Here's When Micro-Cheating Is Just Straight-Up Cheating — And When It's Not

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Of all the annoying new dating and relationship trends to pop up recently, micro-cheating is one of the most frustrating. It's so difficult to figure out out what micro-cheating actually is and how it differs from regular ol' cheating. So what is micro-cheating? "Micro-cheating is when you do [things] that might not be considered outright infidelity, but are nonetheless breaches of trust that could lead to genuine cheating in the future," certified counselor Jonathan Bennett tells Bustle. But here's the thing, some people's micro-cheating is other people's straight-up cheating.

It all depends on the behavior and how you define cheating in your relationship. For example, keeping your online dating profile even when you're in a relationship can be filed under "micro-cheating". "Being on there means that you are looking and still interested in other people," Isabel James, founder of Elite Dating Managers, tells Bustle. "Scanning profiles online is micro-cheating because it shows intent and is also a lack of respect for the other person, since the profiles are public." For some people, that would mean an instant breakup. For others, it might be just kind of sh*tty — but not really cheating.

So where's the line between micro-cheating and just cheating for most people? Well, that's exactly what Victoria Milan, a leading extramarital site, and NextLove, one of Scandinavia's largest social networks, decided to team up to find out. They surveyed almost 7,000 people about common "micro-cheating" behaviors, to see if they thought the behaviors crossed the line into infidelity. And, frustratingly for anybody who likes clear boundaries, the results were pretty much all over the place.

"I was surprised to see that even a well-meant 'like' on social media could be considered cheating, but micro-cheating borders emotional-cheating, which we know is a phenomenon in infidelity, and also a serious matter for many," Anne Walther, Head of PR at Victoria Milan, tells Bustle. "Infidelity in the emotional form differs from the physical one — I think people will always be divided in opinion, and more divided when it comes to that side of infidelity. The intent behind an act counts. For some, it counts for everything."

But some things were definitely more likely to be considered cheating than others. Here are 10 types of micro-cheating and how many people found them to also cross into cheating territory.


Contacting An Ex On Social Media: 24%

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Contacting an ex out of the blue may definitely seem shady, but only 24 percent of people though that it actually counted as cheating.


Liking An Old Social Media Post: 37%

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I don't see why this is more controversial than contacting an ex, but 37 percent of people said liking an old social media post was not OK. I guess the idea that it's an old post shows that you've been taking a real interest in this person, but I'm still pretty surprised.


Repeatedly Visiting A Profile: 41%

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Whether it's an ex or not, repeatedly looking at someone's profile rubs people up the wrong way. Forty-one percent of respondents said that this fell into cheating territory.


Lying About Your Relationship Status On Social Media: 54%

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The first thing more than half of people agreed on: lying about your relationship status. it's no surprise that 54 percent of people thought that was basically cheating. Why else would you do it?


Keeping An Active Dating Profile: 58%

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For 58 percent of respondents, this was definitely not OK behavior. Which, considering anyone could stumble onto a dating profile, makes total sense. It not only shows that your partner is looking around, but it also opens you up to feeling embarrassed if someone you know sees your partner on it.


Contacting An Ex And Concealing It: 62%

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Being friends with an ex is one thing, but contacting an ex without telling your partner about it? That's very different. Sixty-two percent of people could not get on board with that.


Having A Deep Emotional Contact With Someone Else: 68%

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Emotional cheating is a real thing, and 68 percent of people said that a deep emotional connection with someone outside the relationship would count as infidelity.


Listing Someone By A Fake Name In Your Contacts: 75 Percent

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Saving someone under a fake name in your contacts? It's hard to imagine that's anything other than a way to do something shady — and 75 percent of people surveyed agreed.


Sexting Someone Else: 83%

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I would think that pretty much everyone would think texting someone with sexual content was cheating, but 17 percent of people disagree with me. Maybe that's the 17 percent of people who do it while in a relationship.


Sending Nude Photos: 88%

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A few more people were concerned about nudes: 88 percent of those surveyed said that sending nudes to someone else would count as cheating. Still lower than I would expect, but it was the largest consensus of any of the examples.

Micro-cheating can cover such a wide range of behaviors, so it's difficult to differentiate when it's actually considered to be cheating. The most important thing is that you understand the boundaries of your relationship, because at the end of the day it's what you and your partner define as crossing the line that really counts.