Microcheating is the term for small things you do that could have whispers of infidelity, without even being physically unfaithful but just as dangerous.
“Microcheating happens when you create small opportunities for affectionate behaviours that fall outside your relationship,” explains sex and relationship therapist Tammy Nelson, PhD, author of The New Monogamy: Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity. You may be doing it when your partner is not around or even in front of them and with or without their knowledge. But given that such a habit can build up to something more, it can spell trouble.
Although physical cheating is quite easy to define, microcheating tends to be more of a grey area. However, common examples of this type of infidelity can include:
If you're not sure whether your own behaviour counts as micro-cheating, certified coach Jillian Turecki suggests asking yourself this: Would you be acting the same way if your partner was sitting right next to you? "Anything that’s done on the sly or is not congruent with who you are in front of your person is a problem," explains Turecki.
No matter how small the act of microcheating feels, Turecki suggests thinking about what you value. "Instead of thinking, 'I can’t micro cheat,' it’s more useful to think of what you value. If you value integrity, respect, and loyalty, then commit to acting in accordance with that. I believe that is an important standard everyone must have for themselves, coupled or not. It leads to greater happiness as well. We like acting in alignment with what we value. It feels good."
But should this behaviour really be a deal-breaker in a relationship? If it makes you feel uncomfortable or insecure in your relationship, then perhaps.
However, it's important to talk to your partner about the issue in a diplomatic and rational way, taking are to explain the observations you have made, and how they have affected you.
If you think "there may be more to the story'' it may be wise to talk to your partner about the situation and ask calmly "Is there something I need to know about your feelings for this person?"
Another effective approach would be to ask: "How would you feel if I did something like this?". Sometimes people do not understand the magnitude of their actions until they are the ones on the receiving end of such behaviour. A little empathy can go a long way.
Microcheating is largely forgivable but the danger is that it can lead to cheating in the more traditional sense. Sometimes, little actions have subconscious effects on us and before we know it, a small fancy can spell big trouble for your relationship. Always bear in mind what you have and remind yourself about why it's not worth it to put what you and your partner have built at risk.