The Atlantic

Do Married Millennials Cheat on Each Other?

For young couples these days, there seems to be more adulting, less adultery.
Source: Charlie Neibergall / AP

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 married?” Americans older than 55 turned out to be more adulterous than people younger than 55. 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.

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) with each other until they die. “Barring any unforeseen developments,” “we should anticipate a future of more monogamous marriage.”

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic4 min read
The Necessity of Toni Morrison
One of my white teachers in high school insisted that Toni Morrison would be confusing to me as a reader. So I approached the author’s work with that notion in mind, and quickly realized how wrong my teacher’s assessments were. Morrison’s prose was l
The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
Trump and Kim’s Interactions Aren’t Transactional Anymore
Negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang entail the good, the bad, and the ugly of any relationship.
The Atlantic3 min readPolitics
What Sets Bernie Sanders' Student-Debt Plan Apart
The senator, alongside Representatives Ilhan Omar and Pramila Jayapal, announced legislation to cancel all student-loan debt and make college debt-free.