Since we’re in the age of labeling generations based on their sexual activity—millennials are the so-called “Hookup Generation,” though their sex lives could use some work—let’s discuss a new study suggesting that Baby Boomers are the “Cheating Generation.”
According to researchers from the University of Utah, 20 percent of married Americans over the age of 55 have engaged in extramarital sex. Comparatively, only 14 percent of those under age 55 have. Curiously, more than 30 years of research derived from the General Social Survey found that three of every four American adults believe extramarital sex is “always” wrong, meaning those who cheat know that there are consequences to their immoral behavior and just don’t care. Either that, or tons of people are in open relationships and totally cool with their partners bed-hopping. Perhaps these are the three percent who think extramarital sex isn’t wrong “at all.”
It’s doubtful, though. Historically, the number of Americans who report acting on extramarital impulses has hovered around 16 percent. Instead, most people who cheat have been married for 20 to 30 years. A possible reason for this generational gap, according to lead researcher Nicholas H. Wolfinger, could be a circumstance of coming of age during the sexual revolution, in the 1970s. Being younger then would mean these people had firsthand experience with non-monogamy, and thus consider extramarital relationships normal.
Another possible reason Wolfinger cites: the creation of Viagra and similar performance medications. These pills were first made available about 20 years ago, so the figures support the position. Being unable to achieve an erection due to age used to hinder sex outside of a relationship. Viagra changed all that.
Wolfinger notes that while we disapprove of cheating socially, we disapprove less than we used to. This shift is most notable among those in their fifties, sixties and seventies, which could mean that, as we age, we normalize non-monogamy. As you get older, attitudes open up develop and sexual curiosities are subsequently explored.
As a whole, Wolfinger’s conclusion is that it’s impossible to determine why married couples over the age of 55 are more likely to cheat, especially in regard to why numbers spiked after 2000. The year Wolfinger noticed the largest surgence in extramarital affairs occurred in 2004, the same year Facebook launched. Coincidentally, a new survey from extramarital website AshleyMadison.com found that most cheaters use Facebook as their primary platform to pursue extramarital dalliances.
Seventy-five percent of cheaters are most active on Facebook. A third of these people even admitted they had used Facebook to connect with their extramarital partner. The second most popular network is LinkedIn, at 41 percent. Instagram and Twitter lagged behind at 28 and 23 percent, respecitvely.
This isn’t the first study to cite Facebook as a sort of extramarital dating site. Last year, the Toronto Sun reported on a survey of 5,000 people that found 47 percent of users had emotionally cheated on their partner via Facebook. This means having intimate conversations with somebody of the opposite sex that their partner would object to.
More than two in 10 of the sample believed Facebook made cheating easier, while 17 percent felt tempted to get in touch with an ex to pursue an affair. If that isn’t enough to raise a brow, a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 81 percent of divorce attorneys have seen an increase in the number of cases using social media activity as evidence in the past five years. More than 66 percent of those attorneys said the number-one site used in evidence in divorce cases is Facebook. Another by Divorce-Online.co.uk found that Facebook is mentioned in about 20 percent of divorce cases.
Have your eyebrows raised yet? If not, you’re probably a swinger, single or a cheater. The point is, there are tons of reasons people cheat—and I’ve just added to it with this Facebook paranoia. Sorry. I’ll be back tomorrow with more fodder, I’m sure.