Social Involvement, Disclosure of Sexual Orientation, and the Quality of Lesbian Relationships

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Abstract

Gay and lesbian political activists encourage lesbians to “come out” and get involved. Is this good advice for lesbian couples? In these secondary analyses of data collected form 784 lesbian couples in 1979 for the American Couples Study (Blumstein & Schwartz, 1983), we examined whether social involvement and disclosure of sexual orientation were systematically associated with the quality of women's relationships. We predicted and found that partners matched on level of social involvement were happier than mismatched couples. The extent of women's social involvement had a curvilinear association with relationship quality: moderately involved couples were the most satisfied. Contrary to predictions, lesbians who had disclosed to a greater number of important others did not have more satisfying romantic relationships, nor did partner matching on self-disclosure enhance relationship quality.

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