Should you break up if your partner micro-cheated on you?

It’s a grey area that needs to be trod with caution.  

By Soumya Pawaskar
20 October, 2023
Should you break up if your partner micro-cheated on you?

Infidelity is the most common relationship issue faced by couples. While the definition of cheating may seem pretty straightforward—involving physical or sexual involvement with someone while in a relationship. Micro-cheating, however, often begins with small, subtle acts of growing close to someone, whether physically or, more commonly, emotionally. This can break the trust and damage the couple’s bond—trust is the foundation of any relationship, and when it starts lacking the relationship goes into a state of uncertainty.

So, if you discover your partner micro-cheated on you, the question is whether breaking up immediately is the right course of action or if there is room to discuss and navigate these challenges. So let’s shed light on signs of micro-cheating and exploring how to deal with it in a relationship.


What is micro-cheating? 

Micro-cheating is a set of acts or behaviours that play with the line between friendliness and infidelity. It’s indeed a grey area that will make you question your partner’s emotional commitment to the relationship. In most cases, micro-cheating happens so unintentionally that one may not even realise that their actions are impacting their partner. This is why discussing boundaries early in the relationship is essential to avoid conflicts in the future.

Examples of micro-cheating 

While there aren’t any set examples of micro-cheating and it may vary from relationship to relationship, the following are the most common examples that are considered micro-cheating.

•    Hiding the fact from the world that you’re in a relationship. 
•    Sending flirtatious energy to someone you find attractive, maybe via text, pictures or social media comments.
•    Putting efforts to look good to impress someone you’re attracted to other than your partner. 
•    Frequently checking your crush’s social media while being in a relationship.
•    Talking bad about your partner to other people. 
•    Keeping old dating profiles or making new ones.
•    Stalking an ex on social media.
•    Sharing intimate details of your relationship with someone you find attractive. 

Micro-cheating versus cheating, what’s the difference?
Micro-cheating involves small acts that may be considered a breach of trust or loyalty. However, it does not involve physical or sexual aspects, as often seen in traditional cheating. Micro-cheating involves emotional infidelity to a certain degree and is usually very subtle, making it difficult to spot sometimes. However, this accidental beginning can lead to a full-fledged affair, if done repeatedly or if the partner is not particularly happy or fulfilled in the current relationship. While micro-cheating is a form of betrayal, it is usually considered less severe than traditional cheating.


Signs your partner is micro-cheating on you 

There’s a thin line between privacy and secrecy. While it’s completely normal to maintain personal boundaries in the relationship, when your partner starts concealing information and lying to you, it raises concern and can signal micro-cheating.

Becomes emotionally distant 
When you realise your partner is slowly becoming emotionally distant from you, it could mean they don’t share much with you, don’t spend quality time with you or are just being physically present without connecting at an emotional level. These signs of emotional and physical distancing might indicate they are potentially micro-cheating on you.

Gets defensive
If your partner becomes defensive or constantly makes excuses when you confront them for their actions, it’s a potential sign of micro-cheating. This defensive behaviour often arises when they’re hiding something, which can understandably spark suspicion. Watch out if your partner is repeatedly making excuses, there’s a chance they are hiding something from you.

Spends a lot of time on the phone
One of the signs that your partner is micro-cheating is excessive phone usage. While we all are guilty of spending too much time on our phones scrolling through Instagram, if your significant other is constantly on their phone or never leaves their phone unattended or their body language changes while chatting or talking to someone on the phone, then it may raise concerns.

What to do if you’re experiencing micro-cheating?

Discuss it with your partner

You can have an open and honest conversation with your partner about this. Convey your emotions to them. Avoid a confrontational tone as it will turn the discussion into an argument and there won’t be any positive outcome to this. 

Set clear boundaries 

Setting boundaries on what is acceptable and unacceptable in the relationship and defining what counts as cheating is extremely important to discuss with your partner. While this process will take some time and there’s a chance that you both won’t agree on everything, you need to find a common ground that incorporates both perspectives and establishes clear boundaries once and for all.

Handle the matter calmly 

While it’s normal to feel angry, irritated, betrayed or even ashamed knowing your partner is micro-cheating on you, it’s best to handle the matter calmly and patiently. Rather than jumping to conclusions, allow your partner to explain their behaviour. Express how it made you feel and why it concerns you.

Work on strengthening the relationship 

Once you discuss this with your partner and set clear boundaries in the relationship, try to move past this. Unless their behaviour is completely unacceptable, remember that every relationship has ups and downs and what truly matters is how you both emerge stronger, learn, and grow together from these instances.