Outness and relationship satisfaction in same-gender couples


  • Naomi B. Knoble, MEd, LMFT, and Deanna Linville, PhD, LMFT, Couples and Family Therapy Program, University of Oregon.

Address correspondence to Naomi B. Knoble, 5251 University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403-5251; E-mail: nbknoble@gmail.com


Self-disclosure of sexual orientation, or outness, is a fundamental feature of gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) experience, yet little is known about how outness impacts same-gender relationship satisfaction. Through a qualitative analysis of interviews with 15 same-gender couples, the complexities of navigating a stigmatized identity in a homonegative society emerged, including (a) characteristics of outness, (b) the influence of coupling on an individual’s outness, and (c) the impact of outness on same-gender relationship satisfaction. Findings suggest that for GLB persons, outness is a developmental skill, an expression of identity and values, as well as a resilience strategy for managing discrimination and gay-related stress that influences, though does not singularly determine, relationship satisfaction. Implications for clinical practice and future research suggestions are presented.