What is the Division of Labor in Lesbian Relationships?
We asked lesbian couples to give us an inside look at how they divvy up relationship chores and responsibilities.
LESBIAN SURVEY SAYS... / NOV 18, 2022
Studies show that lesbians are less traditional in their distribution of paid and unpaid labor in relationships than heterosexuals. Lesbian couples are known to mix and match household responsibilities and to value equitable contributions to their relationships. The absence of gender-based roles frees lesbian couples to base contributions to the relationship on preferences, abilities, time and availability.
In this survey, we explore patterns in how lesbian couples divide relationship responsibilities. Ninety-two lesbians completed our online survey. We examined 38 specific relationship contributions including:
Lesbians were asked to identify who is responsible for contributing to each category. Credit is assigned to either or both partners when their contributions occur at 30% or more of the time. Credits were identified as: "me," "her," "both," or "neither."
Separate Individual Contributions
While studies have already shown that lesbians are more likely to share their contributions to the relationships evenly, likely to share their contributions to the relationship evenly, we wanted to know how the division of labor is divided when it comes to specific tasks.
What we learned is that, in general, many responsibilities are shared by both partners. However, we id notice a pattern of dividing up three key responsibilities around the house that are primarily done by one partner or the other, but not usually both:
For 75% of lesbian couples, house repairs are done primarily by one partner. Similarly, 69% of partners take charge of cooking meals. As for budgeting and bill payment, 65% of partners report that one or the other is responsible for these tasks.
Shared Relationship Contributions
As for shared contributions, the pattern seems to be that when it comes to character contributions such as loyalty and honesty, generosity and kindness or contributions such as loyalty and honesty, generosity and kindness or gratitude and compassion, these are commonly contributed by both partners. Specifically, 90% of lesbian couples report equal contributions of loyalty and honesty, followed by 86% of couples who report shared decision-making about major purchases. The next three highest shared contributions, in order, are:
As for providing income, 72% of lesbians report that they both contribute to the relationship.
What Neither Partner is Contributing
In some instances, lesbian couples report that neither partner contributes to the relationship. When removing categories that are not applicable to some couples, such as child care or elderly care, the top two categories that lesbians report neither partner contributes to the relationship are Faithful/Spiritual contributions and Lawn Care.
Of the couples who do take care of the lawn, 14% of couples share the responsibility; 55% of couples report one partner contributing alone and 30% report neither contributing. Presumably, they hire it done, or there is no lawn to care for.
When it comes to making the bed, 34% of lesbians share the responsibility, 44% of couples report one partner taking responsibility for making the bed and 22% of couples don’t make the bed.
Satisfaction with Division of Labor in Lesbian Relationships
Lesbian couples who have been together between 21 and 30 years report that 99% of the time they are "Usually" or "Always" satisfied with their division of labor. The next most satisfied group includes lesbian couples who have been together 0-1 years and report being usually or always satisfied with the state of their relationship contributions 80% of the time.
Satisfaction rates for couples who have been together for varying lengths of time include:
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