Relationship stigma and relationship outcomes in interracial and same-sex relationships: Examination of sources and buffers

J Fam Psychol. 2015 Dec;29(6):818-30. doi: 10.1037/fam0000116. Epub 2015 Jun 29.


Interracial and same-sex romantic relationships are more common and socially accepted in the United States than ever before; yet, stigmatization of these relationships persists, with consequences for relationship dynamics. We conducted an online survey study with adults living in the United States in interracial and same-sex relationships to examine associations of relationship stigma from family, friends, and public with several relationship outcomes (i.e., investment, satisfaction, intimate partner aggression victimization and perpetration, commitment, intimacy, trust, passion, love, sexual communication, and sexual satisfaction), as well as the potential buffering roles of egalitarianism and dyadic coping. Regression analyses with 480 participants support that above and beyond individually experienced discrimination and other well-known predictors of relationship outcomes, relationship stigma from friends in particular was associated with lower relationship commitment, trust, love, and sexual communication, as well as greater odds of intimate partner aggression victimization. Egalitarianism and dyadic coping moderated some of the associations of relationship stigma from family, friends, and public with relationship outcomes, supporting their potential roles as buffers. These findings suggest many avenues for future research and implications for clinicians working with interracial and same-sex couples, individuals in those couples, and their families. Given increasing prevalence of interracial and same-sex relationships and marriages, more work should continue to explore these couples' experiences and how best to support them.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Communication
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Intimate Partner Violence / psychology
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Love
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Marriage / statistics & numerical data*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Social Stigma*
  • Stereotyping*
  • Trust / psychology
  • United States