When people think of the word cheater, all types of thoughts and images come to mind. Someone malicious and selfish. Or perhaps someone sneaky, dishonest, and disrespectful?
Cheating can seem pretty clear-cut, especially if it’s emotional or physical: Someone who purposefully acts on their feelings with another person and violates the exclusivity between them and their spouse. In other words, one is unfaithful to the other. Alleged cheating seems black and white, but what about an affair that starts unintentionally or less obviously between two people?
Today we will focus on the term micro-cheating and learn, “what is micro-cheating?”. We will also talk about how it starts, and what someone can do to avoid it, whether they mean to or not.
What is Micro-Cheating?
At Marriage Helper, we define micro-cheating as doing something that may open the door to another relationship besides the one you’re in now, also known to some as inappropriate activity. Social interactions with friends, peers, or colleagues do not necessarily open the air to micro-cheating, but sometimes they can, depending on the intentions behind your behaviors.
Innocent interactions, like laughing, sharing stories, or discussing personal matters do not mean you are planning to cheat, but these naive dynamics often build into something more. Flirting, for example, is a common thing among individuals. Innocent flirting does not feel malicious to the person doing the flirting.
Many times, people in committed relationships flirt just for the sake of attention, because they’re bored, or as a way to feel good about themselves due to curiosity or low self-esteem.
Although these flirtatious individuals have no intention of going outside their marriages to cheat, these actions subtly open the gateway to cheating without that person even realizing what they’re doing. Other people may see those actions as a deliberate attempt to form a deeper and more intimate bond with them.
Flirting opens the door to curiosity and sometimes goes even further to another process known as fishing.
What Is Fishing and How Does It Relate to Micro-cheating?
Fishing is a more direct form of flirting. An individual is not only seeking approval; they potentially seek reciprocation even if they are not willing to admit it right away. A fisher considers the idea of maybe. “Maybe the person I’m flirting with feels the same,” Or “maybe they are interested in me, and another relationship is what I’m looking for.”
Despite the thought process, fishing is a form of micro-cheating. Although no one is acting on their feelings just yet, they entertain the thoughts of being with someone else and creating an environment for intimacy or “Into Me I See”.
What Are the Variables for Intimacy and Connection?
Intimacy or “Into Me I See” does not immediately include a physical connection or activity between two people. Common traits of intimacy include being humorous, acting flirty, or fishing.
These small behaviors pave the road to ultimately cheating on a larger scale, like having an affair. Typical forms of intimacy and micro-cheating involve:
Letting someone into your life on a deep level
Sharing close and personal feelings
Lack of boundaries
Desiring to see the other person
Hiding texts or calls from your spouse
When conducting such activities, the two people may tell themselves nothing will happen because they’re such good people, but over time they may not want the interactions to end.
They may feel less inclined to end the communication because it feels so nice being around one another. It feels so lovely having this close and personal friendship, which leads to going even further, like meeting up in secret and hiding things from their spouse.
So it is always essential to be aware of your actions and the actions of others, because it may become something you never intended to happen but now cannot fathom stopping.
Ways of Being Honest With Your Spouse and Preventing Boundary Crossing
If you are a social person, having innocent conversations does not mean you are micro-cheating. Sometimes insecurity takes over the minds of our spouses to the point that viewing any interactions with another person triggers them and makes them feel unloved or as if they are losing you.
If you don’t believe you are micro-cheating, but your spouse does, the first thing to do is have an honest conversation. Being honest with your spouse is the best course of action whether they are insecure or not.
Another excellent method of communication is being honest with yourself about your intentions. Ask yourself, “what is the purpose of what I am doing?” Am I seeking approval? Is it just for fun, or is it something deeper?
When you are upfront about your actions and consider how unwise it may be to feel or behave in this manner, you decrease the likelihood of crossing boundaries and hurting your spouse.
The next step is being honest with your spouse if they are feeling insecure. Telling the truth about whether or not you find that person attractive or merely a friend develops a stronger sense of trust and security in your relationship. It also allows you to express your feelings genuinely to discuss the next steps in moving forward.
If you find yourself thinking about someone other than your spouse, feel out of touch with your spouse, or believe you are on the verge of divorce, our specialists at marriage helper are here to guide you through these challenging times.
We have several tools and resources that cover even the most challenging marriage problems couples face daily. We offer a free strategy call to uncover your deepest-rooted issues and work your way back to love.
Micro-cheating doesn’t have to be an option or the end-all-be-all in your marriage. Contact us for more information on how to save your marriage.