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Expert shares five tell-tale signs your partner is 'micro-cheating'

Rhiannon Ingle

| Last updated 

Expert shares five tell-tale signs your partner is 'micro-cheating'

Featured Image Credit: TikTok/@broganperry / Pexels

Any singletons out there will know that the dating scene can be pretty rough to navigate even at the best of times.

From submarining, bread-crumbing and even getting 'zombied' - we all know that navigating the weird and wonderful world of romance can sometimes be a right hassle.

And there's a brand-new viral dating trend on the block making its rounds all over TikTok called 'micro-cheating', and its taking the internet by storm.

Haven't a clue about the latest phenomenon? Luckily for you, one expert has spilled the tea and warned of the telltale signs your partner is a 'micro-cheater'.

Credit: Pexels / LinkedIn Sales Navigator
Credit: Pexels / LinkedIn Sales Navigator

We spoke to dating coach, Hayley Quinn, to get the lowdown on all things 'micro-cheating'.

So, first things first, what on earth even is 'micro-cheating' and how does it differ from 'regular' cheating?

Well, Hayley explains that 'micro-cheating' differs from 'regular' cheating because it 'walks the line between what would be classified as cheating'.


"It's often about using technology to gain attention from other people without crossing any physical boundaries," the expert notes.

So, to simplify it even further - 'regular' cheating may involve going on a date behind your partner's back, whereas 'micro-cheating' could be flirting with a stranger, then giving them your phone number, but not following up.

Hayley summarises: "Regular cheating probably involves you meeting someone IRL for physical contact, whilst micro-cheating could be sliding your ex a dm on Instagram to 'see how they are.'"

OK - so we know what it is but what are the telltale warning signs that your partner could be 'micro-cheating'?


The dating coach informs us that 'micro-cheating' may be precipitated by problems already present in your relationship.

She explains: "If your partner regularly voices that they're unhappy, feel under appreciated, or wish that you paid more attention to them, they could begin to source their need for attention from elsewhere.

'Micro-cheaters' often use technology to gain attention from other people without crossing any physical boundaries. Credit: Pexels / ROMAN ODINTSOV
'Micro-cheaters' often use technology to gain attention from other people without crossing any physical boundaries. Credit: Pexels / ROMAN ODINTSOV

"You may also notice changes in your partner's behaviour if they're micro-cheating."


Such behavioural changes may include being 'more protective of their phone' with a key red flag example being their phone 'always placed face down on the table'.

Equally, a 'micro-cheater' may have 'recently turned notifications off as they'd rather you don't see who they're messaging'.


"Micro-cheating can also happen IRL if your partner suddenly starts prioritising nights out with their friends over spending any time with you," Hayley warns.


Right, so now you know the five signs of 'micro-cheating', what should you do if you suspect your partner then?

You know, other than jumping to conclusions obviously.

Hayley says: "Even if your partner is spending more time with their friends, this act of independence doesn't mean they're cheating.

"Likewise you may find your partner has differing standards around what classifies as cheating. Whilst you may feel it's a total no-go for them to be in touch with their ex, or following the accounts of attractive single people on Instagram, to them this might feel like they're 'just being sociable.'"

So, in order to avoid all that faff - be sure to start on the 'same page' as your partner in regards to what you're comfortable with.

'Micro-cheating' is currently having its moment on TikTok. Credit: TikTok/@broganperry
'Micro-cheating' is currently having its moment on TikTok. Credit: TikTok/@broganperry

A good way to do this as opposed to interrogating them, the expert notes, could be to simply express what you personally feel comfortable with.

Maybe breach the subject saying something along the lines of: "I wouldn't stay in touch with my exes out of respect for this relationship," then listen to how they respond.

Hayley adds: "Don't expect to be on exactly the same page about every aspect of your relationship, but do expect your partner to listen to your feelings and be transparent about any activities (like messaging an ex, or someone on social media) that they're engaging in."

But what if you're the one who is 'micro-cheating...?

Hayley explains that 'micro-cheating' doesn't come out of a vacuum.

She advises: "Ask yourself, what need are you serving to blur the boundaries of your existing relationship? Do you feel under appreciated?

"Is your current relationship lacking excitement? Would you actually like to be single, but lack the courage to really let go?"

Some big self-reflections there.

Now, we know it's simply impossible to get all our needs met through one person, however, you're risking your relationship by seeking intimacy through multiple sources.

"Either recognise that you'd like to be single and break off your relationship; or be transparent about what you need to continue to just focus on them; or be open about your desire to get to know multiple people at once," Hayley says.

Surely, with all that drama, it's a wonder why some people would even want to 'micro-cheat' in the first place.

"Being in a relationship might feel comfortable, it can be nice to have the security of knowing you have a partner," the relationship expert responded.

"However, many people may feel at times like their needs for romance, intimacy and excitement aren't being fulfilled by their current partner.

"It takes courage to choose to be single, and explore your options."

Hayley says that it also takes courage to have an open conversation about what's not working in your current relationship, and to plan together to improve how you relate to one another.

"It also takes courage to commit," she adds.

"Over the course of a long-term relationship you will inevitably experience lulls in how connected you feel to your partner, and building a successful monogamous relationship (if that's what you want) will require you to negotiate these periods without having a knee jerk reaction to 'micro-cheat'."

Well there you have it, folks.

Topics: Life, Sex and Relationships, TikTok, Advice

Rhiannon Ingle
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