Sex and Security
As discussed in Chapter 3, young formalised same-sex relationships need to be understood within the context of the enduring privileging of the couple as an adult relational ideal. Also, as noted in Chapter 2, partners viewed stability as central to a ‘good’ and fulfilling relationship or marriage. In this chapter we consider how the privileging of the couple as the focus for stability promoted commitments to sexual monogamy. In contrast to findings about previous generations of same-sex relationships, the majority of our young couples were sexually monogamous. In modelling their relationships on the ordinary, most couples assumed that their relationships would be monogamous from the moment of commitment.
In addition to exploring couples’ narratives of (non-)monogamy in some detail, the chapter also situates their sexual commitments in terms of the changing meanings that partners give to sex over time. We also consider the ways sexual practices and their meanings are linked to the temporal rhythms of couples’ day-to-day lives. Some partners could experience sex as a problematic issue, and the ways in which this undermined a sense of relational security goes some way to explaining why couples were so invested in sexual monogamy. Overall, the chapter illuminates the links that partners make between sexual monogamy and a sense of a ‘mature stability’.