Cheating sucks. That’s a fact. But while physical cheating is universally condemned and clear enough to identify, nowadays there are a series of “tinier” forms of cheating that can hurt just as much. I’m talking about all the ways of micro-cheating.

What do you consider cheating?

Cheating is a complicated matter. We all think that we know what cheating entails, until we start discussing it, at which point it becomes clear that everyone has a different definition. There is a whole new world of terms being developed to keep up with the ever-growing list of ways that we can now screw each other over in relationships. Basically, technology is making us toxic daters.

In fact, some studies have even found that social media can actually put a strain on our relationships. We are in touch with so many people, all the time, that we’re spreading ourselves too thin to maintain one deep connection. Not ideal. Here are some of the most common ways you can be cheated on before it even becomes actual cheating. Oh my my!


Micro cheating

Microcheating is the idea that you can be cheating on your partner in a million tiny ways without even really noticing that you’re doing it. A series of small behaviours or actions which draw you closer to someone outside your relationship. You might be engaging in microcheating if you secretly connect with another person on social media, if you share private jokes, if you downplay the seriousness of your relationship to your partner or if you enter their name under a code in your phone.

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. Why are you doing it? What are you getting out of it? Would your partner be hurt if they found out?

Preating – the step right before cheating

Preating is another new word that indicates a phenomenon where nothing seems wrong on the surface and your relationship can be going on smoothly and nicely. But there is something sinister going on. Preating is the step that comes right before cheating.

The term comes from pre+cheating. It’s basically when someone in a relationship does something with someone else to get the adrenaline rush of cheating, but that can be easily dismissed as an innocent gesture. That might take the form of slightly flirty messages to someone else, or getting intentionally close to a work crush. The messages aren’t necessarily sexual or romantic in nature, and hanging out with friends or having work pals is never anything to worry about.

But, you start dressing differently when you know you’re going to see a certain person, you start withholding information from your partner about who you’re handing with or you just lie to them. It’s not just harmless fun, as one may think. It’s the step right before proper cheating. There’s a plausible deniability there if you get turned down or your partner finds out, but if it all goes well you can go forward and cheat. 

This also applies to sending suggestive texts to a colleague to see if they’re potentially up for it, replying with the heart-eye-emoji to someone you low-key fancy when they post a sexy Instagram story and texting someone after 11pm. You’re not cheating yet but, given the opportunity, you totally would. You’re just trying to figure out if you can get away with it.

Emotional cheating

A type of minor cheating which is tricker to spot is indeed emotional cheating. Being emotionally cheated on feels horrible and it’s perhaps even worse than regular cheating. There are no sexts or misplaced undergarments to uncover; instead, you have agonizingly smaller clues to go off of, constantly wondering if you’re just being paranoid and clingy.

The signs to look out for this treacherous type of cheating are subtle. Does your partner do little things to keep you from seeing their texts? Are they suddenly constantly checking their DMs? Do they text a lot when you’re on a date together? Any deviation from usual behavior is a good reason not to get overly paranoid about it, but to wonder what’s going on. They could be cheating—they’re certainly hiding things, and that is reason enough to have your antenna out there.

Emotional cheating is never pleasant, especially because you’re never completely sure until you confront your partner about it. You want to be really careful here, because even the idea of confronting is going to put the person on the defensive.

What can you do if you feel someone is cheating (or micro-cheating, or preating or.. you get it) on you?

All you can do at this point is be honest about how you feel. The only thing you know for sure is that your gut is telling you that something’s not right. Listen to it.