Category: Gay / Lesbian / Bisexual / Transgender Issues

Symposium

Dyadic Minority Stress Processes and Relationship Functioning in Same-Sex Male Couples

Saturday, November 18
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom A, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: L / G / B / T | Couples / Close Relationships | Stigma
Presentation Type: Symposium

Background: Scholars have described how one partner’s stress can impact the other partner and studies support this in heterosexual couples. Same-sex couples experience unique stressors, creating additional potential for partner stress to impact relationship functioning. However, most research on minority stress focuses on individuals. Examining dyadic stress can inform interventions for same-sex couples by identifying factors that impact relationship functioning.


 


Methods: The current study examined: (1) actor/partner effects of minority stress on relationship functioning in same-sex male couples; (2) associations between partner stress concordance and relationship functioning; and (3) whether associations were moderated by relationship length and dyadic coping. Data were from 114 same-sex male couples (228 individuals) in a longitudinal cohort study. Participants completed measures of stress (perceived stress, internalized stigma, microaggressions, victimization, outness) and relationship functioning (satisfaction, commitment, trust, conflict, negative interactions, dyadic coping).


 


Results: There was strong support for actor effects across constructs. Men who reported more stress reported worse relationship functioning, especially in longer relationships. Support for partner effects was less consistent across constructs. Men whose partners experienced more internalized stigma and microaggressions reported more conflict/negative interactions, especially in shorter relationship. Men whose partners were more out reported more satisfaction/trust and less conflict. Concordant internalized stigma was associated with more conflict/negative interactions, while discordant microaggressions/victimization were associated with less trust. Dyadic coping buffered the effects of stress on relationship functioning for certain constructs.


 


Conclusions: Findings provide partial support for a dyadic minority stress model, but effects depended on the stress/relationship construct, relationship length, and dyadic coping. Interventions for same-sex couples should address how each partner’s experience of stress can influence relationship functioning and teach dyadic coping skills.

Brian Feinstein

Postdoctoral Scholar
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

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