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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Available from: Letitia Anne Peplau
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    • "We further set out to assess the relation between same-sex parenting and divorce, which has been little studied in the literature on same-sex unions (Peplau and Fingerhut, 2007). Although controlling for children in our models did not reduce the higher divorce risk of same-sex couples relative to oppositesex couples, our results did confirm that having one or more children significantly reduced the divorce risk among female couples. "
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    • "Given the relatively recent advent of legally recognized same-sex partnerships and marriage, there is little extant research on break-ups in formally committed same-sex relationships. However, research suggests that stigma creates everyday stressors among same-sex couples (Peplau & Fingerhut, 2007) and that daily stress undermines marital quality (Randall & Bondenmann, 2009). We can also study similar processes in interracial married couples, who may also experience stress as a result of stigma and discrimination. "
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    ABSTRACT: The chief difference between Frost's same-sex and heterosexual couples was that same-sex couples experienced more stigma and discrimination. We discuss implications of these stressors for relationship outcomes and consider the role of attachment orientations. We also consider the imminent changes that might occur in these processes due to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. In particular, we hope that stigma and discrimination against LGB couples might decrease, and that attachment security might increase, together reducing their vulnerabilities for relationship dissolution. Legalization of same-sex marriage should also provide new opportunities to investigate committed same-sex relationships alongside committed heterosexual relationships. © 2015 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.
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    • "Although these studies are limited in generalizability , a number of findings have been replicated across data sets (including longitudinal and cross-sectional qualitative and quantitative designs). For example, studies consistently indicate that same-sex partners share household labor more equally than do different-sex partners and that individuals in same-and different-sex relationships report similar levels of relationship satisfaction and conflict (see reviews in Peplau & Fingerhut, 2007; Peplau, Fingerhut, & Beals, 2004). One nationally representative longitudinal data set, How Couples Meet and Stay Together (HCMST), includes a question about relationship quality and is unique in that it oversamples Americans in same-sex couples (Rosenfeld , Thomas, & Falcon, 2011 & 2014). "
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    ABSTRACT: Research on same-sex relationships has informed policy debates and legal decisions that greatly affect American families, yet the data and methods available to scholars studying same-sex relationships have been limited. In this article the authors review current approaches to studying same-sex relationships and significant challenges for this research. After exploring how researchers have dealt with these challenges in prior studies, the authors discuss promising strategies and methods to advance future research on same-sex relationships, with particular attention given to gendered contexts and dyadic research designs, quasi-experimental designs, and a relationship biography approach. Innovation and advances in the study of same-sex relationships will further theoretical and empirical knowledge in family studies more broadly and increase understanding of different-sex as well as same-sex relationships.
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