Women prefer interacting with gay men rather than straight men, new research has discovered.
The study, published in the US journal Psychological Science, found that once straight women find out that a man is gay, their behaviour towards him becomes friendlier and more intimate.
This was true both of women who reported their own comfort levels and those whose body language was analysed.
Eric M. Russell, who co-authored the study, explained that after the gay men came out, the women had “reduced worry about his sexual intentions”.
Russell, a researcher in social psychology at the University of Texas at Arlington, has previously written for PinkNews about his theory that straight women prefer being friends with gay men, rather than straight men.
And now, he has a study which scientifically backs up his hypothesis.
Russell, who co-authored the study with William Ickes and Vivian P. Ta, told PsyPost that straight men’s over-confident approach hurt them in terms of constructing genuine relationships.
“Because straight men typically overperceive women’s sexual interest, women often try to keep their ‘friendlier’ interaction behaviours in check when they are meeting men for the first time,” he said.
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“This is especially true of physically attractive women, who are often wary of straight men wanting more than a platonic relationship with them,” Russell added.
“However, when these women discover that they are interacting with gay men, this anxiety is greatly reduced in that the women no longer feel pressured to suppress their more open and involving interaction behaviours.
“With gay men, women can engage more openly and intimately with them because they do not have to worry about the men having an ulterior sexual motive.”
Russell said that the difference between these friendships and those between men and women who were both straight was noticeable.
He added: “Straight women and gay men likely see their friendships as safe spaces where they can have fun, be themselves, and engage in intimate conversations without fear of judgement, expectations, or one-sided sexual interest.
“This also implies that straight female-gay male friends can spend time together in ways that straight female-straight male friends may find awkward, such as going out to dance or watching a romantic comedy at home together.”
He said that this phenomenon may be one of the reasons for lower levels of homophobia among straight women than straight men.
For instance, since Pew began its surveys on same-sex marriage, women have always had more favourable attitudes towards same-sex marriage than men.
Russell suggested that given “women feel more comfortable with gay men due to their lack of sexual intentions, could increased comfort serve as a prejudice-reduction mechanism for women who have less positive attitudes towards homosexual individuals?”