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date: 25 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Sexuality is arguably the preeminent feature distinguishing romantic relationships from other emotionally significant ties, and it serves diverse and critical functions at every stage of coupledom. Over the past several decades, relationship researchers have made remarkable strides in documenting the development and functioning of sexuality within intimate relationships, including the unique dynamics of same-sex sexual relationships. The present chapter provides a comprehensive overview of these topics, most notably the prevalence of different types of sexual behavior in contemporary couples, normative changes in sexual functioning over the life course as well as over the course of specific relationships, the dynamics underlying sexual satisfaction, the importance of sexual communication, social exchange perspectives on relational sexuality, sexuality in the context of illness or disability, sexual dysfunction, and sexual coercion. With regard to same-sex sexuality, we address issues of sexual stigmatization and marginalization, the role of legal recognition of same-sex couples, gender-related dynamics in same-sex couples, and sexual norms and practices that prove distinctive for same-sex couples. Throughout the chapter, we identify key areas for future research on this historically understudied component of romantic relationship formation and functioning.

Keywords: sexuality, romantic relationships, sexual behavior, sexual communication, sexual dysfunction, sexual coercion, sexual stigmatization, same-sex couples

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