Heterosexual, lesbian, and gay male relationships: a comparison of couples in 1975 and 2000

Fam Process. 2011 Sep;50(3):353-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.2011.01365.x.


This study examined the differences among lesbians, gay men, and heterosexuals at two points in time (1975 and 2000) using responses of 6,864 participants from two archival data sets. Groups were compared on variables representing equality of behaviors between partners in seven realms: traditionally "feminine" housework, traditionally "masculine" housework, finances, support, communication, requesting/refusing sex, and decision-making. In addition, the current study compared monogamy agreements and monogamy behaviors reported by the two cohorts of couple types. Overall, the results indicate that on the equality variables, there have been many statistically significant behavioral shifts among the different sexual orientations across 25 years. In addition, all couple types reported substantially greater rates of monogamy in the year 2000 than in 1975. The present study has important clinical implications for therapists working with couples because it provides new baseline evidence regarding how couples now interact with one another (especially about monogamy) and how this has shifted over time. In addition, it elucidates the differences that still exist between different couple types, which could serve to inform couple therapists as they strive to become more culturally competent working with same-sex couples.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Decision Making
  • Economics / trends
  • Family Conflict
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Heterosexuality / psychology*
  • Heterosexuality / statistics & numerical data
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Female / statistics & numerical data
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data
  • Household Work / trends
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sexual Partners
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult