When compared with straight relationships gay and lesbian dating relationships
Marginalized relationships: The impact of social disapproval on romantic relationship commitment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, Mathematical modeling of conflict interactions. Journal of Homosexuality, 45, Relationship outcomes and their predictors: Longitudinal evidence from heterosexual married, gay cohabiting, and lesbian cohabiting couples. Journal of Marriage and Family, 60, He also conducts research on commitment, sexuality, and safer-sex practices.
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Share 0 Tweet Pin 0 0 shares. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Couples infrequently discussed experiences introducing their partner to their family or friends 5 excerpts. Most excerpts described introducing their partner to their family; only one talked about introducing their partner to friends. Both groups described these milestones similarly, expressing optimism and excitement about their future. One participant described obstacles she and her partner overcame that made their engagement feel particularly special:.
I been in relationships that I been verbally… physically, and mentally abused… For us to meet each other… it was a gift.
What Makes Same-Sex Relationships Succeed Or Fail?
Couple 27F, ages 23, partner age 20, together 1—3 years. Participants who discussed having children 8 excerpts described forming families through step-families, adoption, and in vitro fertilization. For example, FAAB couples had either already adopted children together, or had biological children from previous relationships with cisgender male partners.
One participant alluded to how medically-assisted conception methods were an additional barrier to having children as a same-sex couple:. In contrast, MAAB couples described their plans to start a family. This participant described how positive experiences growing up with his nuclear family motivated him to consider adoption to create his own family and establish long-term commitment to his partner:.
During selective coding, these processes were organized into three conceptual categories: As processes occurred throughout relationships, they are not described sequentially. This participant articulated the difficulty of establishing a relationship amidst these challenges, which was a sentiment common across several couples:.
Excerpts also described how emerging adulthood processes prolonged relationship initiation and delayed establishing commitment.
For example, this participant began dating her partner when they were both teenagers. She describes how their age difference and her desire to establish her own adult identity led them to drift apart as they entered emerging adulthood:. There are a lot of changes more to do with… developing as a person. When we met she was 19 and I was 15 so it was a really big age gap… At first it was nice… she was at my level, she was energetic… and then as time progressed… I wanted my own identity. Couple 25F, age 18, partner age 22, together 1—3 years. A minority of excerpts indicated that encountering emerging adulthood together had a positive effect on relationship initiation, such as this couple, who began dating when one partner was in high school and the other was in college: Couples described serial or concurrent relationships 15 excerpts that involved initiating a new relationship before ending another, or transitioning to one relationship immediately after ending another.
Concurrent relationships appeared to slow down relationship initiation and negotiation, as some participants maintained these relationships due to a lack of readiness to commit to their current partner. For some, getting over a rocky relationship made starting a relationship with a new partner more difficult:.
Couple 10M, age 23, partner age 31, together 1—3 years. For others, however, the presence of a new partner who seemed substantially better than the previous one facilitated rapid transition into the new relationship. Feelings of hesitation 32 excerpts occurred throughout relationships.
These feelings tended to slow down relationship initiation and negotiation and were often a barrier to establishing commitment. In addition, excerpts referencing later relationship stages e. Be fun! Couples also described processes of independence and interdependence 46 excerpts that occurred during relationship initiation or cohabitation.
Building and breaking trust 42 excerpts was described when couples decided to have sex or stop using condoms, during relationship negotiation, and when establishing commitment. Fidelity, honesty, and open communication were described as key components of the trust-building process. For example, this participant describes how disclosing his STI status to his partner before they had sex ultimately increased trust:. I contracted syphilis… that was really a humbling experience, and I figured if I could tell him that I could tell him pretty much anything… That was before we had sex… Knowing that he was still going to be there and still was very supportive… really built up that trust and love.
Couple 3M, age 23, partner age 19, together 1—3 years. Several excerpts also described breaks in trust due to lying or infidelity, which led to backsliding or slowing of relationship progression, as illustrated by this participant: Various stressors within and outside couples, including stress related to sexual and gender identity, affected relationships. The most frequently described stressors occurred within the couple 41 excerpts. These included having difficulty getting over a previous partner, which interfered with relationship discernment and initiation; or relationship rifts related to infidelity or different relationship expectations, which stalled relationship progression.
Couple 22F, age 21, partner age 22, together 1—3 years. Both groups described the impact of long-distance relationships and roommate and landlord issues. One participant, whose partner was also Hispanic, described how intersecting and conflicting cultural and sexual minority identities made it difficult to identify with non-Hispanic partners. Here, he describes having to relinquish an important part of his cultural identity to help facilitate his sexual identity and relationship development:. I had to give that up, even though it was kinda precious to me.
Although romantic relationship involvement is a significant part of emerging adult development, relatively little is known about relationship formation and progression among young LGBT couples and when they may be vulnerable to relationship distress. We extended the relationship development literature by using dyadic interviews to investigate relationship development among LGBT couples in emerging adulthood.
While couples encountered relationship stages and processes consistent with research on heterosexual adults, their relationship experiences were shaped by their sexual identity, developmental stage, and gender among other factors. As such, relational development models should be expanded to account for the unique experiences faced by young LGBT couples, which can provide a framework for interventions that promote healthy relationships and families in the LGBT community.
Consistent with stage models of heterosexual relationship development Levinger, , couples described progressing toward more serious phases of their partnerships that involved overt gestures of commitment e. Not included in these stage models, however, are factors that moderate relationship development.
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For example, during relationship discernment, couples most frequently met through LGBT social networks, which necessitated being out about their LGBT status. In comparison to previous research, differences related to LGBT identity were especially pronounced during the relationship negotiation, cohabitation, and commitment stages. While relationship agreement discussions were an important step for MAAB couples, they are not typically represented in heterosexual relationship development models.
This likely reflects differing levels of HIV risk Sullivan et al. For example, while the desire to have children was similar to heterosexual couples, participants described plans to form families through adoption and medically-assisted reproductive technologies—avenues often viewed as alternatives among heterosexuals.
Additionally, same-sex marriage was not legal in most of the country at the time of the interviews; while a minority of participants discussed engagement and marriage, some couples may not have thought that marriage with a same-sex partner was an option. For example, having concurrent or serial relationships interfered with establishing commitment for some couples. Moreover, uncertainty and hesitation about increasing relationship seriousness appeared to stall relationship progression, echoing research on ambivalence among heterosexual couples in emerging adulthood Stanley et al.
While existing relationship models have focused largely on interpersonal processes, our findings extend the research on young LGBT couples by demonstrating the importance of developmental processes and external factors on relationship development. Although few described the impact of conflicting sexual and cultural identities on relationships, given the racial and ethnic diversity of our sample, these factors likely impacted other couples as well.
Despite these challenges, overcoming difficulties together appeared to strengthen relationships, a finding consistent with adult same-sex couples Frost, Results support both stage and process models of relationship development but suggest expansion of these models to account for developmental stage and LGBT identity. Several sex differences were apparent. Regarding relationship characteristics, similar to prior studies Eyre et al. MAAB participants were also less likely to be living with their partners.
And, while overall, couples described commitment milestones infrequently, FAAB participants were more likely to endorse higher levels of commitment to their relationships. Together, these indicators may suggest less relationship stability among our MAAB couples, consistent with previous findings Lau, In terms of relationship stages and processes, MAAB participants more frequently discussed safe sex, HIV testing, and relationship agreements, suggesting the relevance of these topics for HIV prevention among this group Greene et al. FAAB participants more frequently discussed meeting family, cohabitation, engagement and marriage, and having children together, likely reflecting their higher levels of commitment rather than a lack of importance to MAAB couples.
For example, while FAAB participants more often described family stressors and external stressors, the manner in which they were discussed between groups did not appear to differ. As such, relationship education programs and interventions may consider creating similar content for MAAB and FAAB couples, such as education on how LGBT identity, family, and developmental and external stressors may be impacting their relationship.
Tailored modules could then address sex- or gender-specific concerns e. Our findings have several theoretical and practical implications. This can signal when LGBT couples may be vulnerable to relationship distress and benefit from intervention, like during relationship commitment or negotiation. For example, relationship education programs designed for young couples in newly-committed relationships could provide guidance on disclosing their relationship to others: In addition, young MAAB couples may benefit from communication skills training to effectively negotiate, change, or disclose breaks in their relationship agreements, which can reduce their risk of HIV.
Second, relationship development models based on adults largely focus on interpersonal processes. As such, future research could consider utilizing an ecological systems perspective Bronfenbrenner, when interpersonal process models may be lacking.
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Accordingly, relationship education programs designed for young LGBT couples should address these multiple levels of influence Mustanski et al. For example, programs can help couples identify and leverage external resources that can provide them with support e. Moreover, as dealing with LGBT-related challenges together ultimately strengthened relationships among our participants, programs can teach couples to approach coping with stress as a dyadic endeavor e.
Finally, findings also highlight normative experiences that young LGBT couples share with heterosexual couples, which may help clinicians working with LGBT couples be mindful of the fact that their concerns may not always reflect their sexual or gender identity. Findings from this study should be considered in light of several limitations. First, our sample was recruited from a large, urban area in the Midwest. As such, findings may not generalize to young LGBT couples in rural or more socially conservative areas, whose environment likely impacts their relationship experiences and trajectories in different ways.
Second, the perspectives of couples where both individuals were not out, couples who had just started or ended their relationships, and highly distressed or dissatisfied couples were not well represented in this sample, which also may limit generalizability.
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Longitudinal research may better characterize how relationships among young LGBT couples unfold over time. Fourth, our small sample of couples in age-discrepant relationships precluded us from assessing the impact of age differences on relational development, which warrants future investigation. Finally, though our sample included several transgender participants, we did not examine in depth how their gender identity impacted relationship development. Despite these limitations, this study offers several unique contributions. In addition, our study focused on ethnically-diverse LGBT couples in emerging adulthood, who are historically underrepresented in relationship development research Ogolsky et al.