if you’re doing anything behind bae’s back. Are you on any dating apps just to “see what’s going on?” Do you have a “friend” who you make flirty jokes with? Are there someone’s messages on your phone that you don’t want your partner to see? Do you sometimes make out like your relationship isn’t as serious as it actually is? These are all examples of micro-cheating.

How can I pick up on it if it’s so subtle?

One of the big things about micro-cheating is secrecy. If you’re keeping secrets from bae about a relationship you have, that’s a sign something could be going on.

If you find that bae seems more distant, it could be a sign that something is up on his/her end. Also, think about his/her actions. Does bae overreact if you go near his/her phone? Does bae avoid talking about certain things, or does he/she get really vague? Are there things that you just cannot talk about with bae and you don’t really know why?

Is micro-cheating as bad as cheating?

Micro-cheating could obviously lead to cheating. If it doesn’t get that extreme, it can still cause issues such as a lack of connection, one of you being undermined, or feelings of distrust.

So, how do I talk to bae about it?

It’s a tricky situation because your significant other might not realize that his/her actions are considered micro-cheating. He/she might brand them as being perfectly innocent and then turn the situation around on you. He/she could say that you’re being accusatory and/or jealous. Bae could even think that you’re the one with something to hide which is why you’re throwing shade.

The bottom line is to go with your gut feeling. If you think that something is up and you don’t want to keep quiet, talk to bae about it. You might find that it’s better to avoid the words “cheating” and “micro-cheating.” Try and make the conversation about the both of you rather than something bae did wrong. For example, you could say something like, “I feel like there has been some distance between us lately, and I was wondering if you felt it, too? I want to try and figure out how we can get back to what we originally had.”

Did you know what micro-cheating was? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow the author, Heather Cichowski, on Twitter.


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