Comparing same- and different-sex relationship dynamics: Experiences of young adults in Taiwan
Background: Few studies of same-sex relationships are able to capture the dynamics of these relationships from formation to dissolution, and even fewer provide evidence on these dynamics in a non-Western context.
Objective: Using retrospective relationship history data collected from a nationally representative sample of young adults, this study compares the processes of forming and terminating relationships between same- and different-sex couples in Taiwan, an Asian society featuring both strong parental influences on children’s mate selection and an ongoing legislative effort to legalize same-sex marriage.
Results: Results from event history models show that factors associated with relationship formation and dissolution are largely similar for same- and different-sex unions and that same-sex relationships do not have higher dissolution rates. Nevertheless, premarital coresidence with parents, which is likely to amplify parental influences on children’s mate selection, deters the entry into and accelerates the dissolution of same-sex relationships more than it does different-sex relationships. Moreover, same-sex relationships are more heterogamous in family economic background, but more homogamous in age and education level, than different-sex ones.
Contribution: This study is among the first to provide evidence on the dynamics of same- and different-sex relationships in a non-Western context. Aside from a few differences between same- and different-sex relationships related to parental influences, our study provides strong evidence that same- and different-sex couples experience intimacies in similar ways – even in a relatively conservative cultural context like Taiwan.