February 14, 2019

Research study uses Add Health data to compare relationship quality in same-sex and different-sex relationships

same-sex female couple happily walking together

Posted February 14, 2019

As the prevalence of research focused on romantic relationships between same-sex partners increases, there are gaps in the literature describing these relationships in a nationally representative context and understanding their effects on the transition to adulthood. A recent study by Joyner, Manning, and Prince begins to address these gaps by examining relationship quality and how it may differ between same-sex and different-sex couples.

The study tested two competing hypotheses. The first hypothesized a lower quality relationship among same-sex couples due to external stress facing sexual minorities. The second hypothesis postulates a higher quality relationship for same-sex couples due to greater concordance of views on emotional intimacy and autonomy within genders. Add Health data allowed researchers to use both subjective and objective relationship qualities including commitment, satisfaction, emotional intimacy, sexual activity, and exclusivity to test both hypotheses. The researchers also included both dating couples and cohabiting couples in their analyses, compared to other many other studies which only focused on cohabiting couples.

The findings show that both same-sex and different-sex young adult couples have the same level of relationship commitment, satisfaction, and emotional intimacy, while young men in same-sex relationships indicate lower levels of sexual exclusivity than female same-sex and different-sex couples. Although these results are supported by previous studies, the reasons why same-sex couples fare as well as their different-sex counterparts have varied across studies. You can read more about the findings and discussion here.


Kara Joyner, Bowling Green State University
Wendy Manning, Bowling Green State University
Barbara Prince, Morningside College

Joyner, K., Manning, W., & Prince, B. (2018). The qualities of same-sex and different-sex couples in young adulthood. Journal of Marriage and Family. doi:10.1111/jomf.12535