Gender Norms and Relationship Dynamics in Same Sex Relationships

Gender Norms and Relationship Dynamics in Same Sex Relationships

New ideas on the fluidity of gender identities have brought new considerations into couple’s counseling. Whether it is opposite-sex or same-sex relationships, understanding gender roles goes a long way in understanding relationship dynamics.

Traditionally, it was thought that men and women complement each other in the family dynamic. However, as time progresses these ideas are being brought in to question as more same-sex relationships come to light.

Gender roles and the Family Unit

Gender roles and the Family Unit

Gender identities are performative. When people exhibit a certain type of behavior, they are said to be acting out their gender identities. This idea brings into question the imposition of gender norms on to the sexes.

Conventionally, it was held that women ought to be responsible for the domestic affairs of the household. Men were to be the providers or responsible for the financial well being of the family. There was a similar classification of roles in relationships. It was part of the man’s identity that they be responsible for the finance and part of the woman’s identity that they take care of the home.

These actions reaffirmed the man and the woman’s identity. This was a circular relationship; the two partners thought that belonging to a gender meant acting in certain ways and acting in certain ways meant that they belonged to a certain gender. This imposed demarcations that dictated relationship dynamics.

The question for us is; what does this mean for same-sex relationships?

There is much to be said here about how gender identities are socially constructed. However, many same sex couples may find it difficult to navigate through a relationship if they cannot create an effect role dividing strategy.

Constructing a Healthy Dynamic

When people get into a relationship, there is already a dynamic that is set in motion. It is determined by their personalities and the experiences they have been through in their time together.

Having an understanding of gender roles and knowing that they are socially determined helps in coming to a very important realization. We realize that restricting the ways in which we act can be detrimental to our emotional and psychological well being. Further that no one really has to act a certain way because of their gender identities.

Keeping these two key realizations in mind, it is a simple step of wondering how best to make a relationship work. Two people can be in a same-sex relationship, identifying with the same or different genders; yet this does not mean it has to impact the roles they play.

Maintaining a healthy relationship is not a one-size-fits-all type deal. It depends on how willing both partners are to work on creating a wholesome environment for each other. This is especially important for same-sex couples, where gender identity clashes might cause turbulence in the relationship.

Sometimes it may be worthwhile to visit a couple’s counselor to help figure a way around these clashes to create a healthy and loving relationship.


Azizeh Rezaiyan at Silicon Valley Marriage Counseling is fluent in Farsi and specializes in same-sex couple’s therapy. In her time as a counselor in Palo Alto, she has helped countless couples resolve their conflicts through her marriage counseling and family mediation services.

You may get in touch with her at her clinics at Silicon Valley Marriage Counseling for more information on her services or a free 20 minute consultation.

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