This study examined the identity-laden processes of sexual communication for LGBTQ individuals in relationships. Specifically, this study analyzed open-ended descriptions of sexual communication comfort as well as the relationship between sexual self-disclosure, sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, and sexual communication satisfaction. Findings suggest that there was a moderate, positive relationship between sexual self-disclosure and sexual satisfaction, sexual self-disclosure and relationship satisfaction, and sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction. There was a strong, positive relationship between sexual self-disclosure and sexual communication satisfaction, and sexual communication satisfaction and sexual satisfaction. Sexual communication comfort themes included comfort as relational, friends first, sex drive, social networks, gender identities, and vulnerability. These findings support and extend previous research on sexual self-disclosure and relational outcomes and introduce descriptions of sexual communication comfort to highlight the risky and necessary nature of sexual communication.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
All participants in this study were anonymous. Many participants have gender identities that do not align with their assigned sex or gender presentation, so we choose not to assign them a gendered descriptor—a pseudonym, without knowing those preferences.
Allen, M., Emmers-Sommer, T., & Crowell, T. L. (2002). Couples negotiating safer sex behaviors: A meta-analysis of the impact of conversation and gender. In M. Allen, R. W. Preiss, B. M. Gayle, & N. A. Burrell (Eds.), Interpersonal communication research: Advances through meta-analysis (pp. 263–279). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Bailey, J. V., Farquhar, C., Owen, C., & Whittaker, D. (2002). Sexual behaviors of lesbians and bisexual women. Sex Transmitted Infections,79, 147–150. https://doi.org/10.1136/sti.79.2.147.
Byers, E. S., Sears, H. A., & Weaver, A. D. (2008). Parents’ reports of sexual communication with children in kindergarten to grade 8. Journal of Marriage and Family,70(1), 86–96. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2007.00463.x.
Byers, S. E., & Demmons, S. (1999). Sexual satisfaction and sexual self-disclosure within dating relationships. The Journal of Sex Research,36(2), 180–189. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499909551983.
Caldwell, M. A., & Peplau, L. A. (1982). Sex differences in same-sex friendship. Sex Roles,8(7), 721–732. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00287568.
Chiou, W. B., & Wan, C. S. (2006). Sexual self-disclosure in cyberspace among Taiwanese adolescents: Gender differences and the interplay of cyberspace and real life. Cyberspace Psychology and Behavior,9(1), 46–53. https://doi.org/10.1089/cpb.2006.9.46.
Cupach, W. R., & Comstock, J. (1990). Satisfaction with sexual communication in marriage: Links to sexual satisfaction and dyadic adjustment. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,7, 179–186. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407590072002.
Cupach, W. R., & Metts, S. (1991). Sexuality and communication in close relationships. In K. McKinney & S. Spreecher (Eds.), Sexuality in close relationships. Laurence Erlbaum Associates: Hillsdale, NJ.
Cupach, W. R., & Metts, S. (1994). Facework. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Dindia, K., & Allen, M. (1992). Sex differences in self-disclosure: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin,112, 106–124. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.112.1.106.
Goffman, E. (1967). Interaction ritual. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.
Guzman, B. L., Schlehofer-Sutton, M. M., Villanueva, C. M., Dello Stritto, M. E., Casad, B. J., & Feria, A. (2003). Let’s talk about sex: How comfortable discussions about sex impact teen sexual behavior. Journal of Health Communication,8, 583–598. https://doi.org/10.1080/716100416.
Hatfield, E., Tang, N., & Bensman, L. (2013). Culture and sexual self-disclosure in intimate relationships. Interpersona: An International Journal on Personal Relationships,7(2), 227–245. https://doi.org/10.5964/ijpr.v7i2.141.
Herold, E. S., & Way, L. (1988). Sexual self-disclosure among university women. The Journal of Sex Research,24, 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224498809551394.
Holtgraves, T. (2001). Politeness. In W. P. Robinson & H. Giles (Eds.), The new handbook of language and social psychology. Wiley: West Sussex.
Iasenza, S. (2010). What is queer about sex? Expanding sexual frames in theory and practice. Family Process,49, 291–308.
Kattari, S. K. (2015). “Getting it”: Identity and sexual communication for sexual and gender minorities with physical disabilities. Sexuality & Culture, 19(4), 882–899. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-015-9298-x.
Kosenko, K. A. (2010). Meanings and dilemmas of sexual safety and communication for transgender individuals. Health Communication,25(2), 131–141. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410230903544928.
Kosenko, K. A. (2011). The safer sex communication of transgender adults: Processes and problems. Journal of Communication,61, 476–495. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2011.01556.x.
Lawrance, K., & Byers, E. S. (1998). Interpersonal exchange model of sexual satisfaction questionnaire. In C. M. Davis, W. L. Yarber, R. Bauserman, G. Schreer, & S. L. Davis (Eds.), Sexuality-related measures: A compendium (2nd ed., pp. 514–519). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Manning, J. (2014). Communication and healthy sexual practices: Toward a holistic communicology of sexuality. In M. H. Eaves (Ed.), Applications in health communication: Emerging trends (pp. 263–286). Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt.
Montesi, J. L., Fauber, R. L., Gordon, E. A., & Heimberg, R. G. (2011). The specific importance of communicating about sex to couples’ sexual and overall relationship satisfaction. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,28(5), 591–609. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407510386833.
Noland, C. M. (2010). Sex talk: The role of communication in intimate relationships. Westport: Praeger.
Parekh, R. (2016). What is gender dysphoria? Retrieved Nov 23, 2016, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/gender-dysphoria/what-is-gender-dysphoria.
Parsons, J. T., Starks, T. J., Gamarel, K. E., & Grov, C. (2012). Non-monogamy and sexual relationship quality among same-sex male couples. Journal of Family Psychology,26(5), 669–677. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0029561.
Rosenthal, D. A., Feldman, S. S., & Edwards, D. (1998). Mum’s the word: Mothers’ perspectives on communication about sexuality with adolescents. Journal of Adolescence,21(6), 727–743. https://doi.org/10.1006/jado.1998.0192.
Rubinsky, V., & Cooke-Jackson, A. (2016). “Where is the love?” Expanding and theorizing with LGBTQ memorable messages of sex and sexuality. Health Communication,31, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2016.1230809.
Sneed, C. D. (2008). Parent-adolescent communication about sex: The impact of content and comfort on adolescent sexual behavior. Journal of HIV/AIDS Prevention in Children & Youth,9(1), 70–83. https://doi.org/10.1080/10698370802126477.
Tracy, S. J. (2013). Qualitative research methods: Collecting evidence, crafting analysis, communicating impact. Maden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee (Emerson College IRB Committee – Reference # 14-005-E-S-10/14) and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Human and Animal Rights
This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of its authors.
Informed consent was obtained from all individuals included in this study.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Rubinsky, V., Hosek, A. “We Have to Get over It”: Navigating Sex Talk Through the Lens of Sexual Communication Comfort and Sexual Self-disclosure in LGBTQ Intimate Partnerships. Sexuality & Culture 24, 613–629 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-019-09652-0
- Sex talk