Meara Thombre

Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services

First Advisor

Kara Wettersten


Consensual non-monogamy (CNM) is a style of sexual or romantic relationship that consensually includes more than two people. Despite a notable prevalence of CNM relationships in the United States, there is relatively little research on this population. While previous research generally finds similar levels of relationship quality to that of monogamist relationships, those in CNM relationships experience notable stigma and are an understudied population. The current study used the Maximization Paradox (Dar-Nimrod, Rawn, Lehman, & Schwartz, 2009) to investigate whether individual differences in choice orientation might impact relationship quality differently in CNM and monogamist relationships. Specifically, it investigated whether maximizers, or those who understand the goal of decision-making as choosing the best option, through a strategy of alternative search, might not have reduced relationship quality when in engaged in CNM as opposed to monogamist relationships. Data was collected online through a survey format. Results did not find evidence to suggest that maximizing predicted lower relationship quality and did not suggest that relationship type would moderate this relationship. Findings suggest that both monogamous and CNM relationship show high levels of relationship quality and that the tendency to maximize does relate to relationship quality for either relationship type. Potential issues with maximization measurement may explain these results and recommendation for future research are discussed.