In relationships, the line between fidelity and betrayal can sometimes get blurry. In this grey area is a phenomenon called microcreating. While these acts may seem innocent enough, as an experienced couples counselor and affair recovery counselor, I can tell you that they can still have a significant impact on the trust and intimacy in your relationship. In this blog post, we’ll explore microcheating, and what you can do if it’s becoming an issue in your relationship.
What Is Microcheating?
Microcheating describes those little moments that tip-toe up to the line of cheating without crossing over it. For example, if you go out for afterwork drinks with an attractive, flirtatious coworker, and your partner thinks you were just working late at the office (maybe you didn’t explicitly tell them that, but you also didn’t correct the record), that could be considered microcheating. It’s basically swapping romantic energy with someone who is not your partner, without crossing any explicit boundaries of sexual or emotional infidelity in your relationship.
The Problem with Microcheating
It may seem like no big deal in the moment, but microcheating can erode the trust, emotional safety, and security that you’ve worked so hard to build in your relationship. Here’s how:
- The Accumulation Effect
Each little act of microcheating can add up to what feels like a major betrayal of trust and weighs heavily on the foundation of a relationship. Each indiscretion seems harmless on its own, but their cumulative impact undermines your bond over time.
- Erosion of Emotional Intimacy
Acts of microcheating often involve sharing intimate thoughts, feelings, or experiences with someone outside the relationship, which at a certain point tips over into full blown emotional infidelity. While these may not be physical betrayals, they can create emotional distance between you and your partner, disrupting the core of your connection.
- Comparison and Insecurity
When one partner engages in microcheating, the other may start comparing themselves to the third party. This can lead to feelings of jealousy, insecurity, and a sense of not being enough, all of which are detrimental to the couple’s relationship.
- Undermining Trust
Microcheating, even if unintentional, can chip away at that trust. Partners may begin to question whether or not their partner is truly committed to them or has their best interests at heart, creating a rift that is challenging to repair.
- Mircocheating can Become Actual Cheating
Finally, it’s important to recognize that microcheating often becomes regular cheating. As an experienced affair recovery counselor who’s helped many couples repair their relationships after infidelity, I can tell you that every affair begins “innocently.” People who cheat almost never set out with an intention to cheat, they develop a crush on someone other than their partner, get carried away and end up making a big mistake with devastating consequences. You can protect your relationship from infidelity by taking these minor missteps seriously before they spiral into something much worse.
How to Handle Microcheating in Your Relationship
The foundation of every healthy relationship is open and honest communication. If you sense that your partner might be engaging in microcheating, the first step is to initiate a non-confrontational conversation. Rather than making accusations, share your vulnerable feelings, express your concerns, and allow your partner to do the same.
This conversation is a great opportunity to define your boundaries together. Every relationship is unique, and what constitutes microcheating varies from couple to couple. Work together to find boundaries that you both feel comfortable with. This ensures that expectations in your relationship are transparent, reducing the likelihood of unintentional microcheating.
If microcheating has created a breach of trust, it’s also essential to focus on rebuilding trust together. This process takes time, patience, and consistent effort from both of you. One of the most important tools for rebuilding trust is a culture of transparency. To encourage transparency, create an emotionally safe environment in your relationship where you can both share your thoughts and feelings freely, which reduces the temptation to seek emotional connections outside of the relationship.
Finally, consider seeking support from a couples counselor. Look for a marriage and family therapist who practices evidence based forms of couples counseling. The right couples counselor will be a neutral third party with a deep understanding of relationship dynamics and how to improve them. Learn more about how couples counseling works.
Support for Secure, Healthy Relationships
I hope this article on microcheating gave you some helpful ideas for how to navigate grey areas in your relationship. By approaching the issue with understanding, empathy, and a commitment to open communication with each other, you can define your boundaries together and emerge with a stronger connection.
And if you would like to do this valuable work with an expert couples counselor on my team, I invite you to schedule a free consultation.
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
P.S. — For more advice on healing trust and recovering from emotional infidelity, see my “Affair Recovery” collection of articles and podcasts.