Mi­cro-cheat­ing: when harm­less be­hav­iour crosses the line

WHILE MI­CRO-CHEAT­ING DOESN’T NEC­ES­SAR­ILY MEAN PHYS­I­CAL CON­TACT, IT MAY CROSS THE BOUND­ARIES YOU AND YOUR PART­NER DE­FINE AS UN­FAITH­FUL BE­HAV­IOUR

Your Family - - Contents -

You see noth­ing wrong with in­no­cently flirt­ing with your gym in­struc­tor, or reg­u­larly ‘lik­ing’ and com­ment­ing on your col­league’s pho­tos on In­sta­gram. Af­ter all, a lit­tle harm­less flirt­ing won’t do any harm, right? But is it re­ally all that in­no­cent?

Mi­cro-cheat­ing is an act or be­hav­iour that might sug­gest to some­one else you’re emo­tion­ally or phys­i­cally avail­able. It might not seem like such a big deal when acted upon, but con­sid­er­ing it may give some­one the wrong im­pres­sion about your re­la­tion­ship sta­tus, es­pe­cially when car­ried out with the wrong in­ten­tion, it could pave the way to an ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair.

Dr Martin Graff, pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of South Wales, de­scribes this modern re­la­tion­ship dilemma as some­thing be­tween flirt­ing and un­faith­ful be­hav­iour. Although it’s not a new con­cept, it has been made eas­ier, and per­haps even more am­bigu­ous, with smart­phones and so­cial me­dia. It’s be­come easy for peo­ple to ex­change num­bers and have flir­ta­tious con­ver­sa­tions on What­sapp, and Face­book has made it eas­ier to get in touch with an ex. While it may not count as phys­i­cal cheat­ing, Dr Martin em­pha­sises that this kind of be­hav­iour may in­cite be­trayal.

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