Minority Stress and Relationship Functioning Among Young Male Same-Sex Couples: An Examination of Actor–Partner Interdependence Models

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Objective: In different-sex couples, individual and partner stress can both have a negative impact on relationship functioning (actor and partner effects). Gay and bisexual men experience unique stress (sexual minority stress), but few studies have examined the effects of this stress on relationship functioning among young male couples. The current study examined (a) actor and partner effects of general and minority stress (internalized stigma, microaggressions, victimization, and outness) on relationship functioning (relationship quality and negative relationship interactions), (b) interactions between individual and partner stress as predictors of relationship functioning, and (c) dyadic coping and relationship length as moderators of actor and partner effects. Method: Actor–partner interdependence models were tested using data from 153 young male couples. Results: There was strong support for actor effects. Higher general stress and internalized stigma were associated with lower relationship quality, but only for those in longer relationships. Additionally, higher general stress, internalized stigma, and microaggressions, and lower outness, were associated with more negative relationship interactions. There was limited support for partner effects. Having a partner with higher internalized stigma was associated with more negative relationship interactions, but none of the other partner effects were significant. There was no support for individual and partner stress interacting to predict relationship functioning or for dyadic coping as a stress buffer. Conclusions: Findings highlight the influence of one’s own experiences of general and minority stress on relationship functioning, but raise questions about how partner stress influences relationship functioning among young male couples.

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