Why Gay Men And Straight Women Have Such Strong Bonds

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Best Friends: Why Gay Men & Straight Women Have Strong Bonds

One of my closest friends since way back in the eighth grade is gay, and growing up, the majority of my other close male friends were gay, as well. While our sexualities rarely came up unless we were discussing dating- or sex-related topics, I've sometimes wondered why so many of the men I am closest to are gay men, and I have often heard similar statements from other women, as well as several gay men who say that straight women make up a large percentage of their friends.

So, why does this combination seem to work so well for so many people? According to study from the University of Texas and published in Evolutionary Psychology, there is evidence that the closeness felt between gay men and straight women is "rooted in the absence of deceptive mating motivations." 

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Because they are "free of hidden mating agendas," says the study’s lead author Eric Russell, "they may be able to develop a deeper level of honesty because their relationship and friendship isn't complicated by sexual attraction or mating competition."

Within my group of high school friends, there was always a bit of competition between the females, both lesbian and straight. Being an extremely noncompetitive person (seriously, I am kind of the worst to play games with because I don't care about losing at all), this was frustrating because there should be so much more to friendship than who looks better or who is getting more attention at the party.

These competitive feelings are often the result of living in a patriarchal world that pits females against one another. Nevertheless, that tension sucked, so having male friends who were not only noncompetitive but also not attracted to the same people felt appealing.

Rick Clemons, the "Coming Out Coach" and host of "The Coming Out Lounge," says there's something that feels sincere about those who are gay or lesbian due to the nature of the world we live in. "Most straight women trust gay men because they know gay men (and lesbians for that matter) have to fight so hard to trust themselves to be themselves that there is a kindred spirit sort of thing innately going on," he says.

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Additionally, when you're a female and have male friends — particularly during those awkward teenage years — there's often an implication that you're interested in a guy simply because you spend a lot of time with him. Even if you're not romantically interested, it's seen as "leading him on" if you want to be close as friends, and that can be very annoying.

With the types of gay men/straight women friendships we're discussing, however, this tension is eliminated.

Clemons says, "Because there is no sexual craving, we tend to come at each other from a more authentic space. If sexual desire gets taken out of the equation, the conversations become more real and then the real sexual desire can come to the surface in a more organic way."

I always hated how much pressure I felt from many of the males acquaintances I knew. But because there was zero sexual tension, my best friend and I were able to hang out, have sleepovers, have intimate talks, and play video games for hours without ever feeling anything besides friendship.

Clemons notes that "not all female and gay male relationships can be categorized into a fairy tale friendship," of course. There is no magic formula that makes two people automatically be great friends simply because of their sexualities.

However, there is something to be said about the strength that can come from these circumstantial factors, as well as what they indicate about other types of friendships.

Perhaps we could all benefit from removing the competitiveness in our female-to-female and male-to-male friendships, as well as lessen any sexual expectations we may have, which could help mirror the beneficial elements of gay men/straight women friendships.

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Sam H. Escobar is the Deputy Director at Allure Magazine.