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Predictors of relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction and sexual frequency in female couples

Kathryn M Salisbury, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study examined multiple predictors of relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction and sexual frequency among lesbian couples. In addition, the relevance of the study's findings to theories regarding fusion, sexual infrequency and the primacy of gender role socialization in shaping sexual expression in lesbian couples was explored. A survey research design was used. Eighty-seven couples were recruited through a sample of convenience. Couples were eligible for the study if they were 18 years or older, had been partners for a year or more, and lived together at the time of enrollment. The study employed both descriptive and inferential statistics. Data was gathered using the California Instrument of Family Assessment (CIFA), Spanier's Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS), the Hudson Index of Sexual Satisfaction (ISS), a modified Brief Index of Sexual Functioning for Women (BISF-W), and the Bern Sex Role Inventory-Short Form (BSRI-S). In addition demographic information and information regarding health status was collected on a background information form. Overall, the results of the study support a view of healthy dyadic functioning and sexual functioning in most lesbian couples. High levels of fusion or enmeshment were not supported by the study's findings. Instead, high levels of closeness/caregiving predicted greater total dyadic adjustment and less sexual dissatisfaction. Furthermore, findings did not support the hypothesis that lesbians who are more conforming to traditional female gender roles are more prone to negative forms of closeness (as measured by The California Instrument for Family Assessment intrusiveness scale) than lesbians who are less conforming to traditional female gender roles. High femininity scores on the BEM Sex Role Inventory Short Form were also found to be significantly related to couple dyadic adjustment, less sexual dissatisfaction and greater sexual frequency. Findings did not support popular notions of greater sexual infrequency among lesbians as compared to heterosexual women when multi-dimensional measures of sexual behavior were used. The inclusion of descriptive data for individual respondents also provides readers with information regarding sexual behavior and sexual desire that can be used as a point of reference for lesbian couple functioning. Clinical implications of the findings are discussed and directions for future research offered.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Salisbury, Kathryn M, "Predictors of relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction and sexual frequency in female couples" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3110549.