Gay men get honest about what guys really think and offer tried-and-tested relationship advice on the side. It's like having your very own team of SATC's Stanford Blatchs!
If only I had listened to my gay best friend (GBF) Tommy. He had tried to warn me not to go out with his colleague Nick, who was so hot and so nice, but so not sophisticated. Tommy told me that Nick and I had so little in common, it'd be like Madonna dating Warwick Capper.
Alarm bells should have rung early on when I battled with Nick's lack of conversation, his non-existent ambition and his suspicion of all men who wear pink shirts. When I introduced him to my favourite post-work hangout, a chic members bar, he looked as intimidated as if he's walked in with Lady Gaga wearing a dress made entirely of her ex-boyfriends' skulls.
So Tommy had every right to do a choreographed "I told you so" dance around my apartment when it ended. Badly. But instead of joining me in a rousing chorus of "all men are bastards", like my female friends would have done, he simply said: "He's actually a nice bloke, you're a great woman. You just weren't suited." He was right. And we moved on.
Giving it to you straight
That honest, uncomplicated approach is not the only reason our GBFs are so damn good at giving us love advice er, hello, they're men. They've got a VIP pass inside the male psyche: they date, fall in love with and get their hearts broken by men, too. And they won't tell us what we want to hear, like our female pals often do. They tell us what we need to hear.
Like the fact we might just have to suck it up or get out when it comes to our commitment-phobic partners. "If a man can't commit, don't kid yourself that you can make him ready to," says wedding planner Darren, 30. "You need to be seriously honest with yourself and decide if it's worth biding your time, or leaving him and finding someone who is."
Corporate lawyer Tom, 25, agrees. "You cannot make someone commit if they don't want to. If he won't? He's a boy who doesn't want to grow up."
According to airline analyst Kerwen, 28, we shouldn't take things too much to heart. "Women take things way too personally," he says. "Recently a friend was worried that her boyfriend's sex drive had dwindled because he didn't fancy her anymore. But it was because he was so stressed at work and bottled it up inside. It wasn't about her at all."
Ah, yes, that old chestnut the men in our life keeping their feelings as tightly bottled as a Budweiser Brewery. To get them to open up, we may have to start being a little more transparent as well.
"Being totally yourself and establishing honest, open communication from the beginning should encourage your bloke to be more open with you," Darren says. "Some of my friends won't even fart or do a number two at their new boyfriend's place in the early stages of romance.
If you're hiding the fact that you have normal bodily functions, then it's likely you're hiding your true self as well. A fart will not end a relationship." Well, that's us told then.
Men are simple creatures
So how do we go about preserving that all-important spark? Tom reckons we shouldn't let our appearance slide just because we're comfortable. "It's no secret that men value physical appearance very highly," he says, "so make sure you don't let yourself go. It's not all about being super-model perfect, just take yourself in a healthy way."
Kerwen thinks we should be keeping the adventure alive to ensure a happy relationship."It's important to share some memorable experiences together. I recently planned a weekend scuba diving course for my boyfriend and I. The course was scary, amazing and totally unforgettable."
All the boys unanimously agree that we have to stop with the mixed messages. "Men are simple creatures; we're not emotionally bilingual," says Tom. Darren adds: "If he says he wants to go out and you'd rather stay in, just tell him. Don't pretend it's okay, then spend the night seething that he didn't read your mind. He can't."
Do the boys think that us ladies can sometimes expect too much of our fellas? "Absolutely," agrees Tom. "Women fret when men aren't emotionally available, but a man can't be a one-stop-shop for all your emotional needs. The trick is to have lots of friends who can also give you that emotional support."
When you're out there in the big, bad world of dating, the boys think it's best to chillax and enjoy the ride. "Don't question him about his exes and what he wants from a relationship really early on," Darren warns. "Relax! Don't think every man you meet is going to be the father of your children. It's more than likely he won't be. Some guys will come into your life just for fun." Hurrah for that.
Tom reckons we shouldn't sweat it if we're single at the moment, either. "I think women are better off pursuing their dreams whether it's their career, financial independence, travel or all of the above then if a guy comes along who fits into their life, fantastic."