For most couples, there’s no grey area when it comes to cheating.
But a new concept referred to as ‘micro-cheating’ has people divided about whether or not it even exists.
First coined by Thought Catalog, the term refers to a series of small actions that many people don’t even realize they are doing – but which can lead to a partner questioning whether they are emotionally or physically invested in someone outside of the relationship.
Viral: People are calling out the concept of micro-cheating on Twitter – a phrase used to describe a form of cheating that is so subtle, most people don’t realize they’re doing it
Dumped: Forms of micro-cheating involve engaging with a person on social media, sharing private jokes or downplaying the seriousness of your relationship but people aren’t buying it
Purely platonic: Many people have also suggested it’s human nature to see the beauty in others but this doesn’t equate to cheating
Control: Hundreds of people are taking to Twitter to question the validity of the concept, saying it encourages abusive behavior
The interest around micro-cheating was renewed recently when Australian psychologist Melanie Schilling offered further detail about what it really means, speaking to Femail about the types of behavior that the concept describes.
These can include anything from engaging with another person on social media, and sharing private jokes, to downplaying the seriousness of your relationship during a conversation.
Schilling also suggested that secrecy is a big part of micro-cheating as partners leave out information or don’t reveal certain facts about who they are talking to or what they are talking about.
‘These are all signs that you are conducting a “covert flirtation” and keeping it from your partner. If you feel you have something to hide – ask yourself why,’ she added.
But it seems most people aren’t buying it, with hundreds taking to Twitter to call out the concept as ‘stupid’, ‘BS’ and ‘controlling’.
Clinical psychologist @DrDavidLey wrote: ‘Claims of “micro-cheating,” like “emotional infidelity” and “financial infidelity” are insidious ways to expand therapist’s intrusion into all aspects of normal life, feeding on the anxiety they induce by pathologizing every life problem encountered.’
And @fakedansavage typed: ‘P.S. Micro-cheating is not a thing. You know who regards these sorts of behaviors as cheating? Abusers.’
A sentiment shared by @weescotslass who tweeted: ‘I saw this nonsense earlier. Are we moving on from the concept that restricting a partner’s friends is domestically abusive? I can’t keep up with this pish.’
‘But if you start labeling your anxiety triggers “micro cheating” or accuse your partner of doing something immoral, then yeah then it starts seeming more liket toxic possessiveness,’ @Eremitpurpur wrote.
Joker: Others have poked fun at the concept
Not inclusive: Lots of people have also commented that micro-cheating only seems to relate to heterosexual couples and ignores homosexual relationships
Friendship: Another person commenting on the subject suggested that micro-cheating was the same as having friends
Not buying it: Another man agreed with the sentiment that micro-cheating simply described close friendships
Not skirting the issue: Another joked that people should be more worried about actual cheating
Inside joke: One woman ridiculed the concept that inside jokes with members of the opposite sex is cheating
For @lost_limey, the concept didn’t make sense: ‘As far as I can tell “micro-cheating” means having friends and/or colleagues? It’s obviously all BS’.
Twitter user @kimberleecline suggested it all boiled down to insecurity, and wrote: ‘People who believe in #microcheating are too insecure to ever have a healthy romantic relationship. Don’t @ me. #NotSorry’.
And @Goldierocks shared that view: ‘This #Microcheating malarkey is just such a load of old tosh! We should be embracing human connection, common understanding, touch & deep connections & affection is good for you! Good for the world, good for your relationship. Spread the love’.
While @mathenarrow wrote: ‘Micro-cheating? Oh, you mean: Having friends who are women? Having female friends you don’t feel the need to sleep with? Hanging out with women without the intent of getting in their pants? What a revolutionary concept.’
Several people also noted that the concept of micro-cheating seemed to only relate to heterosexual couples, and ignored same sex relationships.
Twitter user @jitterary shared: ‘from reading about this “micro cheating” thing, it seems a lot like an extension of the infamous “can men and women really be friends?” idea that straight people worry about.’
She added: ‘if we follow the ideas of “micro cheating” then as a lesbian with close friends who are girls, I’m cheating on my girlfriend every time I have a deep conversation with them… and when I tell them I love them?? I might as well be the worst serial cheater ‘.
And @foxpajamas suggested, ‘straight people are so insecure about their relationships that they created micro cheating just to further control their partners’.
A Thought Catalog piece coined the phrase ‘micro-cheating’ to describe a form of cheating that is so subtle, most people don’t realize they’re even doing it.