Investigation of Consensually Nonmonogamous Relationships: Theories, Methods, and New Directions

Terri D. Conley, Jes L. Matsick, Amy C. Moors, Ali Ziegler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


We proposed that the premise that monogamy is the exemplary form of romantic partnership underlies much theory and research on relationship quality, and we addressed how this bias has prompted methodological issues that make it difficult to effectively address the quality of nonmonogamous relationships. Because the idea that consensually nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships are functional (i.e., satisfying and of high quality) is controversial, we included a basic study to assess, in a variety of ways, the quality of these relationships. In that study, we found few differences in relationship functioning between individuals engaged in monogamy and those in CNM relationships. We then considered how existing theories could help researchers to understand CNM relationships and how CNM relationships could shed light on relationship processes, and we proposed a model of how CNM and monogamous relationships differ. Finally, in a second study, we determined that even researchers who present data about CNM are affected by the stigma surrounding such relationships. That is, researchers presenting findings favoring polyamory were perceived as more biased than researchers presenting findings favoring monogamy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-232
Number of pages28
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)


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