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?
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.
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!).
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.