Date of Award

5-2003

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

Advisor

John C. Sherblom

Second Committee Member

Eric E. Peterson

Third Committee Member

Claire F. Sullivan

Abstract

The study of friendship has focused on various types of relationships involving same-sex and cross-sex friends. Heterosexuality has usually been assumed in these relationships, although recently research has been done involving homosexual friendships. The present study provides a quantitative analysis of personal-social characteristics and relational expectations, and a qualitative analysis of friendship formation, maintenance strategies, and relational importance of homosexual men and heterosexual women in close relationships with each other. These analyses help in understanding why and how close friendships between homosexual men and heterosexual women are formed and maintained. A questionnaire combining elements of one developed by Savin-Williams (1990) to measure personal-social characteristics, and portions of one used by Nardi and Sherrod (1994) to measure relational expectations was modified for present use. In addition to the questionnaire, interviews were conducted to measure maintenance strategies and the importance of the relationship. Responses from homosexual men and heterosexual women in close relationships were compared to responses from homosexual men and heterosexual women in casual relationships. Quantitative analysis showed some support suggesting that homosexual men and heterosexual women in close relationships have more similar social-personal characteristics and relational expectations than do homosexual men and heterosexual women in casual relationships. Homosexual men in close relationships with heterosexual women reported being more forceful and aggressive than homosexual men in casual relationships with heterosexual women; heterosexual women in close relationships with homosexual men reported being more forceful and aggressive, and having more close homosexual male friends than heterosexual women in casual relationships with homosexual men; homosexual men in close relationships with heterosexual women report being open, trusting, and truly themselves, discussing topics such as personal strengths and weaknesses, resolving conflicts as important, having conversational involvement, spending enjoyable time together, and engaging in social activities more than homosexual I men in casual relationships with heterosexual women; heterosexual women in close relationships with homosexual men report discussing topics such as personal strengths and weaknesses and spending enjoyable time together more than heterosexual women in casual relationships with homosexual men; and homosexual men and heterosexual women in close relationships may be more discrepant in their self-reported forcefulness than homosexual men and heterosexual women in casual relationships. A cluster analysis of the interviews was conducted and dendograms were used to identify concepts that were important to friendships between homosexual men and heterosexual women. The analysis revealed clusters containing word pairs which were interpreted within the context of the text of the interviews. The results suggest that homosexual men and heterosexual women in close relationships with each other are different from homosexual men and heterosexual women in casual relationships with each other. It also suggests that homosexual men and heterosexual women in close relationships with each other maintain their relationships using many of the strategies used in other relationships, but that their relationships with each other offer something that other relationships do not.

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