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Do Butch/Femme Dynamics Make For More Successful Lesbian Relationships?

At the Gay Couples Institute, we've helped all kinds of gay and lesbian couples with managing relationship conflict.

Over the years, we noticed many lesbian couples would come in asking the same question...

Do couples in a butch/femme dynamic fare any better than other lesbian couples?

That inspired us to do some research.

You see, these couples, like all others, want to know the secret to a successful and healthy relationship.

We're going to share with you what we believe is the key to just such a relationship.

But first, after reviewing 20 studies on lesbian relationships, we want to let you in on our top 3 most interesting discoveries.

#1. Butch/femme identity is NOT related to relationship dynamics (Psychology of Women Quarterly, Sep, 2005).

Relationships with unequal power balances are the ones that report the least relationship satisfaction and the most relationship conflict. Lesbians enjoying a butch/femme dynamic do not report these inequalities any more than other types of relationships (Sex Roles, Apr, 1984).

#2. Low relationship quality and domestic violence or victimization are related to internalized homophobia and discrimination.

This type of hate can affect lesbian couples of any dynamic.

#3. Our identities are constantly changing due to social influences.

This is one of the main reasons all the studies seem to agree that more research needs to be done on the butch/femme dynamic.

That said, butch/femme identifiers are quickly becoming an old-fashioned way of approaching lesbian relationships.

One study found that the terms used to designate the different roles of lesbian couples in Bulgaria, such as "masculine" and "feminine " lesbians, do not have high importance for the majority of lesbians who are part of the club scene. Most young lesbians regard their relationships as a game between equals who may decide to play a division of roles for the sake of variety and pleasure (Journal of Lesbian Studies, 2002).

So what then is the secret to a healthy and successful lesbian relationship?

The key to a successful, healthy relationship doesn't have to do with sexual orientation identifiers. Rather, it's about each partner's communication style, and whether those styles are compatible within the relationship.

Want to find out more about your own communication style, and whether you and your partner are a match?

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