This question comes up several times per year as couples approach us for therapy. After receiving this question during our most recent webinar, I thought it would be a good idea to summarize the current research literature on the topic.
The main take away from this article should be:
some open relationships work well
some monogamous relationships work well
open relationships need boundaries that either partner can assert without reprisal
Summary of research about gay couples and open relationships:
One of the earliest articles about the topic was by Blumstein and Schwartz in 1983. They said that 65 percent of American gay men and 23 percent of lesbian couples had some form of nonmonogamous relationship, compared to 15–28 percent of heterosexual couples.
In a 2006 study, Adams interviewed gay men in Canada. He found that… (more…)
Our goal is to provide solid relationship tips and counseling information for gay couples around the world. On this relationship blog, you can read articles written by some of the best gay couples therapists in San Francisco, New York, and San Diego.
Here’s our most downloaded content, as of 2016:
Do most lesbian relationships follow the butch-femme dynamic? Written by Sam Garanzini in 2010, this article was constructed for lesbian couples asking why the butch-femme relationship dynamic is so common. It started as a simple email to Sam. As it turns out, this dynamic is heavily researched in the academic world. Now it has been downloaded 8100 times, and linked across the internet. https://goo.gl/CmP0bQ
What are the positive aspects of being gay or lesbian? Did you know that one in three gay teenagers will seriously contemplate suicide? This article was written to remind young people that there’s actually advantages to coming out. This was written long before gay marriage legalization, or therapy helping gays and lesbians was prevalent. This article has now been downloaded 2300 times since 2008, and our hope is that 2300 people benefitted somehow after reading it. https://goo.gl/X0pCg6
How do you resolve sexual incompatibility? Our couples therapy clinic in San Francisco first opened in 2008, and approximately 97% of the 1600 couples who have approached us for help list sexual differences as a paramount issue. Why? Because sex is the first thing to go once conflict ensues. We find that as couples learn to be more skilled at conflict, they can get their sexual needs met. https://goo.gl/kwiZLD
How do you spice up your sex life? This is a common article found on the internet, but we wanted to share some ideas actually founded upon sexuality research. This has been downloaded 1100 times since January, 2016. We’re proud that the sexuality tag is the most accessed part of our gay relationship blog. https://goo.gl/lyWuoA
What are some easy ways for gay couples to increase their intimacy and connection? Couples love quick information that they can implement immediately. These were some of the main items we encountered in our relationship therapy clinics. https://goo.gl/SytzVd
If you’d like more information, look into our free webinars at http://www.gaycouplesinstitute.org/live/. With new technology available every year, we’ve started using webinars to offer gay couples relationship advice across the world. Now you can even do your therapy online. Hope to see you on one of our webinars soon!
Learn three easy skills designed to keep your relationship strong in our next free webinar. Receive downloadable PDF’s, and several bonuses for attending. Check out this video, which explains all the content we cover Tuesday at noon (PST)!
One couple recently asked about something they heard from their friends. Their friends, who happened to be a straight couple going through a marriage prep workshop, learned that one way to reduce the intensity of your arguments was to strip naked during a heated debate.
My first thought was, “I hope you only fight at home…”
Where does this idea fall within the Gottman Method (which we utilize successfully in all our clinics)?
Fighting naked is a kind of “repair attempt”. What John Gottman, the country’s leading relationship researcher, found was that couples who have stable and happy relationships recognize when their interaction isn’t going well, and they make small attempts to backtrack.
The goal is to lighten the intensity, and click the argument into more productive territory.
Research shows a lot of ways pets can improve your relationship. Two key things worth noting is:
A pet can help to create a sense of ‘We-ness’ and helps to protect the relationship
When you pet a dog or cat, your body produces oxytocin (aka trust hormones), which promote feelings or closeness with your partner
What might be the other relationship benefits to getting a pet? In our couples counseling clinic, we don’t necessarily recommend to couples that they get a pet. There are a lot of good reasons why people don’t get pets. But if the couple starts debating about the topic, we help them have a productive discussion where both of their viewpoints have equal weight. The goal for that discussion is for people to feel heard. Once people feel heard and respected, it becomes easier to make a decision.
Compromise is inherently lose-lose. Both sides need to give up on something in order for the compromise to feel good. Maybe I will compromise on allowing a new dog in the house, if he agrees to spend more on the healthy dog food that I insist that the animal eats. (As an example). All to often couples move too quickly to compromise, and both partners do not feel equally listened to.
Hope this helps. (This article is dedicated to our dog, Duncan (2008-2016) and cat, Dave (2000-2016), who passed away this March. They were best buds (see photo). May they also play together in the afterlife.
Check out this video from Alapaki Yee, MFT, the Gay Couples Institute Cofounder.
Sometimes you can be in a relationship, but never feel emotionally close to your partner. Working out of our gay couples counseling clinic in San Francisco, Alapaki describes an easy way to reverse that process.