Sex Differences in the Romantic Relationships of Same-Gender Couples: The Role of Visibility Management

Authors & affiliation

Chao Song, Ann Buysse, Wei Hong Zhang, Jon Lasser, Alexis Dewaele


Although internalized homonegativity (IH) in lesbian, gay, or bisexual people (LGBs) predicts adverse relationship satisfaction, this association has typically only been examined on an individual level. Moreover, studies often ignore potential mechanisms that underlie sex differences. One of these mechanisms is related to visibility management (i.e., the careful, planned decisions about whether or not to disclose one’s sexual orientation). Therefore, in this study we investigate dyadic sex-specific associations between IH, visibility management, and relationship satisfaction. Our sample includes 254 LGB couples (139 female and 115 male same-gender dyads) in Flanders, Belgium. Data were analyzed with the Actor-Partner Interdependence Mediation Model (APIMeM). Results indicated that there were small to medium significant correlations among IH, visibility management, and relationship satisfaction. We also found support for mediated actor effects: individuals low in IH maintain less restrictive visibility management strategies. These in turn lead to higher relationship satisfaction, but only in female same-gender couples. Our findings contribute to the understanding of mechanisms that underlie the harmful effects of sexual minority stressors for same-gender relationship satisfaction.