Is your partner MICRO-CHEATING on you? Tracey Cox reveals how to spot the signs – and what to do before it ruins your relationship
- Sex expert Tracey Cox revealed how to the spot signs of partner micro-cheating
- Revealed exactly what to do before micro-cheating ruins your relationship
- Told whether you should worry about partners liking photos and sending DMs
Ah, social media. Is there any end to the way you damage our relationships?
Not only do most couples spend more time looking at their phones than each other, it’s causing a worrying new trend: micro-cheating.
Everyone knows physical cheating is going to get them in trouble. But what about those small, slightly dodgy actions – like DM’ing an attractive co-worker or liking the posts of sexy strangers – that are borderline straying but not quite cheating?
Should we be worried? Or is it all quite harmless since everyone’s at it?
My take on it is this, micro-cheating is like unscrewing the lid on a bottle of vodka if you’re an alcoholic.
British sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox has revealed how to spot the signs of micro-cheating, and what to do before it ruins your relationship (stock image)
You’re not officially doing anything wrong because the alcohol hasn’t touched your lips, but that tiny step makes it highly likely you’ll soon be swigging it back.
Granted, it’s a small breach of trust rather than booking the hotel room, but it still involves overstepping the spoken or unspoken rules of monogamy you and your partner have set for your relationship.
Each couple has their own definitions of cheating.
For some micro-cheating IS cheating. Others are more forgiving – and perhaps shouldn’t be.
Micro-cheating very easily tips into emotional infidelity, the biggest threat to relationships today.
Most physical affairs are done and dusted within six months to a year. ‘Look but don’t touch’ affairs often result in the people leaving their primary relationship to be with the person.
Sex expert Tracey Cox (pictured) shares her advice on what to do if you catch your partner micro-cheating
Here’s my opinion on what’s harmless fun and what definitely counts as borderline straying (though always remember what crosses the line for you and your partner is highly personal).
Keeping their profile on dating sites
This is tricky.
Take down your profile too soon and the person you’re freshly dating might think you’re pushing for commitment too soon.
Leave it up there too long and it suggests you’re still looking.
Most sites let people know if they’ve been actively looking at others on the site. I’d say, if you’re seeing someone and you think it has legs and might become serious, the respectful thing to do is to delete your profile within a few weeks – maximum a month – of dating.
The checking out of other people should stop after the first date, if you really like them. Or at least after date three.
Not deleting dating apps from their phone
Ditto hook-up apps.
It’s fair to expect your partner to remove apps like Tinder from their phones within a month as well.
Not just delete them but deactivate their account as well.
Pretending to be single on social media
They’ll probably wheel out the ‘I just didn’t think to change my status’ excuse and in some cases, it’s true.
But turn the volume up on the alarm bells if they never post any pictures of you on any of their social media accounts.
If your partner also neglects to mention they’re attached when they meet attractive new people, they are absolutely keeping their options open.
Not introducing you to their family or friends
It obviously depends on how long you’ve been seeing each other and where you’re at in your relationship, but if you’re not meeting anyone close to your partner after two or three months, a red flag is waving.
It could be they’re embarrassed by their friends or family and that’s why they don’t want you to meet. It could be they know their friend or family won’t approve of you and they’re trying to protect you.
Or it could mean they know the relationship isn’t serious, so what’s the point. Worse, there’s a partner, kids or unfinished business with an ex lurking in the background.
Constantly poring over a celebrity’s Instagram page
This one’s borderline. Some people find it amusing if their partner has a crush on a celebrity, others are deeply offended or annoyed.
I’d say it falls into the ‘harmless’ category if they’re mostly admiring them when you’re not around.
Liking posts or sending DM’s to attractive people
True, just because you love someone doesn’t mean you don’t stop finding other people attractive. And having the odd scroll through and admiring attractive people is normal behaviour.
Actively engaging – liking posts or sending DM’s –turns this from something you’d probably rather not see to concerning.
Completely unacceptable: finding out your partner repeatedly visits the profile of someone you suspect they secretly fancy.
Exchanging flirtatious looks with strangers
Intercepting an ‘I find you attractive’ glance between your partner and a stranger isn’t pleasant.
It might be nothing more than them signalling ‘If I was single, I’d be asking you out’, done purely for an ego boost or to test if they’ve still ‘got it’.
What to do if you catch your partner micro-cheating on you?
If you feel the need to regularly check your partner’s phone to see what they’re been up to, it’s time for a chat.
Call them on it. Say, ‘I don’t like it when you like other attractive people’s posts’ or ‘It makes me feel uncomfortable when you send hearts and kisses to X. Do you have feelings for them?’.
Tell them exactly what you want them to do to rectify the situation.
Don’t let them fob you off. This article should give you a clue if you’re being understandably annoyed or upset.
Anyone who is secretive of their phone, hiding the screen from you or being super protective over it, has something to hide.
Stand by your guns. you’re not being ‘jealous’ or ‘paranoid’ by wanting your partner to stop showering attention on other people.
Trust your gut: if something seems fishy, it usually is.
Rethink the relationship if things don’t change. If you love someone, you want to keep them happy. Why would you want to be with someone who continues to do something they know upsets you?
Spell out what is and isn’t cheating. The more specific and detailed your lists are, the better. Make sure each of you know exactly what you will and won’t put up with.
Ask for transparency. If your partner has been caught red-handed doing something that’s definitely not on, you are well within your rights to ask them to hand over their phones now and then if you’re worried.
If they have nothing to hide, why would it be a problem?
Once trust is restored, stop checking up on them.
It’s not a pleasant feeling handing over your phone and all relationships need some privacy. If you never feel secure enough to stop checking, you’re in the wrong relationship.
Not sure if you’re guilty of micro-cheating?
If you aren’t sure if you’re doing something wrong, ask yourself this question: If my partner could see me now, would they approve? If the answer is no, stop doing it.
But it’s still disrespectful – even if you aren’t there when it’s happening.
Looking is one thing, interacting is another.
Being caught somewhere they said they weren’t
Social media hasn’t just made cheating so much easier – it’s made being found out so much more likely.
It’s not just a text popping up at the wrong time, it’s also about you spotting them at that party they said they didn’t go to, caught flirting in the background of a mutual friend’s post.
Find out the reason why they lied but if you’re not satisfied, exit left.
Contacting an ex on social media
We’re most likely to reach out to an ex when we’re unhappy in our current relationship, so this can be more serious than it sounds.
Consider it a wake-up call that your relationship needs attention.
One study found liking an old social media post of someone you once dated even more of a betrayal than liking a fresh one, presumably because it means you’re spending time scrolling through their feed.
Contacting or seeing an ex in person and not telling your partner about it crosses the line from murky ‘Is it cheating?’ to ‘Definitely not on’ for most of us.
Having a ‘work wife’ or ‘work husband’
Friendships are one thing, close friendships that involve a deep, personal connection are something else.
We are closest to the people who know most about us and if they’re going into work on Monday, desperate to bitch about you to their work spouse during lunch, your relationship is in trouble.
Seeing ‘special’ friends without you
Constantly seeing an attractive friend and never inviting you to come along, feels wrong for most of us.
Sending heart or kiss emojis to them isn’t on, neither is texting or calling them late at night.
Deleting texts when they don’t usually is another giveaway something’s up, as is making more effort with their appearance when they’re about to meet up with them.
Listing someone in their contacts by a fake name
Why else would you do it other than to ensure your partner doesn’t know when someone significant calls or texts?
It’s up there with leaving wedding rings at home while out with the boys or girls.
Not OK. Ever.
Most people would agree this most certainly crosses the line – though around 15 per cent of people in one study said they thought it was OK to do this in a relationship, so long as you didn’t meet up in real life.
I say bollocks to that.
Pretend you don’t care or that it doesn’t really count as cheating and watch your self-respect and self-esteem slide through the floorboards.
Sending nude photos
Put up with this and you’ve effectively given your partner the green light to take it through to physical infidelity.
There is no excuse. Don’t wait around for one.
Listen live to The Tracey Cox Show on jackradio.com, Wednesdays from 12-1pm. Or find it as a podcast anywhere you listen to yours.
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