The deterioration of relationship quality for gay and lesbian cohabiting couples: A five-year prospective longitudinal study

Authors

  • LAWRENCE A. KURDEK

    Corresponding author
    1. Wright State University
      Address correspondence to Larry Kurdek, Wright State University, Department of Psychology, Dayton. OH 45435–0001. E-mail via Internet: Ikurdek@desire.wright.edu
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  • I would like to thank the couples who participated in this study and three reviewers for constructive comments.

Address correspondence to Larry Kurdek, Wright State University, Department of Psychology, Dayton. OH 45435–0001. E-mail via Internet: Ikurdek@desire.wright.edu

Abstract

Data are reported from both partners of 60 gay and 46 lesbian couples, a subset of whom annually completed mailed surveys over a S-year period. At Year I, relationship quality was found to be comprised of three factors: positivity, relationship conflict, and personal autonomy. Compared to stable couples, couples who eventually separated reported a decrease in positivity, an increase in relationship conflict, and an increase in personal autonomy in the preseparation period. When the three dimensions of change in relationship quality were considered together, relationship dissolution was predicted by an interaction between change in positivity and change id personal autonomy such that decreases in positivity were linked to dissolution, especially when personal autonomy increased. Year 1 personal risk factors (inexpressiveness, dysfunctional relationship beliefs, and social anxiety) were unsuccessful in predicting relationship dissolution and linear change in either positivity or personal autonomy. Findings were not moderated by type of couple. It is concluded that change is a core relationship process.

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