Category: Gay / Lesbian / Bisexual / Transgender Issues

Symposium

Symposium 62 - Romantic Relationship Functioning and Well-Being Among Sexual-Minority Youth, Adults, and Couples

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

Keywords: LGBTQ+ | Couples / Close Relationships | Stigma
Presentation Type: Symposium

It is well-established that romantic relationships offer mental health benefits to heterosexual adults, but research on sexual minorities is limited. Further, methodological weaknesses (e.g., cross-sectional designs, limited data from couples, treatment of sexual minorities as a homogenous group) reduce conclusions that can be drawn from previous studies. Given that sexual minorities face unique stressors related to relationships, it is critical to understand factors that influence relationship functioning in this population to inform interventions for diverse couples.


 


In line with the convention theme, “Applying CBT in Diverse Contexts,” this symposium features cutting-edge research on relationship functioning and well-being among sexual minorities. Presentations highlight methodological advances, including longitudinal designs, tests of actor/partner effects in couples, observed behavior during conflict, and attention to within-group heterogeneity.


 


First, Dr. Whitton uses data from a 5-year study to demonstrate that relationship involvement is associated with less distress for gay/lesbian, Black, and Latino youth, but more distress for bisexual youth. Second, Dr. Feinstein uses data from same-sex male couples to demonstrate actor/partner effects of minority stress on relationship functioning (e.g., men who report more stress and men whose partners report more stress report worse relationship functioning) and these effects depend on relationship length and dyadic coping. Third, Mr. Perry uses data from same-sex male and female couples to demonstrate that being more out and having a stronger LGB identity are associated with more relationship satisfaction, while reporting more stigma than one’s partner is associated with more negative behavior during conflict (e.g., criticism, withdrawal). Fourth, Mr. Sullivan will demonstrate that discrimination is associated with improvements in relationship functioning over time, but only for sexual minorities with histories of low trauma exposure. Finally, Dr. Scott will discuss how same-gender female couples broadly define sex, demonstrating that sexual satisfaction is associated with more frequent sex and actor/partner reports of intimacy.


 


In sum, this symposium highlights methodological advances in research on relationship functioning and well-being among sexual minorities. Findings indicate that relationship involvement has benefits for some, but not all, sexual minorities, and there are complex relationships between stress and relationship functioning in this population. Relationship expert, Dr. Joanne Davila, will serve as the discussant and comment on how findings fit within the broader relationship literature and how interventions can be adapted for sexual minority couples.

Learning Objectives:

Brian Feinstein

Postdoctoral Scholar
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Brian Feinstein

Joanne Davila

Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of Clinical Training
Stony Brook University

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Joanne Davila

Brian Feinstein

Postdoctoral Scholar
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Brian Feinstein

Sarah W. Whitton

Associate Professor
University of Cincinnati

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Sarah Whitton

Nicholas S. Perry

Graduate student
University of Utah

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Nicholas Perry

Timothy Sullivan

Yale School of Public Health

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Timothy Sullivan

Shelby Scott

Women's Mental Health Psychologist; LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator
Denver VA Medical Center

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Shelby Scott


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