5 People Reveal How They Define Micro-Cheating & Wow, It’s Eye-Opening

Are you familiar with the term micro-cheating, but aren't exactly sure what it means? That’s fair, because like the behavior itself, the definition is kind of murky. It's one of those, "you know it when you see it" type of deals, so when people reveal how they define micro-cheating, it's important to believe them — especially if that person is your partner.

But the idea, according to Australian psychologist and consultant Melanie Schilling, who explained the concept to The Daily Mail Australia, is that micro-cheating is a series of subtle behaviors that indicate a person who is already in a committed relationship is also focusing emotionally or physically on someone else. And, according to Shilling, the litmus test for this is secrecy.

"If you feel you have something to hide — ask yourself why," Shilling told Daily Mail Australia. "Your partner may have a perfectly platonic relationship with a friend and they may be up-front and open about talking to them and seeing them. This should not ring alarm bells," she said. "However, if they start to conceal their relationship from you or lie to you about it, then start considering the appropriateness of their connection."

Like I said, murky. But to me, micro-cheating falls somewhere on the gaslighting spectrum. Because it's something you can feel is happening, but your partner has plausible deniability. It doesn't fall under the defined criteria of infidelity, but still conjures up some of the same feelings, so it's very possible to feel both betrayed and like you're being unreasonable at the same time, which is maddening. It's actually pretty insidious and, over time, can do real damage to your relationship.

It's still not totally clear, so I looked to see what folks on Reddit were saying about what they consider to be micro-cheating, and their answers were illuminating. Here's what they had to say.

Lying About Spending Time With An Ex
A friend of mine recently found out his wife once lied to him about what she was doing because she was actually going to a bar with a friend to meet a guy she used to date. Nothing happened... but, he had to explain to her that he still considered that cheating. She didn't understand. She just kept telling him to ask the other people who were there if anything happened between the two of them that night. He said it didn't matter. The fact that she lied to him about it was enough for him to consider it cheating.


Nurturing Secret Crushes
Here is one example of micro cheating. A year back I met a girl and we started to text a lot. We texted all the time for days and there was clearly something going on between us. Well after the few days I found out she has a boyfriend and she admitted she had a crush on me but didnt tell about her boyfriend. So thats micro cheating from her part.


Anything You Have To Hide From Your Partner Is Suspect
Basically it's emotional cheating or being shady and getting too close to someone that's not your SO. If you have to hide it, it's probably some form of cheating. Also a good rule of thumb is if you wouldn't want your SO doing it or would feel betrayed by it then you probably shouldn't be doing it. It's a lame label but it's a valid concept.


When Flirting Goes Too Far
It’s emotional cheating. Doing relationship things with someone else. Perusing the flirt with somebody, which is in direct disrespect to your partner. If you wouldn’t like your partner doing it with someone else, don’t do it to your partner.


All The Baby Steps That Could Lead To Traditional Cheating
Cheating rarely is an action one time. Usually there are little steps that progress toward the even[t] of cheating. If you have taken these steps but haven't crossed the threshold of what you consider actually cheating (physical or emotional intimacy) than it falls into this definition. It's basically boundaries that shouldn't be crossed without realizing this could aid the progression to cheating.


Ultimately, I think the takeaway here is that if you don't want to micro-cheat, don't do anything you'd be uncomfortable with your partner knowing about, or that would make you feel betrayed if the tables were turned. And if you've ever sensed you were micro-cheated on, consider those feelings officially validated. You aren't alone.

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