Psychology LGBTQ+ Romantic Relationships
Samantha Tornello, Bernadette Blanchfield, Jason Sumontha
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 April 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0179


Research on romantic relationships among lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and queer (LGBTQ+) self-identified individuals is a relatively new area. Note that for the purposes of this entry, the term trans* is used in research to refer to transgender or gender-nonconforming individuals (which group is specified when relevant). Queer is a modern umbrella term used to represent a range of sexual orientations and gender identities. Research with the queer-identified community is rare but beginning to grow. First, this article reviews the common books and journals that address the topic of LGBTQ+ relationships. Second, it reviews the law and policy, both in the United States and internationally, that surround same-sex relationship recognition and current societal attitudes. Third, it reviews the research on the creation, function, and dynamics of LGBTQ+ romantic relationships. Finally, it discusses the role of these relationships in the context of parenting and ends with conflict and relationship dissolution. Since the early 21st century there has been a drastic shift in support of legal recognition of same-sex couples. The research on LGBTQ+ romantic relationships has found consistent similarities to different-sex or heterosexual couples, as well as some unique strengths and challenges. Much of the research has focused on lesbian women and gay men, with very little attention on bisexual, trans*, and queer people. The research on trans* individuals, in particular, often consists of extremely small samples and lacks rigorous data collection and statistical analyses. This article attempts to address the relationships of all LGBTQ+ people and specifies the population examined for each article in the commentary. In sum, this entry reviews the current research on and knowledge of romantic relationships among LGBTQ+ individuals.


Many books that discuss LGBTQ+ romantic relationships are of the self-help genre, and very few are empirical reviews. Garnets and Kimmel 2003 and Patterson and D’Augelli 2012 explore the topic of the psychology of sexual orientation and gender identity, and both have specific chapters dedicated to the romantic relationships of LGBTQ+ individuals. The book Hunter 2011 reviews the empirical research on gay and lesbian romantic relationships. Badgett 2010 and Carrington 1999, by contrast, contain collections of interviews with same-sex couples. Very few books focus directly on the romantic relationships of bisexual or trans* individuals. Fugere, et al. 2014 explores attraction and romantic relationships of all couples, intertwining LGB people’s experiences throughout.

  • Badgett, M. V. Lee. 2010. When gay people get married: What happens when societies legalize same-sex marriage. New York: NYU.

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    This book describes the experiences of Dutch same-sex couples living in the Netherlands and, specifically, their reasons to marry (or not), the impact of marriage on them and their community, and the contemporary status of the same-sex marriage debate.

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    • Carrington, Christopher. 1999. No place like home: Relationships and family life among lesbians and gay men. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

      DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226094847.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      This book is a collection of case studies and in-depth interviews of gay and lesbian couples in the California Bay Area. These interviews describe the daily experiences of couples, ranging from how they share daily chores to how they spend their free time.

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      • Erickson-Schroth, Laura, ed. 2014. Trans bodies, trans selves: A resource for the transgender community. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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        This book is an easily accessible and readable guide for trans* and gender-nonconforming people, written by transgender and gender-nonconforming authors. This book includes specific chapters on intimate relationships and sexuality.

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        • Fugere, Madeline, Jennifer Leszczynski, and Alita Cousins. 2014. The social psychology of attraction and romantic relationships. New York: Palgrave Macmillian.

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          This book explores the experiences of attraction and romantic relationships of all individuals. The authors weave research on LGB couples into the discussion of heterosexual couples.

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          • Garnets, Linda, and Douglas Kimmel, eds. 2003. Psychological perspectives of lesbian, gay, and bisexual experiences. 2d ed. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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            This book is a general review of psychological issues in the lives of LGB individuals. A section of the book specifically addresses relationships among LGB individuals, along with discussions of related topics, throughout the book.

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            • Hunter, Ski. 2011. Lesbian and gay couples: Lives, issues, and practice. Chicago: Lyceum.

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              This book reviews the experiences of lesbian and gay adults in relationships and the impact of heterosexism and the marriage debate on these couples.

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              • Patterson, Charlotte J., and Anthony R. D’Augelli, eds. 2012. Handbook of psychology and sexual orientation. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                This book is a culmination of the current psychological research on sexual orientation. Chapters are dedicated to research on same-sex romantic relationships and related topics. See also the chapter Fingerhut and Peplau 2012, cited under Empirical Reviews.

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                Empirical Reviews

                Researchers have explored different dimensions of LGBTQ+ individuals’ romantic relationships. The reviews in this section explore the literature on the creation, functioning, and dynamics of these relationships. Fingerhut and Peplau 2012 contains a chapter that discusses same-sex relationships and the implication of supportive and unsupportive same-sex-relationship legislation. Patterson, et al. 2014 explores LGBTQ+ relationships both inside and outside the family context, extending romantic relationships to couples with children. In an empirical literature review, Biblarz and Savci 2010 examines relationships of LGBTQ+ couples among families with children. In a short review of the research on same-sex romantic relationships, Frost, et al. 2014 proposes important critical questions and future directions for this area of research.

                • Biblarz, Timothy J., and Evren Savci. 2010. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families. Journal of Marriage and Family 72:480–497.

                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00714.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  This article is an empirical review on relationships within LGBTQ+ families. This review has an emphasis on LGBTQ+ parents but discusses romantic relationships and couple dynamics within the family system.

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                  • Fingerhut, Adam W., and Letitia Peplau. 2012. Same-sex romantic relationships. In Handbook of psychology and sexual orientation. Edited by Charlotte J. Patterson and Anthony R. D’Augelli, 165–178. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

                    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199765218.003.0012Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    This book chapter is a review of the empirical research examining romantic relationships among same-sex couples. Two broad topics were explored. First, are same-sex relationships and dynamics similar to heterosexual couples, and second, what impact does legalizing recognition of same-sex relationships have on LGBTQ+ individuals?

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                    • Frost, David M., Ian H. Meyer, and Phillip L. Hammack. 2014. Health and well-being in emerging adults’ same-sex relationships: Critical questions and directions for research in developmental science. Emerging Adulthood 3:3–13.

                      DOI: 10.1177/2167696814535915Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      This article reviews the current research on the experiences of dating and romantic same-sex relationships among emerging adults. In addition, the authors outline the important next steps for research in this area.

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                      • Patterson, Charlotte J., Bernadette V. Blanchfield, Samantha L. Tornello, and Rachel G. Riskind. 2014. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender relationships and families with children. In The Fenway guide to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender health. 2d ed. Edited by Harvey J. Makadon, Jennifer Potter, Kenneth H. Mayer, and Hillary Goldhammer. Philadelphia, PA: American College of Physicians Press.

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                        This chapter reviews the empirical research on relationships among LGBTQ+ couples and families. The article reviews topics such as love and commitment, division of labor, sexual behavior, and conflict.

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                        Empirical peer-reviewed publications that cover the topic of romantic relationships among LGBTQ+ individuals are found in a variety of journals.

                        Sexual Orientation Focused

                        At this writing, no journals focus specifically on romantic relationships among LGBTQ+ individuals exclusively, but many sexual orientation and gender journals cover these topics in great depth. The Journal of GLBT Family Studies is a journal focused on LGBTQ+-headed families that often covers the topic of romantic relationships within the family context. In addition, there is an array of sexual-orientation and gender-focused journals. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity is a psychological journal focused on people of all sexual orientations and gender identities that often publishes research on LGBTQ+ relationships. Similarly, the Journal of Homosexuality is a multidisciplinary journal that publishes research on LGBTQ+ people and their relationships. The Journal of Bisexuality is a journal specifically dedicated to the experiences and relationships of bisexual-identified individuals. International Journal of Transgenderism often discuss the topic of romantic relationships among transgender or gender-nonconforming individuals.

                        • International Journal of Transgenderism.

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                          Published by Routledge Publishing, this multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal is published four times a year. This journal is geared toward understanding and improving knowledge on topics of sex, gender identity, and gender expression. Available online by subscription.

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                          • Journal of Bisexuality.

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                            Published by Routledge Publishing and sponsored by the American Institute of Bisexuality, this multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal publishes quarterly. This journal has an empirical and conceptual focus on the experiences and community of bisexual individuals. Available online by subscription.

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                            • Journal of GLBT Family Studies.

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                              This multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal is published five times a year by Routledge Publishing. This journal is LGBTQ+ family focused but often publishes articles on romantic relationships within the family context. Available online by subscription.

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                              • Journal of Homosexuality.

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                                This multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal published monthly by Routledge Publishing. This journal is not romantic relationship specific but has published on an array of topics that cover sexual orientation and gender as it relates to couples. Available online by subscription.

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                                • Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.

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                                  This new psychological journal is published quarterly by Division 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues) of the American Psychological Association. Journal topics include all areas of psychological research that surround sexual orientation and gender diversity. Available online by subscription.

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                                  Romantic Relationship Focused

                                  There are no peer-reviewed, empirical journals that uniquely cover the topic of LGBTQ+ romantic relationships, but many relationship-focused journal publish research regarding LGBTQ+ people and their relationships. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice is a psychology-based journal that covers the topics of couple and family relationships. Journal of Marriage and Family is similar in that this journal focuses on couples and relationships but through an interdisciplinary lens. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships is an interdisciplinary journal focused on general interpersonal relationships. All of these journals publish articles on romantic relationships among LGBTQ+ individuals.

                                  • Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice.

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                                    Division 43 (Society for Couple and Family Psychology) of the American Psychological Association publishes this quarterly, peer-reviewed journal. The scope of the journal covers empirical research on the science and practice of couple and family relations, which often includes research on LGBTQ+ relationships. Available online by subscription.

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                                    • Journal of Marriage and Family.

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                                      This journal is published by the National Council on Family Relations and is published five times per year. This interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal publishes articles on romantic relationships and family dynamics. Available online by subscription.

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                                      • Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

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                                        This international, interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal publishes empirical articles on the topic of interpersonal relationships. This journal is published eight times a year by Sage Publishing. Available online by subscription.

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                                        General Demographics

                                        The exact number of LGBTQ+ individuals and couples in the United States remains largely unknown. Many national surveys omit questions of sexual orientation or gender identity or do not ask questions that would help appropriately identify LGBTQ+ couples. In a population-based Gallup survey, Gates and Newport 2012 finds that 3.4 percent of US adults identify as LGBT and they are spread across the United States. Interestingly, Gates and Newport 2013 finds that more same-sex couples lived in states that had legal recognition of same-sex marriages at the time of data collection. Gates 2013 explores the number of same-sex couples by using the American Community Survey and identifies nearly 650,000 same-sex couples. In addition, the author finds that many of those couples were in legally recognized relationships. Badgett and Herman 2011 finds similar numbers of couples who had legalized their relationship, and many of them did not currently reside in the state in which they could obtain legal recognition. It is important to note that many of these studies did not identify participants by sexual orientation but by the self-reported gender identity of the members of the couples.

                                        Law and Policy of Same-Sex Relationship Recognition

                                        Laws and policy regarding same-sex couples vary across the world. Legal recognitions of same-sex relationships differ in name (e.g., marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, or common law) and in number of rights. Some countries have national same-sex relationship recognition and others have only certain areas or territories within the country with legal recognition. For same-sex couples, relationship recognition can impact many areas of their lives, such as immigration, parental rights, disclosure, and well-being. In this section, we review the law and policy of same-sex relationship recognition in the United States (United States Laws) and across the world (International Law).

                                        United States Laws

                                        Law and policy surrounding marriage recognition among same-sex couples has drastically changed since 2000. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first US state to allow same-sex couples to marry. In June 2013, the US Supreme Court struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, thus allowing the federal government to recognize marriages between same-sex couples. Two years later, in June 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting marriage between same-sex individuals was unconstitutional. Pew Research Center 2014 has an interactive map that can be used to see the history and yearly progress of marriage equality in the United States.

                                        US Immigration Laws

                                        Konnoth and Gates 2011 finds, through the United States Census, that there are a number of binational same-sex couples. Binational couples include couples in which one member is not a US citizen, in which both members are noncitizens, or in which one or both members are naturalized citizens. In interviews with same-sex binational couples, Kassana and Nakamurab 2013 finds that couples migrated to Canada from the United States because of a lack of legal marriage protection. Until June 2013, legal relationships among same-sex couples granted at the state level were not legally recognized by the federal government. With the fall of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal protections that were provided to different-sex couples now applied to same-sex couples, such as becoming a US citizen as a result of marriage. In 2015, all marriages between same-sex couples were recognized across the United States. Much of the research in this area is pre–marriage equality, and research post–marriage equality is beginning to be conducted.

                                        • Kassana, Anusha, and Nadine Nakamurab. 2013. “This was my only option”: Career transitions of Canadian immigrants in same-sex binational relationships. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling 7:154–171.

                                          DOI: 10.1080/15538605.2013.785466Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                          This study explores the experiences of seventeen same-sex binational couples who immigrated to Canada from the United States due to lack of legal relationship recognition. This lack of legal protection forced these couples to relocate, change careers, and lose social networks.

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                                          • Konnoth, Craig J., and Gary J. Gates. 2011. Same-sex couples and immigration in the United States. Los Angeles, CA: Williams Institute.

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                                            On the basis of US Census Data, reports that 4.4 percent of the same-sex couples are binational couples, 1.8 percent of couples are both noncitizens, and 6.1 percent are dual citizens with one naturalized partner. These numbers may have changed because of the extension of marriage to same-sex couples.

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                                            International Law

                                            Many same-sex couples across the world have the ability to legally marry or enter some type of legally recognized relationship. Each year more countries have begun to allow legal recognition of same-sex romantic relationships; therefore, the websites Freedom to Marry and Pew Research Center 2013 are updated regularly for the most accurate map of marriage laws across the world. In addition, Patterson, et al. 2014 is a book chapter that reviews the marriage/relationship recognition laws and how they are intertwined with other laws such as immigration, adoption, and child custody.

                                            • Freedom to Marry.

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                                              This website reports laws and policies surrounding same-sex relationship recognition across the world. Currently there are sixteen counties with legal marriage, two that will recognize a marriage in certain regions, and two that will honor marriages performed outside of the country.

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                                              • Patterson, Charlotte J., Rachel G. Riskind, and Samantha L. Tornello. 2014. Sexual orientation and parenting: A global perspective. In Contemporary issues in family studies: Global perspectives on partnership, parenting, and support in a changing world. Edited by Angela Abela and Janet Walker, 189–202. New York: Wiley Blackwell.

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                                                This chapter examines the law and policy impacting same-sex couples and parents across the world. This is a review of the current state of marriage and relationship recognition laws in different countries and related legal issues.

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                                                • Pew Research Center. 2013. Gay marriage around the world. Religion and Public Life Project.

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                                                  This report conducted by the Pew Research Center gives an up-to-date review of all of the relationship recognition laws across the world. This citation is the most updated version of this reference.

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                                                  Social Perceptions, Impact of Legal Recognition, and Stigma

                                                  Attitudes toward same-sex couples are changing. Pew Research Center 2014 has found that for the first time in history, the majority of Americans support legal same-sex relationship recognition. Stigma surrounding LGBTQ+ people and their relationships has been found to have a negative impact on both the LGB individuals and couples (Impact of Stigma and Anti-Relationship-Recognition Legislation). In contrast, relationship recognition can have a positive impact on both the LGBTQ+ individual’s functioning and the couple’s relationship (Impact of Legal Relationship Recognition). Since 2005, however, state-level marriage amendments (which prohibit marriage between same-sex couples in that state) have been on the ballot. These marriage amendments, along with the actual campaigns themselves, have been found to be harmful to the well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals. These anti-LGBTQ+ laws encourage the perpetuation of discrimination and LGBTQ+ people’s sense of alienation. (Impact of Stigma and Anti-Relationship-Recognition Legislation).

                                                  • Pew Research Center. 2014. Changing attitudes on gay marriage. Religion and Public Life Project.

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                                                    This report examines the general attitudes of Americans regarding same-sex marriage from 2001 until 2014. The majority of Americans were against allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry in 2001 (57 percent) and in 2014 the majority were in favor of such laws (54 percent).

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                                                    Impact of Legal Relationship Recognition

                                                    It is generally acknowledged that legal benefits come with marriage but there are also social and psychological benefits. Riggle, et al. 2010 finds psychological benefits for LGB people in legally recognized relationships, compared to their peers in relationships without legal recognition. Fingerhut and Maisel 2010 explores the positive impact that both legal and social (e.g., a public civil ceremony without legal recognition) relationship recognition had on the individual and couple. In a qualitative study of married gay male couples, Ocobock 2013 explores these men’s expectation for getting married and their families’ reactions to their marriages. Whitton, et al. 2015 finds that same-sex couples who are in a legally recognized relationship reported greater commitment and relationship quality, compared to their peers who did not have the same legal commitment.

                                                    • Fingerhut, Adam. W., and Natalyn C. Maisel. 2010. Relationship formalization and individual and relationship well-being among same-sex couples. Journal of Social Personal Relationships 27:956–969.

                                                      DOI: 10.1177/0265407510376253Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      Internet study of 239 Californians in same-sex relationships exploring the impact of legal relationship recognition and social relationship recognition (e.g., a public civil ceremony) on couples’ functioning. Legal recognition was associated with greater investment in the relationship, while social relationship recognition was related to greater relationship and life satisfaction.

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                                                      • Ocobock, Abigail. 2013. The power and limits of marriage: Married gay men’s family relationships. Journal of Marriage and Family 75:191–205.

                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2012.01032.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        Qualitative study of thirty-two gay men who were each legally married to a same-sex partner in Iowa. Participants describe their expectations for getting legally married along with the positive and negative reactions from family members.

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                                                        • Riggle, Ellen D. B., Sharon S. Rostosky, and Sharon Horne. 2010. Psychological distress, well-being, and legal recognition in same-sex couple relationships. Journal of Family Psychology 24:82–86.

                                                          DOI: 10.1037/a0017942Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          Internet study exploring the association between romantic relationship recognition and psychological well-being among 2,677 LGB individuals. Couples in legally recognized relationships reported less stress, fewer depressive symptoms, and less internalized homophobia, compared to couples who were not in legally recognized relationships.

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                                                          • Whitton, Sarah W., Amanda D. Kuryluk, and Alexander M. Khaddouma. 2015. Legal and social ceremonies to formalize same-sex relationships: Associations with commitment, social support and relationship outcomes. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice 4:161–176.

                                                            DOI: 10.1037/cfp0000045Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            Study of 604 same-sex couples that compares those who had legal, social, or no formal ceremony in relation to their romantic relationship. Couples who had some form of a ceremony, either legal or social, reported greater relationship support. In addition, those in a legally recognized relationship reported being more committed and having greater positive relationship outcomes.

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                                                            Impact of Stigma and Anti-Relationship-Recognition Legislation

                                                            Data shows that same-sex marriage amendments, anti-gay campaigning, and stigma create a negative environment for LGBTQ+ individuals. Riggle, et al. 2009 examines the psychological well-being of LGB people who were currently residing in states with marriage amendments on the ballot. The authors find that these individuals were experiencing greater distress compared to their peers currently residing in other states. In a related study, Rostosky, et al. 2009 finds that LGB people living in states with marriage amendments were experiencing greater psychological stress and greater stigma through media and social messages. Maisel and Fingerhut 2010 finds that having an anti-marriage equality amendment on the ballot in California was associated with negative psychological well-being and negative interpersonal relationships. Similarly, Bauermeister 2014 finds that among sexual-minority men who wanted to become parents in the future, being in a state with same-sex marriage or adoption bans had a negative impact on individual self-esteem and well-being. Mohr and Daly 2008 finds that this stigma impacts both individual and couple functioning.

                                                            • Bauermeister, Jose A. 2014. How statewide LGB policies go from “Under our skin” to “Into our hearts”: Fatherhood aspirations and psychological well-being among emerging adult sexual minority men. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 43:1295–1305.

                                                              DOI: 10.1007/s10964-013-0059-6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              In a study of 1,487 sexual-minority young men, researchers have found that sexual-minority men with higher parenthood aspirations who lived in states with same-sex marriage or adoption bans reported lower self-esteem and poor psychological well-being.

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                                                              • Maisel, Natalya C., and Adam W. Fingerhut. 2010. California’s ban on same-sex marriage: The campaign and its effects on gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals. Journal of Social Issues 67:242–263.

                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.2011.01696.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                Mixed-method study of 354 LGB Californians surveyed right before the 2008 election. The authors find that anti-gay campaigns before the election were associated with experiences of negative emotions and had a negative impact on personal relationships.

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                                                                • Mohr, Jonathon J., and Christopher A. Daly. 2008. Sexual minority stress and changes in relationship quality in same-sex couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 25:989–1007.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/0265407508100311Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  This peer-reviewed article explores the role of minority stress on the relationship functioning of fifty-one same-sex couples over a six-week period. Higher internalized homonegativity (negative LGB beliefs about yourself) was associated with a decrease in relationship satisfaction over a six-week period.

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                                                                  • Riggle, Ellen D. B., Sharon S. Rostosky, and Sharon Horne. 2009. Marriage amendments and lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals in the 2006 election. Sexuality Research and Social Policy 6:80–89.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1525/srsp.2009.6.1.80Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    This study explores the experiences of 1,824 LGB people who were living in states with marriage amendments on the ballot during the 2006 election. The authors find that people living in these states report poorer psychological well-being and an increase in voting behaviors.

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                                                                    • Rostosky, Sharon S., Ellen. D. Riggle, Sharon G. Horne, and Angela D. Miller. 2009. Marriage amendments and psychological distress in lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adults. Journal of Counseling Psychology 56:56–66.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1037/a0013609Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      In an online survey of 1,552 LGB adults, researchers have found that LGB adults living in states with marriage amendments reported greater minority stress (i.e., negative message about LGB people) and greater psychological distress.

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                                                                      Relationship Aspirations and Formation

                                                                      The majority of LGBTQ+ individuals desire a committed, long-term relationship (Relationship Aspirations). Research exploring common dating scripts or how to find potential partners among LGBTQ+ individuals has found both differences and similarities, compared to their heterosexual peers. Traits of ideal partners among LGBTQ+ individuals have been found to be very similar to their same-gendered heterosexual peers, with slight differences (see Courtship and Partner Preference). We highlight the importance of same-sex relationships to LGBTQ+ youth, along with unique challenges these youth face (see Youth Relationships).

                                                                      Youth Relationships

                                                                      Because of being unaware or unwilling to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity, many LGBTQ+ youth often experience difficulty finding a potential romantic partner. For many youth the Internet is a way to find a community of other LGBTQ+ individuals for both friendship and dating. Having a same-sex partner for many LGBTQ+ youth has been found to have a positive impact on their well-being. Baurermeister, et al. 2010 finds that for many youth, having a romantic partner was associated with higher self-esteem and less internalized homophobia. Similarly, Baams, et al. 2014 finds that among youth who had a romantic partner, this partner buffered the negative impact of rejection on the youth’s well-being. Although having many partners may put these youth at risk, Tornello, et al. 2014 finds that many lesbian and bisexual-identified youth were engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors, such as an earlier sexual debut and having a higher number of sexual partners, compared to their heterosexual peers. An area of research that has received some attention is dating violence among LGBTQ+ youth. Through surveys of high school students, Dank, et al. 2014 finds that LGBT youth were at much higher risk for all types of interpersonal violence. This factor was especially true of trans* and female youth, who were at the greatest risk. Exploring the association between partner violence and minority stress, Edwards and Sylaska 2013 finds that LGBTQ+ college students who reported greater minority stress reported experiencing greater physical and sexual violence.

                                                                      • Baams, Laura, Henny M. W. Bos, and Kai J. Jonas. 2014. How a romantic relationship can protect same-sex attracted youth and young adults from the impact of expected rejection. Journal of Adolescence 37:1293–1302.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2014.09.006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Internet study of 309 Dutch adolescence (sixteen to twenty-four years) finds that youth who were currently in a romantic relationship expected lower rejection from the outside world. Their romantic relationships seemed to buffer the association between expected rejection and negative psychological well-being

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                                                                        • Baurermeister, Jose A., Michelle M. Johns, Theo G. M. Sandfort, Anna Eisenberg, Arnold H. Grossman, and Anthony R. D’Augelli. 2010. Relationship trajectories and psychological well-being among sexual minority youth. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 39:1148–1163.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/s10964-010-9557-ySave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          This study examines the associations between being in a same-sex relationship and psychological well-being among 350 LGB youth from LGBTQ+ centers in New York City. Being in a same-sex relationship for these youth was associated with higher self-esteem and less internalized homophobia.

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                                                                          • Dank, Meredith, Pamela Lachman, Janine M. Zweig, and Jennifer Yahner. 2014. Dating violence experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 43:846–857.

                                                                            DOI: 10.1007/s10964-013-9975-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            This study explores the intimate partner violence experienced by 3,745 seventh through twelfth graders. The LGBT youth were at much higher risk for experiencing all different types of violence, compared to their heterosexual, gender-conforming peers. Transgendered and female youth were at highest risk.

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                                                                            • DeHaan, Samantha, Laura E. Kuper, Joshua C. Magee, Lou Bigelow, and Brian S. Mustanski. 2013. The interplay between online and offline explorations of identity, relationships, and sex: A mixed-methods study with LGBT youth. Journal of Sex Research 50:421–434.

                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2012.661489Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              A mixed-methods study exploring the role of the Internet in online and offline experiences of youth and their relationships. Youth report using the Internet to find potential partners and community because of difficulty in finding LGBTQ+ peers.

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                                                                              • Edwards, Katie M., and Kateryna M. Sylaska. 2013. The perpetration of intimate partner violence among LGBTQ college youth: The role of minority stress. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 42:1721–1731.

                                                                                DOI: 10.1007/s10964-012-9880-6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Internet study of 391 LGBTQ+ youth that explores the association between partner violence and minority stress. Minority stress was not associated with psychological violence, but it was related to physical and sexual violence.

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                                                                                • Tornello, Samantha L., Rachel G. Riskind, and Charlotte J. Patterson. 2014. Sexual orientation and sexual and reproductive health among adolescent young women in the United States. Journal of Adolescent Health 54:160–168.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.08.018Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Using a US nationally representative sample of self-identified lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual female youth, researchers have found that lesbian and bisexual women were having sexual contact with male partners at younger ages and were more likely to have been forced by a male to engage in sexual intercourse.

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                                                                                  Relationship Aspirations

                                                                                  Like many heterosexual individuals, the majority of LGBTQ+ individuals want to be in a long-term relationship and eventually marry. Pew Research Center 2013 surveys LGBT Americans and finds that most believe same-sex couples should have the right to marry and the majority wanted to be married in the future. Through interviews with LGBTQ+ people, Kaiser Family Foundation 2001 finds that three-quarters of participants expressed a desire to be married in the future. D’Augelli, et al. 2008 reports on interviews with lesbian and gay youth about their future goals regarding relationships and marriage. The authors find that the majority of youth reported that they would likely be married and many desired to be in a long-term relationship by the age of thirty. It is important to note that the only research that includes transgender participants is Pew Research Center 2013, but this sample is relatively small. In sum, the majority of LGBTQ+ individuals want to be in a long-term committed relationship and eventually marry.

                                                                                  Courtship and Partner Preference

                                                                                  Research on courtship and partner preference among LGBTQ+ individuals is scarce. Research specifically on transgender and bisexual individuals is relatively nonexistent. Of the research that exists, researchers have found both similarities and differences between LGBTQ+ individuals and their heterosexual peers on the topic of courtship and partner preference. A study exploring dating scripts, Klinkenberg and Rose 1994, finds that the scripts or expectations of a dating situation among lesbian and gay individuals were very similar to heterosexual dating scripts. Rose and Debra 2002 finds that potential partners among lesbian women are typically friendships that evolve into dating relationships. DeHaan, et al. 2013 (see also Relationship Aspirations and Formation: Youth Relationships) finds that the Internet is a potential avenue for finding romantic partners among gay male youth. Ha, et al. 2012 reports on an experimental study in which the authors manipulated the attractiveness and social status of a potential partner. The study finds that for gay, lesbian, and heterosexual individuals, physical attractiveness and social status were important traits in a potential partner. Lippa 2007 finds that men ranked physical appearance and women ranked characteristics such as honesty or loyalty as most important in a potential mate, regardless of sexual orientation. However, heterosexual participants were more likely to mention characteristics such as religion or parenting as being of high importance, compared to the lesbian and gay participants. Dating expectations and desired characteristics of LGBTQ+ people’s potential mates are similar in many ways (with limited difference) to those who self-identify as LGBTQ+.

                                                                                  • Ha, Thao, Judith E. M. van de Berg, Rutger C. M. E. Engels, and Anna Lichtwarck-Aschoff. 2012. Effects of attractiveness and status in dating desire in homosexual and heterosexual men and women. Archives of Sexual Behavior 41:673–682.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1007/s10508-011-9855-9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    Reports that in an experimental study of 1,586 participants, researchers compared the dating partner preference of heterosexual women and men to gay men and lesbian women by showing them pictures and vignettes describing potential partners. All participants rated physical attractiveness and social status as highly important traits in a potential mate.

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                                                                                    • Klinkenberg, Dean, and Suzanna Rose. 1994. Dating scripts of gay men and lesbians. Journal of Homosexuality 26:23–35.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1300/J082v26n04_02Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      Reports that in this study, fifty-one gay men and forty-four lesbians completed a survey about first-date scripts. Dating scripts for lesbian and gay participants were very similar to dating scripts for heterosexual couples. Gay men had scripts that were more sexually focused, and lesbian women’s scripts were more focused on intimacy.

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                                                                                      • Lippa, Richard A. 2007. The preferred traits of mates in a cross-national study of heterosexual and homosexual men and women: An examination of biological and cultural influences. Archives of Sexual Behavior 36:193–208.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1007/s10508-006-9151-2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Internet survey (n = 218,195) comparing the desired partner traits of heterosexual women and men, gay men, and lesbian women. Men rated attractiveness as most important, while women rated characteristics such as honesty, humor and dependability. Heterosexual participants were more likely to desire traits related to parenting, children, and religion.

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                                                                                        • Rose, Suzanna, and Zand Debra. 2002. Lesbian dating and courtship from young adulthood to midlife. Journal of Lesbian Studies 6:85–109.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1300/J155v06n01_09Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          Interviews with thirty-eight self-identified lesbians from twenty-two to sixty-three years of age exploring their dating and courtship experiences. The most common courtship among these women was a relationship established through friendships.

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                                                                                          Romantic Relationship Functioning

                                                                                          The romantic relationships of LGBTQ+ individuals largely mirror those of heterosexual couples. Most couples report being happy and in stable relationships, rely on good communication, and experience typical levels of conflict. Nevertheless, relationships among LGBTQ+ individuals do have some unique characteristics. Research on stress and coping in same-sex couples has found that stigma and discrimination associated with their minority identity may sometimes impact their relationship quality and well-being; many studies have found similar trends (see also Romantic Relationship Functioning: Stressors and Coping). Other unique characteristics of same-sex relationships include fairly egalitarian divisions of household labor, variations in power distribution within the dyad, and a range of perspectives on non-monogamy and sexual frequency. Certain aspects of the sexual behavior of some LGBTQ+ individuals and couples—particularly non-monogamy and alternative relationship formations—are addressed independently in Comparative Relationship Functioning (see also Alternative Relationships). The research on the romantic relationships of trans* individuals is very limited—the largest and most comprehensive relationship assessment to date being Iantaffi and Bockting 2011 (cited under Sexual Behavior)—but some research on trans* relationships (see Power Dynamics) has found an imbalance of power dynamics. The functioning of bisexuals’ relationships has gone virtually unexplored, possibly given that the relationship context may inaccurately classify them as lesbian, gay, or heterosexual.

                                                                                          Comparative Relationship Functioning

                                                                                          Many studies exploring the dynamics of committed relationships of couples have compared the relationship experiences of lesbian and gay couples to that of heterosexual couples. Reflective of the variations in legal recognition of same-sex couples throughout the United States before the federal recognition of same-sex marriages in 2015, the definition of commitment varies by investigation. Some studies focus on cohabitating couples, while others classify commitment as a function of duration, and others limit it to legally recognized unions and/or marriages. Generally, studies indicate that same-sex couples in committed relationships function largely the same as heterosexual couples in multiple dimensions, and their long-term success—as explored by Mackey, et al. 2004— is attributed to the same factors. One notable difference between heterosexual and same-sex couples, explored by Roisman, et al. 2008, is in the division of household (and when applicable, child-care) labor. Often lesbian and gay couples report more equitable sharing of unpaid labor than do heterosexual couples—most likely given the absence of gendered scripts for same-sex couples (see also Romantic Relationship Functioning: Divisions of Labor). In addition, some research in Kurdek 2004 has suggested that same-sex couples report more positive functioning, compared to their heterosexual peers. Finally, comparative investigations like that of Solomon, et al. 2004 have demonstrated that same-sex couples also have unique relationship concerns, including varying perceptions of familial and social support.

                                                                                          • Kurdek, Lawrence A. 2004. Are gay and lesbian cohabiting couples really different from heterosexual married couples? Journal of Marriage and Family 66:880–900.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/j.0022-2445.2004.00060.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            A longitudinal study comparing childless gay, lesbian, and heterosexual couples assesses five domains of relationship health. Many comparisons find no differences between groups, although same-sex couples reported better functioning, compared to heterosexual couples.

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                                                                                            • Mackey, Richard A., Matthew A. Diemer, and Bernard A. O’Brien. 2004. Relational factors in understanding satisfaction in the lasting relationships of same-sex and heterosexual couples. Journal of Homosexuality 47:111–136.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1300/J082v47n01_07Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              Interviews of 108 couples (216 participants) in long-term relationships find that for both same-sex and heterosexual couples, containment of relational conflict and psychologically intimate communication between partners were predictive of long-term relationship satisfaction.

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                                                                                              • Roisman, Glenn I., Eric Clausell, Ashley Holland, Keren Fortuna, and Chryle Elieff. 2008. Adult romantic relationships as contexts of human development: A multimethod comparison of same-sex couples with opposite-sex dating, engaged, and married dyads. Developmental Psychology 44:91–101.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1037/0012-1649.44.1.91Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                This mixed-methods study compares the relationship quality, functioning, and attachment of fifty gay men and fifty lesbian couples with that of fifty engaged, forty married, and 109 exclusively dating heterosexual couples. All couples were indistinguishable, except for lesbian couples, who demonstrated high levels of collaboration during conflict tasks.

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                                                                                                • Solomon, Sondra E., Esther D. Rothblum, and F. Balsam Kimberly. 2004. Pioneers in partnership: Lesbians and gay men couples in civil unions compared with those not in civil unions, and married heterosexual couples. Journal of Family Psychology 18:275–286.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1037/0893-3200.18.2.275Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  This study compares 212 lesbians and 123 gay men who had civil unions in Vermont with matched participants who did not, as well as heterosexual married siblings of those lesbian and gay participants who had civil unions. Differences in openness about sexual orientation and divisions of labor emerged.

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                                                                                                  Satisfaction and Quality

                                                                                                  Many of the same correlates of relationship satisfaction that hold true for heterosexual couples, such as low rates of ineffectual arguing or high rates of communication between partners, are the same for same-sex couples (see also Romantic Relationship Functioning: Comparative Relationship Functioning and Romantic Relationship Functioning: Stressors and Coping). For same-sex couples in particular, a prevailing theme in the romantic relationship quality rests on the extent of individuals’ sexual identity disclosure. Lesbian and gay individuals who are more open about their sexual orientation report high levels of relationship satisfaction. Berger 1990 finds that lesbian and gay individuals who maintained public heterosexual identities experienced lower relationship satisfaction than their “out” counterparts. This result is echoed in Caron and Ulin 1997, a large study of lesbian women, which highlights the importance of identity disclosure to family in the couple’s happiness. Whitton and Kuryluk 2014 finds positive associations between relationship quality and depressive symptoms among individuals in same-sex relationships, a factor that may explain some of these findings. Furthermore, the study Clausell and Roisman 2009 has determined that the greater the similarities between partners, in respect to both sexual identity disclosure and other personality factors, the greater the satisfaction they report. Similarly, nearly all studies emphasize that individuals in same-sex relationships with high levels of social support, particularly from family and friends, report the highest levels of relationship satisfaction. For some references to the relationship quality of trans* individuals, see also Iantaffi and Bockting 2011 in Romantic Relationship Functioning: Sexual Behavior.

                                                                                                  • Berger, Raymond M. 1990. Passing: Impact of the quality of same-sex couple relationships. Social Work 35:328–332.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1093/sw/35.4.328Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    A survey of same-sex couples recruited through a national support organization finds that lesbians and gay men who passed themselves publicly as heterosexual reported lower levels of relationship satisfaction, compared to those who were open about their sexual orientation. “Passing” was not related to self-reported love for a partner.

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                                                                                                    • Caron, Sandy L., and Marjorie Ulin. 1997. Closeting and the quality of lesbian relationships. Families in Society 78:413–419.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1606/1044-3894.799Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      A survey of 124 lesbians in couple relationships assesses whether sexual identity disclosure was related to relationship quality. Women who were secretive about their sexual orientation with family and friends reported the lowest romantic relationship quality. Family support and inclusion of partner was found to be influential to the partnership.

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                                                                                                      • Clausell, Eric, and Glenn I. Roisman. 2009. Outness, Big Five personality traits, and same-sex relationship quality. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 26:211–226.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/0265407509106711Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        Reports that individuals from thirty lesbian and thirty gay couples completed “Big Five” personality questionnaires; couples were then observed during a conflict task. Controlling for personality traits, individuals who reported being out and had partners who were out reported higher levels of relationship satisfaction and displayed more positive affect during the conflict.

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                                                                                                        • Mohr, Jonathan J., and Ruth E. Fassinger. 2006. Sexual orientation identity and romantic relationship quality in same-sex couples. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 32:1085–1099.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/0146167206288281Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          This cross-sectional study investigates the association of internalized homonegativity, stigma sensitivity, identity confusion, and identity superiority with relationship quality in a sample of 274 lesbian and 187 gay couples. Partners scored similarly to one another on all factors, and individual effects of each identity variable were associated with relationship quality.

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                                                                                                          • Whitton, Sarah W., and Amanda D. Kuryluk. 2014. Associations between relationship quality and depressive symptoms in same-sex couples. Journal of Family Psychology 28:571–576.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1037/fam0000011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            In a diverse sample of 571 US adults in same-sex relationships, researchers have found a moderate negative association between relationship quality and depressive symptoms. This association was stronger among highly committed and interdependent couples.

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                                                                                                            Romantic Attachment

                                                                                                            Studies on adult romantic attachment for LGB individuals indicate that individuals in same-sex relationships largely develop securely attached relationships with their partners. Mohr, et al. 2013 finds that secure attachment with a partner was associated with positive relationship, individual identity, and sexual attitudes. Insecure attachment between lesbian and gay individuals and their partners has been associated with poor relationship functioning. Incidentally, Zamora, et al. 2013 finds that perceived discrimination based on sexual orientation was associated with both depression and anxious attachment among gay men. Mohr, et al. 2013 further finds that monogamy has been positively associated with relationship quality only when participants or their partners report attachment anxiety in the relationship. Furthermore, the study Markey and Markey 2013 finds that sociosexual attitudes (or the willingness to engage in uncommitted sexual relationships) of women in lesbian relationships was predictive of the couples’ reported commitment. Finally, Willis 2013 finds that attachment anxiety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual individuals, and found gender—not sexual orientation—to be the driving predictor of individuals’ relationship expectations.

                                                                                                            • Markey, Patrick, and Charlotte Markey. 2013. Sociosexuality and relationship commitment among lesbian couples. Journal of Research in Personality 47:282–285.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2013.02.002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              This study of seventy-two lesbian couples finds a positive association between sociosexual attitudes and relationship commitment; when both members had restricted sociosexual attitudes, relationship commitment was high. However, women with restricted sociosexual attitudes reported low levels of commitment when in relationships with unrestricted partners.

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                                                                                                              • Mohr, Jonathan J., Dylan Selterman, and Ruth E. Fassinger. 2013. Romantic attachment and relationship functioning in same-sex couples. Journal of Counseling Psychology 60:72–92.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1037/a0030994Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                This cross-sectional survey study assesses the romantic attachment of 274 female couples and 188 male couples from the United States and Canada. Attachment insecurity in both self and partner was associated with poor relationship satisfaction, commitment, trust, communication, and problem intensity.

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                                                                                                                • Willis, Jarryd T. 2013. Partner preferences across sexual orientations and biological sex. Personal Relationships 21:150–167.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/pere.12021Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  This study compares the friendship and romantic attachment anxiety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual individuals, and further concludes that regardless of sexual orientation, women were preferred as emotional supports in friendships, and lesbian women reported higher expectations for their female partners, as compared to heterosexual men.

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                                                                                                                  • Zamora, Richard, Carrie Winterowd, Julie Koch, and Steven Roring. 2013. The relationship between love styles and romantic attachment styles in gay men. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling 7:200–217.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/15538605.2013.812927Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    This Internet-based study examines perceived discrimination as a mediator between adult attachment and depression among gay males. Perceived discrimination partially explained the relationship between attachment anxiety and depression

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                                                                                                                    Divisions of Labor

                                                                                                                    Research on the division of unpaid labor among same-sex couples focuses on the household experiences of two types of couples—those without or with children. Generally speaking, same-sex couples do not employ gender-typical specializations in their performance of household chores, though there is some variation among couple types (see also Moore 2008 in Romantic Relationship Functioning: Power Dynamics). Bailey and Jackson 2005 explores how relationship balance often motivated lesbian couples’ management of household finances, while Kurdek 2007 examines how equitable distribution of other household chores was associated with lesbian and gay couples’ relationship satisfaction. Kurdek 2007 finds that lesbian couples tend to split household work more evenly than do their gay male counterparts, and Shechory and Ziv 2007 expands this finding with a similar study that concludes that lesbians’ division of labor was also more egalitarian than heterosexual couples’. Farr and Patterson 2013 researches same-sex couples with children, and indicates that child care is often fairly balanced between same-sex parents as well—more so than is typical among heterosexual couples—except for among stepfamilies, as studied by Goldberg, et al. 2012, wherein biological parents often perform more child-care labor. For all couples, satisfaction with division of labor arrangements is important for overall relationship quality. Only one study. Pfeffer 2010, has explored the household labor arrangements of cisgender women and trans* men. This study suggests that, in contrast to the experiences of same-sex couples, the relationships of transgender individuals and their partners are decidedly not egalitarian.

                                                                                                                    • Bailey, Diana, and Jeanne Jackson. 2005. The occupation of household financial management among lesbian couples. Journal of Occupational Science 12:57–68.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/14427591.2005.9686549Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Explores researchers’ interviews of thirteen lesbian couples about household financial management. Participants’ narratives demonstrated critical awareness of broader social, legal, and political contexts to their financial situations, and the arrangements emphasized fairness and balance as well as respect for paid and unpaid work.

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                                                                                                                      • Farr, Rachel H., and Charlotte J. Patterson. 2013. Coparenting among lesbian, gay, and heterosexual couples: Associations with adopted children’s outcomes. Child Development 84:1226–1240.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12046Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        In this study, the self-reported household and child-care division of labor and family interactions of 104 adoptive lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parents are examined. Same-sex couples shared both household and child-care labor, while heterosexual couples were more specialized.

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                                                                                                                        • Goldberg, Abbie E., JuliAnna Z. Smith, and Maureen Perry-Jenkins. 2012. The division of labor in lesbian, gay, and heterosexual adoptive parents. Journal of Marriage and Family 74:812–828.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2012.00992.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          This study compares the pre- and post-adoption housework and child-care patterns of lesbian, gay, and heterosexual couples. Same-sex couples shared child care and housework more equally than heterosexual couples; inequities in income and paid work time influenced partner contributions for all partner types.

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                                                                                                                          • Kurdek, Lawrence A. 2007. The allocation of household labor by partners in gay and lesbian couples. Journal of Family Issues 28:132–148.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1177/0192513X06292019Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            This study surveys fully employed partners of forty-three gay and thirty-six lesbian couples to determine how partners allocated labor for female-typical chores. No differences in task frequency emerged; lesbian couples reported evenly distributing tasks. Satisfaction with labor arrangements was associated with relationship satisfaction and stability.

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                                                                                                                            • Pfeffer, Carla A. 2010. “Women’s work”? Women partners of transgender men doing housework and emotion work. Journal of Marriage and Family 72:165–183.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2009.00690.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              In this study, interviews with fifty female partners of female-to-male transgender individuals indicate that household labor was highly specialized and imbalanced, such that the female partners performed more work than their transgender male partners. In addition, the partners also described doing “emotion work,” and such efforts reflected exaggerated heterosexual scripts.

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                                                                                                                              • Shechory, Mally, and Riva Ziv. 2007. Relationships between gender role attitudes, role division, and perception of equity among heterosexual, gay and lesbian couples. Sex Roles 56:629–638.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1007/s11199-007-9207-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                This study compares the gender role attitudes, task performance, and perception of equity among twenty-seven heterosexual couples, fifteen gay male couples, and forty lesbian couples in Israel. Same-sex couples reported more liberal gender role attitudes. Gay male couples, like heterosexual couples, reported less egalitarian relationships than did lesbian couples.

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                                                                                                                                Power Dynamics

                                                                                                                                Early investigations of power in romantic relationships by the researchers in Caldwell and Peplau 1984 have followed the framework of social exchange theory, such that the partner with higher status and more resources is afforded more power. Early investigations by the sociologists in Harry and DeVall 1978 have found that, for gay male couples, often the older or wealthier partner has this power; however, over half of gay couples report equal balance of power in their relationships. Perry, et al. 2015 explores how power dynamics in gay relationships predict adherence to non-monogamy agreements, finding mixed results. The perspective of social exchange of power in LGBTQ relationships has more recently been revisited to a limited degree by Moore 2008 and Bruns 2008. There appears to be more diversity in the stability of power in lesbian relationships; while studies indicate that up to 60 percent of lesbians report being in relationships of equal power, age and household decision-making also contribute to inequity. Moore 2008 finds that biological and stepparenthood add complexity to lesbian couples’ power dynamics, while Bruns 2008 explores how age gaps between lesbian partners can affect the dynamic. Typically, however, lesbian and gay couples both report desires for balanced relationships. A limited body of research, exemplified in the study Melendez and Pinto 2007, has suggested that transgender individuals—especially male-to-female trans*—may face particular imbalance of power because of strict conformity to gender scripts in their relationships (see also Iantaffi and Bockting 2011, cited under Romantic Relationship Functioning: Sexual Behavior).

                                                                                                                                • Bruns, Cindy M. 2008. May-December lesbian relationships: Power storms or blue skies? Journal of Lesbian Studies 12:265–281.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/10894160802161448Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  This study explores the power dynamics of lesbian relationships of women over the age of thirty, with age differences of at least ten years. Women in these relationships experienced nonrigid fluctuations of power that the authors ascribed to broader, gender-based scripts, as well as the relationship context itself.

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                                                                                                                                  • Caldwell, Mayta A., and Letitia A. Peplau. 1984. The balance of power in lesbian relationships. Sex Roles 10:587–599.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1007/BF00287267Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    A survey of seventy-seven lesbians finds that on average, they strongly endorsed balance of power in a relationship, but 40 percent reported unequal balance of power in their own relationship. Women with unequal relationship power anticipated more problems and were more satisfied with their relationships than those with equal power.

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                                                                                                                                    • Harry, Joseph, and William DeVall. 1978. Age and sexual culture among homosexually oriented males. Archives of Sexual Behavior 7:199–209.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1007/BF01542379Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Examines a survey of 243 gay men, in which higher occupational status was found to be associated with preference for young partners. Individuals with lower occupational levels most rigidly endorsed preferences for younger partners when they themselves were older, or vice versa.

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                                                                                                                                      • Melendez, Rita M., and Rogério Pinto. 2007. “It’s really a hard life”: Love, gender and HIV risk among male-to-female transgender persons. Culture, Health and Sexuality 9:233–245.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/13691050601065909Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        In-depth interviews of twenty male-to-female (MTF) transgender individuals reveal that MTF individuals may experience less relationship power and engage in riskier sexual situations at the behest of their partners. This behavior was attributed to the desire to feel affirmation of their nonbiological sex.

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                                                                                                                                        • Moore, Mignon. 2008. Gendered power relations among women: A study of household decision making in Black lesbian stepfamilies. American Sociological Review 73:335–356.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/000312240807300208Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          Using mixed methods, researchers have found that couples in thirty-two Black lesbian stepfamilies shared provider roles, but biological mothers undertook more household chores. Increased household responsibilities were associated with greater authority over household resources and organization. Unequal division of labor was associated with disparate relationship power.

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                                                                                                                                          • Perry, Nicholas S., David M. Huebener, Brian R. Baucom, and Colleen C. Hoff. 2015. Relationship power, sociodemographics, and their relative influence on sexual agreements among gay male couples. AIDS and Behavior.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1007/s10461-015-1196-6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            This study associates 566 gay couples and their scores on measure of decision-making power with investment or adherence to monogamy agreements, finding no association. However, demographic indicators of power, like age and earning capacity, were predictive; Young and low-earning partners were less committed, as were white males, and concordant HIV-positive-status couples.

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                                                                                                                                            Stressors and Coping

                                                                                                                                            Research on relationship stability and satisfaction indicates that experiences with discrimination and other minority stressors can negatively affect the intimate relationships of same-sex couples. Specifically, as found in Otis, et al. 2006, relationship quality may be adversely impacted by higher levels of internalized homophobia and discrimination. However, Frost and Meyer 2009 finds that this effect may impact relationship outcomes through depressive symptoms. Additionally, Frost 2011 finds that how couples frame stigma and cope with discrimination may also determine the direction of the effect on relationship quality. Research in Graham and Barnow 2013 has suggested that support from family and friends may buffer couples from the negative effects of minority stress.

                                                                                                                                            • Frost, David M. 2011. Stigma and intimacy in same-sex relationships: A narrative perspective. Journal of Family Psychology 25:1–10.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1037/a0022374Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              Qualitative study of the written stories of ninety-nine LGB participants (fifty-one women, forty-eight men) who wrote on the experiences of stigma and its impact on their intimate relationships. Researchers have found that how participants framed or coped with discrimination may impact the effect of stigma on their intimate relationships.

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                                                                                                                                              • Frost, David M., and Ian H. Meyer. 2009. Internalized homophobia and relationship quality among lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. Journal of Counseling Psychology 56:97–109.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1037/a0012844Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                Survey of 396 LGB individuals seeks to examine associations between relationship quality and internalized homophobia. Researchers have found that this internalized homophobia may impact relationship problems by increasing depressive symptoms.

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                                                                                                                                                • Graham, James M., and Zoe B. Barnow. 2013. Stress and social support in gay, lesbian, and heterosexual couples: Direct effects and buffering models. Journal of Family Psychology 27:569–578.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1037/a0033420Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Sample of 111 couples (forty-one lesbian, twenty-five gay, and forty-five heterosexual) seeks to examine the buffering effects of social support on well-being in different couple types. Results from this study indicate that social support from family and friends may play a direct role in impacting the well-being of all couple types.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Otis, Melanie D., Sharon S. Rostosky, Ellen Riggle, and Rebecca Hamrin. 2006. Stress and relationship quality in same-sex couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 23:81–99.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/0265407506060179Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    A web-based survey of 131 couples (eighty-five lesbian, forty-six gay) examines whether minority stressors impact the relationship quality of same-sex couples. Higher levels of internalized homophobia and discrimination were associated with reports of lower relationship quality.

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                                                                                                                                                    Sexual Behavior

                                                                                                                                                    Much of the research exploring sexual activity of LGBTQ+ couples is risk-centric or comparative to heterosexual couples (see also Romantic Relationship Functioning: Comparative Relationship Functioning). As discussed by Peplau, et al. 2004, research specific to gay male couples tends to report greater frequency of sexual relations, compared to heterosexual couples, and heterosexual couples tend to report greater frequency of sexual relations than do lesbian couples. Frequency of reported sexual relations decreases over time for all couple types, but Peplau, et al. 2004 has found that the decline is greatest among lesbian couples and smallest among gay couples. Research in Diamond 2000 has shown that women in particular demonstrate variability between their sexual behaviors, attractions, and identities over time. Ridley, et al. 2008 finds that, for all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, sexual behaviors have been associated with emotionality between individuals in the couple. A study conducted by the author of LaSala 2004 also indicates relatively high rates of negotiated sexual non-monogamy among gay men, relative to other couple types. Overall, lesbian and heterosexual couples seem more likely than gay couples to value and practice sexual monogamy. Finally, one of the largest studies of transgender individuals to date, Iantaffi and Bockting 2011, finds that most transgender individuals reported that they were in sexually monogamous relationships. Only 21 percent of trans* men and 26 percent of trans* women described themselves as being involved in sexually non-monogamous relationships.

                                                                                                                                                    • Diamond, Lisa. 2000. Sexual identity, attractions, and behavior among young sexual-minority women over a 2-year period. Developmental Psychology 36:241–250.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1037/0012-1649.36.2.241Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Reports that in this two-year longitudinal study, eighty sexual-minority identified women demonstrated variability in their self-reported sexual attractions, behaviors, and identities over time. This sexual fluidity was considered to be particularly unique to women.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Iantaffi, Alex, and Walter O. Bockting. 2011. Views from both sides of the bridge? Gender, sexual legitimacy and transgender peoples’ experiences of relationships. Culture, Health and Sexuality 13:355–370.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/13691058.2010.537770Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        This Internet-based survey of transgender individuals in the United States investigates the role of gender beliefs in their romantic relationships. Sixty-three percent of female-to-male participants reported being in a monogamous relationship, as did 55 percent of male-to-female participants. Gender conformity and fear of rejection marked many of participants’ sexual relationships.

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                                                                                                                                                        • LaSala, Michael C. 2004. Extradyadic sex and gay male couples: Comparing monogamous and nonmonogamous relationships. Families in Society 85:405–412.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1606/1044-3894.1502Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          This study of 121 gay male couples in the United States finds that dyadic adjustment was the same between couples who practiced sexual monogamy and those who practiced non-monogamy. Results indicate that sexual monogamy is not a necessary component to a committed relationship for many gay male couples.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Peplau, Letitia A., Adam W. Fingerhut, and Kristin P. Beals. 2004. Sexuality in the relationships of lesbians and gay men. In Handbook of sexuality in close relationships. Edited by John H. Harvey, Amy Wenzel, and Susan Sprecher, 350–369. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

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                                                                                                                                                            This chapter is a detailed review of research on sexuality in lesbian and gay committed relationships. The review provides both social and historical context for the study of sexual-minority relationships, as well as an integrated analysis of empirical studies on both lesbian and gay relationships.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Ridley, Carl, Brian Ogolsky, Pamela Payne, Casey Totenhagen, and Rodney Cate. 2008. Sexual expression: Its emotional context in heterosexual, gay, and lesbian couples. Journal of Sex Research 45:305–314.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/00224490802204449Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              A fourteen-day diary study follows the daily feelings that lesbian, gay, and heterosexual individuals felt toward their partners, and associates them with sexual activity between partners. Positive feelings were associated with increased sexual activity, as were negative feelings for all individuals except lesbian women.

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                                                                                                                                                              Alternative Relationships

                                                                                                                                                              Committed couple relationships represent most, but not all, romantic relationship types among LGBTQ+ individuals. Some LGBTQ+ couples—particularly gay male couples—are more likely than others to participate in committed relationships that are not sexually exclusive (see Romantic Relationship Functioning: Sexual Behavior). There are, however, other variations of consensually non-monogamous relationships that vary in degrees of emotional, sexual, and legal commitment among partner(s) (see Non-Monogamous Romantic Relationships). Furthermore, many LGBTQ+ individuals—particularly those who come out later in life—engage in heterosexual relationships (see Heterosexual Contexts). Like some alternative non-monogamous relationships, the heterosexual contexts of some LGBTQ+ individuals’ experiences of sexuality involve families with children. The experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals in any of these relationships can be positive, negative, or mixed.

                                                                                                                                                              Non-Monogamous Romantic Relationships

                                                                                                                                                              While most LGBTQ+ individuals participate in couple relationships, some participate in consensually non-monogamous relationships. Such relationships may involve a primary dyad, with one or both partners participating in additional sexual relationships outside the dyad. As discussed by Barker and Landridge 2010, others may involve both members of a primary dyad engaging in sexual encounters together with a third person, and others may involve three or more partners of one or multiple genders becoming involved with one another in polyamorous relationships. The study Parsons, et al. 2012 concludes that most of those who participate in alternative relationship patterns describe themselves as being as satisfied with their relationships, as those in monogamous couple relationships (see LaSala 2004 in Romantic Relationship Functioning: Sexual Behavior). Participants in the study Bricker and Horne 2007 have reported lower levels of sexual jealousy but similar overall relationship satisfaction among consensually non-monogamous gay men, compared to their monogamous peers. There is limited discussion of alternative relationships among transgender individuals (see also Sexual Behavior).

                                                                                                                                                              • Barker, Meg, and Darren Landridge. 2010. Whatever happened to non-monogamies? Critical reflections on recent research and theory. Sexualities 13:748–772.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1177/1363460710384645Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                This article thoroughly defines polyamory, swinging, and gay open relationships, and reviews the research on these alternative relationship types. A particular emphasis is on the need to diversify the literature beyond celebratory and critical evaluations of non-monogamy.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Bricker, Michael E., and Sharon G. Horne. 2007. Gay men in long-term relationships: The impact of monogamy and non-monogamy on relational health. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy 6:27–47.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1300/J398v06n04_02Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  In this study of 179 gay men in the United States and Canada, 73 percent reported being in monogamous relationships. Non-monogamous men reported higher levels of outness and greater frequency of previous male sexual contact. All men reported similar relationship and sexual satisfaction, attachment styles, and sexual frequency with primary partners.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Parsons, Jeffrey T., Tyrel J. Starks, Kristi E. Gamarel, and Christian Grov. 2012. Non-monogamy and sexual relationship quality among same-sex male couples. Journal of Family Psychology 26:669–677.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1037/a0029561Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    This study associates sexual agreements and relationship quality for 322 men (in 166 male couples). Most were monogamous, 13 percent were in open relationships, 15 percent had other non-monogamous arrangements, and 19 percent were discrepant. Sexual arrangements were not associated with sexual satisfaction, communication, or frequency, though monogamous men reported more jealousy.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Heterosexual Contexts

                                                                                                                                                                    As society has become increasingly more accepting of same-sex relationships, a growing number of individuals already in heterosexual relationships have come to self-identify as LGBTQ+. Often married and sometimes with children, individuals in these mixed-orientation relationships have varied experiences. Higgins 2002 explores the motivations for gay and bisexual men to participate in heterosexual marriages, and Pearcey 2005 follows the experiences of heterosexually married gay and bisexual men before, during, and after coming out to their wives. For many men in both studies, particularly those who do not disclose their orientation publicly or to their partners, the heterosexual context was a negative experience. Buxton 2001 and Buxton 2004 find that for other sexual-minority men and women—particularly those who identify as bisexual in the context of a heterosexual marriage—positive maintenance of a heterosexual relationship is not uncommon, though the experience appears to have the least strife to bisexual women and their partners. Furthermore, research involving LGBTQ+ individuals with children from heterosexual relationships, like that in Tornello and Patterson 2012 with its research with gay fathers, suggests that relationship quality may suffer for individuals who remain in mixed relationships, but that parenting stressors remain unaffected. Hernandez, et al. 2010, a review of research on mixed-orientation marriages, provides a thorough background on the topic.

                                                                                                                                                                    • Buxton, Amity P. 2001. Writing your own script: How bisexual men and heterosexual wives maintain their marriages after disclosure. Journal of Bisexuality 2:155–189.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1300/J159v01n02_06Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      This survey compares relationship maintenance strategies of fifty-six bisexual men and fifty-one of their wives who stayed married after disclosure, to experiences of thirty-two gay married men and twenty-eight of their wives. Strategies included communication, social support, receiving therapy, and time apart. Husbands’ empathy and wives’ flexibility were also important.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Buxton, Amity P. 2004. Works in progress: How mixed-orientation couples maintain their marriages after the wives come out. Journal of Bisexuality 4:57–82.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1300/J159v04n01_06Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        This survey compares relationship maintenance strategies of forty bisexual and forty-seven lesbian wives of heterosexual marriages, twenty-seven heterosexual husbands of bisexual women, and twenty-two husbands of lesbian women. Strategies included communication, social support, and others; fewer deterrents to maintaining marriages were reported than previously reported for gay and bisexual men.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Hernandez, Barbara C., Naomi J. Schwenke, and Colwick M. Wilson. 2010. Spouses in mixed-orientation marriage: A 20-year review of empirical studies. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 37:307–318.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2010.00202.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          This review piece covers the bulk of research published before 2008 on mixed-orientation marriages for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals and their families. The review focuses on common mental health findings, and provides special insights regarding the clinical implications of working with clients who are in mixed-orientation marriages.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Higgins, Daryl J. 2002. Gay men from heterosexual marriages: Attitudes, behaviors, childhood experiences, and reasons for marriage. Journal of Homosexuality 42:15–34.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1300/J082v42n04_02Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            This survey investigates the attitudes, behaviors, and experiences of twenty-six gay or bisexual identified men who were married to women. Participants most frequently reported desires for children and family life as motivations for marriage, as well as ideation of heterosexual marriage as “natural.”

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Pearcey, Matt. 2005. Gay and bisexual married men’s attitudes and experiences: Homophobia, reasons for marriage, and self-identity. Journal of GLBT Families Studies 1:21–41.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1300/J461v01n04_02Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              This semi-structured interview study examines experiences of twenty gay or bisexual men before, during, and after coming out to their wives. Participants cited family and social pressures to have “normal” and healthy family lives in decisions to pursue heterosexual relationships.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Tornello, Samantha L., and Charlotte J. Patterson. 2012. Gay fathers in mixed orientation relationships: The experiences of those who stay in their marriage and of those who leave. Journal of GLBT Family Studies 8:85–98.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/1550428X.2012.641373Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                In this survey study, formerly married gay fathers—109 currently in gay relationships, forty-four single, and fourteen still married to wives—reported relationship satisfaction, parenting stress, sexual orientation disclosure, and gay identity. Those in heterosexual marriages reported low levels of relationship satisfaction and identity openness; parenting stress was not different between groups.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Intersectional Identities

                                                                                                                                                                                The experiences of LGBTQ+ couples may also be impacted by the various other identities and communities of which they are a part. Of these identities, we focus on the intersections of age, race, and gender identity, as these factors represent the major categories addressed by empirical research. For older same-sex couples, history of victimization and experiences with prejudice may limit their access to and utilization of elderly care services, as well as impact their mental health and economic outcomes (see Elder Couples). Likewise, same-sex interracial couples may encounter additional challenges in their relationships as a result of their racial and sexual identities. However, research suggests that how couples overcome these challenges may also improve their resiliency toward other forms of discrimination (see Interracial Couples). Though research has shown that same-sex couples do not typically divide unpaid household labor along traditional gendered lines, their relationships may still be impacted by how they view and construct gender outside of traditional heteronormative contexts (see Gender Identity and Norms).

                                                                                                                                                                                Elder Couples

                                                                                                                                                                                Research in this area has focused on individual experiences and outcomes for elder LGBTQ+ adults, with little attention to those in long-term intimate relationships. However, for some LGBTQ+ people, having a partner may play a strong role in improving quality of life and well-being. Wight, et al. 2012 suggests that elder LGB adults’ risk may double because of age-related and minority-specific stressors, which were both associated with mental health in later life. Grossman, et al. 2000 finds that elder LGB adults who were cohabiting with a partner reported larger social networks, along with better physical and mental health, compared to those who lived alone. Heaphy 2009 suggests that LGB adults may also have difficulty increasing their social support networks as their age increases. Additionally, Baumle 2014, a study of economic and health outcomes, suggests that cumulative stressors related to gender may also negatively impact outcomes for lesbian couples in later life. Specifically, elder female same-sex couples were found to be more likely to be working at older ages, have lower household incomes, and be more reliant on retirement income. In addition, Frederiksen-Goldsen and Muraco 2010 finds that a large percentage of elder LGB adults remain underserved in supportive care services and other elder-age-related care. Currently, the authors are unaware of any research that examines the experiences of elder trans* individuals in the context of romantic relationships.

                                                                                                                                                                                • Baumle, Amanda K. 2014. Same-sex cohabiting elders versus different-sex cohabiting married elders: Effects of relationship status and sex of partner on economic and health outcomes. Social Science Research 43:60–73.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2013.09.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Study of partners in different-sex married (n = 765,204), different-sex cohabiting (n = 16,700), and same-sex cohabiting (780 lesbian, 986 gay) relationships, ages sixty-five and up, obtained from census data. Results indicate female same-sex elder couples may fare worse than different-sex married and different-sex cohabiting couples on economic and health-related outcomes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Frederiksen-Goldsen, Karen I., and Anna Muraco. 2010. Aging and sexual orientation: A 25-year review of the literature. Research on Aging 32:372–413.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/0164027509360355Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    A life-course review of current literature on older LGB adults. Researchers have found that community resources and sources of support may be important in promoting positive outcomes for this population.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Grossman, Arnold H., Anthony R. D’Augelli, and Scott L. Hersherger. 2000. Social support networks of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults 60 years of age and older. Journal of Gerontology 55B:171–179.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/geronb/55.3.P171Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      Survey of 416 LGB adults age sixty to ninety-one years. Researchers have found that older LGB adults who lived with a partner reported being in better physical and mental health, compared to those who lived alone. However, of those surveyed, only 29 percent lived with a partner, indicating that a substantial percentage of older LGB adults may be lacking adequate access to networks of social support.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Heaphy, Brian 2009. Choice and its limits in older lesbian and gay narratives of relational life. Journal of GLBT Family Studies 5:119–138.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/15504280802595451Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        A mixed-methods study of 266 older lesbian and gay men, ages fifty and older. Participants reported that finding a partner became more difficult with age.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Wight, Richard G., Allen J. LeBlanc, Brian de Vries, and Brian Detels. 2012. Stress and mental health among midlife and older gay-identified men. American Journal of Public Health 102:503–510.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300384Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          A survey of 202 gay-identified men between the ages of forty-four and seventy-five examines the associations between age and sexual-minority status on stress and mental health in later life. Stigma associated with gay-identity and age related stressors were both found to be strongly related with mental health.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Interracial Couples

                                                                                                                                                                                          Research on the impact of minority identity on well-being and mental health has often utilized a minority stress framework. This theoretical framework examines the impact of social environment, prejudice, and other institutional disadvantages that impact the experiences of individuals with a stigmatized identity (e.g., race, gender, sexual orientation). Meyer 1995 defines minority stress as the additional, chronic stress that members of stigmatized populations face because of their marginalized identities, in addition to other stressors that may occur in day-to-day living. For interracial same-sex couples, they may encounter additive stressors as a result of both their racial and sexual identities. Additive models suggest that these combinations of minority stressors may negatively impact the quality of their intimate relationships, as compared to same-race same-sex couples. However, other research indicates that these effects may be moderated by couples’ coping styles and communication skills. Rostosky, et al. 2008 reports on interviews of a small sample of interracial same-sex couples and finds that minority stressors related to both sexual and racial identities arose during family and community interactions. Little research has been done on how these stressors may impact relationship stability. Among a sample of African American lesbian women in interracial couples, Mays, et al. 1993 finds that participants reported feelings of isolation from both their white partners and from the LGBTQ community. In addition, Steinbugler 2005 finds that interracial couples may experience difficulties in recognition as a couple or as a family when together in public spaces. The majority of this research suggests that these added stressors may negatively impact mental health and relationship outcomes. Conversely, Jeong and Horne 2009 finds no differences in levels of stress and social support among lesbian same-race and interracial couples. Furthermore, lesbian couples in interracial relationships reported the lowest levels of internalized homophobia among all the groups. Jeong and Horne 2009 suggests that these results may be due to benefits associated with successfully navigating and coping with racial minority stressors, which may bolster resiliency to other minority stressors, such as homophobia. However, these results may also be due to the unequal distribution of women across the four groups. Due to the relative difficulty of obtaining a large sample size from this population, studies on interracial same-sex couples have mainly been explorative in nature and typically utilize a qualitative approach to analyze.

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Jeong, Jae Y., and Sharon G. Horne. 2009. Relationship characteristics of women in interracial same-sex relationships. Journal of Homosexuality 56:443–456.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/00918360902821445Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            Internet study of 1,070 lesbian couples in both interracial (172) and same-race (899) relationships. No differences were found between the groups on levels of stress and social support. Additionally, it was found that women in interracial relationships reported the lowest levels of internalized homophobia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • LeBlanc, Allen J., David M. Frost, and Richard G. Wight. 2015. Minority stress and stress proliferation among same-sex and other marginalized couples. Journal of Marriage and Family 77:40–59.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/jomf.12160Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              This article examines theoretical approaches to understanding stress and mental health among same-sex couples. Authors utilize stress proliferation approaches and minority stress theory to theorize about how couple-level minority stressors impact individual partners and the couple as a whole.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Mays, Vickie M., Susan D. Cochran, and Sylvia Rhue. 1993. The impact of perceived discrimination on the intimate relationships of Black lesbians. Journal of Homosexuality 25:1–14.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1300/J082v25n04_01Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                Semi-structured interviews with eight African American lesbians. Researchers have found that many participants felt disconnected from both the LGBTQ community and the African American community because of perceived discrimination and feelings of alienation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Meyer, Ian H. 1995. Minority stress and mental health in gay men. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 36:38–56.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/2137286Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Article outlines the concept of minority stress as it applies to gay men, in reference to internalized homophobia, stigma, discrimination, and violence. In a survey of 741 gay men, minority stressors were related with the mental health of gay men.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Rostosky, Sharon S., Ellen D. B. Riggle, Todd A. Savage, Staci D. Roberts, and Gilbert Singletary. 2008. Interracial same-sex couples’ perceptions of stress and coping: An exploratory study. Journal of GLBT Family Studies 4:277–299.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/15504280802177458Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Semi-structured interviews conducted with thirteen interracial same-sex couples (five female, eight male). The majority of couples reported relationship stressors as a result of both their sexual and racial identities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Steinbugler, Amy C. 2005. Visibility as privilege and danger: Heterosexual and same sex inter-racial intimacy in the 21st century. Sexualities 8:425–443.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/1363460705056618Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Explores a study that interviewed eight interracial (four heterosexual and four same-sex) couples. All couples were in black/white interracial couples. Researchers have found that almost all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, reported problems with recognition as families or partners in public spaces.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Gender Identity and Norms

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Research on gender differences and gender identity in same-sex couples has historically focused on parenting practices and division of labor. Though the majority of these studies compare same-sex couples to heterosexual couples, the review Goldberg 2013 indicates that this heteronormative approach may fail to accurately address the role of gender in same-sex couples’ intimate relationships. Lev 2008 suggests that domestic roles in lesbian relationships may be important in cultivating positive home environments and nurturing families. Though these roles may seem to mirror “housewife” roles, they lack the traditional power differentials associated with them. Similarly, in a study of how lesbian couples subjectively experience their own gender identity, Levitt, et al. 2003 finds that a focus on equitability in the lesbian community has resulted in greater emphasis on butch or androgynous gender presentations. A Swedish study of labor division among same-sex couples, Khor 2007, finds that egalitarian beliefs played a large role in the process of deciding on divisions of labor. In addition, Giesler 2012 finds that public perception of gender norms may negatively impact self-perceptions of parenting ability among gay fathers. Relatedly, Sánchez, et al. 2009 finds that partnered gay men were more likely endorse traditional masculine roles compared to single gay men (see also Romantic Relationship Functioning: Divisions of Labor).

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Giesler, Mark A. 2012. Gay fathers’ negotiation of gender role strain: A qualitative inquiry. Fathering 10:119–139.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.3149/fth.1002.119Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        This qualitative study of twelve gay fathers explores their perception of gender roles in parenting. Most fathers reported struggles in both becoming a parent and negotiating parenting practices, as a result of public perceptions of men’s capability to rear children.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Goldberg, Abbie E. 2013. “Doing” and “undoing” gender: The meaning of division of housework in same-sex couples. Journal of Family Theory & Review 5:85–104.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/jftr.12009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                          This article reviews the literature on division of labor among same-sex couples and discusses the ways in which same-sex couples both draw from and deconstruct traditional gender norms. Results show that lesbian and gay relationships are neither traditional, nor hierarchical, in a simple comparison of domestic labor.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Khor, Diana. 2007. Doing gender: A critical review and exploration of lesbigay domestic arrangements. Journal of GLBT Family Studies 3:35–73.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1300/J461v03n01_03Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                            This Swedish study of thirty-one lesbian women and twenty-four gay men finds a strong pattern of egalitarianism in the decisions on how housework was divided among couples (flexibility, complexity, and deliberateness) but less egalitarianism in how the labor was actually performed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Lev, Arlene I. 2008. More than surface tension: Femmes in families. Journal of Lesbian Studies 12:127–144.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/10894160802161299Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                              This article critiques the lack of scholarly attention to butch/femme dynamics in lesbian couples in relation to family building and parenting. Suggests that femmes (more stereotypically feminine women) may play an important role in cultivating positive home environments and family creation in the context of the wider culture.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Levitt, Heidi M., Elisabeth A. Gerrish, and Katherine R. Heistand. 2003. The misunderstood gender: A model of modern femme identity. Sex Roles 48:99–111.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1023/A:1022453304384Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Qualitative study of twelve femme-identified lesbian women examines how participants experienced their own gender identity. Participants highlighted the difference between heterosexual and butch-femme contexts in relation to power dynamics and equitability.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Sánchez, Francisco J., Sven Bocklandt, and Eric Vilain. 2009. Gender role conflict, interest in casual sex, and relationship satisfaction among gay men. Psychology of Men and Masculinity 10:237–243.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1037/a0016325Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In a study of 129 single and 114 partnered gay men, researchers have examined differences between the two groups in their adherence to traditional masculine roles. Partnered men were more likely to endorse traditional masculine roles than single men.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Parenthood and Nontraditional Families

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As same-sex couples gain greater legal recognition for their relationships, it is likely that we will see an increase in the number of same-sex couples who are having children and forming families. Research on parenthood and family formation indicates that the process and experience of raising children may impact relationship quality similarly for both heterosexual and same-sex couples (see Parenthood). Research on family formation, both in the United States and internationally, finds a diversity of means by which LGBTQ individuals become parents. Polyamorous and multi-parent families, as well as marriages of convenience, are just a few examples of how LGBTQ individuals may re-conceptualize traditional family structures. Though these methods of parenthood often share some similarities, such as the involvement of three or more adults in childrearing, they may differ in the degree to which each adult is involved (Nontraditional Families). Empirical research on multi-parent, polyamorous parenting, and other alternative family forms, however, is greatly lacking.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Studies of parenthood among LGBTQ individuals have primarily focused on the experiences of heterosexual couples, with little acknowledgement of how same-sex couples form families and are affected by being parents. However, as legal and social trends in the United States move toward greater acceptance of the LGBTQ community, more research has been aimed at understanding the process and experience of parenthood. Goldberg, et al. 2010 finds that same-sex and heterosexual adoptive couples experience similar changes in relationship quality after having children and that similar pre-adoptive factors predicted relationship quality one year after adoption. Similarly, the longitudinal study Lavner, et al. 2013 finds that the pattern of change for depression, parenting stress, and social support after becoming parents was similar for lesbian, gay, and heterosexual couples. In addition, some research indicates that parenthood may even promote positive mental health and relationship quality. A study of gay fathers who became parents through surrogacy, Bergman, et al. 2010, finds that fathers report an improvement in the quality and frequency of contact they have with their families of origin after having children. Additionally, Huebner, et al. 2012 finds that parenthood may also improve gay couples’ commitment to one another. However, Goldberg and Smith 2011 finds that same-sex couples’ mental health may be negatively impacted by unsupportive state and legal environments during the transition to parenthood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Bergman, Kim, Ritchie J. Rubio, Robert-Jay Green, and Elena Padrón. 2010. Gay men who become fathers via surrogacy: The transition to parenthood. Journal of GLBT Family Studies 6:111–141.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/15504281003704942Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Interviews of forty gay fathers in committed relationships who became parents through surrogacy. Fathers reported greater closeness with their families of origin and higher self-esteem as a result of becoming parents.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Goldberg, Abbie E., and JuliAnna Z. Smith. 2011. Stigma, social context, and mental health: Lesbian and gay couples across the transition to adoptive parenthood. Journal of Counseling Psychology 58:139–150.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1037/a0021684Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Study of ninety same-sex couples (fifty-two lesbian, thirty-eight gay male) finds that the legal environment of where the participants lived was a significant predictor of mental health across the transition to parenthood. In addition, pre-parenthood factors moderated changes in relationship quality, as well as predicting mental health outcomes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Goldberg, Abbie E., JuliAnna Z. Smith, and Deborah A. Kashy. 2010. Preadoptive factors predicting lesbian, gay, and heterosexual couples’ relationship quality across the transition to adoptive parenthood. Journal of Family Psychology 24:221–232.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1037/a0019615Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Study of 125 adoptive parents (forty-four lesbian, thirty gay male, and fifty-one heterosexual) examines factors prior to the subjects’ becoming parents that predicted relationship quality during the child’s first year of life. Researchers have found similar declines in relationship quality for all couple types.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Huebner, David M., Carmen G. Mandic, Julia E. Mackaronis, Sean C. Beougher, and Colleen C. Hoff. 2012. The impact of parenting on gay male couples’ relationships, sexuality, and HIV risk. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice 1:106–119.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1037/a0028687Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Survey of 117 gay male couples examines how the transition to parenthood impacted these men’s relationship satisfaction and sexual behavior. Fathers reported an increase in commitment after having children, as well as a shift in priorities toward child-care needs.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Lavner, Justin A., Jill Waterman, and Letitia Anne Peplau. 2013. Parent adjustment over time in gay, lesbian, and heterosexual parent families adopting from foster care. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 84:46–53.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1037/h0098853Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Survey of sixty heterosexual, fifteen gay, and seven lesbian couples who adopted children from the foster care system; two, twelve, and twenty-four months after placement. Overall, lesbian, gay, and heterosexual couples were no different in changes in adoption satisfaction, depressive symptoms, parenting stress, or social support over time.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nontraditional Families

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Research on couples both domestically and internationally reveals a variety of means by which LGBTQ people become parents and form their families. However, few empirical studies address the experiences of alternative-parented families, the most common of which are multi-parent families (consisting of three or more parents, who do not include stepparents). Dempsey 2010 and Dempsey 2012 find that a growing means for lesbian couples to have children may be through donor insemination arrangements with gay men, who sometimes played a fatherly or parental role in their biological children’s lives. The chapter review Pallotta-Chiarolli, et al. 2013 discusses the current research available on alternative and multi-parent family forms. This chapter indicates that multi-parent families may experience social stigma and discrimination, due to their family type, that may negatively impact their well-being. Vaccaro 2010 reports that the author conducted qualitative interviews with LGBTQ individuals in polyamorous parenting situations. Participants in this study reported that a strength of their families was the communal sharing of parenting and increased pools of social and financial resources. Lastly, Liu 2013 examines marriages of convenience, known as Xinghun (translated as “formality marriages”) between lesbian women and gay men in China. These marriages may be a way for lesbian women and gay men to navigate and balance overwhelming social and cultural pressures, while also maintaining their commitment to their same-sex partners (see also Alternative Relationships).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Dempsey, Deborah. 2010. Conceiving and negotiating reproductive relationships: Lesbians and gay men creating families with children. Sociology 44:1145–1162.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1177/0038038510381607Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In-depth interviews with twenty lesbian and fifteen gay men in Australia who became parents through donor insemination. The purpose of this study is to examine the ways these couples navigate and structure donor arrangements and the donor’s role in the children’s lives.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Dempsey, Deborah. 2012. Gay male couples’ paternal involvement in lesbian-parented families. Journal of Family Studies 18:155–164.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.5172/jfs.2012.18.2-3.155Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Based on three case studies in Australia, the purpose of this study is to examine how gay biological fathers and their partners understand and negotiate their involvement with their biological children in lesbian-parenting families. Participants reported conflict arising due to differing expectations of the level of involvement of each couple.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Liu, Min. 2013. Two gay men seeking two lesbians: An analysis of Xinghun (formality marriage) ads on China’s Sexuality & Culture: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly 17:494–511.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1007/s12119-012-9164-zSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Exploratory study in China of 150 online advertisements for Xinghun (known as “formality marriages” or “fake marriages” between a lesbian and a gay man). Found that many ads claimed their motivation to pursue Xinghun was to maintain their commitment to their same-sex partner and relationship.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Pallotta-Chiarolli, Maria, Peter Haydon, and Anne Hunter. 2013. These are our children: Polyamorous parenting. In LGBT-parent families: Innovations in research and implications for practice. Edited by Abbie Goldberg and Katherine Allen, 117–131. New York: Springer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-4556-2_8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This chapter both reviews the research available on multi-parent families and discusses interviews with nineteen polyparents (nine women and five men). Researchers find that polyfamilies may struggle with the invisibility of their family type, as well as deficits in legal recognition and protections.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Sheff, E. 2013. The polyamorists next door: Inside multiple-partner relationships and families. Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This book is an introduction to the topic of multi-partner relationships; introducing the reader to different forms of polyamorous relationships, key terminology, and an overview of the current literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Vaccaro, Annemarie. 2010. Toward inclusivity in family narratives: Counter-stories from queer multi-parent families. Journal of GLBT Family Studies 6:425–446.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/1550428X.2010.511086Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A qualitative study of five queer-identified individuals in multi-parent families. Participants described one benefit of their family structure to be an increased pool of financial and social resources on which their children could draw.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Problems and Conflict

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Like other couples, same-sex couples may experience difficulties in their intimate relationships. Relationship stability and conflict may be affected by stigma or other factors related to being LGBTQ (see also Romantic Relationship Functioning: Stressors and Coping). A limited amount of research has examined child custody following a separation among same-sex couples. Some research suggests that same-sex parents who separate may encounter additional challenges regarding child custody and parental rights because of a lack of legal recognition for their families (Separation and Custody). In addition, intimate partner violence (IPV) has been reported to be higher among same-sex couples (Intimate Partner Violence).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Separation and Custody

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Research on separation and custody has primarily focused on the experiences of heterosexual couples, with few empirical studies addressing the experiences of same-sex couples. Kurdek 2003 finds that overall rates of relationship dissolution seem to be similar for both lesbian and gay couples. However, at the time of publications, only one empirical study conducted by the authors of Gartrell, et al. 2011 has directly addressed dissolution and custody arrangements among same-sex couples. Researchers in this study found that lesbian couples who had second-parent adoptions typically reported staying together longer and were more likely to share custody of their children after separation. Through qualitative studies, Goldberg and Allen 2013 finds that the majority of separations by same-sex couples occurred with little conflict and were often navigated informally (without legal assistance). However, a review of the current legal climates for same-sex couples, Haney-Caron and Heilbrun 2014, finds that lack of legal aid and guidance may put lesbian and gay couples at risk for encountering difficulties obtaining child custody or child support payments. In addition, Holtzman 2013, a review of court custody cases involving lesbian, gay, and transgender parents, suggests that judges overall do not uniformly utilize similar criteria in determining custody for LGBTQ+ families.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Gartrell, Nanette, Henny Bos, Heidi Peyser, Amalia Deck, and Carla Rodas. 2011. Family characteristics, custody arrangements, and adolescent psychological well-being after lesbian mothers break up. Family Relations 60:572–585.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2011.00667.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          To better understand relationship dissolution among same-sex couples with children, researchers have examined the experiences of forty separated lesbian mothers. If both mothers were legally recognized parents, the mothers were more likely to share custody of the children and the children reported feeling closer to both parents.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Goldberg, Abbie E., and Katherine R. Allen. 2013. Same-sex relationship dissolution and LGB stepfamily formation: Perspectives of young adults with LGB parents. Family Relations 62:529–544.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/fare.12024Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Qualitative study of twenty young adults in LGB-parent families examines how families navigate parental breakup. Most participants reported that the parental separation was amicable and occurred with little conflict.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Haney-Caron, Emily, and Kirk Heilbrun. 2014. Lesbian and gay parents and determination of child custody: The changing legal landscape and implications for policy and practice. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity 1:19–29.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1037/sgd0000020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Review of the current legal climate on custody determinations for same-sex couple families. Non-legal parents may lose custody to their children when same-sex couples separate, and legal parents may be unable to obtain child support from non-legal parents.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Holtzman, Mellisa. 2013. GLBT parents’ rights during custody decision making: The influence of doctrine, statute, and societal factors in the United States. Journal of GLBT Family Studies 9:364–392.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/1550428X.2013.803346Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Qualitative analysis of forty-three court-recorded custody cases involving lesbian, gay, and transgender parents. Finds that judges who worked on a framework of what is in the child’s best interest were more likely to decide on joint custody arrangements.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Kurdek, Lawrence A. 2003. Differences between gay and lesbian cohabiting couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 20:411–436.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/02654075030204001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A survey of 133 same-sex couples (fifty-three lesbian, eighty gay) evaluates domains related to close relationships. Researchers have found that rates and patterns of relationship dissolution were similar between lesbian and gay couples.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Intimate Partner Violence

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Research on partner aggression suggests that LGBTQ individuals may report higher incidents of intimate partner violence (IPV) than heterosexual couples. Using a large, nationally representative sample, Messinger 2011 finds that LGB individuals may experience more incidents of IPV compared to heterosexual couples. However, it is important to note that bisexual individuals with a heterosexual partner were most likely to report incidents of IPV. These same high rates of IPV occur among LGBT youth (see Dank, et al. 2014 cited under Relationship Aspirations and Formation: Youth Relationships). Research conducted by the authors of Balsam and Szymanski 2005 finds that greater internalized homophobia was associated with reports of both perpetration and victimization of intimate partner violence. This finding may suggest that the increased prevalence of IPV among LGB couples may be in part due to stressors related to their sexual identity. A review of the substance abuse literature, Klostermann, et al. 2011, suggests that alcohol use and partner aggression among lesbian and gay couples may be related. Oringher and Samuelson 2011 finds that among bisexual and gay men, IPV was more commonly committed by those who expressed greater conformity to masculine norms of aggression and emotional suppression. In addition, men in the study’s sample who have been victims of IPV were also more likely to report perpetrating acts of IPV. Pattavina, et al. 2007 also finds that police may respond differently to domestic violence incidents involving lesbian and gay couples.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Balsam, Kimberly F., and Dawn M. Szymanski. 2005. Relationship quality and domestic violence in women’s same-sex relationships: The role of minority stress. Psychology of Women Quarterly 29:258–269.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.2005.00220.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Survey of 272 lesbian and bisexual women examines how minority stressors impact women’s intimate relationships. Researchers have found that internalized homophobia was associated with both perpetration and victimization of intimate partner violence within the last year.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Klostermann, Keith, Michelle L. Kelley, Robert J. Milletich, and Theresa Mignone. 2011. Alcoholism and partner aggression among gay and lesbian couples. Aggression and Violent Behavior 16:115–119.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1016/j.avb.2011.01.002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Review of the literature on substance use and intimate partner violence for same-sex and heterosexual couples. Alcohol use and partner aggression among lesbian and gay couples may be related.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Messinger, Adam M. 2011. Invisible victims: Same-sex IPV in the National Violence Against Women Survey. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 26:2228–2243.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/0886260510383023Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A survey of 14,038 heterosexual, eighty-four bisexual, twenty-eight lesbian, and thirty-two gay individuals. LGB individuals were twice as likely to experience IPV, and lesbian and bisexual women were more likely to perpetrate IPV than heterosexual men. Bisexual men and women were more likely to report IPV when in a heterosexual relationship.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Oringher, Jonathan, and Kristin W. Samuelson. 2011. Intimate partner violence and the role of masculinity in male same-sex relationships. Traumatology 17:68–74.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/1534765610395620Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Survey of 117 gay and bisexual men that examines the association between masculine identity and intimate partner violence. Participants who reported perpetrating more acts of intimate partner violence (IPV) were also more likely to have been victims of IPV.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Pattavina, April, David Hirschel, Eve Buzawa, Don Faggiani, and Helen Bentley. 2007. A comparison of the police response to heterosexual versus same-sex intimate partner violence. Violence against Women 13:374–394.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1177/1077801207299206Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Analysis of 176,488 police reports on intimate partner assaults. Ninety-nine percent of incidents involve heterosexual couples (n = 175,411) and less than 1 percent involved same-sex couples (n = 1077). Finds that state mandatory-arrest policies for domestic violence and offense seriousness were important factors in predicting the likelihood of arrest for both same-sex and heterosexual couples.

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