While it may be common to hear men in heterosexual long-term relationships joke about their nagging partners, a new study shows these men are likely far luckier than they realize.
More interestingly, however, may be that the same study shows that people in gay and lesbian long-term relationships enjoy a more mutual, egalitarian environment of support when it comes to encouraging healthy behavior.
The study, published in the June issue of Social Science & Medicine by sociologists at the University of Cincinnati and the University of Texas at Austin, provides evidence that women play a dominant role as the “health expert” in heterosexual relationships, while those duties are shared in same-sex relationships of similar lengths.
It’s probably no surprise that more women assume this role in heterosexual arrangements, and the study reinforces previously held theories supporting this conclusion based on females’ traditional upbringing as caretakers in family settings. In other words, girls are raised to be caring and supportive, which is a godsend for many men who arguably need a mother’s touch even as grown adults.
With regard to same-sex couples, however, scientists suspect the balanced approach of encouragement of good health between partners is a product of environmental influence in a homophobic culture. Researchers believe this environment forms a more cooperative dynamic due to external pressures and manifests itself in increased concern for mutual wellbeing.
Of course, there are many other factors that come into play for couples in long-term relationships, which the study defined as those lasting eight years or more. It may take a more comprehensive study to uncover every incidence of influence that determines who becomes the health expert in a relationship.
Wanting loved ones to live a long and healthy life is a common enough trait if only out of a desire to preserve the health of the relationship, and it’s arguably possible that this desire transcends differences in upbringing among genders as well as sexual orientation, at least in some circumstances.
Article by James Madeiros.