Perceived social support in gays and lesbians in cohabitating relationships.

Abstract

In a descriptive study, I sought to identify the providers of social support for 69 gay and 50 lesbian cohabitating couples. I also (a) compared differences between gays and lesbians on the most frequent and total number of providers of support and satisfaction with social support; (b) assessed differences between partners within the couples on the social support dimensions and related these differences to relationship quality; and (c) related the social support dimensions to psychological adjustment. For both gays and lesbians, the most frequent social support providers, in order, were friends, partners, family, and coworkers. Gay and lesbian couples (and partners within these couples) did not differ on any of the social support dimensions. However, discrepancies between partners' scores were related to low relationship quality, especially for lesbians. For both gays and lesbians, high social support was related to psychological adjustment. The findings indicate that gender differences in social support are not universal, that such differences are probably mediated by socialization processes, and that social support is linked to relationship quality and to psychological adjustment.

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