Micro-Cheating in the World of Fluid Sexuality and Relationships

Relationship structures have changed a lot over the last few years. New ideas surrounding non-non-monogamy, polyamory and transforming gender and sexuality structures have changed how many people view traditional relationships. However, with these changing definitions of relationships, we also having changing definitions of infidelity and cheating. 

Micro-cheating are acts that blur the line between friendliness and unfaithfulness. Lying to your partner as to where you are going and who you are seeing, dressing to deliberately flirt with someone other than your partner or having a private joke with someone at the expense of your partner can all count as forms of micro-cheating.

With the rise of social media, people are starting to take more liberties with their relationships. Definitions of commitment and fidelity become more flexible as people flirt or connect with others online outside of their relationship. However, not all see these as real ‘cheating’ with some people saying the trend of micro-cheating is just encouraging controlling behaviours. So, what really can we consider micro-cheating, and how do we know if our behaviour is acceptable for other types of intimate relationships we may have in our lives.

While the term is new, the practice is not. Mico-cheating used to mean flirting with someone while your partner was away from home, but now with social media you can be sitting next to you partner and still be connecting with someone else. With the changing ways relationships are defined, people are taking more and more liberties to keep their options open and finding it acceptable to talk to multiple people online.

However, despite these fluid definitions of relationships, younger people are actually committing less and less extra marital affairs. Possibly because they haven’t had the chance yet to explore these options or because less and less you people are getting married but hope still remains for this generation.

Maybe the factor that makes actions micro-cheating is secrecy. Dr Martin Graff from UNSW says the two main factors that make people think an action is cheating is level of emotional connection and time of night the person is being contacted, with late night interactions seen as more clandestine.

So, even though we are in a time of more open mindedness around sexuality and relationships, people still form attachments to their partner and want security and stability. ”Being more open-minded is more socially acceptable and almost the thing to do,” says Rachel. “I think it’s great in theory, but a lot of couples who do that end up in tears on my couch. Yes, I think people are more accepting and they’re more fluid with their sexuality, but people still have that system of attachment. It’s difficult not to have issues around jealousy and feelings of abandonment—even just from an evolutionary, primal place. When it comes to being attached to someone, it’s hard to share that person with someone else.”

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