Think you know who’s having an affair? It might not be the young couple next door.
So, extramarital sex, huh. When you think of it, if you happen to let your mind wander on a sunny, lazy, Friday afternoon in July, you might imagine some frisky young married-somethings hooking up with partners at the office, or the classic scene of yesteryear with young housewives diving into bed with the refrigerator repair man, when, dang, that old freezer konks out again.
It’s an interesting scene. But research says that it’s actually a little off the mark.
The fact is that older Americans are cheating on their spouses in greater numbers at the moment, than younger groups.
According to this study done by researchers at the University of Utah, 20% of married Americans over the age of 55 report engaging in extramarital sex, compared with just 14% of those under 55.
The research is based on an analysis of data from the General Social Survey and was published by The Institute for Family Studies in 2017. Here’s some more about it.
Most of the people reporting engaging in extramarital sex were married between 20 and 30 years ago and the study’s lead author believes that a good chunk of the activity isn’t happening as a form of adultery but rather reflects a “rising participation in polyamory or “ethical nonmonogamy.” Keep in mind, all this news is coming to you from Utah.
Anyways, here’s how Nicholas H. Wolfinger, a professor in the University of Utah’s Department of Family and Consumer Studies, describes it:
“Even as overall divorce rates have fallen in recent decades, there has been a startling surge in ‘grey divorce’ among the middle-aged,” he said.
“Part of that story seems to be a corresponding increase in midlife adultery, which seems to be both the cause and the consequence of a failing marriage. The declining rates of extramarital sex among younger Americans seemingly portends a future of monogamous marriage. But the seeds sown by the sexual revolution continue to bear unanticipated fruit among older Americans.”
Whether you think it’s unanticipated fruit or unanticipated trouble, the facts remain facts. Another study written about on psychologytoday.com found that most extramarital cheating, at any adult age, involved ongoing relationships rather than one-night stands and they lasted anywhere between 1 and up to 5 years.
Those involved in the affair were most likely to contact each other by cellphone and to meet in hotels, at work, at one’s partner’s home and in a car. Interestingly, a majority of affairs ended on friendly terms.
Why do people do it? For a multitude of predictable reasons. Some report being unsatisfied with the sex in their marriage, as well as the emotional connection. A certain percentage of those who seek out an affair are looking to get revenge on a partner who cheated on them first.
For some information on spotting if your partner is having an affair or not, check out psychcentral.com.
For ideas on entering into an open marriage, click here to read Huffingtonpost.com.