Miracles come in all shapes and sizes, but apparently, so too does cheating.
Modern romance is a veritable minefield. We're certain about what constitutes ghosting, we know how to spot a back-burner from a mile away, but what we're less clear on, is what concretely defines infidelity.
The general concept of cheating is now far more nuanced than it once was, and complicating the issue further is the latest relationship buzzword: micro-cheating.
What is micro-cheating?
The coined term might be relatively new, but there’s a good chance many of us have encountered micro-cheating in our own love lives. Micro-cheating refers to behaviour that might not be considered outright infidelity, but are nonetheless breaches of trust — without ever physically crossing a line.
But much like regular ol' infidelity, the line lies in different places for different people in different relationships. Less than ideal for those of us who like clear boundaries...
Virtually anything, from keeping your online dating profile even when you're in a relationship to repeatedly contacting an ex, could be considered micro-cheating, depending on someone’s values and relationship priorities.
So, where is line drawn as to what constitutes cheating sit for most people?
Well, that's exactly what new research by law firm Simpson Millar, specialists in divorce, tried to figure out.
According to their studies, men and women define infidelity differently and this, in turn, has an impact on the way they view cheating — with over a third of women believing it doesn’t count as cheating if you’ve had sexual relations with someone else whilst on a break, and over half of men agreeing.
The findings did reveal that 15% of women would say their partner has cheated on them if they discovered they were on a dating app — as it signifies intent and also shows a lack of respect for the other person in the relationship since the profiles are public.
In relation to new couples, the survey revealed women are loyal to their new partner after just one month of dating. In comparison to men who on average believe they will only start being loyal in their relationship after four months of dating.
Consider the motivations
Sure, cheating comes in all forms; words, emotions, deception and physical acts, but whether it's yourself or your partner that's engaging in micro-cheating, it's important to consider the motivations behind the behaviours.
Ask yourself, how would your partner feel if they knew the real reason behind your actions?
The intent behind an act always counts.
Micro-cheating doesn't have to signal an immediate red flag for your relationship though, flirting with someone other than your S.O. can be more about getting a quick ego boost or dopamine hit than it is about truly being interested in that person.
It’s only when the line is crossed — either emotionally or physically — that trouble arises.
Also, micro-cheating behaviours are all the more hurtful if there's a past with the other person.
What should you do about micro-cheating?
As with all relationship issues, open communication is key.
Proactive conversations about boundaries and no-go areas are important early on in a relationship and can help prevent trust issues from bubbling up later.
But if you have a strong gut feeling that your partner might be guilty of micro-cheating, then they have to be confronted. Just approach with caution...
Instead of attacking them with accusations, which is likely to cause defensiveness, instead, lead the conversation with specific instances and actions that hurt.
The manner in which your S.O. (guilty or not) handles the conversation can also be an indication of how much trouble your relationship is in.
Remember: You're not being "paranoid" or "clingy" for confronting the issue and attempts to make you feel this way are just forms of gaslighting.
Trust your gut, always.
READ MORE: In Defence of Online Dating