Same-Sex Couples

Most relationship issues are shared equally amongst couples regardless of sexual orientation.

However, there are issues that impact on same-sex relationships that are not experienced by heterosexual relationships, such as socio-cultural and legal discrimination. There may also be issues with gender–role socialisation.

In addition, often same-sex couples do not have as many role models of successful relationships as opposite sex couples.

Counselling with same-sex couples may include such issues as:

  • Gender stereotypes and behaviour
  • The time frame when they come out or if one or both hide their sexuality
  • What is the relationship with their family of origin
  • Rules around negotiated sexual activity
  • How commitment is demonstrated

Helpful therapeutic strategies would include:

  • Developing timely and effective communication
  • Clarifying the nature of the emotional commitment to the relationship
  • Developing social support networks for the relationship
  • Managing issues of sex
  • Developing a stronger sense of self to reinforce the relationship
  • Developing an understanding of the stages of a healthy relationship such as

                    - Bonding, sharing  values and compatibility
                    - Expressing individual desires
                    - Developing a strong personal identity apart from the relationship
                    - Moving close and moving away
                    - Integrating intimacy into ongoing life and sexuality

Despite numerous challenges, same-sex couples can strengthen their commitment to each other enhancing their mutuality and intimacy, providing greater relationship satisfaction.