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In the age of the Internet, cheating looks different than it has in the past. The definition of cheating, watching porn, and flirting have evolved. However, fidelity is possible, and following the tips below can help you avoid it. 


Why Micro-Cheating is a Thing

The Internet brought a lot of amazing things, including a new era of information and the speed at which we can communicate. Yet, it has also blurred the lines between fidelity and infidelity. In earlier times, cheating meant sleeping with someone else. Emotional affairs have always existed but weren’t well-known or acknowledged. Part of the reason that people didn’t recognize emotional infidelity is that emotional intimacy wasn’t always a part of marriage. Things have changed—drastically—including our expectations of our partners.


Now that the Internet is unavoidable, micro-cheating is threatening many modern relationships. Sites like Instagram, OnlyFans, and TikTok put good-looking people in front of you at all times of day—a phenomenon that didn’t exist in pre-Internet times. Temptation is inescapable. 


Porn use has changed, too. What used to be the act of looking at naked pictures has become much more intimate. People can now message or virtually connect over video with cammers, slide into the DMs of attractive influencers, and otherwise make their partner feel insecure within their relationship. The potential to make a connection that goes beyond seeing a stranger naked during self-pleasure is there, and it can feel like a gray area to many. It’s not cheating, but it’s not being as faithful as possible, either. 


Sometimes, the sexual energy in your relationship may have run dry, and parasocial relationships can become even more tempting. Sexless relationships are all too common, and some effects are not very well-known. To learn more, check out my video below:


Negotiating Boundaries

Everyone feels differently about how fidelity should look. Some people may think that commenting on other people’s pictures or sending DMs is disrespectful, while others may not be bothered at all. Having a work wife, work husband, or someone with whom you are vulnerable and intimate in your workplace may be acceptable, or it may eat at the trust that you’ve worked so hard to build. 


Everyone is attracted to people other than their partner, but how you respond to those attractions is important. Do you respond in a way that makes your partner feel prioritized and respected? Or do you ignore your partner’s wishes and react impulsively in a way that puts your relationship in danger? When you trigger your partner to feel abandoned, fights are bound to come up. 


When Disagreements Arise

Challenges can surface when couples don’t agree on the definition of fidelity, and talking about your sexual boundaries can be a difficult conversation to have. Admitting that your partner’s online behavior or work-based relationships make you feel insecure is intensely vulnerable, and it’s often tempting to change the conversation to something else. Further, if your partner responds negatively, it’s unlikely that you’ll express your feelings again. 


Having good sexual communication is key, but it doesn’t solve everything. Some people will feel that their partner shouldn’t be interacting sexually online with strangers in any capacity. If this is a clear boundary for one partner and the other is unwilling to compromise, the relationship may end. Others may want to open the relationship so that both are free to do as they please. Either way, being mindful of each other’s feelings and needs is vital if you want to keep your relationship.


Moving Past Micro-Cheating

If you and your partner are dealing with micro-cheating, meeting with a trusted therapist can help you both move forward. Contact me for a free consultation.



Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform.  Click here to take the sex quiz for women.

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