are you microbetrayed? know what to do

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Microcheating can lead to a lack of trust in the relationship

The world is constantly changing and we are becoming more open non-traditional relational formulas — whether it’s open relationships, separate marriages, or even living single for life. We also see an increase in “micro-betrayal”.

Microcheating involves actions or behaviors of your partner that make you questioning their emotional or physical commitment to the relationship. This can include actions like frequently messaging someone you find attractive or obsessively liking that person’s social media posts.

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Since these behaviors are not blatant cases of cheating, it can be difficult to confront or deal with a partner who may be engaging in microcheating. This can lead to a slow erosion of trust, often disastrous for the relationship.

Trusting your romantic partner is the key to a fulfilling and happy relationship. In fact, science tells us that having trust in a partner is crucial in predicting whether a relationship will remain problem-free and conflict-free.

A 2020 study published in the journal Psychological Reports found that a lack of trust can wreak havoc in a relationship, leading to emotional lability, conflict, and even the intention to end the relationship. Also, people who don’t trust their partner are more likely to spy on their cell phone, which can make problems worse.

Here’s a big warning sign that your partner may be microcheating and what you can do about it:

You discover “innocuous secrets” about your partner’s friendships. If you find out that your partner (with whom you are in a monogamous relationship) slept with someone else a few months ago, you will understandably feel betrayed. It’s a simple case of cause and effect.

On the other hand, if you learn from your partner that he has been having lunch with an attractive colleague for a few weeks, you risk finding yourself in a more ambiguous situation when processing the information.

You might be inclined to do one of two things, neither of which is ideal:

You can ask your partner why he kept this a secret from you. In this case, your partner may feel that you are accusing him of cheating or that you are unsure of your relationship with him. This can quickly turn an awkward situation into one that could irreversibly damage the trust you’ve built up over time.

You can dismiss this information as unrelated to your relationship.. In this case, you’re giving your partner the benefit of the doubt and assuming they just forgot to mention it because it wasn’t important to them. However, it can also leave you ruminating on what they may have forgotten to mention.

What can you do about these new secrets about your partner’s friendships:

Rather than act recklessly in the face of the problem, emotionally detach yourself from the information you have just received. Weigh the signs that your relationship is strong, happy, and fulfilling against the signs that your partner has one foot out.

For example, before reacting to the secret that has been hidden from you, ask yourself the following questions:

How significant is this information to you? Has your partner ever given you reasons to doubt their fidelity? Have you ever hidden similar secrets from your partner? What was your motivation for keeping this information a secret from them?

After taking a moment to collect your thoughts and assess the situation, explain to your partner that you were surprised by the information he just gave you. When broaching the topic, it’s important to keep a tone of curiosity, not accusation. Let your partner respond while keeping an open mind.

Remember that micro-cheating is more subjective than physical infidelity. Chances are your partner hasn’t given much thought to the behavior, but that doesn’t mean you should sweep it under the rug.

As hard as it may seem, if your partner has a history of infidelity, even the most innocent behavior that fits the description of micro-cheating should be considered a red flag. A 2018 study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior found that people who cheated in a previous relationship were three times more likely to cheat again in a subsequent relationship.

This suggests that past infidelity is a strong predictor of future infidelity and that some people may have a tendency to engage in repeated acts of dishonesty or betrayal. So if you notice that your partner is frequently texting, flirting, or hiding things from you and has cheated on you in the past, you may need to ask yourself if you can trust them.

That said, all relationships are unique and each is constantly evolving. Some flirtations outside of a relationship are natural, according to Giulia Zoppolat, psychologist and lead author of a 2022 study on the romantic attraction we feel for people who are not our partners:

“It’s normal to have interesting alternatives in your life; it doesn’t necessarily pose a threat to the relationship. What makes people stop and reassess things is when there is a strong feeling of desire for another person, which is a stressful situation. I would say it’s important to recognize this stress and recognize that mixed and conflicted feelings are normal in this situation. It doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship is doomed, just that it may take a little longer to sort through your feelings and decide what the best course of action is, whatever that is.”


Understanding and dealing with behaviors that border on infidelity requires recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The “right solution” is unique to you and your partner. If you find secrets being kept that cause feelings of betrayal, try to have an open dialogue with your partner. Clear communication based on empathy and understanding is the foundation for long-term relationship satisfaction.

Here are signs that you are in a relationship of false hope:

#1. You cling to the potential for change, believing that time will fix everything A common false hope scenario is when you cling to the belief that your partner will change for the better. You only see his potential for growth, and despite his current problems, you convince yourself that time and patience will turn him into the person you need him to be. It’s important to recognize that pinning all of your hopes on someone’s change can lead to disappointment and feelings of betrayal when your expectations aren’t met. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology highlights how the hope of changing your partner, no matter how small, can build resentment over time and eventually lead to disappointment. Indeed, because of their initial hope and belief in their partner’s ability to change, study participants were more likely to attribute their partner’s lack of change to their lack of effort rather than to their inherent difficulty in implementing change. more
Instead of pinning your hopes on someone else’s potential for change, try to see your partner realistically and accept them for who they are. Falling in love with your “potential” can mean falling in love with someone who doesn’t exist and never will. Pay attention to the compatibility between you and your partner to avoid falling into the “I’ll fix this” trap. Besides being an unrealistic project to take on, it’s also unfair to assume that someone needs your help to become a better version of themselves. more
#two. You’ve rationalized your version of “happily ever after.” False hope in relationships can also manifest through the process of rationalization. We create excuses and justifications to make sense of behaviors, even if they are clear warning signs. Any inconsistencies that don’t fit our idealized view of the relationship are swept under the rug. For example, someone may have formed an opinion of their ideal partner based solely on external characteristics such as appearance or occupation. It’s possible, and more common than you might think, that people fall into the trap of imagining a bright future with someone who ticks these specific boxes, even if they’re incompatible or have serious character flaws. A study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience found that rationalizations help people maintain a sense of consistency in their beliefs, behaviors, and feelings. They also work as a shield against potential feelings of shame, guilt, or anxiety that come with acknowledging your true thoughts or actions. To protect ourselves, we can convince ourselves that we are overreacting or being too demanding, undermining our own instincts and needs. more
To break the cycle of false hopes fueled by denial of reality and the desire for an idealized vision of the future: Work on dealing with the truth and your feelings before making important changes or decisions. When your intuition aligns with your internal narrative, action follows. Recognize your own worth and realize that settling for less than we deserve is not a lasting path to happiness. more
Conclusion False hope can blind us, lead to disappointment, unhappiness and long-term emotional distress. Cultivating self-awareness and setting realistic expectations is essential. Remember that prioritizing your own well-being is never selfish. In fact, it helps ground your relationship in reality. more

*Mark Travers is a Forbes USA contributor. He is an American psychologist who graduated from Cornell University and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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