Lovable female characters on countless TV shows and rom-coms wouldn't be what they are without their trusted gay best friends. But while we thought this was just a way of inserting a token gay character, gay men and straight women are actually natural best friends, according to a recent article in Evolutionary Psychology.
Apparently, it's all about evolutionary biology: gay men and straight women are better off as friends since they can give each other "trustworthy mating advice," write the authors, psychologist Eric Russell and his colleagues from Texas Christian University. The authors explain:
Straight women may experience increased trust in their relationships with gay men due to the absence of deceptive mating motivations that frequently taint their relationships with straight men (sexual interest) and other straight women (mate competition).
Ah, finally, someone we can be friends with who doesn't try to sleep with us or steal away our men (and we thought that's what all friends are for). So if gay men help us catch and keep mates, what do we provide them? Apparently, our femaleness ensures we don't get all catty with them:
Despite being sexually attracted to the same gender (i.e., men), gay men and straight women are neither potential romantic partners nor mating competition for each other. They are thus uniquely positioned to provide one another with mating-relevant advice and support that is not tainted with ulterior motives borne from intrasexual rivalry or competition.
Russell got all sneaky with his experiment for this article. Female participants were faced with this make-believe scenario: you're invited to a party but your friend ditches you last minute. They tell you to go with another friend of theirs instead and you Facebook-stalk this stand-in to, you know, make sure they're not too creepy.
Russell made fake Facebook pages for three possible "friends": a straight male, a homosexual male, and a straight female (all named Jordan). Participants were then asked which Jordan they would most trust to tell them they had food stuck in their teeth or whether or not they should go home with that cute guy from the party. Surprise, surprise, everyone trusted gay male Jordan more than straight female Jordan and straight male Jordan, who were deemed equally untrustworthy. And if you flip the scenario around, the same goes for gay men – they trust straight females above everyone else.
While some gay men and straight women might prefer to stick together to find men, it's hard to say whether there really is such a formula for an ideal friendship.
So what does this all mean (apart from telling us we shouldn't ditch our friend and make them go to a party with that sneaky man-stealing Jordan)? While some gay men and straight women might prefer to stick together to find men, it's hard to say whether there really is such a formula for an ideal friendship. Your gay friend might not be giving you the best advice, a girlfriend might understand more of the intricacies of the heterosexual dating game, and a trustworthy straight guy might be the ideal person to hook you up with his own buddies. Bottom line, just make sure you're friends with someone you trust not to sleep with that guy you've had a crush on for, like, forever. Besides, shouldn't we be choosing our friends based on more than a desire to optimize our date life?