In years past, cheating was fairly clear-cut but in our digital age, this line can get very blurry. With the proliferation of social media channels, where do you draw the line? While someone may not have crossed any physical boundaries with social media flirting, “liking”, and texting with emojis, experts believe it can turn into an emotional affair (i.e. an affair of the heart).
Data expert Melanie Schilling told Huffington Post Australia, “Micro-cheating is a series of seemingly small actions that indicate a person is emotionally or physically focused on someone outside their relationship.” This includes lying about your relationship status, connecting with a past lover online (without telling your partner), and texting another person of interest.
So how do you know if this applies to you? First off, secrecy will be the norm for the surreptitious texts, apps, and other means of communication. In other words, are you able to disclose the messages to your partner and will your partner be ok with it? Also, are you giving all your heart and playful emojis to someone outside your significant relationship? If so, this can be a first sign of being too emotionally close to someone who’s not your romantic partner. Another clue is, are you disclosing information that should be shared privately with your partner instead but due to your own fears of intimacy and/or desire for romantic thrills, you are pouring out your heart to another?
Emotional affairs such as this last example has been part and parcel to a number of sexual affairs but now you can add social media “micro-cheating” to the mix. If you’ve engaged in these behaviors, it’s not necessarily the death-knell to your primarily relationship but you should come clean and share the duration of the contact and the depth of the contact (i.e. what has been shared). In the age of instant connection and feedback, this may be a good reminder that less connection with others may be the best type of connection for your romantic relationship.