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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Stine Eckert


In 2016 two nationally representative surveys in the U.S. estimated that more than 20% of the population had engaged in some form of consensual nonmonogamy or CNM (Haupert et al., 2017). While data suggest consensually nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships are more common in the U.S. than previously considered (Barker & Langdridge, 2010; Rubin & Adams, 1986, van Tol, 2017; Weitzman, 2006), they are particularly more common for those with fluid sexual orientations (Balzarini et al., 2019). People who are in CNM relationships risk negative consequences in their personal, familial, and professional lives if unsympathetic audiences discover their relationship proclivities (Bloedel & Manning, 2018; Conley et al., 2012; Manning, 2015; Sheff, 2017) and yet transparent, honest, and open communication is one of the most consistent aspects of polyamorous relationships (Petrella, 2007; Rubinsky, 2018; Sheff, 2005). Thus, this dissertation explores the strategies developed by people in CNM relationships to manage their privacy in online social networks and within online virtual communities. Interviews were conducted with 41 participants, mostly those with fluid sexual orientations; 23 participants were members of online virtual communities while 18 were moderators of online virtual communities. The analysis is divided into individual strategies in chapter 5 and online virtual community strategies in chapter 6. Throughout the dissertation is the exploration an extension of Schippers’ (2016) theoretical frame on queer polysexualities. I suggest the terms queer relating or to queerly relate as the verb demarcates the dynamic, ‘doing’ nature of queer polysexualities. Queer relating refers to the logistics, approaches, and tactics which emphasize the distinctiveness of queer polysexualities rather than leaning into mononormative assumptions and solutions.

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