A new study in the US has found straight women are more comfortable opening up to gay men than straight guys.
The study, published in the US journal Psychological Science, initally surveyed more than 150 heterosexual women about their comfort levels around men.
The researchers then conducted a study in which 66 straight women were recorded having face-to-face encounters with both gay and straight men.
They found that the women were more friendly and intimate after learning the men they’d been paired with were gay. The women’s body language was also more open and friendly.
“This suggests that straight women approach friendships with gay men in a very open and relaxed fashion, which we do not usually see in interactions between opposite-sex individuals,” lead author Eric M. Russell told PsyPost.
“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.”
Russell said that because straight men “typically overperceive women’s sexual interest,” it forces the women to keep their guards up.
“This is especially true of physically attractive women, who are often wary of straight men wanting more than a platonic relationship with them,” he added.
“However, when these women discover that they are interacting with gay men, this anxiety is greatly reduced.
“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 his findings raise new questions in terms of future research.
“Given that 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?” he asked.