Illuminating the Context and Circumstances of Male Couples Establishing a Sexual Agreement in Their Relationship

Jason W. Mitchell, Ji Young Lee, Cory Woodyatt, José Bauermeister, Patrick Sullivan, Rob Stephenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


A sexual agreement is an explicit mutual understanding made between two partners about which sexual and relational behaviors they agree to engage in within and/or outside of their relationship. Factors that prompt male couples to form a sexual agreement and under what circumstances remain underinvestigated, yet are important considerations for development of couples-based sexual health and HIV prevention interventions. By using thematic analysis with qualitative dyadic data from a convenience sample of 29 HIV-negative male couples, the present study sought to describe the timing and investigate the context and circumstances that led male couples to establish a sexual agreement in their relationship at both the individual and couple levels, and by agreement type. Themes identified for when a sexual agreement was formed included within the first 6 months, and after 6 months in the relationship. Themes related to context and circumstances of couples’ sexual agreement formation were as follows: (a) desire for sexual exploration, (b) arisen circumstances or events with other men, (c) influences from past relationship(s) and/or other couples (i.e., peers), (d) to protect against HIV, and (e) purposeful conversations versus understood. Findings suggest HIV prevention efforts should include skill-building exercises to help improve communication and promote sex positivity within male couples’ relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-609
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Men's Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • establishment
  • formation
  • male couples
  • qualitative
  • sexual agreements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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