Partners National Survey of Lesbian & Gay Couples
Summary of Results
© 1995, Partners Task Force


In the fall of 1988, this major survey was undertaken to develop an accurate portrait of lesbian and gay couples in America. Survey forms were circulated through gay churches and community centers, but most couples requested the forms after reading notices in the gay press. Partners Magazine for Gay & Lesbian Couples and Out/Look (both now discontinued) and a few gay newspapers published the survey itself.

Data was published in a special Partners May/June 1989 monograph. The entire project was developed and conducted by Steve Bryant and Demian, Ed.D.

The survey drew a total of 1,749 responses, representing 1,266 couples — 706 lesbian couples (56%) and 560 male couples (44%). In some cases, both partners of a couple submitted a survey; in others, only one partner did. For purposes of statistical analysis, responses were weighted so that each couple was counted only once.

Respondents provided demographic information, such as age and education, for both themselves and their partners. This summary reports only information for the respondents since it differs little from the information they provided for their partners.

Because figures are rounded, columns may not total 100 percent.

An academic presentation of key findings from this survey appears in a couples-oriented issue of the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services (Vol. 1, #2, 1994) and in Social Services for Gay and Lesbian Couples (Lawrence Kurdick, ed., 1994), both from Haworth Press.

Complete analysis is available only from Partners.
      Click here to order the 13-page May/June 1989 monograph
      which details, analyses and charts this remarkable national survey.



LENGTH OF RELATIONSHIP
			Women	Men
Average years		4.9	6.9

Relationships averaged nearly six years in length for all couples,
even though the average respondent was only 35 years old.
More than 100 couples had passed their 15th anniversary.
One lesbian relationship had spanned 43 years, and three male
couples had lasted more than 40 years. 19% of lesbian couples
and 13% of male couples had been together one year or less.

NUMBER OF PREVIOUS MAJOR GAY/LESBIAN RELATIONSHIPS
			Women(%)	Men(%)
None			32		38
One			26		33
Two			23		18
Three			10		 7
Four			 4		 3
Five or more		 5		 1

Average number		 1.52		 1.07

YEARS IN PREVIOUS MAJOR GAY/LESBIAN RELATIONSHIPS
			Women (%)	Men (%)
None			 1		 2
1 year			 8		20
2 years			12		22
3 years			10		13
4 years			11		10
5 years			10		 9
6 years			 8		 4
7 years			 6		 4
8 years			 5		 4
9 years			 5		 2
10 years		 7		 3
11-15 years		12		 4
16 or more		 6		 2

Average yrs		 6.6	 	 4.2

PREVIOUS HETEROSEXUAL RELATIONSHIP EXPERIENCE
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Never married		73		81
Married once		23		18
Married twice		 4		 1
Thrice or more		<1		<1

WHERE COUPLES MET
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Friends			28		19
Work			21		 7
Social event		16		13
School*			 9		 3
Bar			 4		22
Religious event		 4		 7
Political event		 4		 4
Support group*		 3		 2
Park/public space* 	 2		 6
Classified ad		 2		 6
Baths/cruising*		<1		 5
Other			 5		 6
	* write-in response

SEXUAL ORIENTATION
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Gay/lesbian		93		97
Bisexual		 7		 3

AGE
			Women		Men
Average years		34.7		36.5

RACE
	Women(%)	Men(%)
White			95		95
Latino/Latina		 2		 2
Black			 2		 1
Asian/Pacific Islander   1		 1
Native American		<1		<1
Other			<1		<1

CLASS BACKGROUND
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Working class		31		33
Middle class		60		62
Moneyed class		 6		 4
Other			 1		 1
Poor/welfare*		 1		<1
	* Write-in response

EDUCATION
			Women		Men
Average years		16.7		16.8

73% of women and 72% of men had at least four years of college.

POLITICAL ORIENTATION
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Very liberal		39		29
Liberal			40		44
Moderate		19		21
Conservative		 2		 5
Very conservative	<1		 1

RELIGION
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Protestant		25		32
Atheist/agnostic	23		25
Catholic		14		21
Jewish			10		 7
Pagan/Goddess/Wicca	 6		 2
Unitarian		 3		 2
Eastern religion	 1		 1
Quaker			 1		<1
Other			 9		 7
No response or
   uninterpretable	 9		 4

INCOME
			Women(%)	Men(%)
$8,000 or below		10		8
$8,001 - 15,000		17		12
$15,001 - 25,000	27		26
$25,001 - 40,000	33		29
$40,001 - 65,000	11		16
above $65,000		 3		 9

INCOME SHARING
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Entirely shared		39		41
Partly shared		36		41
Not shared		25		19

EMPLOYER-PROVIDED BENEFITS FOR PARTNER
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Health coverage		 4		 6
Other benefits		 5		 7

TYPES OF DISCRIMINATION ENCOUNTERED AS A COUPLE
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Employment benefits	58		40
Taxes			47		37
Insurance		46		34
Membership		20		11
Credit/banking		15		10
Employment		14		13
Housing			11		11
Hotels			 6		 6
Hospital visitation	 6		 2
Adoption		 5		 2
Foster care		 3		 2
Other			 7		 4
None/none indicated	23		34

WHERE COUPLE LIVES
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Urban gay neighborhood	50		66
Urban area		11		9
Suburban area		29		15
Rural area		11		9

LIVING TOGETHER
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Always			75		82
Sometimes		12		11
Never			12		 6

RESIDENCE STATUS
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Jointly owned		32		36
Owned by one partner	24		24
Rented/leased by both	33		27
Rented/leased by one	11		13

NUMBER OF CHILDREN CARED FOR
			Women(%)	Men(%)
None			79		91
One			10		 5
Two			 8		 3
Three			 2		 1
Four or more		 2		 1

SOURCE OF CHILDREN
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Previous marriage	74		79
Alternative
   insemination		13		 0
Adoption		 7		 8
Foster parent program	 3		 6
Other source		11		11
	
PLANS FOR CHILDREN (OR MORE CHILDREN)
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Not planning		60		68
Considering		20		 9
Planning		10		 4
No response		10		20

SEXUAL AGREEMENTS
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Monogamy		91		63
Monogamy w/agreed
   exceptions		 7		26
Non-monogamy		 3		11

FREQUENCY OF BREAKING SEXUAL AGREEMENTS
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Never			90		63
Rarely			 8		28
Sometimes		 1		 8
Often			<1		 2

PARTNER'S ADMITTED FREQUENCY OF BREAKING SEXUAL AGREEMENTS
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Never			93		73
Rarely			 7		21
Sometimes		<1		 6
Often			<1		<1

FREQUENCY OF SEX WITH PARTNER PER MONTH
			Women(%)	Men(%)
None			 3		 6
1			15		 5
2			12		 8
3			10		 5
4			15		10
5-9			19		27
10-15			14		25
16 or more		11		15

Average			 7.1		10.1
Median			 4		 8

QUALITY OF SEX WITH PARTNER
			Women(%)   Men(%)
Excellent		54		34
Good			24		33
Satisfactory		16		25
Unsatisfactory		 7		 9

FREQUENCY OF OUTSIDE SEX PER MONTH
			Women(%)	Men(%)
None			98		78
1			 1		10
2			<1		 5
3			<1		 3
4			<1		 2
5-10			<1		 2
11 or more		<1		 1

Average			 0.06	 0.63

ROLE OF AIDS
   In forming relationship:
			Women(%)	Men(%)
None			91		72
Minor			 8		21
Major			 1		 8
   In continuing relationship:
None			79		52
Minor			18		34
Major			 3		14
	
RISK FOR AIDS
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Not at risk		93		62
At risk			 7		28
HIV-Positive		<1		 8
Person with AIDS/aRC	 0		 2
Other			<1		 1

SAFETY OF SEX IN RELATIONSHIP DURING LAST YEAR
			Women(%)	Men(%)
HIV-Negative &
   monogamous		54		34
Safe			30		32
Possibly safe		 9		17
Unsafe			 5		12
Didn't have sex		 2		 5

SAFETY OF SEX OUTSIDE RELATIONSHIP DURING LAST YEAR
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Didn't have
   outside sex		90		58
Safe			 5		30
Possibly safe		 4		10
Unsafe			 2		 2

PARTNER'S SAFETY OF SEX OUTSIDE RELATIONSHIP DURING LAST YEAR
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Didn't have
   outside sex		86		54
Safe			 4		20
Possibly safe		 3		 7
Unsafe			 1		 1
Don't know		 6		19

TWO GREATEST CHALLENGES TO RELATIONSHIP
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Communication		42		49
Career			26		30
Relatives		26		18
Sex			25		22
Money			25		28
Health			 9		12
Co-workers		 3		 2
Neighbors		 1		 1
Other			23		13

RELATIONSHIP HAS SUFFERED FROM
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Partner's
   Verbal abuse		17		15
   Substance abuse	 7		11
   Physical abuse	 3		 3
Respondent's
   Verbal abuse		19		16
   Substance abuse	 8		 8
   Physical abuse	 3		 2

BIG ARGUMENTS PER MONTH
			Women(%)	Men(%)
None			57		65
One			31		26
Two			 9		 6
Three or more		 3		 4

Average number		 1.0		 0.6

SMALL ARGUMENTS PER MONTH
			Women(%)	Men(%)
None			10		13
One		 	21		20
Two			28		26
Three			14		14
Four			11		10
Five			 5		 6
Six or more		11		12

Average number		 3.5	 3.7

SOUGHT RELATIONSHIP HELP
			Women(%)		Men(%)
				[found helpful]		[found helpful]
from:
Friend			47	[92]		43	[93]
Counselor		45	[92]		27	[92]
Relative		 9	[86]		 7	[82]
Clergy			 4	[80]		 5	[80]

PREFERRED NAME FOR PARTNER
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Partner/life partner	35		27
Lover			30		40
Spouse			10		 9
Roommate/friend		 7		 5
Mate/life mate		 4		 6
Boyfriend/girlfriend	 2		 2
Husband/wife		 1		 1
Multiple responses	 9		 8
Other			 2		 4

LEGAL ARRANGEMENTS
			Women(%)		Men(%)
			Done	[Planned]	Done	[Planned]
Will			32	[46]		39	[40]
Power of Attorney	28	[41]		27	[29]
Partnership/Living
   Together Agreement	 9	[18]		10	[13]
Other			 6	[4]		 3	[1]

DEGREE OF COMMITMENT
			Women(%)	Men(%)
For life 		67		76
For a long time		25		20
For a while		 7		 4
Briefly			<1		 0

RELATIONSHIP RITUALS
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Held ceremony		19		11
Wear ring/symbol	57		36
Other ritual		12		 9

QUALITY OF RELATIONSHIP
			Women(%)	Men(%)
1 (Highest)		47		36
2			32		39
3			13		15
4			 2		 4
5			 2		 3
6			 2		 3
7 (Lowest)		 1		 1

Average rating		 1.9		 2.1

SOURCES OF SUPPORT
   (rated from 1 = strong support to 7 = hostile)
			Women		  Men
Gay friends		 1.50		 1.65
Gay church		 1.59		 1.99
Lesbian/gay
   couples group	 1.63		 1.77
Other gay organizations	 1.69		 1.91
Other friends		 2.15		 2.09
Co-workers		 2.72		 2.55
Siblings		 2.82		 2.80
Boss			 2.84		 2.78
Mother			 3.34		 2.98
Other relatives		 3.44		 3.34
Father			 3.71		 3.37
Church			 4.22		 4.54
Average rating		 2.64		 2.65

SOURCE OF SURVEY RESPONSES
			Women(%)	Men(%)
Unknown (gay/lesbian
   newspapers, political,
   social & religious
   gay groups)		56		52
Out/Look magazine	34		27
Partners Newsletter	 3		13
Other			 8		 8

Survey results © 1995, Partners. Please contact Partners for permission to reproduce.


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