For years, friendships between straight women and gay men have been a subject of pop culture fascination.
Books, television shows, and feature length films have all highlighted this unique relationship, noted for its closeness and depth.
The downside is that if a straight woman values her gay male friends only for dating advice, the relationship could become quite superficial (see Chris Riotta’s essay “I’m Gay, Not Your Accessory”).
About three years ago, I initially tested this theory in a series of experiments that have served as the foundation of my research program on gay-straight relationships.I also recruited gay male participants, and had them complete the same task (with the gay men viewing Facebook profiles depicting a straight female, gay male or lesbian female).The experiments, published in the journal , demonstrated that straight women and gay men perceived one another to be trustworthy sources of relationship and dating advice.Why are straight women so drawn to having gay men as friends? During the course of my research, I’ve discovered that the most interesting, compelling—and, arguably, most theoretically coherent—explanation is through the lens of evolution.Specifically, I believe evolutionary psychology and human mating can help explain why relationships between straight women and gay men tend to flourish.At first glance, this explanation may seem quite counterintuitive.