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But friendships between lesbians and straight men are considerably less common than those between gay men and straight women.

Another point to keep in mind here is that Russell’s study only tapped into more trustworthy than straight men (or other straight women) when it comes to doling our mating advice is a very different empirical question.

All else being equal, for instance, would a gay man also take a straight woman’s financial advice over that of a lesbian or a fellow gay man?

It’s also not entirely clear to me why lesbians and straight men wouldn’t enjoy a similar evolutionary dynamic.

But the authors reason that gay men also derive indirect sexual benefits from having straight female friends: Despite being sexually attracted to the same gender (i.e., men), gay men and straight women are neither potential romantic partners nor mating competition for each other.

The participants were then shown a fake Facebook profile of the college-aged neighbor, including a photo and clear information about the person being: (a) a gay male; (b) a straight male; or (c) a straight female.

(The authors point out that the photo depicted a person of average attractiveness; for the two male conditions, the image was of the same person, so that only the sexual orientation of the target differed).

That’s shorthand for the ambiguous, deliberate, or awkward sexual tensions that can undermine even the best platonic friendships between a straight woman and a straight man (or between two gay men.) Needless to say, every friendship, no matter the sexual orientations of the parties involved, is different.

Yet prior studies have indeed revealed that both straight women and gay men rate their friendships with each other as being qualitatively more meaningful and deeper than other friendships.

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Such previous work—which also found that straight women with gay male friends tend to have a positive body image, to feel sexually attractive and secure, and to consider themselves appreciated for their personality—used survey data, thus keeping scientists from drawing any conclusions about the underlying causes.

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