41% of Millennials have cheated on their partner

As technology grows and develops, we’ve become a Tinder-swiping, Bumble-using and Hinge-chatting world. But has this resulted in us becoming a generation of ‘commitment-phobes’ and casual daters?

New research by Currys PC World has revealed that 41% of millennials admit to having cheated on a partner before. This somewhat bleak stat comes as part of a wider study investigating the UK’s attitude towards commitment.

So, is commitment a terrifying prospect for today’s generation, are we simply doing away with tradition or, in actual fact, is old school romance still well and truly alive? 

Dating in the digital age

The dating landscape has transitioned in a big way since today’s pensioners’ era of courtship and wooing love interests. For starters, we have drastically changed the way we meet each other. Once upon a time it may have been through mutual friends, at work, on the bus or in a bar. Today, you’re far more likely to meet prospective dates via an app or website.

And with these apps comes the luxury and burden of choice. Even when somebody has captured your attention and seems like your dream partner, curiosity will often get the better of you, leading to you scrolling further through the sea of potential matches.

But, is it possible that this disconnected approach to romance and the accessibility of dates or casual encounters is leading to people feeling less satisfied with a committed relationship with one person? 

Is infidelity on the rise?

We’ve already concluded that Millennials (24-37-year-olds) are the biggest cheats of any generation, with nearly half confessing they have cheated once before, but this isn’t an offence isolated to the under 38s. Baby Boomers (54-72-year-olds) are the most likely to own up to being unfaithful on multiple occasions, suggesting the older generations are just as guilty. They did live through the ‘free and easy’ sixties, after all; though this could rather be down to the amount of time they have been with their partner causing eyes to wander.

So, is this apparent struggle with monogamy simply human nature, or have shifts in the dating landscape – for example, the introduction of dating apps – brought with them a new era of casual encounters and fluid boundaries?

Prospective partners are just a swipe away thanks to the likes of Tinder, Bumble and Hinge, so it’s arguably now easier than ever to stray in a relationship. Recent YouGov data even revealed that 17% of people using said dating apps/websites are there to cheat on their partner.

This being said, we may not all share the same idea of what ‘cheating’ is. While one person may think that sex must be involved to be defined as cheating, another may consider flirtatious text messages the ultimate act of betrayal. Gen Z (16-23-year-olds) are the most likely to express confusion over the definition of cheating with 16% admitting they may have cheated before, depending on what is considered cheating. The rise of technology is likely behind this blurring of boundaries, with texting and social networking being commonplace in young people’s daily lives. 

The changing face of relationships

Did you know that only 3% of mammals are monogamous? And yet our society is very much based on the idea of finding ‘the one’ to spend the rest of our lives with and build a family with. But what if this is an outdated concept? And is ‘no strings attached’ the new monogamy?

A lot of people struggle with the idea of being with the same person forever, which is possibly why so many confess to having cheated in a past or current relationship. Recent years have also seen a rise in individuals and couples exploring new approaches to relationships, dating and intimacy to reduce the pressure of monogamy. This could be polyamory (having multiple partners), introducing a third person into an existing relationship, having an ‘open’ arrangement where encounters with other people outside of the relationship are acceptable, or even pursuing a ‘friends with benefits’ set up.

Interestingly, the commitment study revealed that 1 in 10 men claim that an ‘open relationship’ is their chosen set up, meaning they are free to see other people while maintaining a relationship with their partner. This is three times more than their female counterparts. Furthermore, Gen Z are six times as likely to choose this arrangement than their parents’ generation (Baby Boomers).

The reason for not wanting a committed one-to-one relationship can quite often have nothing to do with the relationship itself, however. These days young people are far more likely to pursue their own personal goals and interests before settling down – they want to further their education, forge a career, see the world before committing themselves to another person who may not want the same thing. 

Is old-school romance coming back into fashion?

While the older generations appear to have a more cynical outlook on romance and commitment – perhaps thanks to past experiences – the Gen Z youngsters (18-23-year-olds) still very much believe in a fairy-tale ending. According to the study, 42% of them love being in a committed relationship and more than 3 in 5 of them can’t wait to settle down romantically – or love the fact that they already have. Perhaps young love is serious love!

Sure, this optimistic outlook could be due to their lack of life experience and previous relationships, but for now it would appear they’re all about finding true love – and what’s to stop them?

As the world changes in so many ways, it’s only natural that human relationships do, too. If technology can impact the way we carry out business, travel, communication and more, why not romance?

While on the surface is may appear that commitment is a growing fear among younger generations, at closer look, it could be more the case that individuals are committing themselves to fulfilling their own life goals and dreams, before committing to another person. Plus, what’s to say that a monogamy is the be all and end all anyway?