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The article “Intimacy and emotion work in lesbian, gay, and heterosexual emotions” is an article that was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family in April 2015. The article seeks to determine the way in which genders shape relationships between different types of people. It seeks to show the levels of intimacy in relationships involving same-sex partners and different- sex partners. The journal article outlines a study carried out to establish how intimacy levels vary depending on the genders of the parties involved and the nature of their relationship.

The study involved an analysis of interviews conducted on three categories of couples. The interviews in the journal involved fifteen lesbian partners, fifteen gay partners and twenty heterosexual couples. The study revealed that the emotion work that is put towards removing or enacting boundaries between partners is crucial in comprehending long-term relationships.

Every human being experiences the need to be in a relationship with commitment and mutual understanding. Intimacy is defined as a sense or feeling of closeness and connection that is shared by two people. The level of intimacy in any relationship affects the quality of that relationship. Unlike other many articles that have sought to find the views that men and women have on heterosexual intimate relationship, this journal includes the views of men and female who are in relationships that are not heterosexual. This study works to show how intimacy experienced by both men and women is influenced by the gender of their partners.[ CITATION Umb15 l 1033 ]

Women have been known to associate absence of boundaries between partners in a relationship with deeper intimacy. Women tend to view sharing of thoughts, emotions and feelings experienced by a person as being fundamental for intimacy. Intimacy may be achieved through working to affect boundaries that exist between partners such as encouraging partners to express feelings in order to reduce boundaries. The activities that involve the enhancement of people’s well-being through emotional support are globally known as emotion work. Women are known to do emotion work in heterosexual relationships than the men.

Over the years research has revealed how emotion work in heterosexual relationships work. However, little research has been carried out to find out what happens in the case of same-sex relationships. The study carried out in the journal draws on the notion of boundaries between partners and emotion work in determining how gendered experiences influence intimacy in relationships. Women are known to desire more intimacy in their relationships. Less boundaries between partners makes women feel more intimately connected with their partners. The paper shows the differences that exist when it comes to couples who date partners from the same gender. Boundaries between lesbian partners are relatively fewer and more flexible than those within heterosexual relationships. The study also shows that men place less emphasis on emotional intimacy even when in same-sex relationships compared to women in same- sex relationships.

The study carried out in the journal article addresses heterosexual couples, gay couples and lesbian couples who all live together either as married partners or cohabitating partners. The information contained in the journal was gathered through interviews. These interviews were structured to address different dynamics that surround relationships such as intimacy, sex, conflicts, health, and stress among other factors experienced by people in long- term relationships. Partners expressed their feelings and views on intimacy, sharing emotions, sex and communicating intimacy. The attempts made by partners to make the other party feel better about themselves was also examined. Questions on how sexual experiences with partners, the changes that have occurred over time in terms of sexual experiences and how they affect emotional intimacy between couples were also asked.

Data obtained was analyzed using the qualitative analytic approach. This method made it possible to carefully examine and analyze the data gathered in depth. Most respondents defined intimacy as the lack of boundaries among partners that can be attained through sharing feelings and talking. The women in lesbian relationships experienced relationships with less boundaries and more emotion work than their counterparts in heterosexual relationships. Almost half the women in heterosexual relationships desired less boundaries but had a challenge as their partners were mostly not for the idea. [ CITATION Tho15 l 1033 ]

The journal article shows how gender influences relationships and intimacy. Comparison between same-sex relationships and heterosexual relationships are made. In both same-sex and heterosexual relationships, women do more emotion work than men. They do this with the aim of reducing boundaries that exist between the partners in a relationships. It is also evident that most women long for less boundaries in relationships whether heterosexual or same-sex than men. More differences are experienced in the personal definition and experiences of intimacy among couples in heterosexual relationships than those that occur in same-sex relationships.

The journal suggest that emotion work that is aimed at reducing boundaries between partners is beneficial to parties especially in lesbian relationships. Men are generally likely to treasure boundaries between partners in both same-sex relationships and heterosexual relationships. The emotion work done by men in both same-sex relationships and heterosexual relationships differ in some ways. Men with gay partners devoted more time to emotion work than men in heterosexual relationships. Partners in same- sex relationships agree with each other more than those in heterosexual relationships in matters of sexual desires and intimacy. Sexual intimacy is fundament for most lesbian couples as it distinguishes the committed relationship from other friendships. Men in gay relationships have a separation between emotional intimacy and sex and they place less emphasis on sexual exclusivity as long as outside affairs do not involve emotional intimacy.

The journal provides comprehensive reports on how men and women view intimacy in their relationships. It shows the differences that arise due to relationships being same- sex relationships or being heterosexual. The nature of the relationship influences the how emotion work and intimacy occurs and the views of the partners in the relationships. The journal provides important facts that have not been provided by other studies in the past.


Thomeer, M. R. C. a. U. D., 2015. Relationship dynamics around depression in gay and lesbian couples. Social Science & Medicine, Issue 147, pp. 38-46.

Umberson, D. T. M. a. L. A., 2015. . Intimacy and emotion work in lesbian, gay, and heterosexual relationships.. Journal of Marriage and Family, II(77), pp. 542-556.