Over the past decade, research on consensual non-monogamy (CNM) has increased. However, willingness to engage in CNM is an understudied phenomenon within this field. Because qualitative methods are rarely used to study this phenomenon, little is known about why individuals may or may not be willing to engage in CNM. Further, research on CNM has devoted little attention to the period of emerging adulthood. The current study used a mixed-methods approach to examine a sample of emerging adults’ (ages 18–29; N = 549) willingness to engage in CNM. Results from a qualitative content analysis revealed three distinct groups (Unwilling, Willing, and Open-Minded), and several subthemes emerged within each group that help explain why emerging adults are willing to engage in CNM. Quantitative analyses examined the relationship between group membership and demographic characteristics, finding that a greater proportion of women and heterosexual participants were Unwilling. Results also indicated that a greater proportion of men were Willing, and a greater proportion of sexual minorities were Open-Minded. Group mean differences were examined using quantitative measures of CNM attitudes and willingness. The Unwilling group reported more negative attitudes towards CNM compared to the Open-Minded and Willing groups. Additionally, the Open-Minded group reported more negative attitudes compared to the Willing group. On the willingness to engage in CNM Scale, the Unwilling group had lower mean scores compared to the Willing and Open-Minded groups. The Willing group had higher mean scores compared to the Open-Minded group. Implications for CNM research and methodology are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- General Psychology
- Consensual non-monogamy
- Content analysis
- Emerging adulthood