Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Naomi Wheeler

Second Advisor

David Naff

Third Advisor

Donna Dockery

Fourth Advisor

Philip Gnilka


Polyamory is a type of relationship under the consensual non-monogamy relationship umbrella that assumes the possibility, validity, and worthwhileness of maintaining romantic, sexual, and intimate relationships with multiple people simultaneously. In Western society, the prevalence and domination of mononormativity have led to the marginalization of relationships alternative to monogamy (i.e., polyamory). As a result, individuals in polyamorous relationships continue to experience bias, stigma, and discrimination at varying levels. With a rise in public interest in CNM in the past two decades, scientists and researchers have slowly started to examine various topics related to CNM, including its prevalence, public attitudes toward CNM, and CNM relationship quality. However, empirical research designated to investigate polyamorous relationships is lacking, let alone polyamorous relationships of sexually minoritized populations. Therefore, the current qualitative study investigates the polyamorous relationship experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and pansexual individuals. Utilizing Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, the current study explored the minority stress and resilience of polyamorous relationship experiences of 14 participants. Five group experiential themes were constructed based on the convergence of participants’ experiences, including (1) polyamory is an evolving and purposeful journey, (2) poly satisfaction is a systemic experience, (3) dynamic interplay of sense of self and interpersonal experiences, (4) interwoven personal, relational, and systemic challenges, and (5) ecological systems for relationship maintenance. Overall, participants utilized personal, relational, and community resources to build strengths, skills, and resilience to address challenges that come within and outside of their polyamorous relationships. Implications for counseling practice, counselor education, and recommendations for future research are discussed, with a focus on developing multicultural and social justice counseling competencies for counselors to work with clients in polyamorous relationships.


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