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Two men are technically fighting over a woman, or making up deals about her. Either they are rivals, or one have her as a Love Interest while the other play the role of the protective father figure. However, the whole thing is really about the relationship between these two men.

The woman is not really one of the players in this social game. It is strictly between the men. It's really about their relationship with each other and their feelings for each other. Doesn't have to include any Ho Yay, their relationship doesn't have to have sexualized overtones. They may be, or pondering becoming, Heterosexual Life Partners.

Sometimes used as a way of portraying the development of an Arranged Marriage.

While this trope is usually about two men using a woman as playing field for their relationship, it can also be about two women using a man in the same way. The number of players may also be larger than two. In either case, it's about heterosexuality as a social dynamic between individuals of the same gender.

Contrast with Friend Versus Lover, where neither the friend nor the lover really want to be friends and genuinely are fighting over the mutual interest.

Examples of Homosocial Heterosexuality include:

Anime and Manga

  • Bakuman。: The Ashirogi Muto team decides they do in fact want Kaya hanging out with them at college to deflect suspicions of gayness arising from two hot young men who are constantly together.

Comic Books

  • In one Ernie arc, the local beauty queen suddenly take a romantic interest with the protagonist. What he doesn't know is that she want him only because he is his girlfriend's boyfriend: The sudden romance is a ploy in a competition between these two women, and he is merely a pawn.


  • in Fiddler On the Roof, the traditional Arranged Marriage custom is portrayed as an emotional and social affair between the groom and the father, the bride hardly being relevant to the process. And thus the plot is setting up for a massive backfire.
  • Sweeney Todd is playing the Destructive Romance version of this trope with Judge Turpin. Mutual bonding in the scenes with the "Pretty women" song, and on the surface helping with the plan to force Todd's daughter to marry Turpin. However, the one Todd plan to sacrifice is not his daughter, but secretly Turpin instead.


  • In Lady Audley's Secret, the Ho Yay between George and Robert Audley is "resolved" or redirected when Robert falls in love with George's sister, Clara.

Live Action TV

  • In North and South US, Madelyn is manipulated into an Arranged Marriage based entirely on his friendship with her father. This scenario is gradually rolled up retroactively after the protagonist loses contact with her only to find out that she's suddenly getting married.
  • Adding this dynamic was the reason for the inclusion of both Aunt Harriet and Batgirl in the 1960s Batman Adam West series. Not for nothing are Batman and Robin considered the original ambiguously gay duo.


  • Wicked has a Rare Female Example with Elphaba and Glinda. They're caught in a Love Triangle with Fiyero, but the story is more about the relationship between the two women than it's about Elphaba/Fiyero or Glinda/Fiyero.
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