What Are Micro-Infidelities?

Micro-infidelities are the subtle actions or behaviours of your partner. What are they exactly? How do they do them? Discover everything here.
What Are Micro-Infidelities?
Isbelia Esther Farías López

Written and verified by the philosopher Isbelia Esther Farías López.

Last update: 26 May, 2022

Social media and other apps have created another type of cheating: micro-infidelities. This concept was made up by psychologist Melanie Schilling, who wrote in The Daily Mail that she needed to give a name to a new type of behavior in couples.

Micro-infidelities are all the subtle actions or behavior of your partner. One type of covert flirting or micro-infidelities is having contact with another person without your partner knowing, whether it is physical or not.

Micro-infidelities are small actions you have with another person outside your own relationship. What are they exactly? Why do they happen? Below, we’ll dive a little deeper into this topic.

Examples of micro-infidelities

According to the psychologist, some examples are:

  • Finding out information about your ex
  • Constantly interacting with someone other than your partner who you find attractive
  • Not finding out if the other person is in a relationship
  • Minimizing the actual relationship
  • Having compromising conversations with another person
  • Giving the other person a secret name

Although some might believe that these are traits of controlling people, or that they’re jealous, the psychologist emphasizes that the difference between naivety and micro-infidelity is that the latter is hidden from your partner.

You can decide if there is a micro-infidelity by answering the following question: Why does it happen?

What are micro-infidelities?
These days, technology makes it easier to communicate with other people, which can be seen as a new type of infidelity: micro-infidelities.

New infidelities

Some experts believe that with new technologies also come new infidelities. Among them are:

  • Cybersex
  • Cyber-romance
  • Sexting
  • Physical touch
  • Avatar sex

We can evaluate characteristics of new infidelities to find out if we’re surrounded by micro-infidelities:

  • Easy access: you only need an internet connection
  • Affordable: it’s not too expensive
  • Anonymous: sometimes the true identity is hidden
  • Adaptable: meaning it allows you to make fantasies based on a double standard
  • Acceptable: it’s a standard form of communication
  • Ambiguous: what is or isn’t allowed isn’t always clear, or what’s health
  • There are secrets and intense feelings
  • It reduces the threat that the aggrieved person feels, because it occurs in the virtual and not the real world.
  • There’s no inhibition thanks to physical distance.
  • It feels safer

However, before identifying any of these clues, you need to clarify the limits of the relationship.

The relationship needs to have clear rules

As soon as two people become a couple, they need to draw up clear limits for their relationship. By doing this, each person will be able to control their actions, or, at least, they’ll know what will upset the other person emotionally. Rules will also allow you to understand the attitudes and actions that can jeopardize the relationship.

A couple arguing.
Having clear rules in a relationship is knowing which actions will hurt your partner.

Why do micro-infidelities happen?

Among the reasons why micro-infidelities happen is the feeling of emotional conquest. Similarly, people cheat because they like the way it feels to be attractive to others.

You need to find out if the person who micro-cheated wants to pursue their new “relationship”. If so, you can class it as infidelity.

What often begins as an unassuming game of crossing the line, ends up becoming infidelity and, subsequently, the relationship breaks down.

For this reason, it’s important to determine if the romantic “games” will really end there, or if they’ll become something else outside the virtual environment, capable of affecting the original relationship.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Imaz, J. A. G., & Alum, J. S. (2012). Las infidelidades: aprendiendo desde dentro de las conversaciones terapéuticas*. Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría.
  • Ortiz, J. M. C., García, P., & Gómez, L. (2009). Celos y emociones : Factores de la relación de pareja en la reacción ante la infidelidad Jealousy and emotion : how partners react to infidelity. Athenea Digital.
  • Posada, I., & Noreña Ramírez, D. (2014). La infidelidad virtual como una oportunidad de resignificación positiva. Facultad Nacional de Salud Pública: El Escenario Para La Salud Pública Desde La Ciencia.
  • Varela, M. (2014). Estudio sobre infidelidad en la pareja: análisis de contenido de la literatura. Alternativas En Psicologia.
  • Valdez Medina, J. L., Colín, B. G., Maya Martínez, M. U., Montes de Oca, Y. P. A., Arratia López Fuentes, N. I. G., & Torres Muñoz, M. A. (2013). Las Causas Que Llevan A La Infidelidad: Un Análisis Por Sexo. Acta de Investigación Psicológica.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.