Although social support for relationships is a commonly studied topic, the literature is divided upon whether social support from parents versus friends plays a more important role in predicting relational and health outcomes. Using a sample (N = 698) of heterosexual and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) participants, the current study examined differences in past experiences of relationship disapproval from friends and family, as well as self-reported levels of importance assigned to various sources of social approval for relationships. In addition, participants read hypothetical scenarios in which they were told that their parents, heterosexual friends or LGBTQ friends disapproved of their current dating partner and suggested that they end the relationship. Participants responded by indicating whether or not they would end the hypothetical relationship based on the disapproval. Results indicate that individuals in same-sex relationships often perceive less social support for their relationships from parents than friends, that they place more value on relationship approval from friends, or chosen family, and that they are less likely to end a relationship based on parental disapproval, compared to those in mixed-sex relationships. A ‘currency’ model of parental disapproval for relationships is introduced, whereby parents are seen to have a finite amount of ‘relationship disapproval currency’ available to spend on an adult child’s relationships. Inaccurately disapproving of their children’s relationships is shown to reduce the likelihood of children considering their parents’ opinions, while accurately disapproving of relationships significantly increases the likelihood of their adult children considering their opinions in the future.


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pp. 257-270
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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