Personal partnerships, particularly sexual partnerships, are central to the development of personal identity and to cultural and community affiliation. They are also crucial in promoting and supporting personal health and well being. Bonds of relationship and attachment are complex and heavily mediated by social context. We investigated how gay and bisexual men have structured their partnerships.
- In contrast to previous research which has usually not included detailed questions about types of partnerships, we found that only a minority of gay and bisexual men's regular partners may actually be appropriately categorised as boyfriends or as someone with whom they might consider themselves as being 'in a relationship'.
- A majority of men had multiple regular partners, with many referring to their non‐‘boyfriend’ regular partners as ‘fuckbuddies’.
- ‘Being in a relationship’ was associated with length of time together and with feelings of intimacy and trust. Regardless, though, the nature of men’s partnerships is highly varied, and far more complex that the usual regular vs casual binary that is commonly reported. Nonetheless, most men with any regular partners were able to identify a ‘primary’ partner, even if they did not necessarily consider themselves in a relationship with that partner.
- For the most part, gay and bisexual men appear to be quite open and communicative with their regular partners, particularly if they consider themselves to be in a relationship with their partner.
- Most primary partners knew about the men’s other regular partners. Nonetheless, less than half had actually discussed with their regular partner the possibility of sex with other men, although this was true of only about a third of men who considered themselves to be in a relationship.