In 2006, the Wall Street Journal published a story regarding infidelity in individuals under 30. Once thought to be the realm of restless, older generations, it seems younger married couples are no strangers to extramarital affairs. Reasons why younger married people stray are numerous. What does this say about society?
Between 1991 and 2006, data released on infidelity in individuals under 30 yielded shocking results. Unfaithful husbands under 30 increased by 45 percent. Unfaithful wives in the same age range increased by 20 percent. Scientists site increased travel and more time spent apart by couples as a major factor. This would explain 2011 Redbook findings that most cheating spouses find “the other person” at their place of employment. Staying in touch with past boy/girlfriends through social networking sites is also a contributing factor. Multiple sex partners before marriage has also become increasingly acceptable. These elements combine to create a generation more likely to cheat on their spouse.
Infidelity in individuals under 30 began to increase just as marriage became popular for the younger sect. Avril Lavigne, Heidi Pratt and other young Hollywood stars made settling down a popular activity for women in their early twenties. Around the same time, a shaky economy made many young couples marry to obtain basic necessities like health insurance. Marriage has always been a business arrangement, preserving bloodlines and wealth. In the late 90s and early 2000s, the business side of marriage became increasingly apparent. Even within the United States military, contract marriages allow soldiers to receive a pay increase while “spouses” receive military benefits. Depending on their situation, the couple may be intimate- just not with each other.
Reasons for infidelity in individuals under 30 remains the same. Cheaters site emotional distance or reduced attraction as main reasons for seeking affection outside the marriage. Could reduced physical attraction between young couples be the result of obesity problems faced in America? According to CBS reports, in 1986, no American adult had a body mass index of more than 25 percent. Currently, over half of the American population falls into a dangerously high BMI category. Many children today are facing bypass surgery by 30 years of age, a time when many will be married or thinking of marriage.
Since much of the love has been lost from marriage, should society be worried that infidelity in individuals under 30 has increased? More Redbook data found that 66 percent of those who cheated felt guilty after the fact. Maybe there is hope after all.