Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Timothy Griesdorn

Second Advisor

Susan Stewart


This qualitative study investigates the nature of commitment in long-lasting mixed-orientation relationships, in which a homosexual man is partnered with a heterosexual woman. Previous research into mixed-orientation relationships has generally not focused on which factors contribute to keeping the relationship together. The primary theoretical frameworks used in this study to understand long-lasting, mixed-orientation couples are social exchange theory and Johnson's (1999) commitment model. Thirteen couples from the U.S. completed questionnaires and were interviewed about three main topics: (a) the history of their relationship, including the coming-out process, (b) strengths of the relationship, and (c) challenges to the relationship. The couples also offer advice to other mixed-orientation couples who wish to stay together. Transcripts were coded to illuminate how these mixed-orientation couples remain in committed relationships. Participant comments revealed that there are three essential characteristics of long-lasting, mixed-orientation relationships, which are (a) a high level of personal commitment, (b) open communication, and (c) adaptability.

Copyright Owner

Kevin John Zimmerman



File Format


File Size

247 pages