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What Is Micro-Cheating And Should You Care?

by Abigail Dye

With the endless number of social media trends, coined expressions and hashtags already taking over the New Year, the term “micro-cheating” is making a prominent scene. Micro-cheating goes hand-in-hand with the digital age and growing insecurities of young couples.  It is a term that means exactly what you think – “kind of” cheating. The grey area between being nice and flirting finally has a label.

Cheating is a concept that is determined couple by couple and usually once the idea is established, ground rules are set. When the word cheating is mentioned, it entails the exchange of bodily fluids. Micro-cheating covers all the ground leading up to that scandalous first kiss. Sending cute emoji’s, liking multiple photos in a row, swiping right on Tinder, and even meeting up for coffee– are all forms of micro-cheating.

We turned to college students at the University of Cincinnati for a little more insight as to how Millennials define micro-cheating. Jai Singh, 21, is a fourth-year information technology major at UC. Singh says, “I consider micro-cheating hiding things from your significant other and not being honest about things such as who they are texting.”   Singh makes it clear that secrecy is key to defining micro-cheating.

Third-year finance and accounting major, Mallory Bruggeman, 21, defines micro-cheating as “clearly flirting with someone else in person or through messages.  I would never break up with someone solely because of micro-cheating, unless it happened regularly,” Bruggeman adds.

Let’s look at this from both sides of the equation. According to a study done by YouGov, 19 percent of people have had sexual contact with someone other than their partner, without their partners’ consent. So essentially, almost one in every five individuals you get romantic with, may cheat on you. Understandably, this makes people put up a guard when it comes to taking a relationship to the next step, falling in love and believing the words “they’re just a friend, babe.”

Shannon Newby, 21, is a fourth-year computer engineering major at UC. Newby defines micro-cheating as “flirting, texting consistently and having cute nick-names for each other.  Newby believes micro-cheating has the potential to break couples up.  “Small things can lead to bigger things, like actual cheating or trust issues in the relationship,” she says.

There are many differing opinions as to what cheating entails. A morning consult poll conducted for the New York Times asked men and women whether they deemed certain situations as appropriate or inappropriate.  60 percent of women and 48 percent of men surveyed deemed that having a drink with someone is inappropriate. This is a prime example of micro-cheating. Although, a drink with someone other than your significant other may mean nothing in your mind, an average of 54 percent of people define it as inappropriate.

Micro-cheating is becoming more and more dangerous as secrecy in the digital age becomes easier.  But, whether you want to focus on it is up to you and your partner.

Singh, the college student from before, says, “Growing up you should learn how to control your emotions and anger, so having a simple talk about micro-cheating can help a lot.”   Singh brings light to an essential piece of every relationship – communication. Whenever entering a new relationship, remember to determine together what cheating means to you both, and set clear boundaries to avoid it. If micro-cheating becomes an issue, communication is the first step to fixing the problem.

Bruggeman, like Newby, also believes that micro-cheating can tear couples apart.  “Maybe for a good reason, though,” Bruggeman says.  She continues, “If your significant other wants to spend their time with other people and flirt with them, then maybe you shouldn’t be with that person.”

If micro-cheating is something that continues to occur after a mature conversation, maybe it is time to re-think the relationship. It is better to be alone than to constantly wonder what your significant other is doing.   Whether micro-cheating is something you decide to concern yourself with or not, remember that you and your partners’ honesty and communication is the key to a successful relationship.

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