Older Americans engaging in more extramarital sex, study finds

SALT LAKE CITY — They might not use Tinder or participate in “booty calls,” but grandparents are more likely than younger generations to engage in extramarital sex, a new study finds.

For their study, researchers at the University of Utah looked at data from the General Social Survey, which is administered by the University of Chicago and contains demographic data on Americans going back to 1972.

Senior citizen holding a walking stick
A new study finds that one in five Americans 55 or older has engaged in extramarital sex — more than any younger generation.

While the researchers found that the overall rate of individuals having sex outside of marriage has stayed stable at 16 percent over the past three decades, the age demographics most involved in affairs has shifted since the beginning of the millennium.

Namely, it’s mostly adults in their 50s and 60s who are looking for action outside of their marriages, many of whom may be feeling ennui in their long-term partnerships, or be experiencing a midlife crisis.

The researchers found that 20 percent of Americans over age 55 have had an extramarital affair, compared to only 14 percent of individuals under that age.

It’s important to remember Baby Boomers grew up during a period that has been termed the “Sexual Revolution.” The researchers speculate that the shattering of sexual norms during that era, accompanied by the generation’s propensity for many partners, may have contributed to the lax attitude of many older Americans.

Most Americans still express disapproval toward extramarital affairs, but there has been growing acceptance for such arrangements. Unsurprisingly, the Baby Boomer generation has led the way.

The researchers were careful to not equate extramarital sex with adultery, as one can be in a polyamorous marriage, or one in which their spouse expressly approves them seeing other partners.

Even counting these less common arrangements, it can be said with near certainty that more people are cheating in their marriages.

“No matter how many polyamorists there are today, old-fashioned adultery seems to have risen among older Americans,” says lead researcher Nicholas H. Wolfinger in a university. news release.

Wolfinger adds that “grey divorces”— older individuals legally separating— are on the rise. Meanwhile, younger Americans increasingly entertaining the idea of staying completely faithful to their spouse.

Wolfinger’s report, “America’s New Generation Gap In Extramarital Sex,” was published last week by The Institute for Family Studies.