Why real-life Wills and Graces enjoy deep friendships

22 February 2013 - 11:28 By AFP Relaxnews
Image: ©Rido /shutterstock.com

A team of scientists has provided empirical evidence for what many real-life "Will & Grace" pairs have always known: the reasons why straight women and gay men forge particularly deep, lasting friendships.

The reason? The absence of “deceptive mating motivations” that may be present among female friends and straight men, say researchers out of the University of Texas at Austin in a study published online in the February issue of Evolutionary Psychology.

"Friendships between straight women and gay men are free of hidden mating agendas," said study lead author Eric Russell in a statement. "They may be able to develop a deeper level of honesty because their relationship isn't complicated by sexual attraction or mating competition."

For the study, researchers presented 88 straight women and 58 gay men with the Facebook profile of a gender-ambiguous person named Jordan. Participants were led to believe that the study was about how online profiles influence friendships.

They were then told to imagine that they were at a party with Jordan, who doled out romantic advice, and were asked to grade the degree to which they would trust the advice.

During the study, however, researchers switched up Jordan’s gender and sexual orientation.

The results? Feelings of trustworthiness worked both ways for both straight women and gay men: straight women held more stock in advice offered by a gay man, while gay men felt the same about love advice offered to them by straight women.

For women, researchers posit that this could be because fellow women pose as potential competitors, while straight men may also have ulterior motives and try to steer women towards themselves.

The advice of a gay man, however, is untainted by any kind of agenda, setting the stage for a friendship that’s honest, unbiased and free of ulterior motives.

Meanwhile, in another study examining the likeability of gay men, researchers out of the University of Toronto found gay black men had a higher ‘likeability edge’ over straight white men.

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