Note: Huffington Post Gay Voices is a media sponsor for Pace University and ProofPilot's study, "How We Date, Have Sex, and Form Relationships Today." Below is a call to action from Tyrel Starks, assistant professor of Psychology at Pace University:
Thank you, readers of The Huffington Post for checking out the study I am doing with Pace University and ProofPilot called "How We Date, Have Sex, and Form Relationships Today." So far, we are having quite a successful first week recruiting singles. My main goal of researching this topic is to dispel some of the myths and stereotypes between the dating habits of the LGBTQ community and heterosexuals. We're still looking for additional participants, so please consider joining us on this exciting and fascinating journey examining dating in the modern age. And in the upcoming weeks, be on the lookout for some insights about the study in The Huffington Post.
You can join the study here.
Here are some insights from recent studies, which I hope to expand upon once my data is complete.
Just how wide is the divide between gay and straight relationships?
A lot of “common sense” ideas about the dating world focus on gender differences. There are sweeping assumptions that men are on the prowl for sex, and that women walk around with wealth on their minds. These assumptions have a way of seeping into the way we conceptualize gay and lesbian relationships as drastically different from heterosexual ones. Some stereotypes, for example, portray gay men as sex-hungry sex fiends who are always beneath the sheets, while lesbians are looked at as counter culture cuddle buddies; conversely, straight men can never find women who share their sexual appetites and straight women are text-obsessed romantics.
But how different are we really? Believe it or not, gay, lesbian, and straight couples all experience similar degrees of sexual satisfaction. They are all vulnerable to the same, sad (but expected and totally normal) decrease in sexual frequency and sexual enjoyment as the years pass1.
If we want to talk differences though—and let’s be real, differences are intriguing—there are some pretty consistent, observed distinctions between these romantic worlds.
1. When relationships are getting started, gay men report having sex more often than heterosexual couples. Estimates suggest two-thirds of gay couples have sex at least three times per week during the first two years of their relationship. Fewer than half of heterosexual couples report sex that frequently.
2. Lesbian women report having more orgasms than heterosexual women despite lesbian women often being characterized as not having a lot of sex. While some studies support the lesbians’ lower sexual activity rate, more recent studies suggest they have sex just about as often as heterosexual couples.
3. Monogamy is the norm in lesbian relationships, while estimates suggest that just 40-50% of gay male relationships are monogamous. Open agreements—those which permit some sexual behavior with outside partners—are much more common among gay relationships.
The thing is, all of these observations—similarities and differences—continue to change with the times. Cultures that value traditional gender roles, tend to see greater differences between what men and women value in their partners. As our attitudes (and laws) evolve, we just might find that some of these differences in dating and relationship behavior also evolve.
What we knew about couples five years ago may not describe couples in 2014.
Your responses will help us update the research about relationships today. Check out the study here.
1. Tolman, Deborah L. (Ed); Diamond, Lisa M. (Ed); Bauermeister, José A. (Ed); George, William H. (Ed); Pfaus, James G. (Ed); Ward, L. Monique (Ed), (2014). APA handbook of sexuality and psychology, Vol. 1: Person-based approaches. APA handbooks in psychology., (pp. 269-315). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association, xxviii, 804 pp. doi: 10.1037/14193-010
2. Buss et a. (1990). International preferences in selecting mates: A study of 37 cultures. Journal of Cross-cultural Psychology, 21, 5-47