Exchange, identity, and relationships: An integrated theoretical approach to exploring polyamory




Hilving, Rebecca

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The purpose of this dissertation is to use an integrated theoretical framework combining elements of exchange and identity theories to examine the roles of identity conflicts, power, and trust in polyamorous relationships. A broad definition of polyamory is used including anyone who identifies with being in a consensually nonmonogamous relationship. Participants were recruited using Facebook and snowball sampling techniques. Qualitative interviews were used with 22 participants to gather information related to their experiences in polyamorous relationships. After the interviews were completed, they were transcribed and coded using eclectic coding methods. Results revealed that there were differences related to trust and power balances in polyamorous relationships as they compared to participants’ past monogamous relationships. Additionally, commitment and satisfaction were reported to be high in polyamorous relationships compared to past monogamous ones. Participants did not report a sense of identity conflict due to their polyamorous lifestyle. However, this may be an issue that leads to polyamory. This dissertation provides mixed support for using a modified exchange/identity theoretical model. Limitations and areas for future research are also discussed.



Social sciences, Polyamorous relationships, Qualitative interviews, Stigma