For the past 30 years of the General Social Survey, three out of every four American adults have said that they believe extramarital sex is always wrong, but the number of Americans who report actually having sexual relationships outside their marriage has also held relatively steady, at around 16 percent.
Who is having these affairs has been changing. Since 2000, the age of Americans who cheat has been steadily increasing, according to a study by the Institute for Family Studies.
Starting around 2005, Americans over 55 began reporting rates of extramarital affairs that were about 5 or 6 percentage points higher than those of younger adults. By 2016, 20 percent of older respondents indicated that their marriages were adulterous, compared to 14 percent of people under 55.
People born between 1940 and 1959 reported the highest rates of extramarital sex ― and are among the first generations to come of age during the sexual revolution. They may have had first-hand experience with 1970s-era experiments with multiple sex partners. And a few people born in the late 1950s may have had swingers for parents, leading them to question taboos surrounding infidelity.
But why have older Americans only become more sexually active outside marriage in recent years? The study suggests that one inducement may have been the proliferation of medications for erectile dysfunction, like Viagra, which only came on the market 20 years ago. http://bit.ly/2v4CtlB