As far as infidelity is concerned, we’re all aware of the common culprits: physical cheating (literally doing the dirty) and the emotional kind (an affair of the heart.) Now, there’s a whole new term rocking the relationship pool, and this one is arguably the most destructive of all: Micro-cheating.
According to psychologist Melanie Shilling, this occurs when you engage inappropriately with someone other than your S.O. It’s a series of seemingly small actions that don’t necessarily cross the line but it’s coming pretty damn close.
Lying about your single status, sliding into the DM’s and texting another person behind your partner’s back are all examples.
“You might be engaging in micro-cheating if you secretly connect with another guy/girl on social media; if you share private jokes; if you downplay the seriousness of a relationship to another guy/girl; or if you enter their name under a code in your phone,” psychologist Melanie Schilling tells HuffPost Australia.
“These are all signs that you are conducting a ‘covert flirtation’ and keeping it from your partner.”
But when it comes to this behaviour it’s important to note it’s the intention behind it that matters most.
“Secrecy is the tell-tale sign,” Melanie says. “Micro-cheating is a subtle betrayal and it needs secrecy to fuel its fire.”
So, how do you sus if it’s happening to you?
“If your partner is having private conversations or online chats that he/she quickly shuts down when you enter the room; if they are reaching out to an ex to mark an anniversary or other significant shared, intimate event; perhaps they are offering compliments to other guys/girls that they don’t say to you; or maybe they meet up with someone of the opposite sex under the guise of a business meeting, when you discover no business was actually done… these are all signs to look out for,” Melanie says.
Because micro-cheating is subtle in nature, confronting your partner can often put you at risk of coming across as jealous or possessive.
But if you’re sure your concerns are founded, it’s important to speak up.
"If this is an unconscious habit your partner has developed over time, due to previous partners allowing it, then you have the opportunity to put your foot down and set some new rules,” Melanie explains.
"However, if this is something they are actively choosing to do, and they do not change when you ask them to, perhaps it's time to consider if this relationship is good for your well-being."
This article originally appeared on Women's Health.