Minority stress and intimate partner aggression among male same-sex couples

Elissa L. Sarno*, Madison S. Smith, Michael E. Newcomb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intimate partner aggression (IPA) is high among gay, bisexual, queer, and other sexual minority men (SMM), and is strongly linked to minority stress. These links might be further magnified or buffered by communication between partners (i.e., negative and positive communication, respectively). The present study investigated associations of minority stress and IPA, and the moderating role of positive/negative communication, among male couples (N = 932 individuals, 466 couples). Partners completed measures of communication skills, minority stress, and IPA, which were analyzed using moderated actor-partner interdependence models. Results suggested that microaggressions increase one's own (i.e., an actor effect) and one's partner's (i.e., a partner effect) verbal IPA victimization, verbal IPA perpetration, and physical IPA victimization. Positive communication moderated the association between microaggressions and verbal IPA victimization, suggesting that high levels of positive communication may buffer the microaggression-verbal IPA link. Thus, minority stress' detrimental impacts on relationship functioning among male same-sex couples may be reduced by the presence of positive communication (e.g., effective conflict resolution). We discuss structural and clinical innovations to prevent IPA among male couples, with particular emphasis on the absence of positive communication as an aggravating factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPersonal Relationships
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • communication
  • intimate partner aggression
  • minority stress
  • sexual minority

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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