Same-Sex Couple Relationship Strengths: A Review and Synthesis of the Empirical Literature (2000 –2016)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The centrality of close relationships to optimal human functioning has motivated some theorists to suggest that positive relationships form the “fourth pillar” of the positive psychology framework (Fincham & Beach, 2010). We used this conceptualization as the basis for a review and synthesis of the empirical literature on the strengths of same-sex couple relationships. We conducted a review of 66 empirical studies of U.S. samples that were published in peer-review journals from 2000 to 2016 to determine the relationship strengths that have been studied in same-sex couple relationships and to summarize the findings from these studies. These interrelated strengths were further organized into 3 relationship processes (respect and appreciation of individual differences, positive emotions and interactions, effective communication and negotiation) and 4 positive relationship characteristics (perceived intimacy, commitment, egalitarian ideals, and outness). We also reviewed studies of environmental resources (social support and marriage equality/legal relationship recognition), which provide evidence for the contribution to well-being of positive institutions, the third pillar of positive psychology. We note the general limitations of this literature and the opportunities for future research that will contribute to building a positive psychology of same-sex couple relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017


  • gay
  • lesbian
  • positive psychology
  • same-sex relationships
  • strengths

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Same-Sex Couple Relationship Strengths: A Review and Synthesis of the Empirical Literature (2000 –2016)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this