I’ve defended flirting while married or in a committed relationship. I believe it’s something that can be a part of a healthy relationship, provided jealousy isn’t part of the picture as well. And I already knew going into writing that article that plenty of disagreement already abounds with regard to flirting in general. Basically that if a guy or gal is in a relationship, he or she basically has to tune their flirting with surgical precision so it only comes on when around their significant other.
Wait, that’s not quite right. Because typically the articles that are out there always present the situation wherein men are the cheaters and their jilted girlfriends are the victims and never the cheaters as well. It’s always his fault.
But at the time I wrote the article, unbeknownst to me, some clever writers out there devised a word that incorporates “flirting while married”: “micro-cheating”.
Micro-aggressions. Micro-oppressions. Even micro-flirting. And now, micro-cheating. Which sounds like something an instructor would accuse a student of doing. But, no, this is a term applied to relationships. And if you do a Google search, you’ll see that the vast majority of articles on the topic, likely safe to say virtually all articles, are written by women with regard to their male partners:
- Cosmopolitan, “11 Signs He’s Micro-Cheating“
- Bolde, “What is Micro-Cheating and How Can You Tell If He’s Doing It?“
- Berry, “Micro-Cheating: What it is, and 6 ways you might be doing it without realizing“
- New Love Times, “10 Alarming Signs Your Partner is Micro Cheating on You“
- You Queen, “7 Signs He is Micro-Cheating on You“
- Know More, “3 Signs Your Boyfriend is Micro-cheating“
- Utter, “WAKE UP ALERT! 5 Signs He is MICRO CHEATING on You and you Don’t Know“
- Thought Catalog, “33 Ways Your Boyfriend is Micro-Cheating (And Totally Getting Away With It)“
Only one article that I found in all that searching addressed women directly as being “micro-cheaters”. And this is a relatively new phenomenon: all the articles listed above were written in 2016. I couldn’t find any that were older. This despite the term first showing up on Urban Dictionary in 2008. Perhaps Zoe was trying to anticipate something and wanted to make sure she coined the term first. Why this obsession with the prefix “micro-“?
And reading through those lists, one can’t help but think the women behind them are paranoid, controlling psychos. Granted some of the items on the list are valid points and causes for concern, but that doesn’t justify going overboard with the rest of them. Such as with this item from the Cosmo article: “You’ve legit watched him flirt with girls when you’re out places and it made you feel like a psycho.”
It’s almost as if bitter, heartbroken women with a superiority or inferiority complex are looking for ways to excuse anything they may have done to lead to the downfall of a relationship or marriage. And so now we have “micro-cheating”. If hypochondria is being constantly anxious about the state of your health, what is it called to be constantly anxious about whether your significant other is being faithful?
Of course, instances of micro-cheating can be harmless in and of themselves, and we’re not advocating for paranoia or unhealthy jealousy in relationships. However, these examples of micro-cheating can sometimes be the first sentence in a story, and can lead to messier emotional (or physical) affairs down the road.
So while they’re not advocating paranoia, they are implicitly granting license for it by providing yet another checklist.
Insecure Girlfriendism 101: Assuming that Literally Everything Your Boyfriend Does Is Because of Another Woman pic.twitter.com/k4vvZ3yfCY
— Nicole Sund (@Nonsensicole) December 28, 2016
If you think your significant other is cheating and you have items checked off on the various “signs he’s unfaithful” and “micro-cheating” lists to back you up, your significant other may, in fact, actually NOT be cheating on you. You may have diagnosed influenza or worse where there was instead only just a cold. Or a heart attack when there was only heartburn.
In which case you’ve just wasted a ton of energy, built up a nice level of paranoia, for absolutely no reason. Along with being the one to actually destroy the trust in your relationship. Once that seed is planted in your mind, it becomes like a weed, always coming back until you eradicate it at the root. Provided that’s even possible.
Along with the mere allegation, the seed being planted, will come confirmation bias, wherein you will look for anything proving your allegation true. “He never lets me see his phone. He talks a lot about Heather, his co-worker.” Which will demonstrate you no longer trust your significant other.
It’s been said that a rape accusation can be worse if it’s unsubstantiated or false than if it’s genuine and true. Just the allegation of rape can and has destroyed lives. By extension the mere allegation of cheating can be enough to destroy a relationship by completely washing away any trust. The mere thought or insinuation that your significant other is cheating can be enough to completely erode your trust in them.
They, in turn, will lose their trust in you with the mere allegation and their defense against it. Because now your partner will wonder how anything he does will be interpreted by you. And you’ll likely always be interpreting any little action by your significant other as a “micro cheat” or a sign your partner is being unfaithful.
And neither likely can ever trust the other again.
Perhaps “micro-cheating” is just another manifestation of an overall heightened level of paranoia in our society. Regardless it’s not healthy. Not for your relationship, and certainly not for you.