Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

Sociology, MA

Committee Chair

Gagne, Patricia

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Christopher, Karen

Committee Member

Christopher, Karen

Committee Member

Taniguchi, Hiromi

Author's Keywords

Same-sex relationships; fidelity of same-sex relationships; negotiation in same-sex relationship


In this study I drew from 17 in-depth interviews with nine gay men and eight lesbian women who were in or previously had been in a committed same-sex relationship. My goal was to understand how cisgender women and men in a same-sex relationship define commitment in the era of marriage equality. I approached the research using standard principles of analytic induction. I drew from social construction theory and symbolic interactionism theory to help me make sense of the data. Emergent from the data were the themes for importance of constant open and honest communication within the relationship and negotiation of the relationship. I found that those in same-sex relationships negotiated with their partner(s) the boundaries of fidelity, tolerance of infidelity, commitment, and the meaning of marriage. Furthermore, those who were in an open relationship or those who were more tolerant of an open relationship showed an ability to compartmentalize sexual and emotional feelings involved in extra-dyadic sexual encounters. Despite having been historically excluded from the institution of marriage, it appears that these women and men are in the process of constructing and giving meaning to commitment and marriage in an era of marriage equality and increasing visibility of same-sex relationships.