Are they increasingly unfaithful at later ages? “Life passes and time to explore is running out”

Marcos is 61 years old and four years ago he began to be unfaithful.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
14 May 2024 Tuesday 10:22
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Are they increasingly unfaithful at later ages? “Life passes and time to explore is running out”

Marcos is 61 years old and four years ago he began to be unfaithful. “My motivation,” he says, “was none other than trying to recover the hope and emotion lost during a long relationship mired in routine and disagreement. I thought that at this age perhaps it was not too late to try to save my situation, at least in part. If, for whatever reasons, we cannot break with our lifelong relationship, there is no other path than infidelity,” he says. Marcos believes that this option “does not necessarily have to be bad, quite the opposite: with an adventure I wanted to feel the bug running through my veins again.”

His testimony is no exception. There are more and more infidelities after the age of 60. The Institute for Family Studies in the United States revealed in 2004 that older adults were already more unfaithful than young people. And in 2016, data from the American General Social Survey (GSS) showed that 20% of respondents over 55 admitted to being an adulterer, compared to 14% of those under 55. If we specify by age range, the peaks of infidelity are between 60 and 69 years old.

The causes that can lead to committing infidelity are different and can occur separately or at the same time. The first “has to do with evolutionary psychology, because — as explained by Ana García Mañas, director of the expert degree in sexual and couples therapy at the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and director of Landanaterapia — the 55 are the new 40. Now people leave home at 30, have children between 35 and 40. And relationship crises also come later. Long-term relationships require stability and security. and these two things are fatal for long-term desire: there is no longer eroticization, transience…”

Another important factor, this psychologist warns us, is that “from the age of 50, a stage of “grieving” also begins. The erection is less consistent, loses strength. And in women menopause comes, the body changes and so do relationships. There are changes that we have not been taught to expect. And when a third person appears, sometimes a hormonal mechanism is set in motion that makes us feel rejuvenated. Noticing all this that we did not feel as a couple is what makes many take one step closer to infidelity.”

“Sometimes the feeling of thinking that life passes, time is ending and there is a desire to explore is also heavy, especially if you have been with the same partner for a long time.” This is what the doctor in psychology and clinical sexologist Emma Ribas believes. And she adds that other times it is the “quality” of our relationship that leads to infidelity. “When there has not been education on these issues, relationships end up based on “gym sex.” There are women who feel that they have sex for the other. And men who want more sex. Some people end up looking outside for what they are missing inside.”

“I adore my partner and I wouldn't want to lose her for the world, but we are at a time when we have different speeds,” says Luis, a user of Gleeden, Europe's leading platform for extramarital encounters. And experts also warn about this: García Mañas explains that in relationships there is always a cycle in which at first they are a couple and then, if they have children, they become parents and are more parents than a couple.

“As children grow up and become adolescents, the mother may remain more attached to the children and the father less, or the other way around. And that one of them wants to get back into dating, or taking trips... but since they are not at the same point, "a crack" opens. And if at that moment a new person appears, the ingredients are there,” says the UAM expert.

Applications or platforms specialized in relationships outside the couple, such as Gleeden, are a resource for those who want to find that “new person.” According to Emma Ribas, a doctor in psychology and couples therapist, a patient at this mature age explained that “she and her friends had started using dating apps. They feel adrenaline committing these infidelities. After the boredom or monotony of a long relationship, this made them feel alive, they once again felt that they were capable of being liked and raised their self-esteem.”

Susan Shapiro Barash has researched extramarital affairs for more than three decades, and also certifies that these relationships are much more common after age 55, especially in women. She assures that one of the causes is the current empowerment of the group, and explains that another factor derived from this advancement of women is that it is often done without guilt. Shapiro Barash also explains that affairs are most likely to happen when women least expect it.

This is what happened to Claudia and José. “It was a couple who had renounced sex,” explains Ribas, who received them in his office. It wasn't a priority for her and he had been fine with it. She had no need for sex because the sex she had known was basic. But suddenly, one day, through a person at work, her spark was activated. He was a seductive man, and she began to experience feelings that she had never experienced before. She got hooked. And this ended her marriage. Over time, Claudia realized that her lover had several other relationships. “She left him and decided to go to therapy.”

Claudia resumed her relationship with her husband, but since there was no connection on a sexual level, Ribas suggested they try mindfulsex, on which she is an expert (she is the author of Mindfulsex. The sex that will revolutionize your life). “It is a method in which desire is not necessary to activate the pleasure of the body.”

“I have been unfaithful to my wife for fifteen years,” explains Juan, another Gleeden regular. ”At first her sex with her was fine, she wasn't wonderful, but I felt good. Over time she lost desire, until she was nothing. I am so sexual, and she is so little. It wasn't enough for me, I needed contact with a woman. I've lost count of how many I've been with. But I don't regret it... or do I."

The experts consulted also warn of the risks of infidelity. García Mañas explains that “if we continue having meetings... in the end we get used to it. And after seven months there may be a first crisis. The beginning of a relationship is sustained by a hormonal circuit. This can last up to the first 3 years, and then these types of relationships in most cases break up or disappear.”

Ribas has seen different cases in his consultation. People for whom managing infidelity is very difficult. “There are those who know how to separate, but there are people with a level of double life that creates an internal conflict that they cannot redirect.” For emotional responsibility, we must think about what causes deception if the partner discovers it. “Deceived people suffer a very big shock. At this age, if you have a stable partner, you usually don't consider a breakup. You imagine the rest of your life with your partner and infidelity breaks all the schemes. This is also aggravated when there is emotional dependence, a common thing in long-term marriages. They are couples who have not worked on their own individuality, or who are not able to ask themselves if I am with the other person because I have chosen it. Starting from scratch at this point is usually very traumatic and you have to ask for help," adds Ribas.

“Infidelity is the mismanagement of a desire,” says García Mañas. I want to be with the couple, I have a project where an extramarital relationship is not allowed. But I have a desire to establish relationships with other people. And in the end I can't do it without failing one of the two parties.” Can there be something positive? “Yes, because from a situation like this, many couples begin to talk about topics that they had not talked about. When establishing a relationship you have to talk about whether there will be exclusivity, for example. It should be treated at the beginning and during. Too often we take for granted that the other wants the same thing as us. And that's not always the case."