There has been much talk in the media about the close friendship between straight women and gay men, but what about the friendship between straight men and lesbian women? Are friendships between straight men and lesbian women common?
Based upon the literature, there is extremely little work documenting a close relationship shared by straight men and lesbian women. Most of the research up until this point has examined the closeness of gay men and straight women. In fact, research has found that there tends to be less support in friendships between lesbian women and straight men compared to gay male-straight female friendships1.
There may be a few reasons why this pair isn’t as close-knit compared to straight female-gay male friends, but I will describe two:
1) A Sex Difference
Unlike straight women who are usually comforted by the lack of sexual tension in their relationships with gay men, straight men really do not benefit in this way with lesbian women. Because straight men are typically the sexual pursuers in romantic relationships, men usually do not have to worry about straight women taking advantage of them, nor do they typically have to worry about women pushing for more than just a platonic relationship. Thus, a primary benefit that women reap in their friendships with gay men is absent in the friendships between straight men and lesbian women.
2) Women’s Sexual Fluidity
While men often identify as either straight or gay, women are less black and white when it comes to their sexuality. It has been demonstrated that relative to men, women are more likely to report bisexual attractions than exclusive same-sex attractions2,3. Because women (especially women who are attracted to the same-sex) tend to be more fluid in regards to their sexuality, men may also perceive these women to be fluid. Men may therefore assume that a potential mating opportunity exists in their friendship even if these women only only prefer other women as partners. Due to men’s higher sexual drive and their desire for more sexual partners on average4, their relationship with lesbian women may become convoluted due to men’s heightened sexual desire.
Even though friendships between straight men and lesbian women may not be as common as gay male-straight female friendships, it should not be assumed that these friendships do not exist. In fact, there may be a good handful of friendships between straight men and lesbian women that share a very close relationship.
- Muraco, A. (2006). Intentional families: Fictive kin ties between cross-gender, different sexual orientation friends. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68, 1313-1325.
- Diamond, L. M. (2006). The evolution of plasticity in female-female desire. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 16, 245-274.
- Peplau, L. A. (2001). Rethinking women’s sexual orientation: An interdisciplinary, relationship-focused approach. Personal Relationships, 8, 1-9.
- Schmitt, D. P., Shackelford, T. K. & Buss, D. M. (2001). Are men really more ‘oriented’ toward short-term mating than women? A critical review of theory and research. Psychology, Evolution & Gender, 3, 211-239.