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What Is Micro-Cheating And How To Deal With It? Expert Advice By Relationship Counsellor [Exclusive]

As technology advances, so do people. But the sad part is manipulative and toxic people soon find ways to cheat and hoodwink others. In the past few years, we have seen trends that people involved in relationships often find a way to cheat or have affairs outside of the relationship very easily via means of dating apps and online social media sites. A lot of users report that the people they meet online do not always reveal their relationship statuses online.

Many women have reported that they have gone out with married men only to discover later through social media profiles and mutual connections that the said man was in a marriage with children. It is the case with women as well. Some women do not reveal their relationship status online while chatting with a person of romantic interest. But do we blame technology or dating apps? No, the answer is, if a person wants to cheat on their partner, they will eventually find some way or the other to be unfaithful.

However, infidelity means different things for different people. There are many people who do not think physical relationships are a deal breaker, however they will walk out of a relationship if they find their partner being emotionally unavailable or being disrespectful.

In relationships, there are no black and white lines, and everything falls in the grey area. For sure in conventional relationships, having sex outside of a committed relationship or marriage would mean infidelity and ground for divorce. But what about if you are casually meeting a person for drinks or dinner, especially if you are attracted to the person? Experts say, this behaviour is known as 'micro-cheating'. Let us take look at what constitutes micro-cheating.

Boldsky spoke to Prachi Vaish, Clinical Psychologist and Relationship Counsellor, to throw light on the subject. She has some advice for the cheated upon and the one who cheated, as follows:

To The One Cheated Upon -

1. Don't try to shame your partner into changing or admitting guilt by flinging accusations at their character. You will only make them more defensive.
2. Convey your feelings and hurt in a systematic way and ask them what led to it.
3. If they try to put it on you, acknowledge that they may have felt something lacking in the relationship but that there could have been better choices than indulging in micro-cheating, and discuss those choices.
4. Finally, discuss new boundaries in the relationship and the willingness to adhere to those boundaries.

To The One Who Is Cheating -

1. The first step is to make a commitment to change behaviour if you really value the relationship.
2. Therefore one needs to first evaluate the priority of the primary relationship. If it seems "boring" or anxiety-provoking to think about going back to the relationship minus the external micro-cheating connections, then you need to take a closer look at the relationship to see if it is over and you're just dragging it.
3. Look at your own reasons to see why you're doing it. If it is a need for excitement, see if you can derive excitement from other avenues. If it is a need for validation to uphold your self-esteem then work with a good therapist to fix the self-esteem issue from the root.

What Is Micro-cheating?

Experts claim that developing behaviour outside of a committed relationship or marriage that amounts to cultivating inappropriate habits is micro-cheating. However, this doesn't mean kissing or having sex with another person. A lot of people believe that forming emotional connections with strangers you meet online or in person, even though you are married or committed, doesn't mean infidelity since it isn't sex. However, experts now believe that the secrecy and betrayal of trust is damaging to a person's psyche.

There are people who seek comfort and emotional support of their exes or friends or strangers constantly whenever they are stuck with a situation. This behaviour is believed to be micro-cheating.

What Are The Signs?

These people also on purpose try to be around the ones they are attracted to. They might even end up spending more time talking or meeting the other person than their partner. They create situations wherein they are constantly interacting with people they are attracted even in a non-sexual manner. They often claim to be emotionally connected more with the other person and create a fantasy of their closeness.

You might see that your partner's social media interactions may have risen suddenly, and you might be asking for more time. They might even be creating an illusion that their relationship is on the rocks, just to seek the emotional support and validation from people they interact with online.

There are several studies suggesting that micro-cheating could very-well in fact lead to full-term affairs. What might seem like a harmless coffee or an innocent Twitter DM chat, could lead to a physical relationship as well. A lot of people might even ignore their partners and try to praise and appreciate the other person like constantly commenting on their social media posts or deleting their texts when their partner is around.

Some people even end up sharing their sexual fantasies and kinks with the other person who is not their partner. A lot of flirtations that are done innocuously could end up for either of the people falling hard for the other person.

Does Micro-Cheating Only Apply To Loyal Couples?

Micro-cheating is not always limited to monogamous relationships. If you are intimately chatting or meeting a person, without telling your partner even if you are in an open or a polyamorous relationship, that amounts to micro-cheating as well.

True, people say that at some point all humans have had a momentary lapse of judgement or perhaps, they feel themselves drifting away from their partner, which is what forces them to find solace in another person.

But there could be serial offenders who do it even if they are in a happy space in their relationship. However, the presence of micro-cheating may not always mean the end of a relationship, but it may head there if the couple does not work on their current relationship.

Story first published: Thursday, September 30, 2021, 0:07 [IST]