Liking suggestive social media posts
Obviously, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this kind of behavior, you don’t have to delete social media the second you get in a relationship. Instead, this serves as a good general example of what “micro-cheating” is. Small, innocuous, actions like leaving some fire emoji’s on a nice selfie, become micro-cheating when they are downplayed or met with dismissal when a partner voices concern.
Looking for opportunities to spend time with others
This kind of emotion centric cheating stems from the often unconscious desire for validation and attention from someone other than your partner. When you think about it, there are a million reasons someone might want to spend time with other people, but if you find yourself feeling guilty and trying to avoid time with your partner, the microscope says that’s micro-cheating.
Feeling guilty, but also confused
Just like how micro-cheating is often unconscious, it’s often only noticed in retrospect. In that sense, it’s closer to personal insecurity around your behavior, and the dissonance it causes can be difficult to grasp. You’ve micro-cheated if you feel like, after an interaction you found exciting and arousing, you have micro-cheated. That doesn’t mean it’s a concern you can’t share.
Wishing your partner was more like somebody else
A relationship that isn’t built on respect for each other as people isn’t going to get very far. That having been said, people change over time, and if something gets between you it’s natural to want things to go back to how they were. Micro-cheating would be wishing they would just change, instead of wanting to work through it with them and develop together.
Seeking extended physical contact with other people
Micro-cheating is more often than not something only the person doing the action registers as inappropriate. It’s a good idea for couples to clearly set out what things they consider to be crossing a line, but something like an extended hug, or getting cozy with a friend are unlikely to be deal breakers. They are opportunities to toe the line, though.
Watching adult content behind their back
This enters into murky territory since the place and implications of adult content in a relationship seem to draw out some nuclear-grade hot takes. There is nothing wrong with it, or anything else when consumed in moderation as an individual, but as a partner, you have to take into account the feelings and opinions of the other. Again, it’s the secrecy that causes the friction.
Your partner lacking confidence in your relationship
Relationships tend to fall apart when one person starts to look forward and fails to see a happy, safe, and secure life ahead of the other. One of the many reasons this can happen is because of the micro-cheating signs your partner notices. If your significant other is repeatedly asking about your feelings and interactions with other people, they probably noticed signs before you did.
Struggling with commitment
A core reason someone might either cheat or micro-cheat is that they aren’t able to fully commit, or don’t understand exactly what that commitment entails. This can lead to you not thinking ahead, and things like messaging someone you find attractive without considering how it would make your partner feel can seem like innocent fun.
You just like “feeling wanted”
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be wanted. It suggests something is wrong and you’re right to be upset about it if you feel as though you aren’t wanted in your own relationship. That doesn’t excuse what often follows the need to feel wanted, which is not a discussion about the issue with a partner but the desire to seek that out somewhere else.
Spending a lot of time on your phone
When mom used to shout that your internet friends aren’t your real friends, she was wrong to do so. As toxic and awful as social media can be, they do connect you to other people in a real and meaningful way. This is why it’s so rude to be connecting to others in a real and meaningful way while you’re supposed to be spending time with your partner.
Keeping secrets from them
Trust is integral to a strong relationship, and secrets are bound to get in the way of that. Trying to hide your messages with someone, or not telling them about a close friend you have had sex with in the past that is still part of your group, are all things they deserve to know if you’re serious about spending your time with them.
Thinking of cheating as one particular thing
Relationships and everything involved in them are a grey area, people are just too complicated for generalities like that. Cheating is often broken into categories, with physical being obvious, micro being subtle and often unconscious, and emotion denoting a not sexual, but definitely intimate connection with another person. Knowledge will stop you from making silly mistakes.
You keep repeating the same mistakes
Roughly speaking, that is, you’re likely aware of what you’re doing if you do the exact same thing multiple times. Partners who have admitted to cheating, even behaviors associated with micro-cheating, are three times more likely to do so again on their future partners. Taking to somebody new and thinking ‘This time it won’t go as far’ might come to mind.
You’re naturally a flirty person
Some lucky devils just can’t switch off the rizz-o-meter, and one of the true joys of life is having a few drinks and making new friends. Often this cocktail can lead to some incredibly heavy hangovers. It’s okay to be yourself, but if that contrasts with your partner and how they expect you to act, they likely consider it a kind of quantum adultery.
You don’t mention you’re in a relationship very much
The are two reasons everybody hates people who constantly talk about how wonderful their relationship is. First, we all know they’re lying. Second, on the off chance they aren’t, we get a little jealous. It sounds great being with somebody you can be proud of and excited to talk about, so the fact you don’t often bring it up could indicate some concerning things.
Your partner isn’t your shoulder to cry on
Often, when the issue that’s making you cry is the relationship or your partner is busy, you do need somebody else you can trust and confide in. For issues outside the relationship, if you don’t first think to go to them for support, it’s worth examining who you do turn to and what that relationship means to you and the other person.
You don’t draw a line, you gerrymander it
Few cheaters would ever consider everything they did to have been acceptable. They often justify their behavior up to a point, and where that line sits for you is important. It’s possible you and your partner don’t care if the other kisses or hugs somebody on a night out, but if you don’t know that and assume, even friendly ones will cause issues.
You spent a lot of time with someone you’re attracted to
Ultimately, only you know how strong that attraction is at first. It’s important to pay attention to feelings like this, especially while you’re in a relationship because you’ve already made that commitment. You can’t help the feeling, but you can manage how often you spend time around them, and how you interact with them, which is where the micro-cheating happens.
Spending a lot of time with an ex
It’s a good sign that you can exit relationships and remain friends with the person despite whatever broke you up. It’s a sign and not a fact, because, of course, any unresolved feelings have a higher chance of coming up the more time you spend with them. Again, there’s nothing wrong with having baggage, but you owe it to your partner to avoid that situation.
You don’t control your impulses very well
No one behavior is responsible for all cheating, but a combination of poor impulse control and lack of self-awareness seems to be behind much of it. Most people will struggle with these drives at some point in their lives, but a predisposition towards reckless behavior makes you much more likely to overstep your partner’s boundaries without realizing it.
You don’t talk openly about your feelings
It takes a lot of trust to open up completely with somebody. If you find you can’t tell them what’s wrong and retreat inside yourself when experiencing stress, they’re naturally going to worry about why you can’t, and who you can talk to. As mentioned, if there is someone you go to, you need to examine that relationship.
You compliment others and not your partner
It can be difficult to believe this is ever done unintentionally, as it’s often employed as some kind of abuse or manipulation tactic. It’s not hard to imagine a situation where familiarity has simply drained that energy out of the relationship, as these droughts happen. Any incidental comment that comes out for another would be upsetting and micro-cheating but not necessarily malicious.
You don’t like who you are around your partner
Cheating is often fueled by the flood of emotions that come about from doing something wrong. While around another person you’re attracted to and feel comfortable around, you can feel like a more exciting, driven, and even more powerful version of yourself, which acts like a high. It’s worth looking at what you feel is lacking in your relationship, and why you seek it elsewhere.
You’re uncertain about the future
In a similar vein to many entries here, some people struggle to set goals or think too far ahead, due to what they’re going through in the present. This makes it more likely you would do something rash, and overlook it as you simply aren’t considering the consequences of your actions. This sense of stagnation is what fuels a lot of micro and macro-cheating.
You aren’t entirely sure what monogamy means
As it’s the default for many relationships, it rarely gets questioned what we mean when we say monogamy. Most would say having only one partner, but you can still have only one partner while cheating, and still be in a technically monogamous relationship. Try to understand monogamy as a promise, which you both have to agree to the terms of.
You keep a dating profile active “just in case”
What they don’t know can’t hurt them is awful advice to live by, not just because it’s very easy for the word to spread, but because you’re hurting yourself as well as your partner. Some hang on to their apps in case things don’t work out, or someone better comes along, or things just don’t work out. This dishonesty is cruel and unfair.
You give out your phone number to strangers
There’s an obvious implication of contexts here, if you have to give a stranger your number either something truly awful has happened, or you think they’re interested in you. The micro-cheating happens in the latter, as it’s unlikely that the number exchange is as far as anything goes. Asking “Would I be okay with my partner doing this?” is a good way to gauge things.
You have close work friends you are attracted to
Micro-cheating often happens in environments where factors other than the existing relationship, get in the way of micro relationship progressing. The workplace is a good example of this, as an affair would be pretty devastating for your job, which leads to the idea that nothing can happen, so nothing will happen. When has leaving something up to fate ever been encouraged?
Hiding any presence they have in your life
Taking off a wedding ring before going out with your friends would be an example much closer to actual cheating than anything micro. There are much smaller, but similarly indicative, behaviors that you might engage in without linking the two. For example, hiding any clothes or items they have at your place, or changing their phone lock screen away from their partner.
You delete your messages
Privacy still exists in relationships and it’s important to realize that even appropriate suspicion is no excuse to cross a boundary like looking at someone’s personal messages. That being said, this is about your behavior. Deleting messages is a conscious choice that involves some element of intentional secrecy and so is considered to be a form of micro-cheating.
You don’t take calls around them
Secrecy is one of the main behaviors associated with the idea of this kind of cheating, and as mentioned, you are entitled to privacy. This list is about recognizing traits in yourself, however, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to talk to someone in front of or in earshot of your partner, short of planning a surprise party.
You’re checking out of the relationship
Checking out is a separate but often related concept in relationships, it describes a general sense of disinterest and distraction. It’s categorized by similar behaviors, like secrecy, and withdrawing from your partner. It’s normally during this stage of stagnation that people tend to look elsewhere, and the micro-cheating activity begins.
You’d rather keep uncomfortable truths to yourself
To a degree, this is a behavior most people exhibit at some point in their lives. Nobody wants to deliver bad news, particularly if it’s bad news they have caused, however, this mentality causes a negative feedback loop. If you can’t tell them when you break a small boundary, like messaging somebody you know makes your partner uncomfortable, then it’s only going to progress.
You immediately get defensive when accused
Cheaters tend not to admit to cheating when initially confronted, a trait that is true for most accusations. Micro-cheating ‘accusations’, since the behaviors are small, are more like basic questions. “Who are you talking to?” is quite a mundane question, one people ask constantly. Imagine how suspicious you would be if somebody immediately started deflecting after you asked them.
You’re addicted to social media
If you use social media for much more than just time-killing, it might indicate some deeper issues beyond just micro-cheating. Tying your positive feelings to something controlled by an algorithm that nobody understands, where everyone is projecting a curated persona, is never going to satisfy you. You’ll likely progress to wanting that dopamine burst directly from another person, not just through likes.
You have low self-esteem
Plenty of people have self-esteem issues and are 100% faithful, to the the letter of relationship law, while swearing on the sexy bible (King James version). These people tend to be incredibly aware of their issues, however, and find other ways to grow their love for themselves. Someone who lacks that self-awareness will be drawn to wherever the strongest pull is coming from.
You don’t find your partner sexually attractive
While there are other important aspects to relationships, and a lack of attraction can be temporary, sex holds a very important place in keeping people happy together. Excitement and lust are powerful emotions, and the drought a lack of intimacy can cause, like losing attraction, is when people tend to overlook their micro-cheating behavior the most, as it feels like something they need.
You joke about sex as a means of talking about sex
There’s usually one of these at every party, and if that’s you then good news it’s not too late to change. It’s the 2020s, puritans can get in the sea, but making overtly sexual jokes to someone you’re attracted to, while in a relationship, is clearly just baiting the conversation in a way that gives you plausible deniability. Stop it, get some help.
You think about other people a lot
Micro-cheating is often pushed back on as a concept, as it can seem like it’s accusing you of thought crimes. The idea is that most of the smaller behaviors are unconscious and driven by problems that already exist with you or the relationship. This would be one of the first noticeable signs that you’re unhappy, and micro-cheating happens while trying to make yourself happy.
You know who you would move on to
If you find you already know who you would initiate a relationship with next if your partner broke up with you tomorrow, that’s definitely worth looking at. It implies a lot of negative things about your level of commitment, thoughts on the potential future, and lack of emotional maturity. All of these make for good signs that you probably lacked the awareness to realize you were micro-cheating.