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They're so used to the blame game already

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You’re in a monogamous relationship and haven’t put your hands in anybody else’s undies, lately. By former standards, you’re basically Old Faithful, but according to the new ones, you can still get busted for stepping out on your relationship. What did you do wrong? Micro-cheating. According to experts, micro-cheating, or the flirty behaviors partnered folks engage in with “platonic friends,” is one of the biggest crap starters is relationships.

What are some examples of micro-cheating? A work spouse. Flirty encounters with the same barista at your local coffee shop. Having an unofficial meet-up time at the laundry mat with a neighbor. Basically, any kind of cutesy behavior that would get a side-eye if bae’s friends were in the room. Micro-cheaters don’t physically get off with a side piece, but mentally they’re boo’d up with more than one person.

Micro-cheating typically isn’t a problem until your significant other finds out, or someone’s feelings escalate beyond casual. The best way to prevent it from becoming a problem is to manage the situation before it implodes. It’s human nature to like attention, connect with people besides your primary partner, and find others attractive. That’s why a major part of adulting is control. The goal is to figure out how to manage your sexual energy without feeling like you’re dead on the inside. Here are some options:

1 Keep It Light

While it’s cool to engage in flirty banter, getting too personal is a no. Hit a hard stop when you know what you’re thinking shouldn’t be repeated in front of someone who knows you’re in a relationship. That means no sexual innuendos or intimate convo about what’s lacking in primary relationships.

2 Spread the Love

Avoid getting too enmeshed with one other person by engaging in light banter with a few folks. Maintaining fun, platonic friendships with several people prevents you from over investing in one “relationship” and serves as reminder that it’s natural to connect with folks.

3 No Secret

Don’t hide your friend(s) from the person you’re in a primary relationship with. Keeping things honest helps you set natural boundaries in your friendships, like staying late on the phone or meeting up too much. It also prevents distrust between you and your significant other. S/he will inevitably notice that you smile more when this person is around, or see the same name pop up on texts a lot. It’s better that your partner know than “find out.”

4Keep Bae First

Friends can’t come before home. Make it clear that your relationship is the priority. Never allow a friend to disrespect your partner—even in her or his absence. Don’t walk into other rooms to talk or text. Keep private meet-ups to a minimum. Make the relationship hierarchy clear.