, Volume 54, Issue 6, pp 2351–2374 | Cite as

Gender and the Stability of Same-Sex and Different-Sex Relationships Among Young Adults

  • Kara JoynerEmail author
  • Wendy Manning
  • Ryan Bogle


Most research on the stability of adult relationships has focused on coresidential (cohabiting or married) unions and estimates rates of dissolution for the period of coresidence. Studies examining how the stability of coresidential unions differs by sex composition have typically found that same-sex female couples have higher rates of dissolution than same-sex male couples and different-sex couples. We argue that the more elevated rates of dissolution for same-sex female couples are a by-product of the focus on coresidential unions. We use data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to compare rates of dissolution based on the total duration of romantic and sexual relationships for same-sex male couples, same-sex female couples, and different-sex couples. Results from hazard models that track the stability of young adult relationships from the time they are formed demonstrate that male couples have substantially higher dissolution rates than female couples and different-sex couples. Results based on models restricted to the period of coresidence corroborate the counterintuitive finding from earlier studies that female couples have the highest rates of dissolving coresidential unions. This study underlines the importance of comparisons between these couple types for a better understanding of the role that institutions and gender play in the stability of contemporary relationships.


Union stability LGBT Cohabitation 



This research was supported in part by the Center for Family and Demographic Research, Bowling Green State University, which has core funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P2CHD050959). We appreciate the insightful comments that Jenifer Bratter provided on an early draft of this article presented at the 2012 annual meeting of the Population Association of America. We also thank Barbara Prince for editorial suggestions. This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by Grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due to Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website ( No direct support was received from Grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyBowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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