The Close Relationships of Lesbians and Gay Men

Psychology Department, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-1563, USA.
Annual Review of Psychology (Impact Factor: 21.81). 02/2007; 58(1):405-24. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.psych.58.110405.085701
Source: PubMed


This article reviews empirical studies of same-sex couples in the United States, highlighting consistent findings, drawing comparisons to heterosexual couples, and noting gaps in available research. U.S. Census data indicate that there were more than 600,000 same-sex couples living together in 2000. Research about relationship formation, the division of household labor, power, satisfaction, sexuality, conflict, commitment, and relationship stability is presented. Next, we highlight three recent research topics: the legalization of same-sex relationships through civil unions and same-sex marriage, the experiences of same-sex couples raising children, and the impact of societal prejudice and discrimination on same-sex partners. We conclude with comments about the contributions of empirical research to debunking negative stereotypes of same-sex couples, testing the generalizability of theories about close relationships, informing our understanding of gender and close relationships, and providing a scientific basis for public policy.

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    • "Intimate romantic relationships can have enhancing or compromising health effects for individuals across all populations, but they have been shown to be disproportionately challenging among socially disadvantaged individuals (Maisel & Karney, 2012). In light of the minority stressors they face as sexual and gender minority individuals, some LGBT individuals experience challenges to their relationship quality and functioning (Otis et al., 2006; Peplau & Fingerhut, 2007). Sexual and gender minority people in romantic relationships may be ignored or rejected by parents, relatives, friends, and the larger society rather than validated , celebrated, and supported (Otis et al., 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Research has demonstrated associations between experiences of discrimination, relationship quality, and mental health. However, critical questions remain unanswered with regard to how stigma enacted and experienced at the dyadic-level influences relationship quality and mental health for transgender women and their cisgender (nontransgender) male partners. The present study sought to examine how experiences of transgender-related discrimination (i.e., unfair treatment, harassment) and relationship stigma (i.e., the real or anticipated fear of rejection based on one's romantic affiliation) were associated with both partners relationship quality and mental health. Couples (n = 191) were recruited to participate in cross-sectional survey. Dyadic analyses using actor-partner interdependence models were conducted to examine the influence of minority stressors on clinically significant depressive distress and relationship quality. For both partners, financial hardship, discrimination, and relationship stigma were associated with an increased odds of depressive distress. For both partners, financial hardship was associated with lower relationship quality. Among transgender women, their own and their partner's higher relationship stigma scores were associated with lower relationship quality; however, among male partners, only their partner's greater relationship stigma scores were associated with lower relationship quality. Findings provide preliminary support for dyadic crossover effects of relationship stigma on the health of partners. Findings illustrate the importance of minority stress and dyadic stress frameworks in understanding and intervening upon mental health disparities among transgender women and their male partners. Couples-based interventions and treatment approaches to help transgender women and their male partners cope with minority stressors are warranted to improve the health and well-being of both partners.
    Journal of Family Psychology 06/2014; 28(4). DOI:10.1037/a0037171 · 1.89 Impact Factor
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    • "Studies with LGBTQ samples have indicated that sexual socialization, sexual stigma, and homophobia may play a role in sexual satisfaction in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer individuals (Bliss and Horne, 2005; Diamond and Lucas, 2004; Henderson et al., 2009; Holmberg, Blair, & Phillips, 2010). In terms of gender differences between lesbian-identified women and gay-identified men, researchers have found high correlations between sexual satisfaction and psychological well-being for lesbians (Bliss and Horne, 2005) and frequency of sexual contact for gay men (Peplau and Fingerhut, 2007). These examples indicate there are gender differences in how men and women prioritize dimensions of sexual satisfaction; however, this research has been done with largely heterosexual samples and has included a limited number of dimensions participants could use to define sexual satisfaction due to survey design limitations. "
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    ABSTRACT: Not enough is understood about the role of gender norms and sexual stigma in shaping individuals' definitions of sexual satisfaction. The current study aimed to investigate the heterogeneity of definitions of sexual satisfaction in a sample of young adults, ages 18-28 (M = 22.6; SD = 4.78). Forty US participants (50% females; 45% LGBTQ; 53% white) sorted 63 statements about sexual satisfaction using a Q methodology design (Watts and Stenner, 2005), followed by semi-structured interviews. This mixed methods procedure enabled both a systematic and in-depth examination of the dimensions participants prioritized when determining their sexual satisfaction. Analysis of participants' Q sorts indicated four distinct perspectives on sexual satisfaction: emotional and masculine; relational and feminine; partner focused; and orgasm focused. These four factors were further explored using participants' interview data. Findings indicated that individuals interpreted sexual satisfaction using several key dimensions not regularly included in survey research. Existing survey items do not regularly attend to the gendered and heteronormative components of sexual satisfaction appraisals and as a result, important interpretive patterns may be overlooked. © The Author(s) 2013 Reprints and permissions:
    Feminism &amp Psychology 02/2014; 24(1). DOI:10.1177/0959353513508392 · 0.58 Impact Factor
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    • "In line with international studies (for reviews, see Kurdek, 2005; Peplau & Fingerhut, 2007), the present study demonstrated a similar level of relationship satisfaction for Swiss women in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. Table 1 "
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    ABSTRACT: Romantic relationship quality is an important factor for well-being. Most research on romantic relationships is based on heterosexual couples, but studies of different types of dyads showed that relationship functioning among same-sex couples is similar to that among heterosexual couples. However, a few studies suggest that lesbian partners are better communicators and more satisfied in their romantic relationships. The present study aimed to replicate these findings with a sample of Swiss couples, as most of the previous studies have been based on US-American samples. Eighty-two women who were currently in a romantic relationship with either a male or a female partner completed an online questionnaire about their relationship functioning. Compared to heterosexual women, lesbian women reported receiving better support from and experiencing less conflict with their female partners. They also showed a trend toward being more satisfied in their relationship. The study supports the notion that, relative to heterosexual couples, the quality of support and conflict interactions may be enhanced in female same-sex couples.
    Swiss Journal of Psychology 10/2013; 72:229-233. DOI:10.1024/1421-0185/a000115 · 0.57 Impact Factor
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