The Lack of Satisfactory Relationships as the Contextual Cause of Extramarital Relationships in Women: A Qualitative Study

Document Type : Original Article


1 Assistant Professor in Social Work, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran

2 MA in Guidance and Counseling, Department of Guidance and Counseling, Faculty of Humanities Sciences, Islamic Azad University Yazd Branch, Yazd, Iran



Introduction: Given the increase in extramarital relationships and subsequent increase in the number of divorces, the present study aimed to study the contextual factors for extramarital relationships in women.
Methods: This study was conducted using a qualitative method based on the grounded theory. To this end, all women involved in extramarital relationships residing in Yazd were considered as the research population. A total number of 40 women involved in extramarital relationships were selected through snowball sampling and purposive sampling and were interviewed. The data collected through the interviews were then analyzed using a theoretical coding technique.
Results: A total of 58 concepts (codes) were identified in open coding and 14 subcategories were extracted in axial coding. Besides, the contextual factors for extramarital relationships were divided into four main categories including emotional and behavioral gaps, unbalanced sexual relations, immature personality, and the evoking social environment. Finally, the lack of satisfactory relationships emerged as a core category.
Conclusion: Based on the findings, it can be concluded that extramarital relationships in women can be considered a multifactorial phenomenon that is formed by the absence of satisfactory individual, marital, and social relationships.



    1. Aghjan Beglu S, Motaharnia S. The factors of marital infidelity among couples in the city of Bushehr. Proceedings of the 1st international congress on culture and religious thought. Mobin Cultural Ambassadors Institute, 4 August 2016, Ghom, Iran. 2016; PP. 311-23. [In Persian].
    2. Hassanabadi H, Mojarrad S, Soltanifar A. The evaluation of emotionally focused therapy (EFT) on marital adjustment & positive feeling of couples with extra marital relations. Research in Clinical Psychology and Counseling. 2012; 1(2): 25-38. [In Persian]. doi: 22067/IJAP.V1I2.8587.
    3. Rafiee S, Hatami A, Foroghi A. The relationship between early maladaptive schemas and attachment in women with extramarital sex. Journal of Woman & Society. 2011; 2(5):21-36. [In Persian].
    4. Munsch CL. Correction: "Her support, his support: Money, masculinity, and marital infidelity. Am Sociol 2018; 80(3):469-95. doi: 10.1177/0003122415579989.
    5. Kaveh S. Psychology of spouse's disloyalty. Tehran: Honar Saraye Andishe Publication; 2004: 251. [In Persian].
    6. Habibi Askarabad M, Hajiheydari Z. A qualitative study for investigating the reasons of sexual infidelity of couples who have asked for divorce in family court. Journal of Family Research. 2015; 11(2):165-186. [In Persian].
    7. Guitar AE, Geher G, Kruger DJ, Garcia JR, Fisher ML, Fitzgerald CJ. Defining and distinguishing sexual and emotional infidelity. Current Psychology. 2017; 36(3):434-46. doi: 1007/s12144-016-9432-4.
    8. O’Connor JJ, Pisanski K, Tigue CC, Fraccaro PJ, Feinberg DR. Perceptions of infidelity risk predict women’s preferences for low male voice pitch in short-term over long-term relationship contexts. Personality and Individual differences. 2014; 56:73-77. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2013.08.029.
    9. Baranoladi S, Etemadi O, Ahmadi SA, Fatehizade M. Qualitative evaluation of men vulnerability to extramarital relations. Asian Social Science. 2016; 12(7):202-212. doi: 5539/ass.v12n7p202.
    10. Kuroki M. Opposite-sex coworkers and marital infidelity. Econ Lett. 2013; 118(1):71-73.
    11. Kruger DJ, Fisher ML, Fitzgerald CJ, Garcia JR, Geher G, Guitar AE. Sexual and emotional aspects are distinct components of infidelity and unique predictors of anticipated distress. Evolutionary Psychological Science. 2015; 1(1):44-51. doi: 10.1007/s40806-015-0010-z.
    12. Scott-Kakures D. Unsettling questions: cognitive dissonance in self-deception. Social Theory and Practice. 2009; 35(1):73-106. doi: 10.5840/soctheorpract20093515.
    13. Jackman M. Understanding the cheating heart: what determines infidelity intentions? Sexuality & Culture. 2015; 19(1):72-84. doi: 10.1007/s12119-014-9248-z.
    14. Isanejad O, Bagheri A. Phenomenology of strategies of justifying infidelity: Mechanisms to cope with the cognitive dissonance of marital infidelity. Journal of Family Counseling and Psychotherapy. 2017; 6(2):188-207. [In Persian]. doi: 1001.1.22516654.1395.
    15. Fincham FD, May RW. Infidelity in romantic relationships. Curr Opin Psychol. 2017; 13:70-74. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2016.03.008.
    16. Allen ES, Atkins DC, Baucom DH, Snyder DK, Gordon KC, Glass SP. Intrapersonal, interpersonal, and contextual factors in engaging in and responding to extramarital involvement. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice. 2006; 12(2):101-130. doi: 10.1093/
    17. Fathi M, Fekazad H, Ghaffary Gh, Bolhari J. Recognizing the fundamental factors of married women engaged in marital infidelity. Social Welfare Quarterly. 2014; 13(51):109-137. [In Persian].
    18. Glass SP, Staeheli J.C. Not "Just Friends": Protect Your Relationship from Infidelity and Heal the Trauma of Betrayal. New York: The Free Press; 2002.
    19. Fathi, M., Parvin, S., Javadiyan, S. Comparing the causes of infidelity in marital relationships among men and women: a qualitative research. J Qual Res Health Sci. 2017; 6(4): 401-418. [In Persian].
    20. Fouladiyan M, BaradaranKashani Z, Dayyari M. Qualitative study of forming extra marriage affairs (case Study: women and men divorce applicant in Mashhad). Quarterly of Social Studies and Research in Iran. 2021; 10(1):1-37. [In Persian]. doi: 10.22059/jisr.2021.294255.977.
    21. Scheeren P, Apellaniz IAM, Wagner A. Marital infidelity: the experience of men and women. Trends Psychol. 2018; 26(1): 355-369.
    22. Bashirpour M, Shafi'abadi A, Doukaneifard F. Factors affecting the tendency to marital infidelity: A grounded theory study. J Qual Res Health Sci. 2020; 8(4):16-27. doi: 10.22062/jqr.2020.90987.
    23. Eslamzadeh B, Sadeghi F, Esmaeily M. Qualitative analysis of preventing factors for extramarital relationships in married couples. J Qual Res Health Sci. 2019; 8(1):83-95. [In Persian].
    24. Shirdel M. The tendency factors of married men and women to sexual unlawful relationship. Social Welfare Quarterly. 2007; 5(22):133-148. [In Persian].
    25. Jeanfreau, MM, Jurich, AP, Mong, MD. An examination of potential attractions of women's marital infidelity. The American Journal of Family Therapy 2014; 42(1): 14-28. doi: 1080/01926187.2012.737283.
    26. Sharaffoddin SH, Salehi Zadeh AH. The grounds for extramarital relations in Iran, a case study of Tehran. Ma'rifat Farhang Ejtemaii. 2016; 7(3):117-138. [In Persian].