So far, we have defined infidelity as a physical act, where a committed person has sexual contact or relationship with another person who is not their partner.
The new forms of relationships have broadened this definition by bringing to the table the subject of consent and pre-existing agreements in the couple. Some people have so-called open relationships or those that break with monogamy and each couple has their own way of dealing with other relationships that are established outside of the couple.
But beyond the well-known infidelity and its definition, advances in technology and new forms of communication have allowed people to create new ways of relating beyond the physical world. This mode of virtual contact gave rise to another type of deception: micro-infidelities.
The concept of microinfelidades was coined by Australian psychologist Melanie Schilling. Through an article published in the Daily Mail, this specialist in infidelity offered to give a number to a new type of behavior that he frequently observed in current couples who came to his consultation.
According to Schilling, we will all be or have been cheats at some point in our lives, or at least micro-cheats. But what exactly are we talking about when we talk about microinfelidades?
What are micro-infidelities?
Micro-infidelities are defined by Schelling as: “a series of seemingly small actions that indicate that a person is emotionally or physically focused on someone outside the relationship“.
Micro-Infidelities are a type of covert flirting, all subtle actions or behaviors that occur outside of the couple and seek close contact with another person without the couple’s knowledge, they may or may not be physical.
some examples of micro-infidelities they could include not saying you’re in a relationship with someone you have a special interest in, dressing more attractively to get someone’s attention. In short, all behaviors that show special attention by another person other than the partner.
In the virtual world and new forms of communication, micro-infidelities can be defined as small acts of emotional infidelity through the use of apps, text messages or internet interactions with someone who doesn’t is not the partner.
Micro-cheating or micro-cheating does not involve physical contact with someone other than the engaged partner. So if there isn’t something physical, is microdeception deception? They couldn’t be just unimportant flirtations. The answer is not simple, but it would be more secrets than the act itself.
Although acts or examples are sometimes used to help define them, micro-infidelities have less to do with a particular behavior, and more to do with lying or secrets and their impact on the relationship.
According to experts, one should not fall into this type of behavior too often, and remember that in microdeception, cheating is the important word. Hiding things often destroys trust between couple members and can negatively impact the well-being and integrity of the relationship.
Why do micro-cheatings happen?
Infidelity is extremely common. According to statistics, many people admit to having been cheated in a committed relationship, and many of those who have not been cheated admit to having considered it. This is where the micro-cheat could be positioned, for example: browsing a dating site or forming a closer emotional bond with someone than usual. As we said in the introduction, according to Schilling, we will all be or have been unfaithful at some point in our lives, or better said micro-infidels.
The habitual nature of this type of infidelity can make us think about the necessity of this type of behavior. But micro-infidelities do not speak to the strength or well-being of the relationship. This type of behavior does not automatically show how attractive a person is to their partner, how good the relationship is, or how strong it is.
According to experts, micro-cheating doesn’t happen for just one reason, but there are many reasons for committing it. It’s highly likely that people engage in this type of behavior, whether on a whim, to get a little more excitement or stimulation into their lives. Micro-cheating gives a bit of a euphoria or high, but not too life-altering.
Are micro-infidelities a deception?
It’s normal and natural to find other people attractive when you’re in a committed relationship, but don’t cheat on your partner. You can enjoy flirting and being flirted, even if you don’t return the flirtation.
Some say the difference between cheating and not is how much the couple’s actions would affect when they find out. But deception does not always affect the same thing; while some couples would view flirting as a minor issue, others would view it as a form of betrayaland some couples may even think that flirting is good and necessary to feel better about yourself.
So let’s go back to the secretive nature of the behavior to establish whether or not micro-infidelity exists. More than the act the problem with microinfidelity lies in the deception and concealment of this. When you lie to someone, damage can result. The principle is simple: concealment can cause harm.
In social psychology, there is an expression “what is perceived as real is real in its consequences” which applies perfectly to the question of micro-infidelity. When someone believes that their partner has cheated on them because they broke a pre-established rule or condition, they feel betrayed. It’s a common feeling, and it’s natural for you to be on the path to anger, mistrust, and even loss of affection for the person who cheated on you.
Main criticisms of this concept
Although there are more and more publications and articles that seek to separate the infidelities that we have always qualified as such and the micro-infidelities, establishing the existence of physical contact of a sexual nature such as main difference between the two types of deception. There are still those who believe that some of the arguments presented by Melanie Schilling and all the articles that talk about these differences are questionable or misleading.
Some people think that even though we can add micro to the term, any kind of lie is still a deception. a clear sign of disloyalty and shows a lack of trust in the couple. On the other hand, there are also those who disagree and believe that it is impossible to generalize when talking about anything related to fidelity or infidelity.
Regardless of what others think, it all boils down to what the couple agrees and talks about. After all, if two people (freely) agree on something, in this case monogamy, then anything that has the potential of an emotional connection with another person outside of the relationship could be considered infidelity. In general, it is believed that there is concealment or not of the behavior, this is where the possible infidelity exists, whether it is considered macro or micro.
- Camacho, J. (2004). Fidelity and infidelity in couple relationships. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Ediciones Dunken.
- Romo, AVE, Romero, FEC and García, LF (2014). Social perception of infidelity and love styles in the couple. Teaching and Research in Psychology, 19(1), 135-147.
- Schilling, M. Are you cheating without even realizing it? A psychologist explains why MICRO-CHEATING is on the rise – and how to spot a cheater.