Flirting uncontrollably with someone, kissing someone, or ending up in bed with someone. Write secretlyLike photos on social media or deleting chats. Where does cheating actually start? While the first is generally seen as cheating, the second group belongs to what are known as petty cheats. The term comes from Australian couples therapist Melanie Schilling.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, she explained that micro-cheating is a series of seemingly small acts that indicate that a person is emotionally or physically focused on someone outside of the relationship. She also lists actions that can range from seemingly harmless to problematic: from secret writing to belittling the seriousness of a relationship to saving someone with a fake name.
There are also many videos on Tiktok by users talking about micro cheating. Most of them give examples of what is involved. The comments below are obvious: for example, the user writes that exact cheating is obvious cheating. Another asks: Why is it so hard to be loyal these days?
We asked couples counselor Birgitte Kollmayer how seriously you should take petty cheating:
“Microcheating is about seeking confirmation.”
Birgit Kollmayer is a psychologist and couples counselor at Couples Counseling and Mediation in the canton of Zurich.
What is the difference between simple cheating and regular cheating?
Partial cheating usually happens online. There is no sexual contact and no emotional bond – the exchange remains superficial. Since the advent of social media, micro-cheating has become much easier – triggers are just a click away. It has become easier to keep secrets, you can have anonymous communication with strangers, and the blocking threshold has also decreased.
Are you looking for affirmation, variety, or something else: what drives you?
Simple cheating is often about seeing how you treat others and whether you still have a chance with others. Then you have to ask yourself: Why am I looking for this affirmation? Or is it something new or exciting? Do I need more of it in my relationship or in my daily life?
Does the person practicing the “micro cheat” know that it is some kind of cheat?
Many certainly realize that they are doing something that their partner does not like. Otherwise, they will tell you. But the truth is, most petty cheaters underestimate it, convincing themselves that it’s “just like pictures.” Others, on the other hand, hold back the fact that they are doing something that might hurt their partner or don’t notice it because they find it exciting.
If you are having these thoughts, shouldn’t you distance yourself from the relationship?
No, such thoughts are human. In a relationship, too, you want to experience independence and freedom — as well as security and safety. You have to look at how you handle that in a relationship and set boundaries.
Is petty cheating a precursor to real cheating?
It’s hard to generalize, because it’s often just small verbs. Of course it is a game with fire and sometimes it does get burned. But it is true that once one step is taken, the next becomes easier.
How do I deal with it if I find out my partner is a “little cheater”?
Very important: approach the other person openly and ask them why. You must express what he does to you: that you are sad for him and afraid of losing the person. You should also try to show her that you understand her in a certain way – at best, she will then realize that she has to satisfy her need in a different way.
Does petty cheating only happen in unhappy relationships?
No, every form of infidelity is also present in happy relationships. But the fact of the matter is that anyone who is a “little cheater” is trying to satisfy an unmet need. It can also be a relationship opportunity if you are honest in the dialogue and talk about what is missing in the relationship, what is good, and what you should pay more attention to.
Now it’s your turn. We want to know from you if you are also “micro cheating” or if your partner is hiding things from you. Tell us about it on the form.
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