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.