Transitioning to a consensually nonmonogamous relationship: an investigation using relational turbulence theory


2020-05, 2020-05


Bond, Caitlin Taylor
Bond, Caitlin Taylor

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Nonmonogamous behaviors have interested the public and researchers for decades. For many years, attention to nonmonogamous behaviors has been paid primarily to infidelity. Within recent decades, however, the focus has begun widening to include a different kind of nonmonogamous arrangement. Consensual nonmonogamy, a relationship style that allows for nonmonogamous behaviors and avoids the many negative consequences associated with infidelity. Consensually nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships have been woefully underrepresented in research and only a handful of studies have attempted to understand the process by which CNM relationships are negotiated into existence from monogamous relationships. This paper responds to this need for understanding by using relational turbulence theory to explore the transitional period when a monogamous couple first decides to explore consensual nonmonogamy. We recruited 210 participants over 18 years of age who had been in a monogamous relationship that transitioned to a CNM relationship. Participants completed a quantitative questionnaire comprised of several survey measures, new and old, designed to assess their feelings and perceptions of their relationship before, during, and after the initial conversations regarding implementing consensual nonmonogamy. Results indicated that feelings of relational uncertainty, partner’s facilitation and interference, and their conversational valence were significant predictors of relational turbulence and conversational satisfaction. This research provides valuable information to researchers and practitioners regarding CNM relationships, as well as expanding relational turbulence theory by applying it to new relational contexts.



consensual nonmonogamoy, nonmonogamous behaviors, open relationships, polyamory, relational turbulence theory, relationship transitions



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