Straight Women Always Loved By Gay Men: Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day, Gay-Straight Relationships fans!

mom and son

Many gay men have great female friends, but the female that has been with them since the very beginning has been their mother. While being careful of the stereotype that gay men and their mothers always have a bubbly relationship, gay men tend to have very close relationships with their mothers. This may because mothers are generally more accepting of their son’s sexuality. This may in turn create a sense of heightened closeness between gay men and their mothers over time.

Michael LaSala, a psychologist at Rutgers University and author of the book, “Coming Out, Coming Home: Helping Families Adjust to a Gay or Lesbian Child,” discusses the closeness between mothers and their gay sons in his review on Psychology Today. One of the things he suggests is that gay men are closer to their mothers because gay men have many shared interests with their mothers, and gay men are more sensitive to their mother’s feelings. Do you agree?

Check out his blog post here.

Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man

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Recent research conducted by my colleagues and I have demonstrated that women receive good mating (sex) advice from gay men. However, I had no idea that I would see this phenomenon be performed LIVE! That’s right – a new off-Broadway comedy in New York City has their audience raving for more as a gay man provides straight women with smart SEX TIPS in order to score a sexy guy.

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This production is given “TWO WET THUMBS UP” by Out.com, and is also based on the best-selling book of the same title, Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man. In the play, a straight woman (Robyn) attempts to moderate a discussion of the book, but the gay man (Dan – author of the book) aims to entertain those in attendance with a fun, sex-tip seminar. Not only do the actors interact with one another, but audience members are also selected to participate on stage! Additionally, the hunky stage assistant, Stefan, is one piece of eye candy that neither straight women nor gay men would want to miss. According to the Sex Tips play, Stefan might be used for more than just moving heavy scenery as the actors dive into the interactive sex-tip seminar!

To me, this production looks like one of the most hilarious and entertaining plays I have come across, so I recommend seeing it LIVE while you still can! To all living in New York City or going to New York, I would get your tickets ASAP! Consider taking that special someone or your best friend. There is no possible way your night will be a bore. Visit their website at sextipsplay.com, and don’t forget to LIKE them on Facebook!

Click here for a special offer so you can receive up to $18.00 off your ticket! And keep an eye Gay-Straight Relationships’ Facebook (LIKE US if you haven’t yet!) as I will be giving away FREE tickets to the show – stay tuned!

 

 

Why are you still single?

Being a relationship consultant and lifecoach over the past seven years, I hear similar stories of men and women being left alone and deprived of love for numerous reasons. The newest on my “Why are you Still Single? A.k.a., Why are you Thirsty?” list: the Bitch Factor. It is a recent development or trend I’ve noticed, specifically amongst gay men. This is when your gay friend is such a judgmental and drama filled individual that they can’t even keep it to themselves – they must impose it upon other people (most notably like a few pop culture references: Perez Hilton, the cast of A*List Dallas & New York, or certain contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race).

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Over the past few years, many homosexual men have embraced the notion that, at times, it can be appropriate to embrace these unconventional social norms; most, even those not familiar with the culture, would deem this as inappropriate. But, in reality, it has always been inappropriate for your gay friend to act like this. Is it possible that this “bitch” factor would likely leave your straight female friends in the same “single and ready to mingle” party?  The answer is Yes.

Most suitors process their prospect’s friends, family, and living environment to get a better idea of who they are.  Within the strokes of a couple keys, you can learn the most intimate details of a person and their social circle by just knowing what to look for.  A woman’s closest friend’s attitude weighs heavy and, at times, can cause a person to lose interest. Why? Because you are the company you keep.  So for those men that embrace the “bitch factor” you are not only causing yourself to be single, but also you could be keeping your straight friends from finding a good mate. No one wants to deal with drama.

We all have basic interests: being loved, valued, and happy.  Don’t be the one with the “bitch factor” in your social circle.  Realize that you could be “winning” in all of your social circles if you left your “bitch factor” at the house.  Not only will it help you, but it could help your best pal in their relationships, as well.

Here are a few tips to keep you going down the right path:

1. Be comfortable – Most people are attracted to others that are comfortable in their own skin.  People more often cross paths with people that are insecure.  Don’t be ignored by your potential suitor, stand out!

2. Be confident – Be confident, not arrogant. Possessing this trait well get you noticed immediately but will also get you iced out if you don’t control yourself.

3. Have an opinion – No one ever wants just a “Yes” man.  Engage people often.

4. Be independent – Have your life on pace regardless of whom you come across. Why? Most people have people dependent on them personally or professionally. Don’t add more weight to their ship called “life”.

5. Be Open to Change, but offer stability – Ever heard the classic saying, “A house is not a home?” This is tricky but achievable.  We are all living an evolutionary lifestyle, but little things that never change are much appreciated.

6. Be the Company you want to keep – Negative people can be toxic. Not just for you, but for new relationships.

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My job is not to critic and spread negativity, it is to enhance and educate. As a relationship consultant, I cannot guarantee love or marriage, but I can ensure that I place individuals in a better position to receive love. If we all check our egos at the door, we have the ability to grow and evolve towards something greater. A man regardless of his sexual orientation should not be excused from good manners and a level of self-respect. Don’t jump off or burn the bridge, enhance and make it stronger so others may cross.

We thank Thomas for his guest post to Gay-Straight Relationships. Thomas Massaquoi is a life coach and relationship consultant in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. http://www.thomasmassaquoi.com/

Do women have better gaydar when ovulating?

Gaydar is an important skill that many gay men possess to determine whether the men they wish to ask out are, in fact, gay. Because gay men have greater sensitivity to specific social behaviors and mannerisms of other homosexual individuals1, it isn’t surprising that some gay men claim their gaydar is always spot on. However, straight women’s gaydar may be just as good if not better than gay men’s gaydar when they are at peak ovulation.

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A team of researchers investigated whether women are better at sniffing out a man’s sexual orientation when they were ovulating2. The researchers presented women with faces of self-identified straight men and gay men, and the women were asked whether the man that they viewed was gay or straight. Based on the results, women were better able to distinguish between gay male faces and straight male faces around peak ovulation. However, women were not able to identify lesbian female faces from straight female faces as well.

In the second part of their study, women were either asked to imagine themselves in a romantic encounter or they were asked to think about something else entirely (control condition). After the women were randomly assigned to these two conditions, they were presented faces of homosexual and heterosexual individuals and asked to indicate whether they were gay or straight. Women who were asked to think about a romantic encounter were significantly more likely to distinguish between gay male faces and straight male faces. Again however, the women were not able to clearly identify lesbian female faces.

Although women are not very good at figuring out other women’s sexual orientation, women appear to be very good at determining whether a man is gay or straight depending on their ovulatory cycle and mating interest. These findings suggest that a woman’s gaydar may function to help her determine whether a potential partner is straight when the probability of a relationship or conception is high.

References:

1. Rule, N. O., Ambady, N., Adams, R. B., & Macrae, C. N. (2007). Us and them: Memory advantages in perceptually ambiguous groups. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14, 687-692.

2. Rule, N. O., Rosen, K. S., Slepian, M. L., & Ambady, N. (2011). Mating interest improves women’s accuracy in judging male sexual orientation. Psychological Science, 22, 881-886.

The Closet

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Coming out of the closet is a big deal and is often characterized by anxiety. What was once intensely private is now open and public. With just a few words, coming out can forever alter many relationships; coming out can cost someone their job, friends, or family. Despite how big an event coming out is there is no written ritual or ceremony for how to do it. It can be spontaneous or preplanned, but one of the most common ways to come out is gather up people who are close and then say “I’m gay.” We tend to think of this even as some kind of revealing, but with all the background concerns going on, I don’t think people are actually informing anyone when they come out. I don’t think “I am gay” is a statement, I think it’s a tacit question: “I’m gay, will you accept me?”

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A natural approach to alleviate the difficulty of coming out is to try to create safe places and get straight allies to help. A good example of this outreach are the letters of acceptance family members have written and have gone viral over social media. I think this approach is laudable, but insufficient. So long as people who come out treat coming out as a huge life event—one that is told in hushed voices—then the very act of coming out supports the long term issues that make it difficult to come out in the first place. In short, the current way most people come out reflects two different desires: (1) the desire to admit to being LGBT and (2) the desire for it to not be a big deal. But so long as we treat being gay, or lesbian, or whatever else we come out about as something to admit, we directly interfere with not making it a big deal. We admit things we are not proud of or secretly ashamed of. I’m not sure how many people feel overtly ashamed of coming out, but I do imagine that most instances of coming out is prefaced by anxiety because there is this uncertainty as to whether or not the friendship can continue or the family remain intact. If we are truly trying to make coming out of the closet easier, we need to focus on why anything is admitted in the first place; we need to be concerned that there is a closet in the first place.

Kurt

Being out is sometimes contextual: someone can be out to her friends, but not her family, her family, but not her coworkers. Public knowledge in one context might have different consequences than the same public knowledge in another. Being out in to family might mean acceptance; being out in the workplace might mean finding a new job. So there are many times when public knowledge, or lack thereof, about sexual orientation is fairly important. Further, the occasion for that making certain facts public can also be relevant: going to a school dance, going on a date, or bringing someone home for the holidays. So what makes this kind of public knowledge different than coming out of the closet? In some sense these events are when sexual orientation is relevant and not that big of a deal. Talking about, or informing, others about sexual orientation in these contexts, and others like them, starts a very slow change in how we think about sexual orientation. Being a member of the LGBT community is no longer something we have to confess or admit, but rather simply just another part of identity that comes out in the right way.

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We thank returning guest blogger, Kurt Blankschaen, for contributing this post to Gay-Straight Relationships.

Gay Marriage: Supporting and Avoiding?

I want to touch on a topic that has not yet been discussed on Gay-Straight Relationships: marriage. I recently received an email from a reader that raised an interesting question regarding the topic. A gay male, whose name will remain anonymous, emailed me to inquire:

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“Sometimes I do not understand gay men. At one moment, you see them waving a flag for marriage equality, but then the next minute you notice them avoiding the thought of a long-term, committed relationship. It seems gay men enjoy the thought of marriage than actually wanting to pursue it. Why do you think this is?”

Based on my own observations, I have noticed something similar among gay men. This is most certainly not the case for all gay men, but some gay men prefer not to enter into long-term relationships even though many of them may be supporters of marriage equality. I do not necessarily view this as hypocritical; rather, I feel that many gay men want to support gay marriage even though they may not want to get married or pursue long-term relationships themselves.

Although research has not explored the ‘why’ behind this idea, I will offer two perspectives:

The Age Demographic – When I first read this inquiry, the first question that popped into my head was: Are these gay men younger or older? It is likely that age plays a huge role for whether gay men wish to pursue marriage partners. For instance, younger gay men (20s to early 30s) may simply not be ready for such a commitment. Even though some gay men in this age range seek and desire long-term, committed relationships, some gay men may not. Gay men in their mid-20s to early 30s may be still trying to establish their career, connections, and friendships. Thus, it isn’t that surprising that some gay men in this age range casually date rather than committing to something that is longer-term.

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Partial Acceptance – Another explanation that could be driving gay men away from long-term relationships in their own lives is that marriage is not yet 100% accepted. Even though the U.S. has made wonderful progress over the past few years, there are still many states where it is not legal for gay individuals to marry. Additionally, there are many places in the United States (even in the world) where it is frowned upon to have a gay partner at your hip. From a psychological perspective, this may cause gay men to feel ostracized by walking down the street with their partner.  Because of this, some gay men may not want to pursue long-term, committed relationships and may see it easier to casually date other gay men.

(Received reader’s consent to publicly post)

Straight and Gay Athletes: A Changing Culture?

A couple of decades ago, many gay men would never have considered coming out as gay athletes. This has recently changed. In the past few years, many men in various types of sports have gathered up courage to come out to their coaches, team, and institution. A few of these men include Derek Schell, Matt Korman, and Jason Collins. Not only are these men receiving great encouragement from LGBT-supporters around the country, but they may also be receiving full support from their straight team members.  Although more anecdotal, I thought this short post could highlight some of the changes that occurring in the professional athletic culture.

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It has been very well documented in the previous literature that straight men have more negative attitudes towards gay men than do straight women1.  Gay men who perceive these negative attitudes from their straight teammates might have found it difficult to come out. However, now that gay men are feeling more comfortable with the idea of coming out to their fellow teammates, could it be possible that the attitudes of straight men are changing?

Many prominent straight athletes are now speaking out about the rejection that gay athletes have experienced by their team and management. In turn, team management and many straight team members have come out with full support for their gay male players. Even straight players who have uttered gay slurs have been reprimanded by sports management. An example of this was seen last month when NASCAR punished Nelson Piquet Jr. for uttering a gay slur via Instagram2. Piquet was fined $10,000 and ordered to attend sensitivity training for his action. Even though we would want such an action to be reprimanded, a gay slur wouldn’t even have been considered deleterious to other team members in the past.

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Athletes Derek Schell (left) and Matt Korman (right)

Granted, prejudice towards gay men still exists in the professional athletic world. Nonetheless, because of the recent positive press that gay athletes are receiving along with the positive support from their team, it is possible that negative attitudes towards gay men are slowly being extinguished.

Are you a straight man or a gay man on sports team? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

References

1. Herek, G. M. (1988). Heterosexuals’ attitudes towards lesbians and gay men: Correlates and gender differences. Journal of Sex Research, 25, 451-477.

2. http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nascar/2013/10/01/nelson-piquet-jr-joey-logano-fines-nationwide-nascar/2904977/

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.

Gay Men’s Bodily Attractiveness: Why a Higher Standard?

The recent viral online articles, “It Gets Better, Unless You’re Fat” and “A Straight Woman and a Gay Man Talk Body Image,” have garnered much attention in that they both offer novel insight into the difficulties that gay men face regarding their bodily attractiveness.  It is evident that many gay men feel a constant pressure to look a certain way. Some of these idealizations include but are not limited to having six-pack abs, a V-cut body shape, toned arms and legs, and having little to no body fat in the midsection. Although these desired bodily features are not impossible to attain, they become unrealistic in the sense that gay men expect themselves and others (friends and dating partners) to meet these standards. But why is it that gay men feel that they need to meet these specific physical standards? And is it true (as the writers from Slate.com point out) gay men have higher physical attractiveness standards than do straight men or straight women?

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These questions are tricky because there is not just one simple answer. I will point out a two perspectives that might shed light on this issue.

1. Creating a High Standard through Target Marketing

One reason gay men might place such a high premium on their physical attractiveness is that they are constantly being exposed to an ideal. This ideal can be seen in various media and business advertisements targeted towards gay male consumers, and these almost always depict shirtless, muscular gay male models (note the image). It is very common to see this marketing strategy used in the gay community. Many gay businesses, bars, and events utilize the attractive appeal of a male model in order to attract the attention of young, gay audiences. Let’s not forget Grindr! However, by exposing gay men to these ideal standards, gay men may feel a need to change their behavior (exercise, eating, etc.) in order to reduce the discrepancy between how they look and how the standard is supposed to look1. Though, this may be no different from the process that straight women and straight men go through to meet similar standards. For example, straight women are also exposed to fashion and beauty advertisements depicting thin, attractive women. Nonetheless, it is important to note that even though women are constantly striving to achieve an “ideal thin” body size, gay men feel a need to not only be thin, but to also be muscular2. This key distinction may reflect the higher body standards for gay men and the increased pressure to meet these standards.

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2. Perpetuating the Standard through Partner Preferences

Although quite intuitive, another reason why gay men may feel a great desire to have an ideal body is to attract high-quality dating or romantic partners. There is evidence to suggest that gay men place exceptionally high value on physically attractive partners, similar to straight men3. Unlike straight men however, gay men have an increasingly difficult time finding a romantic partner because gay men represent a significantly smaller percentage of the population. Imagine taking your potential dating pool and shrinking it by 80-90%. Because of this, gay men may perceive a greater urgency to emphasize their bodily features in order to attract suitable partners that are not as abundant in the general population. In turn, this may cause gay men to be extremely picky when it comes to selecting a partner as well.  For instance, it is likely that a gay man will want to select among other gay men who meet or closely resemble the bodily attractiveness standard. This may cause other gay men (those do not meet or resemble “the ideal”) to feel rejected or generally uncomfortable with their body because they are not able to attract a desirable partner.

Body image is a huge concern among many gay men, and the standards for a desirable body are getting higher. Even though straight women and straight men face similar concerns in regards to their body image, it is important to understand that gay men are under extreme pressure to conform to these standards, which may be the result of the different dating and marketing environments that gay men inhabit.

References:

1. Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1998). On the self-regulation of behavior. New York: Cambridge University Press.

2. Yelland, C., & Tiggemann, M. (2003). Muscularity and the gay ideal: Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in homosexual men. Eating Behaviors, 4, 107-116.

3. Bailey, M. J., Gaulin, S., Agyei, Y., and Gladue, B. A. (1994). Effects of gender and sexual orientation on evolutionary relevant aspects of human mating psychology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 1081-1093.

Romantic Bad Luck

An open and uncomfortable secret for some gays and lesbians is that they sometimes develop crushes or fall in love with straight men and women. A simplistic answer is that there are more straights than gays and by a sad numbers game, this sort of thing just happens. Because these unrequited feelings are just romantic bad luck, the crush itself isn’t really a problem that needs to be addressed. The problem is solved by declaring it “not a problem.” This explanation, while well intended, ignores larger concerns and actually can make gays and lesbians worse off.

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Another explanation for what is going on is due to psychological factors in how people think about an ideal romance. We learn what a successful romance is by looking at romantic paradigm cases like Romeo and Juliet, Disney princesses, or even sitcoms like Friends or Sex and the City. Psychological studies show that people tend to misremember their own romantic experiences as versions of these paradigm cases1. For example, if a couple’s family does not like the significant other’s in-laws, the couple tends to exaggerate the fighting and may even imagine plots to break up the couple a la Romeo and Juliet. A couple that constantly breaks up and gets back together due to major differences like marriage, children, where to live, etc., may remember their experiences through a lens of Ross and Rachel rather than as they actually were.

Cheshire Calhoun, a philosopher who focuses on gay and lesbian identity, points out that the paradigm cases almost exclusively cast heterosexuals. Gays and lesbians, like anyone else, look to these models for guidance about what a genuine or authentic romance should be like but have psychological dissonance because the cast of characters they see, one man one woman, is different than the cast of characters they want, two men or two women. Homosexuals aren’t massively mistaken here, but rather are trying to build a romantic model with the best materials they have available, which just so happen to be heterosexual examples. I think when gays and lesbians do fall in love with straight counterparts, it is because they are trying to live out the romantic models they have grown up with as best they can.

Kurt

One way to help address this dissonance is to provide gays and lesbians with romantic models featuring gays and lesbians. Movies and TV shows are now making gay and lesbian relationships more common, and this is a good start, but none of these models have the kind of currency that the above romantic models have. In short, the more models that show functional gay and lesbian romances, the more likely the romantic substitution will get smaller.

References:

1. Averill, James R. and Boothroyd, Phyllis, “On Falling in Love in Conformance with the Romantic Ideal,” Motivation and Emotion, 1 (1977): 235-47. De Sousa, Ronald. The Rationality of Emotion. (Cambridge: MIT University Press, 1987), 181-184.

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We thank Kurt Blankschaen for contributing this post. Kurt is currently pursuing his PhD in philosophy at The University of Kansas.