Author ORCID Identifier



Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Matthew M. Martin

Committee Member

Megan R. Dillow

Committee Member

Alan K. Goodboy

Committee Member

Linda A. Alexander


The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate relational turbulence processes and test Relational Turbulence Theory’s (RTT) first five propositions in a sample of 528 committed consensually non-monogamous (CNM) partners as they are experiencing the transition of their committed partner adding a new sexual or romantic partner other than themselves. CNM relationships are those in which at least one partner has multiple sexual and/or romantic relationships with the consent of all parties involved. Generally, the first five propositions of RTT were supported. Specifically, self uncertainty and partner uncertainty positively predicted relationship uncertainty, which in turn predicted biased cognitive appraisals, and was also positively predicted by self uncertainty. Partner interference positively predicted intensified emotions but partner facilitation failed to predict intensified emotions. Biased cognitive appraisals negatively predicted communication engagement and valence and was linked to intensified emotions, but intensified emotions failed to predict communication engagement and valence. Finally, biased cognitive appraisals and intensified emotions positively predicted perceptions of relational turbulence, but communication engagement and valence failed to predict perceptions of relational turbulence. This dissertation also found evidence that relationship parameters of uncertainty and partner interdependence may also be predictive of intensified emotions and biased cognitive appraisals, respectively. Additionally, perceptions of relational turbulence also positively predicted anticipated CNM stigma, personal-relational identity gaps, and personal-enacted identity gaps. This dissertation also analyzed participants open-ended responses for evidence of communal identity gaps participants had with the LGBTQIA+ community. Evidence of communal-personal, communal-enacted, communal-relational, and communal-communal identity gaps with their identities as members of the LGBTQIA+ community were also found among a smaller portion of the participants’ responses. Implications for RTT and the Communication Theory of Identity as well as practical implications for individuals in or supportive of CNM relationships are also discussed.