Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Campbell, Lorne


Scholars have posited that the family system is becoming more diversified with increases in same-sex, mixed sex, and consensually non-monogamous relationships. While same-sex and mixed-sex relationships have received considerable attention, public and academic interest in consensually non-monogamous relationships have increased dramatically. Yet despite increased interest, little is known about the ways in which relationships with various partners in non-monogamous relationships differ, whether differences that emerge are influenced by experiences of stigma or the desired role of different partners, whether stigma was driven by one’s relationship orientation, and how individual’s sexual attitudes impact the decision to pursue consensually non-monogamous arrangements. This article-based dissertation sought to address these lines of inquiry and advance understanding of consensually non-monogamous relationships. Results suggested that meaningful differences emerge across partners in polyamorous relationships, with participants reporting greater acceptance, satisfaction, commitment, investment, and communication for their primary partners, while greater secrecy, quality of alternatives, and proportion of time spent on sex was reported for secondary partners. Likewise, these effects emerged when assessing differences among polyamorists who identified partners as co-primary and non-primary. However, results also suggested that some of these effects, namely secrecy, acceptance, and proportion of time spent on sex, are driven by levels of commitment to various partners, possibly because primary partners meet needs for nurturance, while secondary partners meet needs for eroticism. Lastly, results revealed that relationship orientation influences stigma towards CNM, and that sexual attitudes, erotophobia, and sociosexuality differ based on relationship orientation.