What The F**k is "Microcheating"???
So, I was in a strategy session with a potential client and he asked me something which was surprising. He told me he was feeling guilty about having a dream where he cheated on his girlfriend with another girl he had known from the past. He woke up from the dream feeling horribly guilty and one of his main questions was should he confess to his girlfriend. Because he believed he had micro cheated.
So, I had to look this one up, because I tend to put myself in a bubble when I work and forget the outside world exists. I looked around and found a whole bunch of videos and blogs on the subject of microcheating. According to the internet catching your significant other “almost-cheating-but-not-really-cheating” is so hot right now.
So, what is micro cheating? Well, a “dating expert” told the Huffington Post that "Micro-cheating is a series of seemingly small actions that indicate a person is emotionally or physically focused on someone outside their relationship,".
My first thought was, what seems to be missing from a lot of the discourse is the subject of perspective.
What do I mean by “perspective”? Well, let’s play out a scenario here. You meet a new work colleague and you instantly hit it off with him or her. You find them attractive but hey, you’re in a relationship so they’re off limits. But they’re cool, easy going, fun. I mean hey, why would you not want to hang around with them?
So, from your perspective, you don’t feel like you’re doing anything wrong. You haven’t touched her, you’re allowed to be attracted to her, I mean you literally can’t help feeling that way, but you know you’re in a committed relationship, you love your partner, and you’re confident you can control yourself. All good.
But your partner observes you hanging out with this attractive guy or girl, texting them, following them on social media. Your behaviours changed, and it’s reasonable to assume that it’s being caused by the interactions with this new person.
From your partners perspective, you seem distracted from your current relationship to the point that your behaviour has changed. Your focus has shifted and it’s reasonable for your partner to want clarity on the situation.
I think it’s important in any mature relationship, to be able to acknowledge your partners feelings on a particular issue. It doesn’t mean you have to buy into their point of view. It just means empathising with why they feel a certain way.
Then you can have a discussion to address the issue of misaligned expectations.
It seems to me that most of this microcheating nonsense is just a misalignment in expectations that need to be discussed. It aint cheating unless the intent is to cheat.
In fact, and I’m going to don my tin foil hat for a moment. This microCHEATING phrase seems to have been peddled by the media because it sounds a lot sexier than a “misalignment in expectations in relationships”. I guess such a hyperbolic and sensational phrase helps sell ad space. I mean, it seems to have worked, hey I’m talking about this shit on my own YouTube channel because somebody came to me asking my advice on it!
So, what should this guy do who wants to confess that he had a dream about another girl?
Well, nothing! He literally did nothing wrong, so why confess to anything?
I just think it’s sad that he or his partner, seem to be consuming media that, intentionally or not, have placed these weird ideas in his head that is encouraging a sort of neuroticism, so that merely thinking about another girl was just as deplorable an act as actually going out and arranging to have sex with someone outside of your relationship.
Now, if he woke up and then contacted the girl in his dreams with the express intent of making something happen between them then that’s a completely different story, because then there’s intent.
But what makes me very uncomfortable about this whole microcheating concept is the idea that you can now be found guilty of something REGARDLESS OF YOUR INTENT, just because you made someone feel bad.
Dr Jordan Peterson defined the problem with microaggressions, and therefore microcheating, which microaggressions bedfellow, in an interview when he said that A micro aggression is any act, no matter how subtle, that makes the recipient uncomfortable regardless of the intent of the “perpetrator”. It’s a cultural move away from a system where intent matters, to a system where consequence is what matters more, and the problem with this is that it absolves responsibility of one’s feelings from the individual.”
Once again, with microcheating, the focus has been taken off the intent behind the action, and placed upon consequence of the action. And that absolves the “victim” of any sort of responsibility of their actions and feelings. And this is dangerous territory, because then everyone can be found guilty of an offence not because they factually did something heinous, but because it caused offence. It’s like an “I win” button that anyone can use in an argument. “regardless of your intent, what you did offended me so I win”.
This whole “accusing people of microcheating” encourages partners to enable and accept their partners neuroticism as normal. You’d end up in a situation where you’re walking on eggshells all the time. Like this guy who thought he was guilty because he had a wet dream!
So, what do you do if you get accused of microcheating?
Well, have some balls and examine the intent behind your actions. Intent determines whether you are actually cheating or not.
If you’re genuinely convinced, you’re completely innocent, “yeah she’s hot, and maybe in a different life I’d take a shot at her, but I’m happy with who I’m with right now, so too bad, so sad”. Then I think it’s reasonable to acknowledge your partners feelings on the issue, but then stick to your guns. You don’t need to give in and agree to not ever talking to this other person ever again or whatever, because you’ve done nothing wrong and you don’t need to be punished for anything. And for god’s sake don’t start apologising, because if you truly believed you didn’t do anything wrong, then why the hell are you apologising???
And if she breaks up with you over it? Well then hey, she’s done you a favour. You’ve dodged a bullet. People will only treat you how you let them treat you.
However, if you’re hanging out with someone with the intent to line up a replacement for your partner, that’s totally not cool.
Long term relationships are gonna have their ups and downs. But if you’ve been unhappy in your relationship for a prolonged period of time because your expectations are continually not being met, then you need to have the balls to state your expectations clearly and walk if your partner isn’t interested in changing their behaviour. Lining up replacements while you’re still in a supposedly committed relationship is a total dick move. You’re not micro-cheating, you’re just cheating.