A Guy Explains What's Up with Man Crushes

I was thinking about how strange man-crushes are.

Jimi Hendrix
(Image credit: Marie Claire)

As the Patriots' game-winning field goal sailed through the uprights beating my beloved Baltimore Ravens yesterday, I was doubly defeated because I wished I was Patriot quarterback Tom Brady (opens in new tab). That was some salt in the wound right there.

My friend Margaret and I spent time debating Brady's hair style. (opens in new tab) Why did he let it grow so long?

"Tom Brady is one of those people who looks good regardless of his hair style," (opens in new tab) I said.

Awkward silence among the males followed. (opens in new tab) Whoops.

I'm shameless enough to admit a man crush when I have one. I have a semi-man crush on Tom Brady, but he annoys me too because he gives the Ravens fits when they play (opens in new tab).

I was thinking about how strange man-crushes are. Outside of the fact that it's a straight male adoring another straight male, it actually turns out to be attraction the way it should be.

Guys are often accused of being too visual, attracted to women simply because they are hot (opens in new tab). A woman's intelligence or success is sometimes secondary to how hot she is. This isn't right, but this is how we think.

Now when it comes to a man crush, we love guys for what they do: rock star, athlete, great writer, etc. It's not all about how he looks, although most man crushes do happen to be good looking.

A few of my man-crushes:

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page

My Bloody Valentine guitarist Kevin Shields (opens in new tab)

Jimi Hendrix

Pro basketball player Kevin Durant

Needless to say, us guys crush on other guys. Here are a few rules:

I wish I was my man crush: all men ultimately wish they were the guy they crush on. I want to be the Led Zeppelin guitarist, I want to be the starting secondary for the Ravens, I want to write amazing books. I want to look like Tom Brady.

OK, I'll stop now-this is getting unhealthy. (opens in new tab)

And if we can't be our man crush, we'd love to at least hang out with them, be in their entourage. We want them to think we are cool. (opens in new tab)

We Love Man Crushes for Their Prowess with Women: I'm annoyed that Justin Bieber gets girls, but the fact that Led Zeppelin got tons of girls is amazing and I would be lucky to be their roadie for hot runoff at the hotel on a given night.

We Envy Our Man Crush's "I Don't Care" Attitude: Most man crushes can afford to have the "I don't care" attitude because they don't have an angry boss breathing down their neck and they are rich. (opens in new tab) Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, for example, goes about his daily life not caring about getting rejected (opens in new tab), not caring about how he's perceived because he's so awesome.

I Would Be Flattered if a Man Crush Had Sex with My Girlfriend: My buddy Jake and his girlfriend have a set of same-sex crushes that the other is allowed to have sex with. Jake's list is full of classic Baltimore Orioles: Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray. Because former supermodel Christy Turlington, according to Jake's girlfriend, is "legit gorgeous," she's on his list.

Basically if my man crush comes a-calling for my girlfriend, I step out of the way and say "by all means go ahead, you are the best, and I suck." (opens in new tab)

I'd be flattered because my man crush was attracted to a girl that was attracted to me. And if I slept with the same girl that slept with guitarist Kevin Shields, maybe I'd somehow play guitar better and make albums that changed electric guitar sound. OK I'll be frank, it would be as close to sleeping with Kevin Shields as I could get. (opens in new tab)

It's the opposite of when you get dumped for a lame person. You're like: "Really, couldn't you dump me for someone awesome at least? What's that make me?" (opens in new tab)

Women are similar with their same-sex crushes. My little sister has girl crushes for any number of reasons: "she's so pretty," "she's so cool," "ugh, I love her style," (opens in new tab) "she can do no wrong," "she's classy," "she eats — she isn't a skeleton."

The same-sex crush is someone we want to be — the alpha male or female. Interestingly, guys are "un-guy'like" when they assess male crushes. Sure, most are good looking, but we also care about their personality, accomplishments, and skills. When guys finally grow up, they learn to appreciate these things about women in addition to their "hotness." (opens in new tab)