Do Married Millennials Cheat on Each Other?

Do Married Millennials Cheat on Each Other?

Unmarried couples are more likely to cohabit than they were a decade ago, and the once-fringe online-dating scene has become as mainstream as dinner and a movie

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Millennials have killed malls, cheese, and bar soap. Their thirst for blood unslaked, they’re now coming for good, old-fashioned cheating.

At least, that’s according to an analysis that the sociologist Nicholas Wolfinger published in 2017 on the Institute for Family Studies website. When asked the survey question “Have you ever had sex with someone other than your husband or wife while you were ericans older than 55 turned out to be more adulterous than people younger than 55.

Americans have been asked the infidelity question in every iteration of the General Social Survey, a broad questionnaire about cultural attitudes, since 1991. Wolfinger’s analysis found that in the early 2000s, 18-to-55-year-olds were more likely to have extramarital affairs than older people were. But right around 2004, the lines cross, and younger people became more chaste than their parents:

Wolfinger takes these data to mean that Ashley Madison’s days might be numbered. Today, the hot new thing for married couples, apparently, is having sex (albeit rarely) with each other until they die. “Barring any unforeseen developments,” Wolfinger writes, “we should anticipate a future of more monogamous marriage.”

Whether or not Millennials are doing marriage differently, they’re certainly changing other parts of courtship. Some people engage in polyamory, while others have open relationships, and more people are talking about those arrangements openly. Both marriage and divorce have become more rare since the 1980s. Between it all is an array of “fuckboys,” ghosts, and friends with benefits.

In fact, people born between 1940 and 1959-that is, people currently between 60 and 79 years old-were the ones who reported the highest rates of extramarital sex

All these factors together complicate Wolfinger’s claim that ous. Other researchers I spoke with say it’s not possible to know yet whether Millennials are actually going to have more faithful marriages than Boomers. Several pointed out to me that the Institute for Family Studies is a think tank that explicitly promotes ily; its blog, where the analysis was posted, RevisГµes do DateUkrainianGirl is not a peer-reviewed academic journal.

Wendy Manning, a sociologist at Bowling Green State University, told me there’s no evidence that young adults who are between the ages of 24 and 32 today are more likely to be faithful than the same age group was in 1980. The difference Wolfinger is picking up on, she said, seems to be just that people over 50 are simply older and possibly have been married longer, so they’ve had more opportunities to cheat. We’d have to wait until Millennials get older before determining whether they are, truly, the faithful generation.

There are some limited data to bolster Wolfinger’s point, however. In 2017, Lindsay Labrecque and Mark A. Whisman at the University of Colorado at Boulder found that even though the percentage of Americans who think extramarital sex is “always wrong” significantly , the survey’s respondents reported a small but statistically significant arital sex in the same time period. That could mean that the people who were eligible to participate in the survey in 2016 but not 2000, including Millennials, are more open to cheating philosophically, but still less likely to do it.

It’s hard to draw firm conclusions about generations, but Wolfinger’s analysis might be pointing to changing behavior among the subset of Millennials who do choose to get married. To get a sense of how married Millennials think about commitment, I reached out to married Millennials and Gen Xers through Twitter to ask those who are convinced they would never cheat on their spouse: Why? Dozens replied via email and direct message. Twitter, obviously, is not a representative sample of the U.S.; its users tend to be more liberal and educated. However, even among this relatively left-leaning group, many people said they knew of very few cheaters in their social circle, and those who did cheat were looked down upon by their friends.

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