A study has revealed that being in a relationship can neutralize the negative effects of bullying faced by individuals of the LGBT community. Lesbian and gay youth showed significantly less psychological anguish and were buffered against bullying when they were in a relationship.
“Romantic relationships add luster to life,” said Brian Mustanski, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in the US.
“Your romantic partner can be the first person you reach out to when you have good news to celebrate or for a shoulder to cry on when you have bad news,” said Mustanski. “Having a partner then can amplify the good things in life and provide critical support during tough times,” he said. Earlier research has not found a protective impact like this for support from parents and friends.
The participants for the study came from Project Q2 – a racially diverse community and the longest running longitudinal study of LGBT youth ever conducted. A sample of 248 sexual minority youth between the ages of 16-20 provided data over a five-year period beginning in 2007.
While the benefits of being in a romantic relationship for mental health is well documented in adults, very less research has been conducted on the association between dating relationships and mental health in youngsters. Even fewer researchers have examined the potential stress-reducing effects of romantic relationships for sexual minority groups.
“There are lot of questions about if and how we should help LGBT teens form romantic relationships, so that they can have the same experiences of dating and learning about relationships as their heterosexual peers,” said Sarah Whitton, associate professor at the University of Cincinnati in the US.
“The findings suggest there might be great value in initiatives that could help LGBT youth meet other youth such as citywide ‘queer proms,’ and engage in healthy learning about dating and romance,” said Whitton.