While it is possible to engage in both a gay/straight friendship and a requited romance, the balance can be thrown off by lofty expectations. Straight women may find that their gay male companions provide them with a level of understanding and emotional support that does not exist in the straight male psyche. And it is here that stereotypes can ring true. Whether it's a shared love of shopping or show tunes or the way he listens to stories about her evil coworker, a gay man can provide a woman with a degree of attentiveness that may be impossible for a straight man to match. "My friendship with Thomas helped me see how important comfort is in a romantic relationship," explains Lara Smith. "I know now that it's not easy to come by, but it's something I want in my next relationship." And while the gay/straight relationship may leave both friends pining for a partner that does not exist, it can also encourage them to aim high. "The best thing about being in a relationship with a gay man is realizing that I actually deserve to be treated really well," says Smith.
After a lifetime of unfulfilling—and often damaging—relationships with straight women, I now see that happy endings are possible for friends who care enough about each other to set boundaries for themselves and their friendship. Maintaining those boundaries is crucial to healthy, mutually fulfilling companionship and the key to forging an actual romantic relationship (sex included!). I, for one, would trade a million giggle sessions with a hot woman for one real night with a gay man.
*Names have been changed.