Micro-Cheating: What It Is, And 6 Ways You Might Be Doing It Without Realizing

When we think of the word “cheating,” our minds typically go to the extreme: the idea of our partner having sex with someone else. But cheating has never been that black and white; if it was, trust would be an easier emotion to manage. Emotional affairs are just as tumultuous than physical affairs, and sometimes can be even more dramatic than just hooking up with someone who isn’t your S.O. But with the rise of social media and the instant accessibility to other people – including exes – there’s a whole other layer of cheating to be mindful of.

Micro-cheating is exactly what it sounds like. It’s sort-of cheating, but on a much smaller scale. It’s a name for that “grey area” that exists when your S.O. likes another person’s Instagram picture and you feel a flutter of jealousy. It’s not straight-up cheating, and it’s not an affair, but it’s still something.

The danger with micro-cheating is that it can easily lead to actual cheating if you’re not careful. Physical cheating doesn’t happen by accident – you don’t stumble into another person’s bed blindly. The act of cheating is the result of a series of smaller decisions. You decide to send a text. You decide to get a drink. You decide to get a second. You decide to go back to their apartment for a third. Etc. There’s a chain of events that take place that leads you to “the act.”

Micro-cheating just lays that initial groundwork in a different way. Of course, instances of micro-cheating can be harmless in and of themselves, and we’re not advocating for paranoia or unhealthy jealousy in relationships. However, these examples of micro-cheating can sometimes be the first sentence in a story, and can lead to messier emotional (or physical) affairs down the road. With that in mind, here are 6 ways you might be micro-cheating right now and not even know it:

1. You get excited when a specific person likes your Instagram selfie.

If you find yourself getting a little too psyched when a cute co-worker or friend (or an ex) likes one of your selfies, it’s a good idea to ask yourself why. What is it about this person that is giving you a surge of butterflies from seeing a notification from them? And how is it different from the butterflies you get from your partner?

2. You post a Snap story in hopes that one person in particular views it.

Picture this: You take several different selfies on Snapchat with the puppy filter, looking for the perfect one to add to your story (just so THAT person sees it). It’s not like you’re sending snaps to that person directly, and you’re not texting them, but…there’s still an ulterior motive.

3. You’re strategically liking your ex’s Instagram pictures and Facebook posts.

Nothing keeps the possibility of an old flame alive like a double tap. If you’re routinely popping up in your ex’s notifications on purpose, you might want to evaluate that situation. And P.S., it’s also harder for you to move on if you’re continuously scrolling through your ex’s profile pictures.

4. Smiling a little too much at other guys or girls out in public.

Maybe you’re just a friendly person. Or maybe you are actually trying to make your S.O. jealous. Either way, if you’re being a little too outgoing towards other people (especially if you’re with your partner), you’re definitely in micro-cheating territory. Even if you’re not intentionally flirting, it might be worthwhile to consider what impression you’re leaving upon the other people involved.

5. Texting a little too much with that cute co-worker.

Listen, it’s totally okay – and normal – to find other people attractive when you’re in a relationship. You’re a human, not a robot. You’re not going to become immune to the laws of attraction just because of your relationship status. That said, if you’re aware that you’re attracted to someone and you’re spending a lot of time texting back and forth or sending funny pictures, you might want to tap the breaks.

6. You’re hiding your phone.

This is the biggest warning sign of them all. If you find yourself flipping your phone face-down, or tilting the screen away from your partner while using it, you’re slipping into the danger zone. Of course, you’re entitled to have private conversations with your friends and family, and you aren’t under any obligation to show your phone to your partner, but if you feel like you have something to hide, then you’re probably engaging in questionable behavior. Playing with fire can be tempting – especially when you feel like you technically aren’t doing anything wrong – but it’s important to keep in mind that the longer you play with fire, the higher of a tolerance you get. And eventually, it becomes a hell of a lot harder to notice when you’re about to get burned.

Related-ish: 19 Real Maternity Ward Cheating Dramas Worthy Of Their Own “Maury” Episode

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