Gay and Lesbian Couples: Voices from Lasting Relationships

By Bernard A. O'Brien; Eileen F. Mackey et al. | Go to book overview

3
Relational Fit

She's the calm to my storm. She is the eye of my hurricane.

We are all familiar with committed relationships that fail because the partners were "incompatible." Irreconcilable differences are often cited as the reason for divorce in marriage. We assumed that differences were just as critical to the viability of these gay and lesbian relationships. To understand how these relationships lasted, we explored the interpersonal fit of partners that was determined by the reciprocity of roles. Fit was conceptualized along a continuum marked at one end by differences and at the other by similarities. If role behaviors, as reported by individual partners, were characterized by differences in talents, skills, needs, and traits, the fit was of a complementary nature. For example, if one partner was quiet and the other was outgoing, the fit was considered to be complementary. A symmetrical fit was characterized by similarities between partners. Most individuals used complementary language in describing their roles with their partners.

Patterns of complementarity between partners were similar over the years; 85 percent of lesbian and 75 percent of gay respondents described their roles as different from early to recent years. The complementary patterns of instrumental to expressive roles, the relational fit between

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Gay and Lesbian Couples: Voices from Lasting Relationships
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Roles 21
  • 3 - Relational Fit 43
  • 4 - Decision Making 67
  • 5 - Conflict 93
  • 6 - Intimacy 119
  • 7 - Social Supports 139
  • 8 - Relationships Are Relationships 157
  • Appendix A: Methodology 177
  • Appendix B: Interview Guide 181
  • Bibliography 187
  • Index 199
  • About the Authors 203
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