A new report challenges stereotypes about gay male relationships and how long they last.
A study from The Williams Institute at UCLA followed more than 500 Vermont couples—including gay, lesbian, and heterosexual relationships—over the 12-year period from 2002 to 2014. Researchers found that, overall, gay male couples were the least likely to part ways.
Lesbians were twice as likely as gay men to terminate their relationships, and one-and-a-half as likely as heterosexuals.
“Other studies on heterosexual couples have found that women have higher standards for relationship quality than men,” author Esther Rothblum noted. “We suspect that similar dynamics may be at play with the lesbian couples in our study, leading to the higher dissolution rate.”
The report supports a 2017 study from the United Kingdom Office for National Statistics (ONS): In 2014, the year marriage equality came to the U.K, 1,400 same-sex marriages took place By 2016, three-quarters of those marriages that ended in divorce were between women. Even before equal marriage, British lesbian couples were nearly twice as likely as gay men to end a civil partnership. (Of the 794 partnerships dissolved in 2012, almost 60% were by female couples.)
And in a 2013 study of civil partnerships in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, queer women were twice as likely to dissolve their same-sex partnerships as men.
“This reflects trends in a heterosexual marriage—because women are more prone to say they want to marry, but they’re also more likely to initiate a divorce,” Gunnar Andersson, professor of demography at Stockholm University, told The Independent. “Women usually have higher demands on relationship quality, that’s [been shown] in studies. Even if you control for age there is still a trend of more women ending partnerships than men.”
Additionally, the Williams Institute study looked at what factors affect the longevity of participants’ relationships: They noted that longer relationships, relationships between older partners, and relationships between highly educated partners were more likely to stand the test of time.
Other factors, like having children or being legally recognized as partners, had little-to-no effect on termination rates, the study found.