Introduction: Infidelity as one of the main causes for divorce has very deleterious effects on family, mental health, and feelings of the victims. The purpose of this study was to identify and explain emotional experiences and reactions of women victims of infidelity.
Method: In this interpretative study with phenomenology method, study population consisted of women victims of infidelity in Shemiranat, Tehran City, Iran, in 2016. 18 women of 22-64 years who were victims of the infidelity were selected through purposive sampling and were investigated by a semi-structured interview. The data were analyzed using a thematic analysis method.
Results: The data analysis resulted in two main themes, 12 subthemes, and 61 initial concepts. As the first theme, ‘maladaptive emotional reactions’ consisted of subthemes as the feelings of separation from life (including feelings of sadness, frustration, and desire for death), separation from oneself (including inadequacy, and sense of abandonment), anger, hatred, cruelty, vulnerability, emotional confusion, fear and anxiety, numbness, and coldness. The second main theme was ‘adaptive emotional reactions’ consisting of subthemes as feelings of self-worth (including one’s own and spouse), compassion (including toward the spouse, and toward the rival), and attachment to the spouse (interest in the spouse, sense of their ownership, and their forgiveness).
Conclusion: The results showed that infidelity was a phenomenon not experienced similarly by all women victims. Based on social constructivists, different perceptions of women victims causing different patterns of reactions to infidelity in them. Given the fact that the findings have been elicited out of a native study, they may play a vital role in developing the intervention packages.