Microcheating: Small Acts with Potentially Big Consequences

4 min read
Source: skynesher/Getty

Microcheating is when your significant other commits an act that reeks of disloyalty, unfaithfulness, or infidelity but technically does not pass the threshold of obvious cheating yet.

Source: skynesher/Getty

The term “microcheating” has been trending on TikTok and refers to an act by your significant other that reeks of disloyalty or infidelity but technically does not pass the threshold of obvious cheating yet. If called out about the act, your partner could always say something like, “But we didn’t even touch each other” or “Our clothes were on the whole time.”

While such arguments may suffice in a court of law, the problem is that microcheating means that your partner’s interest and intent were not exactly pure and innocent. Microcheating may be a sign that your significant other is actually interested in someone else and may end up cheating on you down the road.

On TikTok, individuals have been offering their experiences of microcheating. It occurs when your significant other:

  • Interacts with an ex in a manner that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Flirts or does anything to fuel sexual energy with anyone besides you, such as sending a salad bar’s-worth of eggplant emojis.
  • Does not make it clear to others that he or she is in an exclusive relationship with you, particularly when someone else is making advances to him or her.
  • Allows and even encourages others’ sexual advances.
  • Gifts others with private or prized possessions like a smartphone or money.
  • Tells others, especially potential love interests, negative things about you or your relationship.
  • Seeks emotional comfort from others, the kind of comfort that you normally would give.
  • Joins a dating site.
Source: Peter Dazeley/Getty

Flirting can be considered microcheating if the goal is to increase sexual energy with someone besides your significant other.

Source: Peter Dazeley/Getty

As you can see, some of the acts are clearer than others. Joining a dating site may be fairly obvious. But, microcheating is not always as clear-cut as full-blown cheating. For example, being caught having sex with someone else is typically an open-and-shut case, assuming that you don’t have an open relationship. On the other hand, texting with the hottie at work can be a bit more complex. There can be legitimate reasons why your significant other may be exchanging messages and emojis with the hottie such as coordinating an office event or conducting market research.

In fact, one couple’s definition of microcheating may be business as usual for another couple. So it can be difficult to assemble a comprehensive list of all acts that are always microcheating for everyone. Instead, look for the following five signs:

1. Your significant other consistently tries to hide interactions with someone else.

Sure, you can’t expect your significant other to tell you everything, especially when he or she is planning a surprise birthday party for you. So, just because they are keeping secrets from you doesn’t mean that microcheating is happening. However, if your significant other is concealing the fact that they are closer to someone else than you realize, you’ve got to wonder why.

2. Your significant other repeatedly prioritizes someone else over you.

If your significant other consistently keeps a “friend” or “coworker” higher than you on his or her priority list, perhaps microcheating is the problem.

3. Your significant other gets overly defensive when you ask anything about a particular person.

You know the line “The lady doth protest too much, methinks,” from Hamlet?

4. Your significant other has a significant unexplained behavior change.

It can be either positive or negative behavior change. The key is that it’s significant and unexplained.

5. Something feels like microcheating.

If your significant other is doing something that makes you question his or her fidelity, it’s better to bring it up rather than let it slide and let resentment build up. Don’t let your partner sweep it under the rug. Talk it out to determine whether you are being unreasonable or they are indeed demonstrating a lack of loyalty.

Ultimately, it’s important to address any microcheating or any perception of microcheating directly with your significant other as soon as possible. Openly discuss the possible motivations behind any behaviors of concern and whether something in your relationship needs to be adjusted.

It can help to establish clear boundaries with each other about what’s acceptable versus unacceptable behavior for each of you. Not being able to agree on such boundaries can be a warning sign. If your significant other can’t have a mature, rational discussion about microcheating, then maybe they are not the right person for you. After all, despite the cheating being “micro,” it could be a sign that your relationship has bigger underlying problems that could turn quite “macro.”

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