Victoria University psychologist Dr Warwick Hosking is conducting research to discover if gay men’s relationships are different from heterosexual ones.

Funded by the university, the study will look at the way gay men’s sexual relationships are negotiated and the different forms they take.
You could assume in the heterosexual world, the model is monogamy. That’s the default setting for relationships between a man and a woman, but in the gay world, there’s not necessarily an established norm of monogamy, Hosking said.
I’m interested to find out the different kind of arrangements men have in their relationships and how they function.
Respondents must be over 18, identify as gay (not bisexual) and have been in a relationship for at least six months.
I’m asking people not only what are the rules of your relationship but how strictly do you stick to them and if they’re broken, what has the impact been on your relationship as well as safe sex practices.
Hosking said research conducted overseas showed a difference in relationships for gay men.
Even though on the heterosexual side of things, marriage is not necessarily seen as a given anymore, I would argue that predominantly monogamy is still seen as the norm … there’s the agreement we won’t get married but we’ll still be exclusive to each other in the relationship.
This is not to say that in straight relationships there aren’t arrangements about openness, because I wouldn’t assume that at all, but I have a suspicion… there is a greater diversity of rules about monogamy or non-monogamy in gay men’s relationships.
Hosking said he believes, whatever the survey’s outcomes, the results will shed light on a little-known area.

It’s not so much that I expect the research to show that men who aren’t in sexually monogamous relationships can’t hang onto their relationships. It’s more about the arrangements that are set up in any particular relationship, whatever they happen to be, and whether men stick to those, he said.

I’m [not] trying to make a social statement about the nature of gay relationships in general, but really to get a better understanding of how they function and what impacts that has for individuals within those relationships.

The VU study measures relationship satisfaction and well-being. Hosking said in the small amount of overseas research into the area, data indicated men in non-monogamous relationships were as committed to their partner emotionally and psychologically as those in monogamous relationships.

Dr Hosking said he expects the survey results to provide a basis for education around the emotional and sexual health specifics of  gay relationships in Australia.

One of the practical implications is education. If it seems that many in non-monogamous relationships are not being honest with each other about their behaviours then that has a clear sexual health implication.

info: To complete the online survey go to,

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