Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sexual orientation and emotional intimacy

Participants in the Midlife Development in the U.S. Study were asked:  "To what extent would you say that your sexual relationships include emotional intimacy?" Most of these people are between 40 and 60 years of age. The following lists the percent who answered "not at all" (N = 2,818):


Gay 16.0
Straight 4.2

Lesbian 15.4
Straight 5.2

Homosexual men and women are 3-4 times more likely than their straight counterparts to have sexual relationships that have no emotional intimacy.


  1. Anonymous4:55 PM

    Gee, the number of lesbians who answered that way really surprises me, esp. because you said the ages were primarily from 40-60 and one usually thinks of people who fall into that age category as emotionally mature.

    Of course, it strikes me that the number of gay women I know or have known is quite small esp. compared to the number of gay men, although that probably is indicative of the stats--there are simply fewer women who are gay than there are men.

    However, of those I do "know," all are in a relationship and have been for years. Maybe I just don't understand the nature of their relationships?

    As a straight woman, it's difficult for me to contemplate that these women are really SEXUAL with one another, you know? I guess deep down I keep thinking of them as if their partners are really more their best friends instead of sexual mates.

    Gay men..well, with them, I always think of them as being sexual with one another. They're male.

    Research regarding lesbians is very limited.

  2. I'm kind of surprised the numbers are so low for both straights and gays. Maybe reading too much Roissy has given me tunnel vision and there are fewer loveless marriages than I thought.

  3. Roy Baumeister had a paper online (I don't have the link) positing that passion in a relationship was a function of rising intimacy over time. If that's the case, then once a relationship has reached maximum or optimum intimacy, one could predict from this data a decline in passion in married couples and not one in gay and lesbian couples. Interesting.

  4. Anonymous5:45 PM

    Dex: I don't understand. What are the salient differences (acc. Baumeister) between married (straight) couples and gay and lesbian couples?

  5. Baumeister was talking about couples and passion in general. I don't believe he addressed the difference between gay and straight couples. But when you combine his formula with the results from this post, you could get hypotheses about the salient differences.


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