Masters Thesis

Just the Two of Us: Exploring How Romantic Couples Manage Private Information About their Sex Lives

This thesis explored the privacy management and disclosure processes of romantic partners who share sexual information. More specifically, this study examined how participants perceived to develop and manage privacy rules with their romantic partners regarding their shared sexual information. Additionally, this study investigated a) how participants perceive the disclosure process when determining whether to reveal or conceal shared sexual information to others and b) how participants perceive the overall disclosure process to affect relational conflict, relational communication satisfaction, and overall relational satisfaction. Twelve individuals participated in this study. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, interpreted, and analyzed. Guided by Communication Privacy Management theory (CPM) and a multiple goals perspective, the thematic analysis findings revealed five major themes: Understanding Individual Privacy Rules, Dyadic Rule Integration and Collective Boundary Management, Boundary Turbulence as Catalyst for Boundary Coordination, Managing Relational Dialectics, and Disclosure Process as Satisfaction Influencer. Among the most significant findings, the researcher identified three dialectical tensions members of a romantic couple navigate when determining whether or not to disclose sexual information to others outside of the romantic dyad. The findings of this study offer important contributions to interpersonal communication research and provide insight into the privacy processes of romantic couples.


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