Plenty of data collected in recent years points to a growing number of older adults who are remaining sexually active long past retirement age. And whether this shift is thanks to the advent of a certain little blue pill, changing attitudes towards aging or the better health of seniors as a result of diet, exercise and medical advances, sex is on the menu throughout an increasingly longer life.
But that’s not all recent research is discovering about the sexuality of older adults. Surprisingly, they are also the most likely age group to participate in extramarital sex. According to a study by the Institute for Family Studies, 20 per cent of American couples over the age of 55 reported having had sex outside their marriage compared with 14 per cent of younger married couples.
It’s unclear from the data if older adults have more affairs because they developed liberal views about sexuality when they came of age, because they are more likely to have a mid-life crisis affair or if more older adults participate in “open marriages”. Those surveyed were asked only about extramarital sex, but not whether they considered it adultery or if it was with the knowledge and acceptance of their spouse.
The study, led by University of Utah professor Nicholas H. Wolfinger, demonstrates a significant shift in the rates of extramarital sex among couples in their 50s and 60s. Attitudes about cheating, while still generally disapproved of, have also become less rigid. But with more infidelity among seniors, it may not be surprising that a growing number of older adults are filing for divorce after 20 or even 30 years of marriage.
The number of “gray divorces” have spiked dramatically in the past 20 years. In 1990, 1 in 10 of divorces involved people over the age of 50; by 2009, 1 in 4 divorces in the U.S. involved older adults. And more than half of those who divorced after 50 had been divorced at least once before.
The good news? Monogamy is on the upswing for younger married couples who, if the trend holds, appear to have a more solid matrimonial future than the current baby boomer generation. But only time will tell.
To read more about the research visit the University of Utah here.