7 Signs You're Micro-Cheating On Your Partner

by Natalia Lusinski
Hannah Burton for Bustle

No one likes to be cheated on, whether it's physically or emotionally. However, with the latest dating phenomenon, "micro-cheating", you may be unfaithful without even realizing it. Of course, only you and your partner can decide what you two consider to be cheating, but micro-cheating switches things up even more when it comes to defining infidelity.

Melanie Schilling, dating expert, spoke to HuffPost Australia about it. "Micro-cheating is a series of seemingly small actions that indicate a person is emotionally or physically focused on someone outside their relationship," she said. "You might be engaging in micro-cheating if you secretly connect with another [person] on social media; if you share private jokes; if you downplay the seriousness of your relationship to another [person]; or if you enter their name under a code in your phone."

While you may think these little actions will not impact your primary romantic relationship, the more you become closer to someone who's not your partner, the less close you'll probably be to your partner as time goes on. "The first step is, it is vital that a couple each express and define what 'loyalty' and 'disloyalty' means to them — whether we're talking about physical, emotional, or micro-cheating," Shlomo Zalman Bregman, Rabbi, matchmaker, and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "I've observed that many couples badly hurt one another accidentally, by saying or doing things that violate the other party's sense of fidelity, because each one is operating with a different definition of what 'cheating' or 'loyalty' is about."

I could not agree with Rabbi Bregman more — so many couples, at least ones I know, have conflicts due to unclear definitions, whether they're cheating-related definitions or not. I'm sure you can think back to your own romantic relationships, too, and see where some things were not as well-defined as others.

So here are signs you may be micro-cheating on your partner. Knowingly or not, it's good to be aware you're doing it, then decide what to do about it.


You're Secretly Communicating With Someone You Know Your Partner Would Not Like You To Be Talking To

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Sometimes, micro-cheating starts accidentally. You haven't heard from your grad school ex in years, but then your birthday just rolled around and he sent you a "Happy Birthday!" e-mail or text. No harm there, right? But then you write back, they write back, and a micro-cheating situation is born. Stef Safran, matchmaking and dating expert, elaborates on this idea. "You get a simple text saying 'Happy Birthday,' or something else insignificant. However, you decide to continue the conversation. Pretty soon, it's a daily thing. Talking to someone — even if it's just a text or through a social media app — isn't appropriate when it comes from a place of secrecy."


You Are Getting ~Feelings~ From Your Micro-Interactions

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"A real quick way to tell if you are micro-cheating is if you are getting 'special' feelings from the micro-interactions," Douglas Weiss, Ph.D., psychologist, author, and media guest, tells Bustle. "The feelings can be about being wanted, accepted, attractive, seductive, being pursued, you name it." As Dr. Weiss says, these are the type of feelings you wouldn't get from interacting with a long-term friend. When you think about micro-cheating in terms of feelings, it's easy to see that you're micro-cheating.


You Are Checking Out An Ex's Social Media Feed On The Regular To See If They're Single

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

I know — what's the harm in taking a quick peek at your ex's Facebook page or Instagram account, right? So many of us do it from time to time, but, as you may know, this can quickly lead you down a rabbit hole. And, the more you fall into the rabbit hole of your past (i.e., your ex), the more you lose sight of your present (i.e., your current partner) — especially if you're hoping they're available. "Would you want your partner to be checking out their exes? Exactly," Safran says.

Dr. Suzana E. Flores, clinical psychologist and author of Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives, agrees. "An example of micro-cheating is when you want to flirt with your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, and so you find yourself browsing your ex's Facebook profile for signs of an unhappy marriage or relationship," she tells Bustle.


You're Thinking About Someone Else A Lot Throughout The Day & Looking Forward To Talking To Them

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Another giveaway that you're micro-cheating is asking yourself how much time you spend thinking about this person every day. Then, compare that with how much you think about your partner. Is there a balance? Even so, why are you giving so much brain space to someone you're not even dating? "More indications of micro-cheating are thinking about the person in down moments in your day," Dr. Weiss says. "In addition, looking forward to a text or communication throughout the day."


You Delete Your Browsing History Or Put A Password On Your Phone

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"Another example that indicates you are micro-cheating is when you purposely conceal your browsing history or put a password on your smartphone, because you don't want your partner to know you are interacting with a certain person," Dr. Flores says. Good point, right? Because if you had nothing to hide, why would you hide either of those things?


You Create A Dating Profile Even Though You're In A Monogamous Relationship

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If you're in a happy (monogamous) relationship, why would you create an online dating profile, right? "Some people create a dating profile on an app like Bumble, Tinder, or Hinge," Safran says. "I actually had a friend suggest that he should create a profile 'to see what's out there.' Never did it occur to him that people he knows may see that he's 'looking.' While it might seem harmless if you don't do something, it isn't harmless. Actions always have consequences, especially today with technology being how it is."


You're Fantasizing About A Life With Them

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Of course, it's not uncommon to have fantasies about people other than your partner — or even have a crush while you're in a relationship. But if that's where all your energy is focused and you're consumed by imagining a a life with someone else, it may be time to rethink your relationship. "If you're wondering what it would be like if you could be with the person, that is micro-cheating," Dr. Weiss says. If you have a partner now, you may need to do some serious thinking to see why you're having such strong feelings for someone else. "There are crucial questions to ask yourself," Rabbi Bregman says. They include: Are you simply looking for a thrill? Are you lonely and seeking only to fulfill an emotional void? Do you have a hard time committing to any one person or thing in general? Is your current relationship basically dead already, and you're now exploring alternative, future partners?"

You can probably think of countless other ways you may be micro-cheating on your partner, and not even on purpose. At the end of the day, only you two can decide where to draw the line when it comes to what's acceptable around micro-cheating, and infidelity in general. "Ultimately, if you are not sure if you're micro-cheating, you should ask your partner," Dr. Flores says. "If there is any hesitancy in doing so, chances are you are cheating."

Plus, there's also good old-fashioned guilt, so that's another determining factor, I think. But, all in all, it comes down to you and your partner and what you're both comfortable with. If you're not getting your wants and needs met by them, perhaps it's time to reexamine the relationship and see how it can become better — without micro-cheating as a crutch to fill your missing needs. Or, perhaps it's time to part ways. In any case, once you determine if you're micro-cheating, you can figure out what to do about it.