Single Women and Infidelity: A Feminist Qualitative Analysis of Extramarital Relationships and Their Termination

Front Cover
McGill University Libraries, 2008 - Adultery - 376 pages
"Extramarital relationships and women's sexuality are by far some of the most controversial and elusive subjects in our society, and most of the empirical literature and popular opinion about the connection between women and infidelity perceive it as unequivocally taboo. Following the work of feminist researchers who valorize the potential for women's sexual experiences and view heterosexual relationships as a form of oppression, I explore the extramarital relationships between single women and married men. To perform this exploration, I completed two-part, in-depth interviews with eleven single women who had an intimate relationship with a married man. Once the interviews were transcribed verbatim, I completed a four-step voice-centered relational reading and analysis of the interviews in which participants' experiences were summarized into three relationships: with themselves, with the married man, and with the married man's wife. I set aside the themes that emerged from this inquiry and I performed a discourse analysis on the participants' narratives for each of these three relationships. Since the resulting themes from the voice-centered relational analysis overlapped considerably with the dominant discourses that emerged from the discourse analysis, a more in-depth feminist analysis was performed exclusively on the latter. In summary, the most commonly occurring dominant discourses were a struggle with morality, identity development and identity reconstruction; responsibility toward women (the married man's wife); and a negative emotional aftermath following the end of the relationship. Consequently, this analysis also found an occurrence of three types of extramarital relationships: satisfying, distressing/distancing, and emotionally abusive. Each dominant discourse was deconstructed per participant and per interview by using a feminist theoretical lens. The analysis paved the way for a relational and socio-political examination of single women's experiences of infidelity. The implications of this study are discussed by comparing them to existing investigations, both feminist and traditional, of women's intimate relationships. This study thus aimed to understand the experiences of single women who have had intimate relationships with married men, to empower them as well as the mental health professionals and educators who work with this particular clientele."--

Bibliographic information