Advertisement

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 774–787 | Cite as

Sexual Agreements Among Gay Male Couples

  • Colleen C. Hoff
  • Sean C. Beougher
Original Paper

Abstract

Many gay male couples make agreements about whether or not to permit sex with outside partners, yet little is known about the development and maintenance of these agreements, their impact on relationships, and whether they are an effective HIV prevention strategy. Using semi-structured, qualitative interviews, 39 gay male couples were asked about their sexual agreements and about other relationship dynamics that might affect their agreements. Analysis revealed a wide range of agreement types, all of which are presented along a continuum rather than as discrete categories. For couples with open agreements, most placed rules or conditions limiting when, where, how often, and with whom outside sex was permitted. Although motivations for having agreements varied, HIV prevention did not rank as a primary factor for any couple. Most couples had congruous agreements; however, a small number reported discrepancies which may increase HIV transmission risk. How couples handled breaks in their agreements also varied, depending on what condition was broken, whether it was disclosed, and the partner’s reaction. Additional results include differences in agreement type and motivations for having an agreement based on couple serostatus. Overall, agreements benefited couples by providing boundaries for the relationship, supporting a non-heteronormative identity, and fulfilling the sexual needs of the couple. Future prevention efforts involving gay couples must address the range of agreement types and the meanings couples ascribe to them, in addition to tempering safety messages with the relationship issues that are important to and faced by gay couples.

Keywords

Gay couples Sexual agreements Negotiation HIV prevention 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors thank the NIMH for providing financial support for this research. This study was supported by NIMH grant MH65141. Special thanks are extended to research staff members Efren Bose, Lynae Darbes, Joey Downey, Raven Mahosadha, Byron Mason, Anne Richards, and Edwin Ramos-Soto as well as the participants for their time and effort discussing their relationships.

References

  1. Bell, A. P., & Weinberg, M. S. (1978). Homosexualities: A study of diversity among men and women. New York: Simon and Shuster.Google Scholar
  2. Blumstein, P., & Schwartz, P. (1983). American couples: Money, work, sex. New York: Morrow.Google Scholar
  3. Davidovich, U., de Wit, J. B., & Stroebe, W. (2000). Assessing sexual risk behaviour of young gay men in primary relationships: The incorporation of negotiated safety and negotiated safety compliance. AIDS, 14, 701–706.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Davidovich, U., de Wit, J., & Stroebe, W. (2004). Behavioral and cognitive barriers to safer sex between men in steady relationships: Implications for prevention strategies. AIDS Education and Prevention, 36, 304–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Davidovich, U., de Wit, J., & Stroebe, W. (2006). Relationship characteristics and risk of HIV infection: Rusbalt’s investment model and sexual risk behavior of gay men in steady relationships. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37, 22–40.Google Scholar
  6. Ekstrand, M. (1992). Safer sex maintenance among gay men: Are we making any progress? AIDS, 6, 875–877.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Elford, J., Bolding, G., Maguire, M., & Sherr, L. (1999). Sexual risk behaviour among gay men in a relationship. AIDS, 13, 1407–1411.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Ethnograph (Version 5.08). (2001). [Computer software]. Colorado Springs, CO: Qualis Research Associates.Google Scholar
  9. Frieze, I. H. (2008). Publishing qualitative research in Sex Roles [Editorial]. Sex Roles, 58, 1–2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hoff, C. C., Coates, T. J., Barrett, D. C., Collette, L., & Ekstrand, M. (1996). Differences between gay men in primary relationships and single men: implications for prevention. AIDS Education and Prevention, 8, 546–559.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Hoff, C. C., Kegeles, S. M., Acree, M., Stall, R., Paul, J., Ekstrand, M., et al. (1997). Looking for men in all the wrong places...: HIV prevention small-group programs do not reach high risk gay men. AIDS, 11, 829–830.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Kippax, S., Crawford, J., Davis, M., Rodden, P., & Dowsett, G. (1993). Sustaining safe sex: A longitudinal study of a sample of homosexual men. AIDS, 7, 257–263.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Kippax, S., Noble, J., Prestage, G., Crawford, J. M., Campbell, D., Baxter, D., et al. (1997). Sexual negotiation in the AIDS era: Negotiated safety revisited. AIDS, 11, 191–197.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Kippax, S., Slavin, S., Ellard, J., Hendry, O., Richters, J., Grulich, A., et al. (2003). Seroconversion in context. AIDS Care, 15, 839–852.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Mattison, A. M., & McWhirter, D. P. (1987). Stage discrepancy in male couples. Journal of Homosexuality, 14, 89–99.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Prestage, G., Jin, F., Zablotski, I., Grulich, A., Imrie, J., Kaldor, J., et al. (2008). Trends in agreements between regular partners among gay men in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia. AIDS Behavior, 12, 513–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Prestage, G., Mao, L., McGuigan, D., Kippax, S., Kaldor, J., & Grulich, A. E. (2006). HIV risk and communication between regular partners in a cohort of HIV-negative gay men. AIDS Care, 18, 166–172.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Remien, R., Carballo-Dieguez, A., & Wagner, G. (1995). Intimacy and sexual risk behaviour in serodiscordant male couples. AIDS Care, 7, 429–438.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Semple, S. J., Patterson, T. L., Grant, I. (2000). The sexual negotiation behavior of HIV-positive gay and bisexual men. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 934–937.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Stall, R., Hays, R., Waldo, C., Ekstrand, M., & McFarland, W. (2000). The gay ‘90’s: A review of research in the 1990s on sexual behavior and HIV risk among men who have sex with men. AIDS, 14(Suppl. 3), S1–S14.Google Scholar
  21. Van de Ven, P., Kippax, S., Crawford, J., Rawstorne, P., Prestage, G., Grulich, A., et al. (2002). In a minority of gay men, sexual risk practice indicates strategic positioning for perceived risk reduction rather than unbridled sex. AIDS Care, 14, 471–480.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for AIDS Prevention StudiesUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

Personalised recommendations