The Trials, Tribulations, and Celebrations of Younger LGB Couples in Long-term Relationships

Pearson, Danielle Kristina (2015). The Trials, Tribulations, and Celebrations of Younger LGB Couples in Long-term Relationships. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis explores the long-term relationship experiences of younger LGB couples. It builds upon existing knowledge and understandings of LGB couple relationships and the lives of younger adults. The study utilised multiple qualitative methods informed by social science research on intimate relationships whilst appraising the biographical, socio-cultural, and temporal contexts within which LGB couple relationship experiences are situated. The research highlights the importance of attending to how couples ‘do’ their relationships as well as the ‘practices’ which sustain them. Findings emphasise the interconnected dimensions of time, space, and intimacy as resources for sustaining couple relationships, with analysis underlining the role of the ‘relational present’ as a lens for understanding everyday relationship experiences. It provides insight into how couples negotiate their everyday lives through relationship work, to facilitate connection, and to maintain and cultivate personal autonomy alongside their couple identity. The temporal horizons of the past and the future inform relationship experiences in different ways, increasing understanding of relating behaviours and signifying a commitment to a shared future. Such futures included marriage/civil partnership, children, and buying homes. Experiences were embedded in the context of participant biography, the wider relationships and communities of the couple, and the current zeitgeist of increased acceptance and civil rights for LGB individuals in the UK. The thesis concludes by discussing the findings in terms of age, reciprocity, relationship resources, and gender.

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