'Micro cheating' is the new dating trend you're probably already doing

We are now living in a world that is dominated by bizarre new dating trends. Ghosting, roaching, pie hunting and sidebarring are all real things and contribute to making the dating world a confusing and daunting place. In all honesty, I wish I was here to tell you that all of the above is a load of s**t, but I'm not. I'm actually here to inform you about another dating trend and this one is relatable to pretty much everyone who has been in a relationship.

If you've ever been in a relationship and have had to ask yourself, "is this okay?" The likelihood is that you are aware that what you're doing is very close to crossing the line of being unacceptable. This is exactly what micro-cheating is. The term was coined by dating expert Melanie Schilling and she defines it as:

"A series of seemingly small actions that indicate a person is emotionally or physically focused on someone outside their relationship."

cheating man texting in bed Credit: Getty

Actions commonly associated with micro-cheating include: saving someone into your phone under a different name, interacting with them in secret and lying about your relationship status to other people. Schilling said:

"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."

"These are all signs that you are conducting a 'covert flirtation' and keeping it from your partner. If you feel you have something to hide, ask yourself why."

If you think your partner might be micro-cheating on you, the dating expert says that there are a few signs to look out for. "Secrecy is the tell-tale sign," Schilling said. "Micro-cheating is a subtle betrayal and it needs secrecy to fuel its fire.

woman on phone texting Credit: Pixabay

"If your partner is having private conversations or online chats that he/she quickly shuts down when you enter the room; if they are reaching out to an ex to mark an anniversary or other significant shared, intimate event; perhaps they are offering compliments to other guys/girls that they don't say to you; or maybe they meet up with someone of the opposite sex under the guise of a business meeting, when you discover no business was actually done... these are all signs to look out for."

The hardest part about something like micro-cheating is calling your partner up on it. As the deceit isn't obvious, it can be difficult to know exactly how to go about confronting your partner about it. However, Schilling has some advice for those who are trying to build up the confidence to bring it up.

"Be specific about the behaviours that you have observed, explain how they made you feel and ask for what you want.

"For example, 'When you spent an hour on the phone to your ex during our date-night dinner I felt left-out and pretty useless. I'd prefer it if you focused on me during our special nights together' or 'When you add all the heart emojis in her/his post comments it makes me feel like she/he is your partner, rather than me. Next time, it would be great if you could reserve the online love for me.'"

Couple arguing in the street Credit: Getty

While it might all be in your head and there is nothing going on, it's still good to communicate with each other and talk these things through. Schilling warns that while micro-cheating may initially seem harmless, it can end up have serious effects on the relationship.

"Allowing micro-cheating to continue can set up a relationship pattern that undermines you and enables your partner to have their cake and eat it too"

"By allowing this, you are effectively saying 'It's ok to flirt with him/her, I'm happy to take second place and I don't really matter.'"

"Over time, this can erode your self-esteem and set you up to be the 'victim' in your relationship."

As with most things, the key to a good relationship is communication. If you and your partner are able to communicate effectively, there shouldn't be concerns such as micro-cheating and all the other weird trends we are seeing.