Infidelity: straying millennials seek intimacy and independence

Relationships|August 9th 2017

When millennials are unfaithful to their partner it is usually for one of two reasons: intimacy or independence.

People who are currently in their 20s or early to mid-30s are typically called millennials. In a recently published study, researchers from the University of Tennessee (UT) surveyed 104 adults with an average age of 22. All participants admitted they had committed infidelity within the last six months and were asked why they had done so.

Almost three quarters – 73 per cent – claimed they had been motivated to stray because they were not getting the level of intimacy from their relationship they needed. They experienced poor communication between partners, felt unloved or their relationship simply lacked a “spark”.

Another common explanation – offered by 20 per cent of participants – was that they wanted some independence. One 23 year-old who took part said she had not wanted “to be tied down, but rather craved something more thrilling and adventuresome”. The “comfort and consistency of a regular boyfriend” was not for her, she told the researchers, as it was “more exciting to be intimate with someone in that moment overseas”.

Meanwhile, others cited such factors as boredom, loneliness or a lack of shared interests as the reasons they had been unfaithful.

Lead author Jerika Norona is a UT graduate student and a psychology intern at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. She said that early adulthood was “a unique developmental stage in which young people have a lot of figuring out to do”. Millennials need to consider what they want out of a relationship before they begin one, she added, as this could “help their individual and relational goals coincide” and reduce the possibility that one of them will stray.

The UT study was published in the academic Journal of Sex Research.

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