Micro-cheating: Infidelity that stings just as much

Tuesday, January 9th, 2024 00:45 | By

What comes to mind when you hear of cheating in dating relationships or marriages? Physical intimacy, right? But while physical cheating is real and publicly condemned, there’s a ‘tinier ’ but intrusive form of cheating that can sting just as much: micro-cheating.

The Internet is awash with warnings about this kind of unfaithfulness that happens without even knowing it. Micro-cheating is infidelity for the digital age;  it does not involve physical intimacy, knowing glances, or any form of body contact. It falls between flirting and unfaithful behaviour, with, for instance, use of romantically charged emojis in a communication with someone remote in your relationship or having a secretive online conversation with them.

Unlike physical cheating, virtual infidelity is done in the open, such that the person does not realise that they have done or are doing anything wrong.

But here is the warning; If the interaction is starting to take time or your mental and emotional energy away from your actual relationship, then that could mean that things are not going in the right path. So, before you start wondering how you got yourself in a cheating mess, watch out for these warning signs:

Saving someone by a fake name

A girl gives you her phone number and you save it using a guy’s name, does it ring a bell? Feeling the need to conceal the identity of someone with whom you’re communicating could signal everything from lack of trust in the relationship to your own sneaking suspicion that you really shouldn’t be talking to this person. “You cross the line if you think your partner would feel uncomfortable if they saw your actions,” says relationship expert Rachel Nderitu.

Use of certain emojis

Chatting with no emojis is considered ‘flat’. But if you find yourself using romantically charged emojis or responding to them, then you are enhancing covert flirtation.

Having an active dating profile

You are in a committed relationship, or even married, but you are also on Tinder and other online dating apps. You may think, it’s just for fun, but it isn’t. “Keeping an active dating profile, means that you are available. The problem is, different relationships have different boundaries. In a committed relationship, a partner may not be okay with such acts. When you put yourself out to the world that means that you are seeking something out there. That means there is a high risk of cheating,” says Dr John Wagatua, a relationship and sex expert.

Inappropriate posts

You may do it to get followers, likes and comments, but posting flirtaceous photos while in a relationship says a lot. ‘This may mean you are seeking attention from someone else who isn’t your partner. This could also mean, either you are dissatisfied or you are not committed in the relationship.

Always concerned about someone’s life

 If you find yourself commenting, liking and even looking through a person’s profile to see what they are up to, then that’s questionable. Or it could be that you make your relationship seem less serious than it is in order to keep talking to a hot stranger.

Making plans to meet up

According to Dr Wagatua, women are emotional beings and once you deprive them of that or ignore their issues, they tend to look for outlets to pour out their emotions. She then confides with another friend or colleague. She becomes emotionally connected as someone else cloud their space. “This extends to someone who you have been having conversations with through the texts and phone and gets to a point where you plan meetings and you agree to them without your partner’s consent or knowledge. This ultimately means that you are on a slippery slope to cheating,” Dr Wagatua says.

The line between micro cheating and outright cheating is murky, given that couples may define the spectrum of infidelity differently. Dr Wagatua shares some factors that can indicate micro cheating has crossed the line into full-fledged cheating:

“Intent: The person is actively seeking romantic, emotional, or physical fulfillment outside the relationship. Secrecy: The person is hiding conversations, messages, or social media interactions from their partner or deleting evidence so their partner doesn’t find it. Relationship impact: The person’s behaviours start eroding the trust and commitment in the relationship. Emotional involvement: The person has developed genuine feelings for someone outside the relationship. Physical intimacy: The person has been physically intimate with someone outside the relationship,” he explains.

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