Hey Straight Women: Need Dating Advice? Ask a Gay Man.
Gay men are sought after dating consultants, for good reason.
Posted Nov 22, 2016
Ever notice an affinity between straight women and gay men? We see it on TV: straight women are crazy about their gay men friends and the feelings are mutual (e.g., think Sex and the City or who can forget Will and Grace?). You may have witnessed this in your own life. Gay men are straight women’s love consultants, dating strategists, and healers of heartbreak; and straight women are giving it right back. Is there anything to this?
Turns out, yes! For love advice, gay men and straight women may be a match made in heaven.
This fascinating bond between straight women and gay men is for a good reason: perceived trustworthiness – a critical perception when it comes to love advice (Russell, DelPriore, Butterfield, & Hill, 2013). If you’re navigating a sticky relationship issue, you want to trust the source of any advice you receive. And experimental research by Eric Russell and colleagues suggests straight women and gay men tend to perceive each other’s advice as more trustworthy – even as compared to the same advice from other people.
Why would this be? Relationship scientists think it might have to do with the possibility of biased information (Russell et al., 2013). If straight women confer with straight men (or gay men with gay men), those men might have ulterior motives: their advice might be biased. Consider also the straight woman consulting with her straight women friends. Sure, these friends might try to help, but they might also benefit from giving bad advice. They could look good by comparison or give advice that ultimately helps themselves (instead of you) snag the desirable guy. When it comes to love advice, at some level, not all people can be trusted.
But gay men and straight women? No problem! With no competitive or sexual motives, these friends can be the best source of love advice for each other. They are uniquely positioned to help each other navigate an often complicated dating game.
Brand new evidence refines this idea even further (Russell, Babcock, Lewis, Ta, & Ickes, 2016). Some women are in fact, more at risk of deception when it comes to dating advice. In their research, Russell and colleagues showed that highly attractive women are more apt to be the victims of love-related deceptions (made by other straight women or straight men) as compared to less attractive women. These deceptions can be subtle but utterly misleading. For example, straight women reported more inclination to withhold information that could help highly attractive women meet someone, and men report more willingness to lie to attractive women so that they’ll eventually sleep with them. Sometimes it's not so easy being attractive (who knew?)!
Ultimately, this puts highly attractive women in a tricky situation – who can they trust? Enter, gay men (Russell et al., 2016). Using an allocation system and observing how straight women divvied up a set of “friend dollars,” the researchers observed an intriguing pattern: highly attractive women, more so than less attractive women, allocated more friend dollars to gay men than to people of other genders and sexual orientations. Importantly, perceptions of trustworthiness were at the heart of this pattern. The highly-attractive straight women befriended gay men to the extent they believed gay men valued them outside of their sexuality and were givers of unbiased advice.
In sum, it's no wonder straight women, especially highly attractive women, prefer to surround themselves with gay men: they may (finally) get some advice they can trust.
Russell, E. M., Babcock, M. J., Lewis, D. M., Ta, V. P., & Ickes, W. (2016). Why attractive women want gay male friends: A previously undiscovered strategy to prevent mating deception and sexual exploitation. Personality and Individual Differences. Advanced online publication.
Russell, E. M., DelPriore, D. J., Butterfield, M. E., & Hill, S. E. (2013). Friends with benefits, but without the sex: Straight women and gay men exchange trustworthy mating advice. Evolutionary Psychology, 11, 132-147.