The relationship work of sexual intimacy in long-term heterosexual and LGBTQ partnerships

Gabb, Jacqui (2019). The relationship work of sexual intimacy in long-term heterosexual and LGBTQ partnerships. Current Sociology (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0011392119826619

Abstract

Sex is perceived as crucial to relationship success. This article reveals how sexual intimacy is part of the relationship work that couples ordinarily complete to sustain their partnerships over time. It problematizes the binary logics of good–bad sex, female–male desire, and homo–heterosexual difference and shows how fluctuations of desire and/or sexual capacity are managed by couples through intimate knowledge. Findings presented here derive from a multiple methods study with 50 long-term heterosexual and LGBTQ partnerships. I demonstrate how the absence of normative sexual scripts enables queer couples to more readily manage sexual discrepancies. Gendered differences and inequalities persist within many heterosexual relationships while reflexivity and increased openness characterizes queer coupledom. Women and LGBTQ couples are more inclined to deploy humour to diffuse difficult situations and in this context gay men are akin to women more so than heterosexual men.

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