| Last updated
We've all heard of cheating but how many of you know the ins-and-outs of micro-cheating? This trend, which dating and relationships say has transformed thanks to social media, is actually more common than you think.
Micro-cheating is the name given to the behaviours men and women do whilst being in a relationship which could be considered flirting and but may not be substantial enough to be considered full blown cheating.
The behaviours that could be considered micro-cheating varies between couples. While one couple might consider a cheeky comment at a bar completely harmless, for others it might be tcross their relationship boundaries.
Relationship expert Alex Mellor-Brook explains: “It's like dipping your toes in the water of infidelity without risk.”
So, what does micro-cheating actually look like in action? The hallmark behaviours can include your partner talking to someone they're sexually attracted to in a flirtatious way, often without mentioning they're taken.
The behaviours of a micro-cheater can also vary from wearing "alluring" clothes when they know the other person they're attracted to is going to be around, down playing their relationship status or sending secret direct messages on social media.
The difference between chatting with a platonic pal on social media and micro-cheating is concealment. "They may conceal communications they’ve had with the other person and even invest more time with this new person rather than their partner," Alex said.
Match's dating expert Hayley Quinn tells Tyla both men and women engage in micro-cheating. "At its core, it's about enjoying receiving attention and validation from someone other than your partner.
"It may also help people to feel less beholden to their relationship, as all their emotional eggs aren't just in one basket."
Social media apps, particularly those like WhatsApp or Snapchat with expiring messaging options, have helped to change the way men and women micro-cheat.
"Social media has made the lines of what classes as infidelity much blurrier," says Hayley
"Whilst before micro-cheating might have been an alcohol-fuelled flirt at the office party, it can now be accessed 24/7 via your mobile phone.
"With the ability for pictures to disappear, and chats being one swipe away for deletion, it's easier to flirt online and then conveniently forget, or hide, your transgression.
Similarly, Alex says: "Being able to easily communicate on social media with people has made micro-cheating more achievable and as apps now have the technology to expire messages and images, they can help to clear up any trail of duplicity."
But is micro-cheating always bad? With boundaries established in your relationship, micro-cheating may not be a problem at all for some people.
Some men and women identify as “natural flirts” and if their partner is aware of their flirty nature and is accepting of it, with clear communication, micro-cheating may not negatively impact either party.
“Not all relationships exist on the same terms,” Hayley explains.
“For one person sliding into a DM is definitely cheating, for another it's benign flirtation. As long as you have a mutual understanding with your partner about this and what lines are not to be crossed, it can be fine. The issue comes when you actively omit information from your partner.
Micro-cheating also exists in the real world too. From flirting with someone at a bar, to giving your number to someone you find attractive and withholding the fact they’re in a relationship are prime examples.
However, micro-cheating could also be a sign of “dissatisfaction within the relationship” but it is down to the couple to discuss and address their issues.
"People find the excitement of micro-cheating alluring and has the possibility of becoming something a lot more detrimental to the relationship, especially if they feel the current relationship is boring or going through difficulties," Alex said.
If you suspect your partner is micro-cheating, the best thing to do is to have a calm conversation about your expectations, to explain how uncomfortable it makes you feel (if it does) and to set boundaries going forward.
Alex said: "We all have different boundaries and what may be cheating to one person, may not be seen as cheating by their partner. Flip the situation and present the issue as if the roles were reversed.
"If your partner's comfortable with the situation, you've actually discovered you have different boundaries to them, which can be normal."
Hayley said the next step to achieving transparency is to notice how your partner responds if you, for example, catch them flirting with someone else. “Do they turn the argument around and gaslight you, accusing you of being controlling? Or do they accept that sliding into that DM is unnecessary.
“Often what's 'worse' than the actual activity (e.g. sliding into a DM) is the concealment of it, which can exacerbate any anxiety and insecurities you have about the relationship. Sometimes all you need is transparency.”
Featured Image Credit: Unsplash
Topics: Sex and Relationships
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read