Twenty-somethings cheat because we’re trying to figure out who we truly are, says study

Noticed that your early twenties seem to be filled with f***bois and, well, generally awful people intent on tearing your heart to shreds?

There’s a reason for that.

A new study sheds some light on why early twenty-somethings tend to be a bit sh*t at staying faithful – it’s because our lives are in shambles, we’re figuring out who we are, and we want to feel like we’re being independent.

The study, published this week in the Journal of Sex Research analysed 104 adults with an average age of 22, all who reported cheating within the last six months.

Before they started the survey, all the participants were given a paragraph to read about how common cheating is, just to make them feel a little more comfortable openly admitting to dicking around their partners.

metro illustrations

They were then asked about their current and past romantic experiences, had their current attachment to their partners analysed, and were asked to write down why they’d chosen to be intimate with someone other than their partner.

The majority of participants said they’d cheated because of reasons related to independence and interdependence.

Basically, most of the twenty somethings researchers chatted to felt that they had unmet needs related to independence, feeling as though their relationship was holding them back from working out who they are and from attempting to be an adult out in the world for the first time.

Interdependence related issues relate more to the relationship itself. So, for example, many participants said that their need for intimacy wasn’t being met, they were lonely, or they didn’t have any shared interests with their partner.

metro illustrations

Those who reported cheating because of unmet interdependence needs were more avoidantly attached, while those who cheated because of independence needs were more anxiously attached. Interesting.

‘Because emerging adulthood is thought to be a time of exploration and experimentation, it is possible that engaging in infidelity is a path through which individuals seek to meet their developmental needs for independence and interdependence and promote their individual development,’ said the study’s authors.

Or, in simpler terms, twenty somethings cheat because we have no idea what we’re doing – on our own or in a relationship – and we’re trying to figure things out.

But don’t let your cheating partner get off too easily.

There were other reported reasons for cheating beyond ‘I don’t know who I am’.

Some participants referenced boredom, others said they cheated because of the excitement of something new, while others blamed alcohol.

People cheat for all kinds of reasons, but yes, struggling with your identity as a young person finding a place in the world probably has an impact. Watch out for those twenty-somethings.