Stress Spillover and Crossover in Same-Sex Couples: Concurrent and Lagged Daily Effects

Casey J. Totenhagen, Ashley Randall, Ashley N. Cooper, Chun Tao, Kelsey J. Walsh

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    38 Scopus citations


    A growing body of literature on romantic relationships demonstrates associations between daily stress and relationship quality; however, this research has largely focused on heterosexual couples. Whereas all couples may experience common external stressors originating outside the relationship (e.g., work and finances), sexual-minority couples may also experience unique stressors due to their sexual orientation (e.g., discrimination or harassment). To address the dearth of literature on the daily experience of stress in same-sex relationships, we examine concurrent (same-day) and lagged (next-day) effects of common external and sexual-minority stressors on relationship quality using 14-day daily diaries from 81 same-sex couples. In doing so, we identify the types of external stress most likely to spill over into the relationship, as well as those vulnerable to crossing over from one partner to the other. We further examine whether the effects are proximal (concurrent) or carry over from one day to the next (lagged). Common external stress was negatively associated with same-day actor and partner relationship quality. Sexual-minority stress demonstrated lagged effects for actor relationship quality, but only for men. Implications for the proximal impact of common external stress and the lagged effects of sexual-minority stress, specifically for men, on relationship quality are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)236-256
    Number of pages21
    JournalJournal of GLBT Family Studies
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - May 27 2017


    • Daily diary
    • dyadic data
    • relationship quality
    • same-sex couples
    • sexual-minority stress
    • stress spillover

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Gender Studies
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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