Is there a “danger age” for cheating?
Marilyn Monroe helped make the concept of the “the 7-year itch” popular, but it turns out the length of a relationship may not be as important as the age of the people in it.
A new survey from a UK-based dating website found that people are more likely to cheat on a partner when they are approaching a new decade in life, with 39 emerging as the riskiest year for relationships.
“Newly reaching your thirties or forties can feel significant to many, reminding us that the years are passing quickly,” said Dr. Deborah Chiles, a psychologist on staff at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. “Some people use these opportunities to make changes in their lives, from launching a new career, to traveling, to trying new relationships.”
The survey reported that people were twice as likely to seek out new relationships online at these “danger ages” at the end of a decade. People cited many reasons for their decisions, including a lackluster sex life in their current relationship, boredom, reconnection with old flames or a simple desire for change.
Previous research has shown that people are more likely to search for meaning in life as they approach new decades.
“Culturally speaking, aging carries a lot of weight. Most of us have ideals about where we’d like to be in life or how much we should have accomplished by the time we hit these significant birthdays,” says Dr. Chiles. “It can be a time for introspection, but it’s important to undertake that process carefully. Things that seem sensible at the time may have long-term ripple effects on your later years, especially in relationships.”
Dr. Chiles offers these tips for maintaining a healthy, long-term partnership:
- Show gratitude to your partner, so they know they are not being taken for granted. Recognition can go a long way toward making people feel appreciated, even for small things.
- Don’t let work or technology come between. Try to leave your work at work, put your phones and computers down and pay attention to each other. If technology keeps sneaking in anyway, set up rules for a screen-free hour every night to help you reconnect.
- If you’re feeling unhappy with your partner, check your expectations. Are they insignificant annoyances that have built up over time or real problems? While a new relationship may sound exciting, working to add some spark in to your existing one may be a wiser long-term plan.
- Sit down for an occasional “performance review” for your relationship. Talking openly and honestly about what is working and what is not can sometimes reveal problems and allow you to work through them as a couple. A professional counselor or therapist can be a great tool in this process.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.