4 Ways Gay Men Worry More About Dating

Do gay men really worry more about their love life than straight men? “Yes”, says a new study developed by dating website, EliteSingles.com. “But it doesn’t seem to make them any less happy overall.” The dating site used data from over 20,000 Americans, in addition to data from individuals in other countries. This is what they found:

– Gay men in the US are 3.5% less confident than straight men.

– The data also shows them 3% less secure, 2% more anxious and 2% more misunderstood.

– Happiness level on par with straight men, however.

– Gay men in the UK showed a similar pattern: -3% confident, -3% secure, +4.5% anxious, +3% misunderstood.

Dating can be tough at times, but how we cope with the knock-backs and dead-ends can define our future successful relationship. Whilst gay men are used to counseling female friends through the woes of dating, is there anything they can learn from their straight brethren? Here are four key ways in which gay men think differently when it comes to dating:

sadgayman

1. Gay men lack confidence: In the study, gay singles scored themselves a staggering 3.5% lower than straight men on how confident they feel, and there’s no easy explanation for why there’s such a big difference. Lamar Dawson, writing for The Huffington Post, says “Whatever your reason, it’s hard to let others in and it’s hard to accept the love we deserve. The most important thing to know is that you are worthy of love and you have love to give.”

2. Gay men feel more insecure: Gay men also scored themselves 3% lower on the ‘secure’ scale. Why? Feeling insecure can encompass a great number of things – feeling jealous, paranoid and having trust issues are perhaps the most common manifestations, and these can be hangovers from past relationships. But, most often, gay singles actually feel more insecure about themselves, and this has much to do with internal conflict of ‘what you’re meant to be like’ and ‘who you are’.

3. Gay men are more ‘anxious about the future’: Gay respondents were more likely to describe themselves as ‘anxious about the future’ and, when it comes to dating, this can be cumbersome. Whether we’re worried about settling for the wrong person or on the brink of long-term territory, our fears about the future can inhibit us from making a commitment.

4. Gay men feel more misunderstood: There’s nothing more personal than dating – it exposes our true selves to the world, in the hope that we’ll find someone who can accept us for who we are. Feeling self-conscious can really complicate things! Careful cultivation of our own sense of self will always help you feel more prepared for finding ‘the one’.

Though it does seem that gay men may worry more, the same study also asked respondents how ‘happy’ they felt and produced no significant difference between gay and straight men. Less than 1% scored themselves lower, which would suggest that worrying about our love life more actually has little impact on our general happiness.

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Also undertaken in the United Kingdom, the study had remarkably similar results there.

EliteSingles’ resident psychologist Salama Marine had this to say: “Lack of confidence can come from a difficult former relationship, or even stem from childhood,” before adding “this can be a real problem whilst dating.”

To build more confidence when dating, Marine suggests these practical steps:

Make a list of all your qualities and be honest with yourself. Write down everything you have to offer someone in a relationship. For some people, this exercise can be really helpful because they can – literally – see just how valuable they are on the page in front of them.

If you feel that it’s not enough to realize this by yourself, why not talk with your friends? Just by asking simple questions like “Why are you my friend?” and “Why do you like to spend time with me?” you can realize your own value in other people’s eyes and learn to believe that you are a good person to know.

Fix reasonable objectives. When people want to change, they tend to forget that it needs to be done step by step – it’s important to fix doable objectives to avoid any disappointment. For example, it’s not easy for everyone to just walk up to someone they like in a bar and start talking to them. In this scenario, online dating can be really helpful; it can help you to realize that meeting and dating completely new people is not a big deal – you just need the practice!

This data and post was provided by EliteSingles.com. EliteSingles is part of a global network of leading online dating sites, helping more than 2,500 singles find love each month in over 20 countries worldwide.

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.

Lesbians and Straight Men: Common or Uncommon?

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:

lesbian and straight man

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.

References:

  1. Muraco, A. (2006). Intentional families: Fictive kin ties between cross-gender, different sexual orientation friends. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68, 1313-1325.
  2. Diamond, L. M. (2006). The evolution of plasticity in female-female desire. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 16, 245-274.
  3. Peplau, L. A. (2001). Rethinking women’s sexual orientation: An interdisciplinary, relationship-focused approach. Personal Relationships, 8, 1-9.
  4. 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.

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.

athlete

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.

athletes

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/

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.

gay-love

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.