Why millennials cheat on their partners, according to new study
We usually hear scandalous stories of infidelity surrounding older generations who've hit their mid-life crisis, but we haven't heard much about why millennials cheat.
Cheating happens across all demographics, and for a variety of reasons. While no case of cheating is the same, research has found exactly why younger people do it. And it has nothing to do with life crises.
Why millennials cheat...
According to a study published in the Journal of Sex Research, it comes down to two main things.
They analysed feedback from 104 "emerging adults" (AKA, millennials) who reported that they had cheated in the past six months. The study found that young people cheat mainly for one of two reasons: issues of independence or interdependence.
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What do those two big I words mean? Well, cheating related to independence comes down to the fact that millennials are discovering what it is to be more independent and therefore wish to have more autonomy in their relationship. Not far from the rebellious teenager stereotype, huh?
The interdependence cheaters are a whole other story. This term refers those who won't stand for relationships with unequal effort put in. Sounds great, right? Well, yes, but it also makes them more likely to cheat.
The study found that millennials in a relationship where they felt neglected, underappreciated or where the spark was gone would be more like to stray. It's a lot to do with how deserving of attention millennials apparently feel.
Millennials notoriously crave attention
"Attention is a form of love, it is a behaviour that sustains love on a daily basis — an essential nutrient," LA psychotherapist Brandy Engler, told Women's Health.
"Millennials have strong beliefs about deserving attention and love and are less shy about seeking attention than previous generations, in my observation," she says. "Getting little or fragmented attention is not going to fly with millennial women. They are more likely to leave or to cheat than previous generations."
Attachment theory has a part to play
Researchers believe infidelity is related to the attachments we form in our childhood years.
Those in the independence infidelity category were thought to be “anxiously attached”. This is because their desire to be independent was unmet, meaning they are more likely to push their partner away. Interestingly, out of fear of losing them.
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The interdependent millennials were “avoidantly attached”. This means they sought a relationship where each person was equally dependent on the other. People in this camp cheat, then, because they have trouble getting close to their partner.
But still, while the majority of respondents either cited the independence or interdependence issues as reasons why they were unfaithful, 40% of respondents gave unsurprising excuses such as getting drunk, being exceptionally attracted to someone else, and finding the thrill of an affair too tempting.
It looks like we're all capable of making the same mistakes, no matter the age. Sure, cheating happens for all sorts of reasons, but if you keep finding yourself with lingering thoughts of infidelity, it may be time to have a conversation with your partner about your feelings.
If you are committed, it is possible to work through cheating, but this can only happen if you keep the communication open in your relationship. Remember, being open and honest is key.