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The lived experience and characteristics of individuals who engage in consensual non-monogamy

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About This PhD Project

Project Description

In consensually non-monogamous relationship, partners agree that they may engage in sexual and/or romantic relationships with others. Consensual non-monogamy is an umbrella term which includes, for example, open relationships, swinging and polyamory. Consensual non-monogamy is somewhat stigmatised (Moors, Matsick & Ziegler, 2013). However, little is known about the individuals who choose to engage in consensually non-monogamous relationships, their life narratives and their lived experience.


The project aims are to explore the lived experience of individuals who engage in various forms of consensually non-monogamous relationships. This may include exploration of their reasons for non-monogamy, their life histories, their experience of consensual non-monogamy, the nature of their relationships, their identity and experiences of the reactions and views of others. There is also scope within the project to investigate the characteristics of individuals who choose consensual non-monogamy, including personality, attachment style, love styles and mating strategies.

Potential Applications

Existing research suggests consensual non-monogamy is perceived les favourably than monogamy (Grunt-Mejer & Campbell, 2016) and that there is stigma associated with consensual non-monogamy (Moors et al, 2013). Additionally, evidence suggests that when individuals who practice consensual non-monogamy seek therapy, therapists are often judgemental and lack understanding, sometimes resulting in participants terminating therapy. Research which furthers our understanding of consensual non-monogamy can be used to address stigma and enable therapists to better understand consensually non-monogamous relationships (Schechinger, Sakaluk & Moors, 2018).

Entry Requirements

Proposals are invited from self-funded full time applicants. The normal entry requirement for a research degree in psychology is a UK honours degree in Psychology (first or 2:1) or a UK Master’s degree in Psychology (or an international qualification that is regarded as equivalent). Overseas applicant must supply IELTS (British Council) Test: Minimum score level 6 in each of the four areas of reading, writing, listening and speaking with overall minimum score 6.5 issued within the last 2 years or degree certificate from UK or other English-language university awarded in last 2 years.

Information on PhD study, university fees, and making an application can be found at Start dates are 1 October, 1 February, and 1 May.

All international students studying at postgraduate level are awarded a £1,500 scholarship in each year of study. You do not have to apply for this scholarship; it is automatically applied to reduce your total annual tuition fee. The University of Sunderland is an eligible institution for U.S. (Federal School Code: G35073) and Canadian (EI Code: PUFL) Student Finance Programmes.


Dr. Helen Driscoll
Principal Lecturer
School of Psychology
University of Sunderland
City Campus
T: 0191 515 3436

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