I was talking to my ex the other day about man crushes. No, he’s not gay. Very straight, in fact. He owns a gym, is a martial arts expert, rides a Harley, and likes women. But he’s very comfortable with his sexuality and can point out a man crush-that is, a non-romantic affinity for another man-when he sees one."Man crushes don’t have to be reciprocated,” he says. “My best friend has one on me, but I don’t have one on him.” What does that mean, I ask? “I called him while he was at a movie the other day, and he answered his phone. I said, ‘Guy, why are you answering my call if you’re in a movie theater?’ I wouldn’t take his call if it were the other way around.”
TV and radio host Ryan Seacrest recently admitted in an interview with Meredith Vieira that he had a man crush on Matt Lauer. “I’m enamored by him. I find him very interesting. I like him. He’s one of my favorite people on TV,” gushed Seacrest.
Comedian Louis CK does a bit about his own man crush on Ewan McGregor. “I have no gay inclinations-except for I met [McGregor] in person while I was working on some awards show, and he was standing right there, and I was like, blown away!” Louie says. “He’s … beautiful!”
Some say the object of a man crush can’t be someone you know well. “It can’t be one of your close friends; has to be on someone you know and see out from time to time and really like,” says one friend who claims not to have man crushes.
For the most part, man crushes seem to work the same way as other crushes: When there’s no pre-existing relationship between the crusher and the crushee, the attraction is often based on perception, not reality. In short, the idea of the crush is often better than the object of it.
To further explain, man crushes occur when a guy admires another guy, either for the car he drives, the girl he dates, or the clothes he wears; generally, he’s living a life you wouldn’t mind for yourself. “When thoughts pop into your head like, ‘I want to hang out with that guy,’ that’s when you know you have a man crush,” my ex says. “Everyone needs that one guy you want to check in with about stuff; someone you’d like to emulate. A go-to guy whose style or opinion you respect.”
Athletes and celebrities are often the object of man crushes. “The weird thing about the man crush for me, and I would suspect most guys, is that it’s not homosexual at all; it’s purely aspirational. Like the intersection between jealousy and envy,” another straight guy says. “It’s more of a, ‘Gosh, I wish I could be him.’” Another friend says that instead of getting butterflies, men get horseflies. “It’s more manly,” he says.
Now that I’m well-versed in man crushes, I decided to poll some straight male friends. I asked: Who are you man crushing on these days and why? Here’s what they said:
Guy No. 1: “Val Kilmer. He’s amazing at what he does and he doesn’t get caught up in the celebrity of it.”
Guy No. 2: “Vince Vaughn. He’s a guy everyone likes: funny and successful, but not too affected. And Derek Jeter, for playing for the Yankees and just being the man. And getting the hot girls.”
Guy No. 3: “I wouldn’t mind hanging out with a few guys on the Bulls or White Sox, just for fun. Maybe I would hang out with George Clooney; he’s a stud, but if he can’t just hang, he’s out. No attitude or drama. And whoever is dating Eva Mendes is a lucky man.”
Guy No. 4: “Ryan Reynolds. He’s probably the funniest man in Hollywood. Did you see him on the cover of Men’s Health?”
Guy No. 5: “I’m in awe of Eddie Vedder, but I align myself more with George Clooney. Every woman loves him; every guy wants to hang out with him. He has earned tremendous respect as a social activist … and he probably could sleep with any woman he wants to with just a phone call. I want to be like him!”
Guy No. 6: “I have always had a man crush on Leo DiCaprio; look who he dates! I mean, [model] Bar Rafaeli? I would cut off both pinkies and a toe. All he does is act in pimpy movies with Martin Scorsese, sleep with supermodels, and get drunk with his FOL [Friends of Leo]. I am living his life, just at a 2 on a scale of 100, and he is at a 97.”
Guy No. 7: “My man crush is on former Cubs first baseman and borderline Hall of Famer Mark Grace. The guy had the most hits in the ’90s. He was one of the most popular and talented Cubs for almost a decade. And all the while, he partied like a rock star in Wrigleyville, picking up the very best of Chicago’s most beautiful women on a nightly basis.”
There’s such a thing as girl crushes, too. Right now I’m crushing on Sheryl Crow. It’s that voice and that hair. …