Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Coming out (Sexual orientation), Non-monogamous relationships, Polyamory, Polygamorous, Non-monogamy, Open relationships, Non-monogamous, Coming-out, Multiple partnerships


This exploratory study considered the following question: What is the coming out experience of polyamorous individuals? The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine how people manage multiple partnerships in a society that values monogamy as the accepted norm, and how people experience the process of coming out to friends, family and others in their community. The study was conducted with 73 participants via an online qualitative survey which also included some demographic questions. The major findings of this exploratory study indicated that coming out experiences varied widely amongst participants. While all participants shared the polyamorous identity, many other factors contributed to their coming out experience including intersections with other relevant identities such as GLB, transgender, genderqueer or those who identify as part of the BDSM (Bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism) community. Despite such diversity of identities, most people indicated that they disclosed when it was relevant to the conversation or relationship. Many participants also reported that coming out to their parents and family was difficult, but that support within the polyamorous community was available.




v, 77 p. : col. ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 65-68)