Gay couples are more likely to problem-solve cooperatively, share work equally, and cheat less. In fact, same-sex couples are more likely to discuss open relationships than to go behind their partner’s back. But due to being a marginalized group, among other factors, members of the LGBTQ+ community also face higher instances of domestic violence.
I wanted to understand more about the dynamics of same-sex relationships, so I turned to Dr. Joanne Bagshaw for answers. She is a professor of psychology and women’s studies at Montgomery College as well as a sex and relationship therapist. Check out her blog, The Third Wave, for more on gender, sexuality, feminism, and more.
Is there research that shows gay and lesbian people possess higher emotional intelligence?
This is an interesting question because it’s likely that due to having to manage their identities for so long, gays and lesbians may have developed emotional intelligence skills that help them scan and survey their environment to survive and stay safe. However, I haven’t seen any reliable data to support this idea.
Are same-sex relationships more successful in the long run? How does their divorce rate compare to heterosexual couples?
Marriage equality is still fairly new, so it will be interesting to see how trends in divorce among same-sex couples will change over time. Currently, the divorce rate for same-sex marriages is slightly lower than heterosexual marriages (Badgett & Mallory, 2014).
You said that same-sex couples are less likely to take things personally. Why is that?
According to Gottman & Levenson (2003), same-sex partners are more willing to accept some amount of negative feedback, without it damaging the good feedback they’ve received from their partner. Openness to constructive criticism is an important skill in relationships, and helps resolve conflicts with less hostility. I also think that the ability of same-sex partners to use affection and humor during conflicts plays a role. Even during an argument, they may be more likely to stay connected, and because of that connection, can more easily brush off criticism.
Because power-sharing is a common value in same-sex relationships, are there less instances of domestic abuse?
Unfortunately, no. Intimate partner violence (IPV) is statistically very high in LGBTQ+ relationships, and some research suggests it may even be higher than in heterosexual relationships. This may seem surprising, but violence in relationships is a complex social problem, and is caused and influenced by many variables. IPV in same-sex relationships is typically very similar to the dynamics found in abusive heterosexual relationships, in that there is physical, psychological, and financial abuse. But there are some differences too. Because the LGBT population is still a marginalized group, access to services and resources is limited. Plus, the abuser can threaten to out his or her partner, as an additional aspect of abuse that straight couples don’t experience.
Are gay women as open to non-monogamous relationships as gay men?
There isn’t a lot of research on this, but here’s a study that indicates that the majority (61%) of lesbians prefer a monogamous relationship, compared to 50% of gay men who prefer consensual non-monogamy (Hoff, 2010).
Are children of same-sex couples less likely to conform to gender roles themselves?
In general, research supports that children raised by same-sex parents tend to develop similarly to their peers raised by heterosexual parents (Patterson, 2004). However, some research suggests that children raised by same-sex parents play in less gender-stereotyped ways, and other research has suggested that children from lesbian parents are less likely to conform to gender stereotypes, and children from same-sex parents are less likely to see their gender as superior (Bos & Sandfordt, 2010). These studies indicate that children from same-sex parents may be less influenced by traditional gender-roles.
Bagshaw, J. (2017, June 5). Equality Makes Same-Sex Couples Happy. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-third-wave/201706/equality-makes-same-sex-couples-happy