What is micro-cheating and how to know if it’s happening to you


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Go with your


  • “Micro-cheating” involves seemingly trivial behaviors
    that suggest a person is emotionally or physically involved
    with someone outside the relationship, an Australian
    psychologist told the Daily Mail.
  • The top signs are secrecy and deception, such as if
    your partner hides their online chats with someone.
  • Ultimately, every couple has to set their boundaries
    for the relationship.

The Daily Mail on Thursday published
an article
on “micro-cheating.” And depending on your
perspective, it could help validate the fears you’ve been having
about your relationship — or create new insecurities.

Melanie Schilling, an Australian psychologist, told the Daily
Mail that micro-cheating involves seemingly trivial behaviors
that suggest a person is emotionally or physically involved with
someone outside the relationship — think listing a “friend” under
a code name in your phone.

Micro-cheating, according to Schilling, is fundamentally about
secrecy and deception. If your partner is hiding any aspect of
their relationship with someone else — say, if they close Gmail
the minute you walk into the room — that could be a sign that
something’s amiss.

Schilling isn’t the first to comment on so-called micro-cheating.
Dictionary’s entry
for “micro-cheating” — “when someone
cheats on a partner, but just a little bit” — dates back to 2008.

A 2016 Thought Catalog list titled “33
Ways Your Boyfriend is Micro-cheating (and Totally Getting Away
With It)
” included an example of a boyfriend “gifting his
girlfriend with a bottle of the perfume his crush wears so she’ll
smell like his latest fantasy chick.”

It’s important for couples to set boundaries for their

The term micro-cheating recalls the similarly salacious and
hard-to-define “emotional

As Kristin
Salaky at INSIDER reported
, emotional affairs are
increasingly common. That may be at least partly because of the
rise of digital technology and social media, which allows people
to keep in touch with exes or have late-night conversations that
cross the line without ever getting physical.

If you feel as if micro-cheating — or any kind of cheating — is
happening in your relationship, it’s important to specify which
behaviors are bothering you, Schilling told the Daily Mail. She
gave an example: “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.”

A commenter on the subreddit Ask Women, writing in response to
the Thought Catalog list,
put it nicely

“I don’t understand the concept of ‘micro-cheating’. What I do
understand is the concept of relationship boundaries. Every
relationship partner should have their boundaries and if their
partner goes outside of the agreed upon boundaries, then I think
that is a betrayal by their partner. Whether or not they want to
call that cheating, ‘micro-cheating’, or whatever doesn’t matter
to me.”