Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)


Communication and Storytelling Studies

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Andrew Herrmann

Committee Members

Christine Anzur, Wesley Buerkle, Nancy Donoval


This study is an exploration of the relationship between polyamory and how polyamorous people communicate about their relationship dynamics. Drawing from six individual interviews and one focus group, the author compares key language that appears in previous research to the language created by the study participants. Utilizing grounded theory for the analysis, results indicate that the language choices of sexual identity, sexual orientation, and/or relationship model are not sufficient for singularly encompassing a poly experience. Findings indicate that individuals who identify under the umbrella of consensual non-monogamy (CNM) may use the term "polyamory" to describe their own relationship dynamic or to generally signify themselves as CNM. Participants defined "polyamory" as an ambiguous, general term that included relationships of ethical consent and romantic interest. Although participants lacked specialized language to describe their respective relationship dynamics, "polyamory" was used as a way of creating language and understanding around each relationship's dynamic.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.