Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Steve Tuber

Committee Members

Sasha Rudenstine

Alexandra Woods

Diana Puñales-Morejon

Eileen Donohue

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


intimacy, female couples, barriers to intimacy, lesbian relationships, internalized homophobia, minority stress


Intimacy is central to romantic relationships, however, this aspect of experience has been largely unstudied in female couples. Further, few studies have looked at how minority stress and internalized homophobia impact these women’s experiences of intimacy. With a sample of 19 women, through self-report measures and a semi-structured interview, experiences of intimacy, the factors that impact intimacy, barriers to intimacy, and how couples bridge these barriers were explored. Quantitative analysis revealed an association between internalized homophobia and relationship satisfaction. Qualitative thematic analysis indicated that this group of women had a robust range of explicit and implicit experiences of intimacy. Further, findings indicated that they experienced a range of barriers to their intimacy emerging from the dyad, the individual and the environment. Internalized homophobia and minority stress experiences were relevant factors to these barriers. Engaging in communication and holding a desire of shared understanding enabled women to bridge barriers they encountered. The findings indicate that these couples can greatly benefit from couples’ therapy while also utilizing their own strengths to maintain intimacy.