The LGBTI community shares many similar relationships problems as straight couples. There are trust, communication and infidelity issues. But there are several issues that are unique to the LGBTI community.
A major issue which is unique to the LGBTI is being ‘out.’ Being out can affect LGBTI couples in different ways. If both partners are not out then there is a lack of acknowledgment of their relationship to friends or family members. This can create unique problems. There is always a requirement to have two bedrooms if living together which can create extra expense. When it comes to family events like Christmas do you go together or separately to your families? Not being out can create added complications and pressure to your relationship.
What happens when one partner is out and the other is not? The failure to acknowledge the relationship by one partner can create added tension. One partner may feel that they are not fully accepted by their partner which is the reason they fail to acknowledge the relationship with family and friends. This can lead to ongoing tension and disagreements and may eventually lead to a breakdown in the couple’s relationship
Being out at work can also be critical to how a relationship may function. One partner may take someone of the opposite sex to functions to hide their sexuality. While the other partner may feel that they are not truly acknowledged and accepted by their partner. This can again lead to tension in the relationship with frequent arguments.
Research has indicated that there has been an increase in domestic violence between gay men. The research looked at the changing perception of masculinity in gay relationships.
Although many LGBTI couples often transform their relationships from being ‘closed’ to ‘open’ quite successfully it is not the same for everyone. The desire to open a relationship can be fraught with problems. Partners can be at different stages in their relationship at different times. Opening up the relationship prior to both feeling ready can lead to jealousy and insecurity. There is also a cultural expectation that couples will transform from closed to open. This also can place added pressure on individuals within the relationship.
Christopher Swane - Couples Counselling and Psychotherapy - Wellington New Zealand