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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 30, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 13
Gay men less likely than straight couples to divorce, new study finds, but Lesbians more likely
Section One
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Gay men less likely than straight couples to divorce, new study finds, but Lesbians more likely

Conclusion: Women have higher standards for relationships

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Gay married couples are less likely than straight couples to divorce, but Lesbian couples are more likely.

That's the conclusion of a new study by a San Diego State University professor. The study was backed by the prestigious Williams Institute at UCLA Law School and is published in the journal Couple and Family Psychology.

Women's studies professor Esther Rosenblum conducted a 12-year study of 515 couples in Vermont, including straight, Gay, and Lesbian couples. Vermont was selected because it was the first state in the US to recognize same-sex relationships - in 2000 - and therefore afforded researchers the most extensive history of officially recorded same-sex relationships.

Rosenblum found that 14.5% of male-male couples break up, while 18.6% of male-female couples end their relationships. Among Lesbians, however, the divorce rate is 29.3%.

Why are Lesbians 1.5 times as likely to breakup as straight couples, and twice as likely as Gay men? According to Rosenblum, women have higher relationship standards than men and greater expectations of their partners.

'Other studies on heterosexual couples have found [that] women have higher standards for relationship quality than men,' Rothblum noted.

'We suspect that similar dynamics may be at play with the lesbian couples in our study, leading to the higher dissolution rate.'

The idea that women strive for a better quality of relationship is backed up by a study published last year by researchers at the University of Queensland, which showed that Lesbian couples are happier than straight ones.

Rosenblum found that there were no differences in breakup rates between same-sex couples of whatever gender who had legalized their relationship and those who had not. For all groups, income levels and the presence of children also did not affect the odds of a relationship ending.

On the other hand, there were quantifiable factors that did affect the likelihood of a breakup. For female-female couples:

o Every added year of relationship length reduced the odds of a breakup by 13%.

o Each year of age lowered the likelihood of a breakup by 4%.

o Each year of increase in education reduced the odds by 16%.

o Perceived relationship quality reduced the likelihood by 82%.

When looking at all couple types together:
o Each year of relationship length reduced the odds of a breakup by 9%.

o Every additional year of age lowered the likelihood of a breakup by 2%.

o Increases in perceived relationship quality reduced the risk by 61%.

'We identified both similarities and differences in relationship dissolution according to sexual orientation and gender,' said study co-author Kimberly Balsam. She is a clinical psychologist and psychology professor at Palo Alto University.

'This kind of research is crucial in combatting stereotypes about same-sex couples and can inform policy and program development to support healthy relationships for all couples.

'Intimate relationships are dynamic, and longitudinal designs allow us to capture these changes over time in a more nuanced way.'

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