Recent studies indicate that same-sex couples have greater levels of satisfaction in their relationships than their heterosexual counterparts due to better communication.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studied couples of the same sex and opposite sexes and discovered that, contrary to the beliefs of some, the relationships are very similar.

These findings will help bridge the gap between society’s generalised views regarding the longevity and strength of gay partnerships, researchers believe.

Glenn Roisman, researcher and author of the study by the University of Illinois, told The Desert Sun: “If one is basing one’s world view that same-sex couples are fundamentally different than opposite-sex pairs as being of an inferior quality, one is mistaken.”

In a three-year study of civil unions taking place in Vermont, Esther Rothblum, a professor of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University, discovered that same-sex couples resolved conflict better than opposite-sex couples in committed relationships.

“Compared with heterosexual married participants, both types of same-sex couples reported greater relationship quality, compatibility and intimacy and lower levels of conflict,” the study reported. Those in same-sex relationships were found to balance out the responsibilities of both partners in their work and home life.

It was also found that conflict resolution skills are of utmost importance in a long-lasting relationship, and without the gender difference of an opposite-sex couple, a gay couple’s ability to resolve their disagreements may be greater. The tendency to dismiss conflicts due to fundamental differences between the sexes is not an issue, so gay couples may be able to tackle their fallings-out in a more practical way.

Nick Warner, an experienced counsellor and clinical psychologist based in Palm Springs, said: “In a gay relationship, they tend to look at each other’s differences as something interesting that they want to understand more.

“Guys tend to dismiss what they disagree with. In a same-sex relationship, there wouldn’t be as much of that of course because you can’t dismiss someone because of their gender difference.”

Same-sex partners could be construed as having an advantage over straight couples, in that their shared gender gives them a greater understanding of each other. But whether a relationship is same or opposite-sex, according to researchers, the idea of embracing each other’s differences which is the key to success.

Rothblum summed up the findings, saying: “I think the take-home message for heterosexual couples is to try and understand the gender culture of your spouse.”