“The Secret of Our Success”: Long-term Same-Sex Couples' Perceptions of Their Relationship Longevity

Ellen D.B. Riggle, Esther D. Rothblum, Sharon S. Rostosky, Jennifer B. Clark, Kimberly F. Balsam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Long-term same-sex couples have maintained relationships within a sociopolitical environment that has historically stigmatized and provided little or no legal recognition for their relationship. In a qualitative interview study about relationships, 31 same-sex couples, in relationships lasting from 13 to 41 years (mean length = 22.6 years), were asked to discuss their perceptions of the factors or strengths they have as a couple that contribute to the “success” or longevity of their committed relationship. All couples were in legally recognized relationships (21 married, 10 in civil unions). Thematic analyses of the responses revealed six themes summarizing the lived experiences that couples perceived as contributing to their relationship longevity: Communication; Similarities in Values; Complementary Similarities and Differences; Sharing Experiences; Commitment to the Relationship; and Support From Others. These themes are illustrated with quotes from couple discussions and discussed in the context of long-term committed relationships. The implications of the findings for future study of longevity of same-sex couple relationships and within a conceptual framework of commitment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-334
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of GLBT Family Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 7 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Commitment
  • gay and lesbian
  • intimate relationships
  • long-term relationships
  • qualitative couple research
  • relationship stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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