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Gay, lesbian couples can teach heterosexuals how to improve relationships

happy lesbian couples were chosen to participate in the study. The comparison sample of married couples was drawn from a larger study that recruited couples from around Bloomington, Ind. It was matched in terms of age, marital satisfaction, education and income to the homosexual couples and consisted of 20 happy and 20 unhappy couples.

The researchers also collected data for 12 years on the relationships of the homosexual couples. By then eight couples (20 percent) one gay and seven lesbian had broken up. This rate, if projected over a 40-year period, would be almost 64 percent, which is similar to the 67 percent divorce rate for first marriages among heterosexual couples of the same time span.

Data also showed that while high levels of cardiovascular arousal among straight couples during a conflict conversation was a predictor of lower relationship satisfaction and higher risk for relationship dissolution, the reverse was true with homosexual couples. With gays and lesbians, low physiological arousal was related to these negative outcomes.

"Another interesting thing that emerged in conversations the couples had was that gays and lesbians are more honest. They talked explicitly about monogamy and sex. Those topics don't come up in 31 years of studying heterosexual couples," said Gottman. "Heterosexual are uptight in talking about sex and you don't hear explicit sexual talk. In reviewing the tapes of their conversations, you really don't know what they are talking about. Same sex couples talk about sex, and are more mature and honest and less fragile in talking about it.

Gottman also said: "The overall implication of this research is that we have to shake off all of the stereotypes of homosexual relationships and have more respect for them as committed relationships. Gays and lesbians may be more competent at having a mature relationship. Our data suggests our society needs to reconsider its policy and that we should value and hon
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Contact: Joel Schwarz
joels@u.washington.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
20-Oct-2003


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