The Role of Minority Stressors in Lesbian Relationship Commitment and Persistence Over Time

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Abstract

The Investment Model of relationship commitment uses interpersonal investment, relationship satisfaction, quality of alternatives, and commitment to predict relationship longevity (Rusbult, 1980, 1983). Although ample support for the Investment Model has been found in heterosexual couples, it appears to be less powerful in predicting stability in same-sex relationships (Beals, Impett, & Peplau, 2002), potentially because the model does not account for factors unique to same-sex relationships, such as antigay discrimination. However, no research has tested the nature and power of sexual minority stress factors in predicting same-sex relationship stability over time. Using secondary, longitudinal data collected from a diverse sample of lesbian women in relationships (N = 211), we examined how internalized homonegativity, sexual identity disclosure, and workplace discrimination affected the Investment Model antecedents of relationship persistence: satisfaction, quality of alternatives, and investment. We tested the influence of sexual minority stressors on Investment Model processes using structural equations modeling and found that sexual identity disclosure was positively associated with satisfaction and investment; internalized homonegativity was only negatively associated with satisfaction and investment; while workplace discrimination was negatively associated with alternatives. Moreover, both relationship satisfaction and investment influenced commitment which predicted persistence in these relationships over about 7 years’ time, demonstrating support for the Investment Model. Our findings support the addition of sexual minority stress variables to the Investment Model when examining same-sex relationships and implications are discussed.

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