It’s considered a grey area of cheating that has several definitions. And while micro-cheating isn’t a new term per se, it has changed over time due to social media.
“It’s not an emotional affair where you are relying on someone else for emotional support and it’s not a physical infidelity. It’s a grey area where you can kind of get away with it because you are being flirty and playful,” says relationship expert Brianne Hogan of Charlottetown, P.E.I.
Micro-cheating includes actions that may not traditionally be associated with infidelity, but it can still cause turmoil in relationships. It can include everything from constantly looking at your ex’s Facebook page to making contact with a former partner to even sending “sexts.”
“Sometimes it doesn’t mean anything,” Hogan continues. “But it gets tricky when it comes down to the intention behind it.”
Talking to exes
According to Bustle, because it’s so hard to figure out the exact definition, most people don’t know when and if they are crossing a line or micro-cheating.
And of course, there is an obvious difference between seeing what a former lover is up to vs. logging onto a dating site when you’re in a committed relationship. Experts like Claire AH, a matchmaker with Friend of a Friend Matchmaking, says micro-cheating has a lot to do with how close you are to an ex. (The matchmaker goes by “A.H.” professionally instead of her full last name.)
LISTEN: Arti Patel talks micro-cheating on the Tasha Kheiriddin show
Some people stay in touch with their exes or even develop friendships after break-ups, while others may never speak to their ex again. Either way, it’s important to communicate with your current partner what your ex means to you moving forward.
Crossing a line
Hogan says micro-cheating can cross the line when your relationship or obsession with another person starts to affect your own.
“If you’re more consumed by this other person and how they react to you, … that’s cheating,” she says, adding talking to the other person develops into a daily habit.
People who cross this line into infidelity may also be texting regularly, flirting in person or dressing up for them if they see them at work or the gym, she adds.
“If your intention is you want to get something out of it, this creates the obsession.”
Talking it out
Matchmaker Clair AH says this is also an important time to define the rules of monogamy in a relationship — what may be monogamous to one person may not be the case for the other.
“If you’re in a relationship for a long time and you see someone have a spark with someone else, this might be a situation two people can discuss and negotiate,” she says.
Talk about what monogamy and staying faithful to one another actually means, but also bring up the things that may upset you.
She adds once you have this open conversation, often, it ends up not being about micro-cheating or the relationship, but actually the individual.
“Whether it is out of vanity or to feel treasured or they want attention even though they get plenty from their partner, it’s always something else than the relationship.”
Hogan says for the person on the other side of the equation, when you have a gut feeling about your partner’s actions, talk to them first. And if you are constantly being hurt or jealous about micro-cheating, you should also reflect on your own feelings.