Therapy Made For Same-Sex Couples

Common therapeutic issues specific to same-sex communities.

What is Therapy? 06th Aug, 2021

Same-sex and heterosexual couples have many things in common. Their daily activities are usually similar, but the social settings in which they live are quite different. This is mainly due to the influence of the dominant heterosexual culture and traditional expectations of gender roles in a relationship. 

When there is a lack of daily support in life, many same-sex couples find themselves under extreme pressure. Those in same-sex relationships often experience social biases in different ways. Although they tend to deal with them internally in their own ways, there is constant pressure on them. Despite living in a hostile environment, many same-sex relationships still exist and are as stable as heterosexual ones. It is important however to know how best to deal with these common issues, and a great way to start is to try therapy. 

Gender Roles Play a Significant Role In Same-Sex Couples: 

There are traditional gender roles in every relationship. These assume that women are relational and men are somewhat basic. These gender-related assumptions have some scientific foundations which can be used to understand same-sex couples. For instance, the feminine side of the relationship has the tendency to adapt to the needs of the other partner, and try to solve the problems between them. On the other hand, the masculine side usually reflects ability, independence, and lack of emotion in the context of a relationship. When problems arise, the male side tends to let the situation worsen. Gay male couples tend to rely on social communication, rather than emotional factors, for mutual satisfaction. When at least one member adopts a rigid male role, difficulties may arise in the relationship. Most common examples are the use of distancing strategies, high competition, and strong control needs. 

Having Different Stages In Terms Of Gay Identity Growth:

Generally speaking, it takes several years for an individual to realise same-sex attraction before accepting their sexual orientation. Often, same-sex couples are individually at different stages of this realisation process. Many enter into a same-sex relationship prior to completing their journey.

This can be a problem, as it forces partners to focus on developing their personal sexual orientation while facing the challenges of a relationship. Being in different stages often leads to conflicts between the partners regarding acceptable openness in family relationships, employment, community, and friendship. Many relationships can overcome this conflict, but some relationships cannot. 

How Couples’ Therapy Can Help: 

A therapist will be a sensitive doctor, fully aware of the dangers of traditional heterosexual prejudice and will treat gay and lesbian couples appropriately. There is no unique treatment for same-sex couples. The methods used for heterosexual couples can be used for homosexual couples. Having said that, the importance of considering sociocultural and developmental variables cannot be underestimated. Experienced therapists are particularly sensitive to these factors. 

A Therapist Will Evaluate The Environment Of The Relationship Based On Factors Like: 

  • the level of development of each partner
  • external issues such as support or alienation from family, community, workplace, and friendships
  • presence of mental, physical, or domestic illness
  • violence
  • HIV problems
  • problems in intimacy 

Gay and Lesbian issues are usually handled differently because each has specific life stressors that can significantly impact male partners more than female partners, and vice versa. Lesbians, for example, tend to be more anxious than gays about family member reactions, while gay men tend to be under greater pressure from HIV/AIDS, violence, and harassment discussions. Either way, a therapist is fully prepared to handle the situations that may arise.

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