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Objective: This study examined whether positive changes in social attitudes and policies surrounding sexual minority relationships have translated to diminished deleterious effects of minority stress on relationship quality.

Background: Sexual minority emerging adults now come of age at a time of greater equality and acceptance than previous generations. Research has demonstrated consistent negative effects of stigma—theorized as minority stress—on relationship quality for sexual minority individuals. However, given the improving social climate, questions remain regarding whether minority stress has the same deleterious effects on the romantic relationships of sexual minority emerging adults.

Method: Five-hundred forty-nine individuals in relationships drawn from a US national probability sample completed a survey containing validated measures of minority stressors and relationship satisfaction. Responses from emerging adults (aged 18–25) were compared to two cohorts who came of age during the HIV/AIDS crisis (aged 34–41) and post Stonewall (aged 52–59).

Results: Emerging adults were more satisfied with their relationships than older cohorts. Experiences of everyday discrimination were associated with decreased relationship satisfaction for all cohorts; however, felt stigma, stigma concealment, and internalized stigma were associated with lower relationship satisfaction for older but not younger cohorts.

Conclusion: Findings illustrate the continued but shifting role of minority stress and provide the first evidence that social and policy changes may have translated into more positive relationship experiences for sexual minority emerging adults."

Publisher Statement

© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Marriage and Family published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of National Council on Family Relations.

Recommended Citation

Frost, D. M., Fingerhut, A. W., & Meyer, I. H. (2022). Social change and relationship quality among sexual minority individuals. Journal of Marriage and Family. Advance online publication.

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