Just in case your list of worries as we head into a new year was missing a relationship element, the Huffington Post and Cosmopolitan have decided to undermine your confidence in your long-term partnership by introducing the concept of “micro-cheating,” adding the reassurance that, yes, your partner is probably doing it.
“Micro-cheating” is defined as an action or a series of actions that are kind of like cheating, but without a true second relationship—small emotional or physical actions that should make you wildly suspicious about your partners extra-curricular activities, but with no indication they are actually, in any way, sleeping with someone else.
In this era of feminism fighting back, Cosmo reminds us, men are always on the lookout for other women to oppress, who might better the vintage mold of the domestic goddess they’re all looking for.
Signs of micro-cheating include your partner having friends, asking those friends for advice, complimenting those friends, looking at those friends’ Facebook profiles, sharing good news with people who aren’t a romantic partner, picking up the tab for other people at a restaurant, sharing inside jokes with friends or tagging other women in Instagram photos.
In fairness to HuffPost and Cosmo, most of the “33 Ways to Tell if Your Boyfriend is Micro-Cheating” are also “33 Ways to Tell if Your Boyfriend is a Schmuck,” in which case you should probably dump him, rather than stress over whether you can win his affections back from another woman.
If he’s going out with other women, paying them compliments, leaving his wedding ring at home and denying he’s in a serious relationship to his friends and relatives, chances are, you have bigger problems. And these aren’t, “sit down and discuss over coffee problems.” These are, “if you like her so much, maybe you should pack your things up and move in with her” problems.
Chances are, though, most men aren’t doing these things—but what these lists will do is make women suspicious enough to investigate in intrusive ways.
But that’s the point. Magazines like Cosmopolitan aren’t interested in giving you blunt life advice—they’re interested in keeping women as anxious as possible about the state of their relationships, bodies, careers and life choices, so that they can sell more magazines packed with feminist manifestos, bizarre sex tips and waxing advice.