Get Started

What New Research Suggests About Same-Sex Relationship Dynamics

Published March 17, 2021
Following the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, a number of studies have revealed some differeces in relationship dynamics between those in heterosexual partnerships and those in LGBTQ partnerships. Overall, same-sex partners tend to resolve conflict through affectionate means.

When it comes to committed relationships between two individuals, heterosexual couples and LGBTQ couples share many of the same joys and challenges. Arguments about finances, communication failures, and parenting challenges are essentially universal to all couples, regardless of gender. However, more research has emerged in recent years that focuses on relationship dynamics among same-sex couples, which gives a clearer perspective on some key ways that LGBTQ marriages may differ from heterosexual couples. Here are three takeaways that are worth exploring to better understand some subtle differences in relationship dynamics for same-sex couples.

1. The Role of Encouragement and Praise

According to a 2018 study that surveyed 838 spouses in gay, lesbian, and heterosexual marriages, those in same-sex relationships were more likely to provide praise and encouragement to encourage a spouse to consider making positive changes to their exercise, eating, or drinking habits. Those in heterosexual marriages, particularly women, tended to feel irritated or resentful toward their spouse for either lecturing them on how to change their behaviors or for taking a more confrontational approach to pushing them to change. Those in LGBTQ marriages, in contrast, tended to take a more supportive approach when suggesting that their spouse make some lifestyle changes, which often led to long-term positive outcomes at the individual and relationship level.

2. Less Belligerence and Aggression

A study conducted over 12 years, though limited in size, offers some fascinating insights into some differences between how those in heterosexual relationships tend to argue differently than people in same-sex partnerships. According to the study’s findings, LGBTQ partners display fewer acts of belligerence or aggression during arguments, while those in heterosexual relationships are quicker to report the use of domineering or fear-based tactics during fights. Ultimately, it appears that same-sex couples are less likely to take fights personally, while heterosexual couples indicate that it’s easier to hurt a partner with a negative remark than it is to reassure or make a partner feel appreciated through a positive comment. In LGBTQ relationships, the opposite appears to be true.

3. The Role of Humor to Diffuse Tension

There have been a few studies and several anecdotal reports that illustrate a same-sex couple’s tendency to use humor and affection to diffuse tension during arguments. While arguments within heterosexual relationships often remain tense and serious until they are resolved, LGBTQ partners are more likely to take a step back during a fight and attempt to diffuse the tension with a humorous remark or an affectionate gesture. While arguments and disagreements are normal and healthy for all relationships, it seems that those between same-sex couples are often diffused and resolved more quickly, and through lighter, more affectionate means.


If you are exploring your divorce options in the Portland area, reach out to the compassionate and inclusive legal team at Lee Tyler Family Law, P.C. by calling (503) 233-8868 today.

Call Today

Contact Us

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
More Posts