What is Micro-Cheating? | The Gray Area of Modern Dating

What is Micro-Cheating? | The Gray Area of Modern Dating

Written by dating coach for men Gary Gunn - Founder of Social Attraction

The term “micro-cheating” has popped up more often these days.

While it doesn’t carry the same weight as full-blown affairs, it still raises eyebrows.

But what exactly is it? In this article, we’ll dive into micro-cheating, its signs, and how it differs from mere flirting.

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What is micro-cheating

Micro-cheating is a modern term that describes a range of behaviours falling short of physical infidelity but crossing boundaries of emotional commitment.

It involves giving a level of attention, emotional support, or even secrecy to someone other than your partner in a way that violates the trust and emotional bond in your relationship.

Simply put, it’s a series of seemingly small actions that can add up to a major breach of trust.

What is an example of micro-cheating?

Imagine you’re in a committed relationship:

  • You find yourself constantly texting someone else, sharing jokes and secrets that you don’t share with your partner.
  • You’re not having a physical affair, but this connection goes beyond friendship.
  • You hide these texts from your partner because you know they would feel uncomfortable.

This is a classic example of micro-cheating.

What are the signs of micro-cheating?

If you’re worried that you or your partner might be micro-cheating, look out for these signs:

  • Secret Texts: Hiding text messages from your partner.
  • Emotional Closeness: Sharing intimate details with someone else but not with your partner.
  • Excessive Social Media Engagement: Liking, commenting, or sharing posts from a specific person more than you do with your partner.
  • Fantasising About Another Person: It’s natural to find other people attractive, but fantasizing about them can cross a line.
  • Prioritising Someone Else: Giving another person your time and attention over your partner.

Is micro-cheating still cheating?

This is a gray area, and the answer can vary.

While micro-cheating doesn’t involve physical intimacy, it still can involve emotional betrayal.

If your actions would hurt your partner or breach trust, it’s best to consider it as cheating on some level.

What’s the difference between micro-cheating and flirting?

Flirting and micro-cheating can look similar but they’re not the same.

  • Flirting is a playful interaction that may or may not lead to anything more.
  • It’s generally harmless and doesn’t involve emotional investment.
  • Micro-cheating, on the other hand, involves ongoing emotional connections that can hurt your partner.

How to handle micro-cheating?

The first step is to communicate with your partner.

Open dialogue can resolve misunderstandings and help both of you set boundaries.

After all, the key to any successful relationship is trust and communication.


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  1. “The New Infidelity” by Dr. Shirley Glass (2003). Dr. Shirley Glass, a renowned psychologist, explores emotional infidelity in her book. While she doesn’t use the term “micro-cheating,” her work provides a strong foundation for understanding how emotional connections can turn into betrayal.
  2. “Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love” by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller (2010). This book dives into the science of attachment and how our attachment styles can affect our relationships, including behaviors that might be seen as micro-cheating. It provides valuable insights into why some people might be prone to such actions.

Written by Gary Gunn

Gary Gunn is a trained coach, accredited therapist and best selling author. He offers proven, evidence-based dating advice for single men.

He has hosted over 1,000 in-person dating confidence courses across the UK and Europe, as well as over 1,500 online courses.

As the head coach at Social Attraction, he leads the team and oversees the training and courses provided, helping countless men transform their dating lives.
Dating Coach