Infidelity, Union Dissolution, and Mental Health among Young Adults in the United States

Michelle Frisco, Pennsylvania State University
Derek Kreager, Pennsylvania State University
Marin Wenger, Pennsylvania State University

This study has three goals: (1) estimating how frequently young men and women in marital and cohabiting unions report cheating on their partners, being cheated on, and mutual infidelity, (2) investigating the relationship between infidelity and union dissolution, and (3) investigating the relationship between infidelity and depressive symptoms. Analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health suggest that roughly one-fourth of men and women in committed unions have some experience with infidelity. Furthermore, men and women who have partners who cheated have greater odds of union dissolution regardless of whether they are married or cohabiting. Among men, all experiences with infidelity increase depressive symptoms regardless of whether men are married or cohabiting. For women, cheating on their partner and mutual infidelity are consistently related to depressive symptoms, but the estimated effect of being cheated on varies by union type (married vs. cohabiting) and status (intact vs. dissolved).

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Presented in Poster Session 1: Marriage, Unions, Families and Households