A Piece of Advice
Is your relationship "unconventional" in more than one way?
Unconventional couples often diverge from tradition in more ways than one. For example, relationship science reveals that same-sex partners also have higher odds of identifying with different racial and ethnic groups, and there’s some evidence that couples with an age-gap also have a greater likelihood of being an inter-racial, interethnic, or same-sex couple. Research also suggests that relationships that are unconventional in multiple ways have certain aspects that are important and meaningful to think about.
- First, couples face added social disapproval for each element in which they’re unconventional (e.g., a same-sex, inter-class couple with an age-gap). Some forms of disapproval may feel harder to deal with than others, although this isn’t always the case. For example, some inter-racial, same-sex couples believe that the strain of being a same-sex couple is greater, whereas for other couples the strain feels equal.
- Second, when couples become aware of social disapproval, they may feel unclear about why it’s happening. For instance, an inter-class, age-gap, inter-racial couple may have a tough time figuring out if the resistance they’re dealing with is in reaction to only one unconventional element (and if so, which one), or if it involves two or all three.
- Third, it can be more difficult for couples to find support and cultivate a sense of community, as they may feel more detached or shunned from various groups. For example, an inter-racial, inter-faith couple might feel unwelcome among their communities of faith and among members of their racial groups.
- A fourth aspect involves where unconventional couples are apt to live. Some research suggests that couples who are unconventional in at least two ways are more inclined to live farther away from where they grew up, which points to some of the challenges they encounter closer to home.
But in the end, what’s especially vital to reflect on is the strength of these couples. Even though partners who go against convention in multiple ways confront added stressors, these difficulties aren’t enough to stop many of them from creating loving, happy, lasting relationships together.
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