A different form of infidelity called micro-cheating is becoming more and more common. And it can be just as devastating to relationships as a physical affair!
What Is Micro-Cheating And Why Is It Dangerous?
When talking about cheating, most people picture physical affairs. But it’s not always that cut and dry. Melanie Schilling, an Australian psychologist, describes micro-cheating as “a series of seemingly small actions” usually kept hidden from a partner because they focus on someone outside of the relationship.
“You might be engaging in micro-cheating if you secretly connect with another guy/girl on social media; if you share private jokes; if you downplay the seriousness of your relationship to another guy/girl; or if you enter their name under a code in your phone,” Melanie explained.
In a nutshell, it’s an emotional affair and maybe just beyond. A physical barrier still exists, but it’s behavior you’re not comfortable sharing with your partner.
“If you feel you have something to hide, ask yourself why,” Melanie suggests.
What’s scary is micro-cheating is becoming more common than physical affairs, probably because it is more difficult to clearly define. Many people feel as long as it’s not physical, they aren’t doing anything wrong. Sometimes they don’t even realize they’re crossing a line until it’s too late.
The truth is, emotional infidelity can be just as damaging to a relationship, and can easily segway into a physical affair. Here’s how to spot some of the pitfalls of micro-cheating.
5 signs that micro-cheating may be ruining your relationship:
1) The Other Person Becomes Your Shoulder To Cry On
Maybe it starts innocently enough. You have a rough day and tell this other person all about it. But before too long, you’re sharing more and more with them — and less and less with your partner. You find it easier to open up to them than with your significant other.
“That’s not a good sign,”says Michele Weiner-Davis, who is also a licensed marriage and family therapist and author of “Healing From Infidelity.”
Even if communication is truly easier with the other person, it’s time to pump the brakes. Instead, pour that energy into revitalizing communication with your partner.
“What needs to happen is rather than using [the other person] as the outlet, you need to get help so that you have better communication at home,” Michele suggests.
2) The Other Person Is Always On Your Mind
If your thoughts constantly turn to someone other than your partner, especially to the point of distraction — DANGER, Will Robinson!
“It’s a danger sign because there’s an indication that there’s a yearning,” says Michele.
Do you find yourself showing up places just because you know this person will be there? Saving that spiffy new outfit for when you may bump into them? Trying to impress them? Then beware — you’re trekking into micro-cheating territory.
Whether you act upon your attraction to the other person or not, the time, energy, and attention you’re putting into thinking of them isn’t healthy for your current relationship. And it only detracts from the time and energy you could be putting into fixing or improving the connection with your partner.
3) You Continually Compare Your Partner To The Other Person
As your attraction to this other person (even if it’s strictly emotional) grows, you’ll likely find yourself starting to play the comparison game. You start tallying up all the things this other person does that your partner doesn’t. You make note of all the qualities your partner lacks when compared to the other person.
Stop. Just stop.
“Your partner’s worth is diminishing as your friend’s worth increases, and you start imagining that your friend could be a better mate and give you happiness - the happiness you long for that you’re not feeling with your partner,” says Sheri Meyers, licensed marriage and family therapist and the author of “Chatting or Cheating.”
There was a time when you saw your partner through those same rose-colored glasses. But when you do life with someone, the stress of finances, kids, housework, the daily grind and so on, can start chipping away at all those charming qualities you once loved. Rather than trying to compare your partner to someone else, focus on rediscovering the things that attracted you to them in the first place. It takes honest to goodness hard work to keep any relationship going long term.
4) The Other Person Becomes A Secret
Transparency is an important part of any healthy relationship. Now, it’s not realistic to think we’d share every single detail of our day with our partner — i.e. “I had tuna salad on rye today because the deli was out of wheat bread.” But, Sheri says a big red flag of micro-cheating is when “you’re starting to become secretive about how much time you’re thinking about, spending with, interacting with this friend.”
The same goes for excuses and justifications. If you find yourself constantly downplaying or rationalizing your relationship with the other person — “Oh, they’re just a friend and nothing more” or “It’s just innocent flirting” — that’s another warning sign.
“I think that people do justify that [relationship], even when they have that little gnawing sense inside that’s something’s not completely right,” Michele says.
5) You’d Behave Differently If Your Partner Was Around
Here’s a big litmus test for your interactions with the other person: Would you act the way you are or say the things you’re saying if your spouse was standing next to you? If the answer is no, then you probably need to evaluate your intentions.
Try including your partner as much as possible, whether it’s having them tag along or keeping them 100% informed of all of your interactions with the other person. But if you find yourself feeling defensive or like you need to hide your activity, it’s time to take a good, hard look at why.
“O Lord, keep a watch over my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Keep my heart from desiring any evil thing, or from taking part in the sins of the evil-doers with men who do wrong: and let me have no part in their good things.” Psalm 141:3-4
God designed us to be in community with one another. And while a husband and wife are meant to “cleave” together as one (Matthew 19:5), that in no way means they aren’t supposed to have relationships outside of the marriage. It’s just important to have boundaries in place to keep things in order. And of course, our relationship with God should always come first!
Be sure to share this story so others can safeguard the important relationships in their lives!
h/t: Business Insider
Featured Image Credit: ©Thinkstock/AntonioGuillem
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