Cheating in a long-term relationship doesn’t usually start with one abrupt decision. It is a drawn-out process and there can be years of small choices that are made before they eventually lead to infidelity.
Recently I talked about micro-cheating on several other platforms and there was a universal response that cheating is cheating and that there is no black or white when that simply isn’t the case.
To provide a few definitions of micro-cheating:
“Micro-cheating is a series of seemingly small actions that indicate a person is emotionally or physically focused on someone outside their relationship,”
“Micro-cheating is often a secret outlet for people to get their conscious and sometimes unconscious needs met."
“A set of behaviors that flirts with the line between faithfulness and unfaithfulness,”
Keep in mind that every single relationship is different and what constitutes to be cheating between you and your partner depends entirely on what you agree upon.
That being said, here are four signs that you are treading into dangerous waters which could eventually skirt into the demise of your relationship.
#1. You find yourself constantly liking and obsessing over someone else’s social media page
Now, I am not saying that you cannot like someone’s pictures or talk to them online if you are in a relationship.
But social media is a slippery slope. It makes falling into infedility easier because we have access to the lives of potential romantic interests at the touch of a button.
It can start out as a slight attraction towards someone, or a seemingly “innocent” crush. You begin liking everything they post and staring at their photos quite often. Then one day you send a simple, “happy birthday” message, the two of you start talking, and before you know it you are teetering on the edge of an emotional affair.
#2. Instead of confiding in your partner, you turn to “friends” of the opposite sex because they just “get you more.”
When I was seventeen I was dating my first love and things were a bit rocky. During that time, there was a young man named Kyle at my church that constantly made a point to talk to me and we ended up becoming friends.
We began hanging out and I began confiding in Kyle about my relationship, to the point where he began advising that I should break up with my boyfriend. Kyle and I talked all the time, we hung out on a regular basis, and then one night Kyle made a move by trying to hold my hand.
That experience taught me that even though I wasn’t outright lying to my boyfriend in the beginning, I had allowed Kyle to become my primary confidant. This caused Kyle to developed strong feelings and I ended up losing him as a friend because we had crossed a line.
#3. When out with friends you downplay your relationship or conveniently “forget” to bring up your partner
When I was in college I worked at a local restaurant. Usually, after work, a group of us would head to the bar to grab a couple of drinks before heading home. One of my co-workers was an attractive guy named Mark, who had been with his girlfriend for over two years.
Although Mark always spoke about his relationship as if it were great, his behavior didn’t reflect that to be the truth.
Mark would constantly flirt with girls and act as if he were completely single. He never mentioned that he had a girlfriend when we were out and when why he never invited her to join us, Mark would simply change the subject. One time I asked Mark straight-up why he never brought up his girlfriend and he shrugged and said that he just forgot about her sometimes.
They ended up getting married, yet when I recall the way that Mark acted when we were out, I cannot help but suspect he still carries on with that same behavior.
#4. You constantly hang out with someone that finds you attractive or likes you because you secretly enjoy the attention
Recently my partner told me about a couple he was friends with, who were getting a divorce after less than two years of marriage. Let’s call them Frank and Cindy.
Apparently, my partner was not surprised at all that they were deciding to separate because of behaviors he had witnessed from Cindy prior to their marriage.
For example, Cindy had a co-worker who was constantly hanging around and expressed his interest in dating her when she had just gotten engaged to Frank. Cindy didn’t stop hanging out with him and there were numerous other occasions when Frank caught her snap chatting or texting other men extremely flirty messages.
When confronted Cindy admitted that she loved the attention and didn’t want that to go away just because she was “married.”
Every relationship is going to have its own rules around what constitutes micro-cheating
These days, I admit that there are still times when an ex will reach out to me, or I will receive a flirtatious message online. When that happens, I am honest with my partner about if I respond, I don’t hide anything from him, and we trust each other completely.
It is important to communicate with your partner in order to identify what behaviors are acceptable or non-acceptable so that there are no grey areas when it comes to infidelity.
If you have found yourself guilty of some of these behaviors, it does not mean that you are cheating. It means that it is time to communicate with your partner, ensure that your relationship serves both of you and that you are treating them with the respect and honesty that you would want in return.