A social psychological experiment titled, “Friends with Benefits, but Without Sex,” published in Evolutionary Psychology analyzed the affiliation between straight women and gay men.
This particular friendship dynamic has been played out on popular television programs like Will and Grace, between both the main title characters as well as in secondary supporting roles of self-important Jack and the frequently inebriated Karen. Even Carrie had her Stanford, and Charlotte had her Anthony on Sex and the City. And more recently the friendship on Glee between Kurt and Rachel.
According to the abstract, the phenomenon behind establishing these particular friendships is primarily the exchange of trustworthy mating advice.
The participant pool was composed of 88 heterosexual women, undergraduates recruited from a mid-sized university’s psychology subject department. They were given fabricated Facebook profiles to review, ostensibly belonging to either a straight female, straight male, or a gay male all named “Jordan.” The target profile of “Jordan” was identical minus sex and sexual orientation.
Contributors were then asked to create an imaginary scenario in which they were seeking romantic guidance from a randomly assigned fake profile. They were then instructed to rank the degree of trust placed in the recommendations received using a Likert-type scale, a psychometric scale employing a score based on a 7 point range from very unlikely to very likely.
The composite scores of the examination revealed for heterosexual women, the advice provided by a homosexual male was perceived with more validity than from same sex and would-be platonic straight male friends.
The reason for this unique bond is principally due to an absence of assumed conscious or unconscious deception, based on sexual competition. For women, it was perceived the advice provided by a heterosexual female friend could be tainted with ulterior selfish motives to seek out or have interest in the same potential mate. In the case of straight men, an unexpressed romantic interest of their own. A similar dynamic reasoning was considered to be true for homosexual men when seeking guidance from another gay male.