Micro-Cheating: Small Online Acts of Unfaithfulness, Is It Considered Cheating?

The Power of Social Media

You can easily send something as short as a “hi” to literally anyone – even secret flings or lovers.

If you haven’t yet realized by now, a large percentage of people living in first-world countries have their own social media presence. Fathers, mothers, children, relatives, and friends stay connected and stay up to date with each other’s lives through various social media platforms. It is now easier than ever to send private messages in real-time. You can easily send something as short as a “hi” to literally anyone – even secret flings or lovers.

What is Micro-Cheating?

The term “micro-cheating” or “micro-infidelity” was coined on 2015, following the exponential rise in the number of social media users worldwide. Micro-cheating refers to online actions that can be considered subtle betrayal between two partners in a relationship.

This new trend in online infidelity has been growing steadily ever since. Surprising figures from a new study, one of the world’s first studies on micro-cheating, show that between 24% and 88% of research participants believe that micro-cheating is the same as adultery.

Micro-cheating – a new phenomenon that is made possible by the internet, social media, computers, and smartphones – is taking the world by storm. It affects relationships and families worldwide. The new trend is now in the spotlight, with international media and a new study shedding light on this surprising global phenomenon.

But what exactly is it? And how do you know if you are committing acts of micro-cheating?

Micro-cheating can best be described as a series of seemingly small acts – usually digital – that can be perceived as infidelity. It ranges from lying about your relationship status in social media to an active and conscious digital use that the partner does not know about because it is hidden from them.

Examples of Micro-Cheating

Regardless of whether it is done deliberately or unconsciously, actions that can be considered as micro-cheating are rarely innocent.

The problem with micro-cheating is that you don’t necessarily know you are committing it. It may seem harmless to leave a sweet message on someone’s wall, but for the partner it can be perceived as threatening behavior, or at least a signal that something is wrong with the loyalty and trust in the relationship.

Regardless of whether it is done deliberately or unconsciously, actions that can be considered as micro-cheating are rarely innocent. If a party perceives the digital behavior as a threat or a signal that the partner is losing interest in the relationship, it is a good idea to talk about your boundaries and what you consider to be innocent or harmful behavior in the relationship, even online.

Listed below are 10 considered examples of micro-cheating:

  • Lying about your relationship status on social media
  • Having an active dating profile
  • “Liking” old photos or posts of other people on social media
  • Continuously checking a person’s post or profile on social media
  • Texting or contacting others in hiding – without the partner knowing about it
  • Deleting messages and calls
  • Saving a so-called “friend” under a code name on your phone, such as “Accountant”
  • Being in contact with a former lover or someone you are attracted to, be it in real life or on social media
  • Sharing secrets or confiding in someone outside the relationship
  • Sexual content insinuations with someone outside the relationship

Micro-Cheating Research

A new study has tested several examples of micro-cheating to learn more about it. One of Scandinavia’s largest social networks, NextLove, which is a dating site for singles and single parents conducted a survey to find out when micro-cheating is regarded as actually cheating. Replies from 6894 users show a clear trend: micro-cheating is a variant of adultery.

“Likes” on images on Instagram and Facebook, or messages with flattery are examples of this behavior. Among the participants, 88% are in no doubt that it is adultery if nude pictures are exchanged, but even the seemingly innocent “likes” on social media images are considered adultery by 24%. It indicates that the partner is emotionally or physically interested in someone outside the relationship.

Moreover, participants of the study were asked the following question:

“Do you consider the following as infidelity or unbelievable behavior?”

  • Contacting a former boyfriend or girlfriend on social media: 24% say it’s adultery.
  • “Liking” old postings or photos on social media (for an ex or person of the opposite sex – for example, a photo from 2016): 37% say it’s adultery.
  • Repeated visits to others or ex’s profiles: 41% say it’s adultery.
  • Lying about one’s relationship status on social media: 54% say it’s adultery.
  • Having an active dating profile: 58% say it’s adultery.
  • Being in contact with a sweetheart or other person outside the relationship while consciously hiding it from the partner: 62% say it’s adultery.
  • Establishing a deep emotional connection with someone other than one’s partner: 68% say it’s adultery.
  • Saving a so-called “friend” under a codename on one’s phone, for example “Accountant”: 75% say it’s adultery.
  • Sexual content insinuations with someone outside the relationship: 83% say it’s adultery.
  • Sending nude pictures with someone other than their partner: 88% say it’s adultery.

In the end, lying about what you’re doing, even if you’re not doing anything against the relationship, still has the potential to damage your relationship. Relationships are based on mutual trust, and if you can’t trust your partner, your relationship won’t last.

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