Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Marcia Martin, PhD

Second Advisor

Lina Hartocollis, PhD


In an environment typically dominated by heteronormative values and behavior, the distribution of power, resources, and tasks within an intimate relationship often is gender-determined. How power, resources, and tasks are negotiated within a lesbian relationship and how this process may affect the perception of intimacy and sexual satisfaction remains a fertile area for exploration. Through the lens of relational-cultural theory and social exchange theory, this dissertation examines the literature that considers the ways in which power is negotiated and distributed in intimate relationships, with a specific emphasis on lesbian relationships. In addition, literature that considers the interplay between power and perceived intimacy and sexual satisfaction will be analyzed, again with an emphasis on lesbian relationships. Interviews with ten self-identifying lesbians, each of whom is in an exclusive romantic relationship for a minimum of three years, will provide the context for exploring the ways in which power has been negotiated and resources and tasks have been distributed within their relationships—and how, if at all, the negotiation and distribution of power, resources, and tasks has impacted their perceived levels of intimacy and sexual satisfaction.