Understanding what it is and talking boundaries with your partner
At the start Netflix’s Sex Education season two, Otis had already moved on from Maeve with the help of his girlfriend Ola. But—sorry, spoiler alert—in the succeeding episodes, we see how Maeve’s return puts a bigger smile on his face and how he puts a little more effort when it comes to her. I’m talking about that diary Otis gave Maeve, with pages of her birthday torn out because she “hates birthdays” and babysitting Maeve’s step-sister the afternoon he and Ola were supposed to have sex.
But wait, Otis didn’t exactly cheat; he didn’t tell Maeve he liked her back (he still does btw) and he stopped seeing her when Ola said she couldn’t be with Otis if he were still friends with Maeve.
Or did he?
Welcome to the gray area of infidelity.
What is micro-cheating?
Micro-cheating describes actions or behaviors that could breach the line of trust between two people in a relationship. It could be innocent or harmless, but could lead to conventional cheating. Put simply, it is when you knowingly do something that might make your partner feel uncomfortable or harm your relationship. Then again, it’s hard to tell when a line has been crossed.
“It was an innocent crush”
Kat admidts to cheating on many of the people she’s dated. But according to her, it never really starts with the intent to hurt the other person. It all starts friendly. “He and I go to the same workout class and I found him cute. Then we started talking after class,” recounts Kat. She even told him that she was seeing someone and told her partner that same day she had made a new friend. But the post-workout chats became coffee, then drinks until the guy finally told her that he found her cute, too. “We went back to his apartment and made out.”
RELATED: I Was A Serial Cheater
“I don’t even have feelings for her”
Peter met this girl at a friend’s art exhibit. “She was okay,” he says, when asked if he found her cute or interesting. “I liked her art though.” They hung out but only in groups and Peter’s girlfriend was usually around. She added her on Facebook, he accepted. She would leave comments on his posts and DM him about “art stuff” from time to time. Maybe she liked him, but he was sure he didn’t have feelings for her. But their once harmless conversations on Messenger turned into sexts. He started sending her “dick pics” and she sent her nudes. “We’d just tell each other things we want to do to each other, but that’s about it.”
Many cite the following scenarios as micro-cheating: texting your ex too much too often, not telling people about your relationship status, following your crush on social. But is it the same as infidelity or conventional cheating? Maybe for some people (cause I definitely agree you shouldn’t be chatting with your ex on a regular basis).
But ultimately, micro-cheating—including the conventional kind—can only be defined by you and your partner. Talk about what makes you both feel uncomfortable when you interact with people outside your relationship online or in real life. Set boundaries and speak up. But keep an open mind; what might be micro-cheating to you might truly be innocent for the other.
Then again, if you have to lie or keep things from your partner, what you’re doing might not be so innocent after all.
Art Alexandra Lara