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The Science Behind Why Women Want to Befriend Gay Men

For years, friendships between straight women and gay men have been a subject of pop culture fascination. Books, television shows and feature length films have all highlighted this unique relationship, noted for its closeness and depth.

But with society’s attitudes toward gays and lesbians changing, it’s become all the more important to build a holistic understanding of the relationships between gay and straight people.

As a researcher in social psychology, I’ve often wondered: why do straight female-gay male relationships work so well? Why are straight women so drawn to having gay men as friends? And when do these relationships typically form?

During the course of my research, I’ve discovered that the most interesting, compelling – and, arguably, most theoretically coherent – explanation is through the lens of evolution.

Specifically, I believe evolutionary psychology and human mating can help explain why relationships between straight women and gay men tend to flourish.

A safe bet

At first glance, this explanation may seem quite counterintuitive. (After all, straight women and gay men don’t mate with one another.)

However, this is precisely the reasoning behind my approach. Because gay men don’t mate with women – or compete with them for mates – women feel a certain level of comfort with gay men, and the process of forming a close friendship can occur relatively quickly. With heterosexual men (who, by definition, are sexually attracted to women), the process is longer – and potentially more fraught – because men may be grappling with their own sexual impulses.

In other words, because gay men are attracted to their own gender, they’re a “safe bet” for women – at least, from a sociobiological standpoint.

About three years ago, I initially tested this theory in a series of experiments that have served as the foundation of my research program on gay-straight relationships.

In these experiments, straight female participants were shown fictitious Facebook profiles depicting either a straight woman, straight man or gay man. The female participants were then asked how likely they would be to trust the individual’s dating advice.

I also recruited gay male participants, and had them complete the same task (with the gay men viewing Facebook profiles depicting a straight female, gay male or lesbian female).

The experiments, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, demonstrated that straight women and gay men perceived one another to be trustworthy sources of relationship and dating advice. In other words, when it came to dating-related matters, there was an almost instantaneous level of implicit trust.

Still, more needed to be done to support the hypothesis.

Cracking the why and when

Recently, my colleagues and I at the University of Texas at Arlington developed a series of four related studies.

We titled the four studies “Why (and When) Straight Women Trust Gay Men: Ulterior Mating Motives and Female Competition,” with the hope of better establishing why straight women trust gay men and when straight women would be most likely to seek out gay men for friendship and guidance.

For the first study, I wanted to replicate the finding that women trust gay men more than straight men or straight women. This time, however, I wanted to see if women would only trust gay men’s dating-related advice as opposed to other types of advice.

It turns out straight women only trusted a gay man’s advice about a potential boyfriend more than the same advice from, say, a straight man or another straight woman. In other words, it’s not like straight women totally trusted gay men on all matters. It really only had to do with one thing: dating and relationships.

To further examine why this might be the case, we had women imagine receiving information from either a straight woman, straight man, or a gay man about their physical appearance and the dateability of potential boyfriends. We then asked the women how sincere they felt the responses were.

As expected, the female subjects seemed to perceive the judgments coming from the gay man to be more sincere because they knew that he wouldn’t have any ulterior motives – whether that meant wooing the subject (which they might suspect of straight men) or competing for the same romantic partner (straight women).

For the final two studies, we wanted to figure out when women were most likely to befriend and place their trust in gay men. We predicted that this would most often occur in highly competitive dating environments, where a trustworthy source like a gay friend would be valued by women jockeying with one another for a boyfriend.

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To test this, we created a fake news article that detailed extremely skewed sex ratios, indicating that women in college were competing over a very small pool of men. We had women read this news article and then indicate how much they would trust a straight woman or a gay man in various dating-related scenarios.

When women read the news article about the increased competition, their trust in gay men was amplified. Not only were women more apt to trust gay men under this condition, but we also found that they became more willing to make gay male friends.

Beyond dating advice

The downside is that if a straight woman values her gay male friends only for dating advice, the relationship could become quite superficial (see Chris Riotta’s essay “I’m Gay, Not Your Accessory”).

However, the strong trust that women initially form with gay men can serve as a primer; eventually, this trust could extend to other areas, with the friendship blossoming over time.

Other findings – combined with our own – show that there seems to be an extremely strong psychological underpinning for why women are so drawn to gay men.

For instance, a recent study in the Journal of Business and Psychology revealed that straight women tend to hire gay men over other heterosexual individuals because they perceive gay men to be more competent and warmer. Furthermore, marketing researchers have suggested that straight women prefer to work with gay male sales associates over others in consumer retail settings.

These two findings alone could have many positive implications for gay men in the workplace. Because many women seem to value input and contributions of gay men in these settings, it’s likely that we’ll see a more inclusive workplace environment for gay men.

Although much of this research focuses on why women are drawn to friendships with gay men, another obvious avenue of exploration is whether or not gay men are similarly keen to form friendships with straight women.

Unfortunately, there’s been very little research on this. However, it’s possible that gay men connect with straight women for some of the same reasons. For example, in a study I conducted in 2013, I found that gay men also look to women for trustworthy dating advice or tips for finding a prospective boyfriend. Other researchers have suggested that gay men value the positive attitudes towards homosexuality that women tend to have (relative to straight men).

In this case, the implicit trust seems to be a two-way street.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read more on the straight female-gay male friendship at GayStraight.com.

If only dates with my boyfriend were this fun

We were two peas in a pod. A perfect couple. We watched the same soap operas, sang the same musicals, watched the same episodes of Glee over and over, and both looked FABULOUS in black. It was the color we were wearing when we went out on a romantic date. It was just like any other date, except it did not end up with anyone getting lucky, because he is gay, and I’m a girl.

But a date with a girl is not by any means unheard of for a gay guy, he loves her company and she loves his. Gay men are usually just similar to us girls, in a good way. I secretly think he’s pretty hot but obviously things wouldn’t work out with us. Let me tell you how our date went.

We went to Friendly’s where we shared a plate of chicken tenders because we’re both watching our weight and our money. It was nice, almost like Lady and the Tramp but without the smooch. Then we went to see Les Miserables, the movie that I’ve been waiting for forever because it’s the best musical ever! Both of us sang our little hearts out and cried in the end when everyone died. We were “those people” in the movie theatre but we didn’t care. As we left the movies, still teary eyed, we gave each other a look that said “it’s time to go shopping!” So we did. We really went at those sale racks, and he bought half the store, some from the women’s departments. We shopped for shoes, clothes even candles and body wash which we both enjoy. He even bought the kind of body wash his boyfriend likes, how sweet.

He drove me home and even walked me to the door, and instead of a kiss, he gave me a high five and said, “Later girl!” As he walked away I pictured him carrying his bags into his house all by himself (he had 4 bags!) and I almost offered to help him, but I went inside instead knowing that I just had one of the best dates of my life.

If only dates with my boyfriend were this fun.

I wonder what Jeremy would think?

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So I have a dirty little secret. I’ve felt like an emotional train wreck the last couple of weeks because I’ve been keeping something from the one who knows me best. I know that if I tell him, I will never hear the end of it—but I know I can’t keep my mouth shut when it comes to him. Its only a matter of time.

Jeremy always tells it like it is and has been my prized possession for the past several years. He’s absolutely adorable; if I could keep him in my pocket I would. We met at a Halloween party last October and have been glued to each other ever since. I swear, if people knew the things we talked about we would both be put away. I’ve never had such a close dynamic with a guy who didn’t have an ulterior motive.

No girls get me like Jeremy does; we love so many of the same things, Britney Spears, Margaret Cho, sushi, astrology and the smell of incense. When it comes to shopping, we pick out the same exact tops or outfits before the other even has time to say anything. When he was younger, he used to do drag shows for fun so he knows his makeup and heels! We both love attention and look fabulous everywhere we go and make sure the other knows it—it is a match made in heaven.

I’m been dating this guy named Josh who is the complete opposite of most guys I go for. I go for the bad boys; Jeremy will tell you the guys I’m attracted to look like they need a bath. Josh, on the other hand, is clean cut and not very tall, but seems to be a sweet guy who is willing to go the extra mile. We’ve been on a few dates, which I’ve kept carefully hidden from Jeremy but I’m sure he’s suspecting something. I’m thinking I’m ready for the real deal, someone I might have a future with, which might be a shock to Jeremy who has been my “right-hand Mary” on the party circuit for awhile now. Watching the sun rise while driving home after leaving a diner to nurse a night of debauchery has kept us both from doing the ‘walk of shame’ on many occasions.

I’ve played the scenario over and over in my head—and I wonder what Jeremy would think of Josh, with his receding hairline and the fact that he’s—a gynecologist. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet, but I’m sure Jeremy will have something to say. No, Josh wasn’t my gynecologist; I actually had no idea until he told me this on our first date. We had this instant attraction in the gym and for several days we kept smiling at each other—finally he got the nerve to ask me out. His style sense is a bit old-school but maybe if I take Jeremy to host a ‘secret shopping intervention’ with us in a few weeks, that can change—right? Or maybe since they both like ethnic cuisines we can all go out to dinner for a little bonding sesh?

If he approves, I know deep down that Jeremy will be more than excited for me. If he doesn’t, then he will definitely let me know it. I know I shouldn’t care so much about what people think but Jeremy is not just anybody. He has a unique perspective in addition to the bond we share and looks out for me in ways other people can’t. I take comfort in knowing that ultimately, he will be happy for me if I’m happy no matter who I end up with.

Meet the other guy in your life

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Every girl needs a gay guy pal. Think about it; where would Carrie be without Stanford? Grace without Will? The Gay Best Friend, aka GBF, is a must-have. The Gay Guy + Straight Girl connection works for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is expert insight advice on fashion, love, sex, etc. Plus, it’s given in a straight-forward, or should we say “gay-forward” way that is honest, open, and sans competition or ulterior motives.

Are you ready to meet the other guy in your life? Then it’s time to head to matchingpetals.com

3 Reasons to use Matchingpetals.com to Meet the Other Guy in Your Life!

  1. Advice You Can Trust. When it gets down to the nitty-gritty, we rely on our BFFs for support and advice. Unfortunately, that pesky “competition” gene is always at play, so sometimes the best meaning advice can’t really be trusted. When you have a GBF, you can trust every word he says because there are never any ulterior motives. From fashion to men, and everything in between, he truly wants you to look your best and be your best. And you genuinely want the same for him – it’s the ideal match.
  2. You Aren’t Going After the Same Catch. The main reason there’s no competition is that neither of you is after the same catch. While you might drool over the six-pack on his new fling, or he may sigh that the gorgeous hunk on your arm will never be his, neither of you can ever be in competition for the same catch. He’s after hot guys that are gay, you’re on the market for hot guys that aren’t gay – so, voila! The jealousy coast is clear.
  3. Keep Your Guy Guessing. And all the while your GBF and you aren’t feeling jealous, guess who will be? That’s right – your significant others. It’s always healthy to lend a little mystery to any relationship, don’t you think? You and your GBF can hold hands, kiss and hug, shop together, dine together, and cry in one another’s arms. You can even have slumber parties. All the while, your significant others will wonder: is he really gay? What if he isn’t? Ooh la la. Those two little questions will always give you both the upper hand in any relationship. It’s a win-win scenario.

Haven’t you always wished you could have the perfect GBF to spice up your life? Visit matchingpetals.com and you will!

We should be friends, wink, wink

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Sandra and Simon

Sandra, a member of Matching Petals, wrote in to tell us this great story about how she met Simon. We thought you other petals would love to hear it.

While she was pub-crawling, she met Simon. Feeling attracted to him, she decided to share a few drinks and some conversation with him. After some time had passed, she began to think that he might be gay. But damn, he was so hot she couldn’t help but try, just in case he was straight and just setting off her gaydar.

Simon genuinely enjoyed the time he spent talking with Sandra and getting to know her. He recognized her nonverbal signals telling him that she was sexually attracted to him. Not wanting to lose what he sensed could be a fantastic friendship, he knew he would have to let her know – soon – about his sexuality. He invited her onto the dance floor and they danced through several songs.

Back at their table, Simon ordered new drinks for both of them. Putting one hand over Sandra’s, he looked at her and said her name.

“Sandra, I need to let you know something. Tonight has been wonderful. I’ve really    enjoyed getting to know you and I hope we can continue getting together after tonight. But there’s something you need to know about me. I’m gay. Shocker!

Sandra absorbed the news calmly. I’m glad he told me this tonight. Still, I wonder if I can get him to kiss me. I wonder what it would feel like, kissing someone so hot. I really love hanging out with him. I hope I don’t ruin this relationship.

She turned her hand over and circled her fingers around Simon’s hand.

“You know, Simon, you are really hot, and I’m glad you told me tonight but I can’t say I am not disappointed.” Sandra gave Simon a cute little pout that telegraphed her feelings while, at the same time, showcasing her full lips. She felt a little thrill as she saw Simon’s sea-green eyes focusing on her mouth.

Simon gave Sandra a crooked grin then pulled her toward him. Leaning forward, he gave her a soft kiss on the mouth.

Sandra looked at him in surprise, blushing slightly.

“Hey, you’re a hottie.” Simon smiled again. “Gay or not, I can see that! Let’s make plans to get together again but remember you ain’t gettin none.”

Samantha is going to love this

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Samantha, you are absolutely going to love this new website! We had fun times back before you moved. You helped me so much and I can’t thank you enough for helping me come out and be more comfortable with who I am. I am no longer afraid to be myself, because I knew you were always there for me.

Not that you live in New York, I think you should check out this new website, Matching Petals. It’s simple marvelous! You can meet gay men that are looking for straight women. Remember how we used to stay up late with those deep conversations? And it got so emotional between us but it was okay? You will always have me, but now you can find someone in New York who is similar.

The gay man in your life is important for your personality. You are very open and that’s what drew me to you. You are not afraid to talk about your feelings. Matching Petals is the perfect place to share feelings. It will help you meet someone who will go shopping with you and hang out the way we used to. Also you will have that constant shoulder to cry on and that person who will come over at 1AM and cry with you when you can’t sleep. Matching Petals is as easy as just starting a conversation and seeing where it goes. It’s perfect for you, because you were always so good to talk to.

It’s time for you to help another gay man now that you’ve such an influence on me. You’ll make another gay man very happy and maybe even help him come out. It will be great for you too, because I know you miss our friendship as much as I do. I know you will love the new guy and soon he will become your human security blanket like I always was!

Do not lose touch with me though. I don’t want to have to be too jealous of the new guy in your life! You are still my bitch and always will be. But finding someone in your area is going to work wonders for you and your fashion sense, since I’m no longer around to help you pick out what to buy when shopping! It will also do wonders for you emotionally as you’ll have a new gay best friend to be your 24/7 shrink! All things I loved doing with you, but now it’s someone else’s turn to have you.

 

Why I Joined Matching Petals

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When we received an email from this member thanking us for creating MP, we just had to ask if we could post it. She agreed. We sincerely hope more members feel like this. After all, it is why we created Matching Petals.

A letter from a member

When I moved from Missouri to Florida, I was really missing my best friend. I missed all those “girls” nights out, shopping, and just plain sitting around in our pajamas laughing at everything. It is not that I was trying to replace my best friend, but rather trying to fill the void that existed from not having him so close anymore.

A little bit about me

Let me begin by briefly telling you about myself and my best friend. I am a 29-year-old straight woman and my BFF is a 30-year-old gay man. Everyone who sees us together sees two people who enjoy each other’s company and have a great chemistry! He was always there when I needed help with men and I was always there for him when he needed support. So to have him over 1,000 miles away made me very sad.

So, in my adventures of making new friends in my current city I tried local bars, nightclubs, and malls; I even went as far as trying to get a part-time job to increase my chances of making new friends. Of course, it’s not that I was such a loser I made none along the way because I did – the only problem was that I yearned to make some new gay friends.

My Discovery of Matching Petals

After I ran out of local ideas, I decided to try Google out. Once I went to the browser and conducted a search that related to ‘best places to meet your next gay friend’ – I came across the website called Matching Petals. I felt almost as if a miracle had occurred, and the site was created just for me!

You are probably asking – “What is Matching Petals”? Well, it is a website that was recently launched to act as a social network where straight women and gay men can connect for friendship. The site has so much to do, from connecting with other members of the community to reading news articles; you’ll want to spend hours on this site.

The reason I joined

The reason I went ahead and joined Matching Petals was because it offered me the perfect chance to meet gay men from my area and other places around the world. Though not all of the members I connected with live near me, they still offer a great deal of entertainment and friendship as we spend many hours messaging and talking on the phone. As for a friend to go out with who lived around me, I found one of those as well; his name is Alain and we’ve been having a blast!

The other reason I joined this site was because I feel very strongly that gay men and straight women form the strongest bonds; even more so than two women. Given the fact that this was a brand new site, I wanted to be part of something from the beginning that was going to become huge.

In the end, this site is still new, but as soon as it catches on – it will be very successful! Don’t wait, if you are looking to meet your new best friend, check out Matching Petals before wasting your time anywhere else!

What is Matching Petals?

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Matching Petals is a community where gay men and straight women meet up.

The relationship between a gay man and a straight woman is a special one. Research on this type of friendship has shown that women sometimes prefer the advice of gay men over their girlfriends and boyfriends, and gay men likewise trust their straight female friends above others. There’s plenty of dating websites out there–some for hookups, some for dating and romantic relationships, and some for specific age groups and ethnicities. Yet an online community for straight women looking for gay male friends and vice versa has never materialized. Until now.

Dating can be exhausting, and straight women have often said gay men provide a welcome relief from the endless sexual tension between themselves and straight guys. Women find the absence of “ulterior motives” – i.e. trying to get them into bed – very refreshing. And because gay men and straight women aren’t competing for the same men, both parties never have to worry about falling for the same guy!

The people you find are not your boyfriend or girlfriend, they are your new best friend. Maybe you will meet someone halfway across the country and you have a deep conversations about life.

So what are some of the features on Matching Petals that help gay men and straight women find their platonic soul mates?

Groups

Join a group on Matching Petals and discuss relationships, books, marriage, movies, food and more. Start a conversation about a certain topic, comment on threads, and otherwise have discussions about just about anything.

Members

Like other dating sites, Matching Petals members can find and “friend” each other, and engage in private conversations. Members may search the site’s directory or browse new additions in hopes of finding the perfect gay man-straight woman connection. There are nearly 1,000 members on Matching Petals at this time, with new members signing up every day.

Blog

The Matching Petals team will regularly contribute to the site’s blog with updates and other useful tips and tricks. Expect the team to moderate group conversations as well.

Join Matching Petals today!

The story behind Matching Petals

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Here’s the scoop. Since I was 18 I had a gay man as a best friend. Renato and I grew up in Brazil. Many years later I moved to America. I can’t tell you how much I miss him. I’ve never had such a close relationship with anyone else – sorry hubby;) . Other gals shouldn’t miss out on what I was fortunate enough to have experienced while having a gay man as my best friend. So, I approach my husband and some other friends and we created Matching Petals.

Other gals shouldn’t miss out on what I was fortunate enough to have experienced while having a gay man as my best friend

It might seem selfish to some. But it wasn’t a one-way street. Renato confided in me since the age of 15. When he was still figuring out how to approach the world with what he knew was true. That he was gay. When he did come out. I had his back. He appreciated that and it was probably the reason he trusted me completely.

On the other hand, I could trust Renato with anything. He knew when I was after a guy because he was hot, when I was emotionally connected and always told me straight up what he thought.  Of course, men and women can be friends. But isn’t there always that little, hmm…. “I wonder if…” thought – at least in the guys head. With Renato there was none of that. No worry that he had other motives. He just told me like it is. Carla, he is a jerk and he just wants to get into your pants.

Then there was the fun stuff. I don’t care what anyone says. Gay guys are fun. I remember dancing with Renaot at the gay bars (they always had the best DJs). Or when he dressed up in a bride’s dress and answered the door for the pizza delivery guy.

You should have seen the pizza guys face when Renato, wearing a white gown, in his deep voice says “What, haven’t you ever seen a bride before?”.

I hope every women has a best friend. For some of you it might be your girlfriend or your husbands. For me, I have been fortunate enough to have two. My husband and Renato. Go ahead, enjoy MatchingPetals and find that other guy in your life.

OH – and guys. Check out Matching Petals. Whether your out of the closet or not. A good girlfriend is just what you need when your sick of the drama of sexual relationships can bring.