What is Considered as Micro Cheating?
Seemingly innocuous, little acts of unfaithfulness may actually constitute micro-cheating according to Ty Tashiro, a psychologist, and a renowned author. Some couples may consider leery glances at the opposite sex as an act of infidelity, and others may think that flirty messages with the opposite sex as micro-cheating.
Hence, it varies from couple to couple. Micro cheating erodes the trust between a couple and stirs up feelings of guilt. It can be quite thrilling and addictive to check out the competition as well. More importantly, micro-cheating can progress into more overt forms of cheating which is why it is so insidious and harmful.
Basically the litmus test is this: Would you feel guilty or ashamed for doing the said activity if your partner found out unknowingly?
Why is it important?
Having said that, we can’t rely on our spouses to be faithful all the time. Grim statistics by research papers showed that the rates of cheating in married couples varied from anywhere from 14 percent to 68 percent for women and men. Men do have roving eyes after all, and they are visual creatures.
A drink together with a colleague at a bar after work might turn into a secret rendezvous or a sleazy affair. Days together might turn into nights together. The boundaries between work and personal life are blurring, and so are the boundaries between colleagues too. Appallingly, research has revealed that most couples(70 percent) have not had a heart-to-heart talk about social boundaries and what constitutes cheating. Moreover, among Tinder users, it has been shown that 18 to 25 percent of people using the app are actually attached.
The BBC has noted that most couples file for divorce due to infidelity, which is quite shocking. Therefore, you need to take steps to protect your relationship.
Signs of Micro-cheating
-You/Your man created an account on a dating site such as OkCupid but did not actively contact members of the opposite sex
-Flirty messages with a colleague(usually some sexual innuendos involved)
-Hanging out with your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend without telling your partner
-Meeting the opposite sex one to one at a bar and getting drunk together
-Silencing notifications on your/his phone or deleting messages so that he/you would not find out that either of you is talking to someone else
-Disclosing about intimate and kinky details to someone else such as sexual preferences and sexual positions
-Following and constantly keeping tabs on someone else's social media stories and postings, and always commenting on their newsfeed
-Lying about your relationship status on social media
-Using an alternate name or alias for someone else whom you are actively texting
-Spending more and more “time at work”
-Your man/you seem to be a changed person. (For example, he/you used to be an extrovert but now he/you seem(s) a lot quieter and talks less. Or he/you used to be an introvert, but now he/you is/are hanging out at bars with his colleagues every weekend.)
-Spending less intimate time together/making excuses not to hang out together, ie. watching Netflix, going out on dates
-He seems unwilling to have sex with you/the frequency of sexual intimacy decreases
-Your man laughing at a joke on his phone but refuses to tell you the reason why
-If your man is so engrossed with his phone that he is oblivious to his surroundings
Microcheating tests that you can take
This test is so tongue-in-cheek, it is hard to take it seriously. Regardless of your results, you will receive sound advice, whether you need to come clean to your boyfriend/spouse or you just need to spice up your plain old’ vanilla relationship.
Buzzfeed’s quiz about micro-cheating is actually a survey to find out about their reader’s attitudes on this issue. If your answer is “NO” to the majority of the questions, you are probably guilty as charged. Perhaps you are ignoring what your conscience is telling you.
How to Stop Micro-cheating
1. Open communication
Open communication is the key to your partner. If you start using an accusatory tone, he may clam up about it and become defensive. Ask open-ended questions instead of dichotomous questions which only elicit a “Yes/No” answer. Let him narrate his version of events and do not interrupt him while he is trying to explain the situation. Likewise, if you are being interrogated your partner, stay cool and level-headed, and more importantly, don't overreact. Do not get mad at him or lose your temper and explain the situation to him calmly. You would seem more guilty if you do so.
2. Clear and proper boundaries
You should always set clear and proper boundaries with each other, ie. on what constitutes micro-cheating, and what is acceptable and what is not. With regards to boundaries, this is not a one-off dialogue, and you will need to have repeated discussions about the boundaries that you enforce for each other, as more and more people may enter your life as well as your spouse's life.
3. Transparency and honesty
Both you and your partner should be transparent and honest with each other, especially when one of you has to meet members of the opposite sex. For example, providing the time and date of the meeting and the agenda of the meeting.
4. Evaluate your relationship
Has the spark in the relationship died down? Perhaps it is time to evaluate whether both of you are still in love with each other. Micro cheating could be a subtle sign that the relationship is breaking down or the excitement in the relationship has died down. Also, if you have any good news to share, would your spouse be the first person to share it with? Would you rather spend more time and energy with someone else?
5. Go for therapy
If the relationship seems to have broken down completely, marital therapy/couples therapy would be helpful to iron out the differences in therapy and address the grudges held against each other.
6. Consider a polygamous relationship???
Well, this is controversial but not unknown. Cosmopolitan also mentions that a polygamous relationship may work better than a monogamous relationship, as it decreases the level of hostility and suspicion within a relationship and both of you are free to date other people provided that you are honest and transparent with your partner. However, it takes more effort to maintain the relationship...
A good analogy for a micro-cheating in a relationship would be like sea waves crashing against a rock surface. Initially, the rock would be able to withstand the pressure of the waves crashing against it. However, over time, cracks and mini tears will start to show up in the rock. Eventually, the rock might crumble and fall apart. Or perhaps, you can imagine yourself carrying a jug of water on your head. Initially, the weight would be bearable for you. But over time, the weight of the water and the jar becomes too heavy to bear. Fissures in the relationship can lead to friction between a couple and slowly lead to the demise of a relationship.
Micro cheating may seem like a minor problem, but it may snowball into a larger problem. Once you start with micro-cheating, you may be tempted to carry on and justify the little acts of infidelity, thinking that there is nothing wrong.
Also, the signs of micro-cheating may vary from couple to couple, so it is up to you to set proper boundaries between you and your partner. Having pent up resentment against each other is unhealthy, so you should take steps to mitigate any negative and unpleasant feelings towards your partner.