She’s no Competition… and He isn’t either!

Straight women share a great friendship with gay men because they do not have to worry about unwanted sexual interest or overtures that regularly impede their relationships with straight men. However, do straight women have to worry about gay men competing with them for other men? One might think so. Because gay men and straight women are both attracted to the same gender (i.e., men), both of them must be in competition for male partners, right?

Not quite!

Although gay men and straight women are mutually attracted to men, this does not mean they are in direct competition with one another for dating partners.

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Consider the following scenario: A gay man could find a straight man very attractive, but there is a 0% chance that the straight man would select a gay man over another straight woman to be his date. Because gay men have a 0% chance anyway, this eliminates any potential for competitiveness because the straight woman will always be selected over a gay man. However, this would be different if both competitors (e.g., straight female vs. straight female) were desired by the straight man. In this case, there would be competition because both female competitors have an above 0% chance of attracting the straight man. The reverse is also true: straight women can’t compete with gay men for other gay men because the potential gay male suitor will always select the gay man to be his mate over the woman.

Depending on the sexual orientation of the male in question, gay men and straight women either have an all or nothing shot in pursuing their dating opportunity. Thus, gay men and straight woman will always stay in their own dating lane, and neither party really has to worry about tension arising from competitive motives. This eliminates any potential competitiveness that we usually see between two women or even two gay men, but it may also contribute to the heightened trust that straight women and gay men share with one another1.

However, just because gay men and straight women do not compete for dating partners, their respective genders and sexual orientations do not preclude them from competing with one another in situations unrelated to dating. For example, gay men and straight women can easily compete with one another for the same jobs (think Project Runway!).

References:

1. 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.

The 3 Dating Challenges for Gay Men

Dating is a subject that all individuals can relate to – gay or straight. Dating can either be perceived as an exciting, fun experience, or it can be perceived as a dreadful necessity in order to pin down a relationship. Even though straight couples have dating challenges of their own, dating in the gay world may have its own unique set of challenges.

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1.    A Smaller Dating Pool

Like I have mentioned in my previous posts, the gay dating world is extremely small compared to the heterosexual dating world. Because gay men represent a smaller percentage of the general population, gay men’s potential dating candidates are very limited. This may create a sense of anxiety for many gay men because the “plenty of fish in the sea” analogy no longer applies. This may be true especially if gay men inhabit a very small city or town where there is a limited amount of homosexual individuals to begin with.  In addition, because the gay dating scene is a small one, gay men may encounter other gay men that they have dated on a regular basis.

2. Distinguishing Gay from Straight Men

Although straight individuals can go up to an attractive member of the opposite-sex and them out on a date, gay men may have a more difficult time doing this.  In general, gay men must distinguish their potential mating partners (gay men) from other men that are only sexually interested in the opposite-sex (straight men). Some gay men may be skilled at doing this, however some gay men may not be. In the latter case, gay men may find it troublesome to approach a man that they find attractive due to the ambiguity of the man’s sexual orientation. This may be why some gay men prefer to frequent the same gay bars instead of venturing to other bars that are seen as “straight.” If there is a greater concentration of gay men in one establishment, there will be a greater likelihood that gay men may meet a potential dating partner.

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3.    A Date is also a Rival

Another unique distinction between the dating worlds of gay and straight is not only are gay men attracted to one another, but gay men are also in direct competition for dating partners. This poses a very unique dating dilemma for a gay man that is completely absent in straight dating. For instance, straight men are obviously sexually attracted to women, however straight men do not compete with women because they both desire mating partners of the opposite-sex. Conversely, because gay men are only attracted to members of the SAME-SEX, gay men can compete with one another because they share the same dating pool. Ultimately, this may create initial barriers and feelings of untrustworthiness between gay men as evidenced by recent research1.

For the most part, straight individuals are completely unaware of the unique set of challenges that gay men face in their dating world (at least in my experience). This is not surprising given that straight and gay individuals usually focus their attention on their own dating issues.

References:

1. 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.

The “Gay or Straight?” Game

One interesting thing about straight women and gay men is their mutual attraction to the same gender. Not do they share an appreciation for attractive men, but they are usually willing to talk about them for hours. When women and gay men get together over coffee, lunch, or dinner, men never seem to get left out of their conversation. While it is true that gay men and straight women can be seen discussing other topics, a great chunk of their time together may be discussing how to snag a guy that they are both checking out.

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The Game. For gay men and straight women, one of the more unique and fun aspects about “playing the field” is deciphering the sexual orientation of a cute guy.  When an attractive guy passes this couple on the street, you can almost always expect them to ask one another: “Whoa, do you think he’s gay or straight?” This simple question may turn into a little game for gay men and straight women. Although it is not uncommon for gay men to hope that the attractive man in question is homosexual, rarely do gay men impinge on their female friend’s romantic opportunity if the male in question is in fact heterosexual. The reverse is also true.  Females usually do not encroach on their gay friend’s romantic opportunity with another gay man. In fact, women may find joy in being able to set up their gay friend with another gay man who is attractive1.

“When we walk down the street together, a gay friend will often say, ‘Oh, that guy was checking you out,’ and I’ll say, ‘No, I think he was looking at you,’ and we’ll both walk away feeling better about ourselves.”  (Hopcke & Rafaty, 1999)

Hating the Player and Not the Game. Even though this game can easily be played between two gay men (which is done pretty frequently), a couple of complications may arise. First, gay men may take the game too competitively with other gay men. Imagine an attractive man walking past two single gay friends at the mall. Naturally, both gay men may lock their eyes on him. However, rather than mutually expressing their attraction to this man to each other, one of them may hold back while the other might insinuate asking him out. This may become problematic if both gay men desire this particular man.

Second, gay men may experience hints of jealousy when they play the game with one another.  Because gay men’s mating opportunities are quite limited compared to straight men’s mating opportunities2, gay men may place exceptionally high value on an attractive guy, especially if they are attractive themselves.  If one gay friend is slightly more attractive than the other, the gay friend that is more attractive may have a better chance at “winning” the game. Ultimately, this may cause a sense of tension and jealousy between these two gay men.

References:

  1. Hopcke, R. H. & Rafaty, L. (1999). Straight women, gay men: Absolutely fabulous friendships. Berkeley, California: Wildcat Canyon Press.
  2. 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.