Mental health, relationships, and sex: Exploring patterns among bisexual individuals in mixed orientation relationships

Jennifer A. Vencill, Samantha Carlson, Alex Iantaffi, Michael H Miner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Drawing on minority stress theory and sexual health literature, this exploratory study tested the relations of bisexual identity factors (e.g. anticipated binegativity, identity affirmation), minority stressors (e.g. isolation and vicarious trauma), and sexual and relationship variables (e.g. sexual functioning, relationship satisfaction) with mental health. Participants were 53 self-identified bisexual individuals in a mixed orientation relationship (MORE) with partners who did not also identify as bisexual. Moderate or above levels of depression, anxiety, and stress were reported by 34.5%, 25.4%, and 27.3% of the sample, respectively. Minority stressors were examined as mediators of the relations of bisexual identity factors and mental health outcomes. Isolation significantly mediated anticipated binegativity and depression, anxiety, and stress. Additionally, vicarious trauma mediated the relation of bisexual identity affirmation with anxiety. Consistent with existing literature, mental health concerns were negatively correlated with various aspects of sexual functioning and relationship satisfaction. Bisexual individuals in monogamous relationships with lesbian-identified partners reported lower stress levels than those with heterosexual partners. Results from the current study provide preliminary information about the health of bisexual individuals in MOREs, and point to minority stressors as potentially fruitful targets of prevention and intervention efforts to reduce negative mental health outcomes among bisexual populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-33
Number of pages20
JournalSexual and Relationship Therapy
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the American Institute of Bisexuality (AIB).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists.


  • Bisexual
  • Mixed orientation marriages
  • Mixed orientation relationships
  • Relationships
  • Sexual orientation


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