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The Experience of Relationship Dissolution among British South Asian Gay Men: Identity Threat and Protection

Abstract

Relationship dissolution has generally been associated with decreased psychological well-being, but little is known about how ethnic and religious minority gay men experience and cope with relationship dissolution. This article examines interview data from sixteen self-identified British South Asian gay men who provided insights into how they experienced and coped with relationship dissolution and into the potential effects of this for identity. Data were analyzed qualitatively using interpretative phenomenological analysis and identity process theory. The following themes are outlined: (i) constructing identity around the relationship; (ii) relationship breakdown and threats to identity; and (iii) repairing identity in silence. The data indicate the centrality of the relationship to identity because of its ability to enhance identity processes and the detrimental effect for identity processes that dissolution can therefore have. Individuals relied heavily upon intrapsychic, deflection strategies for coping with identity threat, which was due to a general lack of social support. Minority group members who are fearful of disclosing their sexual identity to others may cope inadequately with relationship dissolution, exposing identity to chronic threat.

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Correspondence to Rusi Jaspal.

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Jaspal, R. The Experience of Relationship Dissolution among British South Asian Gay Men: Identity Threat and Protection. Sex Res Soc Policy 12, 34–46 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-014-0175-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-014-0175-4

Keywords

  • Relationship dissolution
  • Identity
  • Gay men
  • Well-being
  • British South Asians