“In my day, if we wanted to commit adultery, we trudged 14 miles in the snow to the next farmhouse over, and we made love on a scratchy bale of hay. You’d get your rocks off, but you’d also get a low-grade infection from all the minor cuts and scrapes. And we liked it! We loved it!”
— My attempt at aping Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man routine
Time to dust off all your antiquated notions of who’s cheating, why and how. A story published this week in the New York Times says that marital infidelity is markedly up among the young and the old — never mind such well-worn scenarios as the Seven Year Itch or the forty- or fiftysomething midlife crisis:
“The lifetime rate of infidelity for men over 60 increased to 28 percent in 2006, up from 20 percent in 1991. For women over 60, the increase is more striking: to 15 percent, up from 5 percent in 1991. The researchers also see big changes in relatively new marriages. About 20 percent of men and 15 percent of women under 35 say they have ever been unfaithful, up from about 15 and 12 percent respectively.”
And what are considered the culprits of all this out-of-wedlock canoodling? The more societal scourges change, the more they stay the same… drugs and porn! Researchers quoted in the article say that newfangled voodoo fixes like Viagra and hormone replacement therapies have allowed seniors to “express their sexuality into old age,” while the proliferation of Internet porn may be “affecting sexual attitudes and perceptions of ‘normal’ behavior” among the impressionable young.
Other modern trappings — such as cell phones, IMs, and that Holiday Inn Express you stayed in last night — may also be to blame for the significant rise in adultery among women: “…married women are more likely to spend late hours at the office and travel on business. And even for women who stay home, cellphones, e-mail and instant messaging appear to be allowing them to form more intimate relationships.”
If I were a sociology undergrad, I’d try to impress the bejeesus out of my prof by tying all this in to other examples of how modern society, with all its lifesaving/moneymaking innovations, seems geared towards isolation: Bowling Alone, dinner alone, etc. And that then, when an individual, even a married one, gets to a point where he/she feels isolated even from his/her own spouse, a more despearte lurch towards intimacy, such as an extramarital affair, is more likely to take plac.e
Then again, I never actually took any sociology courses, so you tell me what you think in the Comments section below.