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Real Men Hate Affection

"Love? What kind of man tells another man that he loves him?"
Cotton Hill, King of the Hill

In fiction, every guy usually follows the Bro Code. One of the rules of the Bro Code is that guys do not hug each other. They also don't talk things out or get emotional, because that's what chicks do; either that, or it's gay. Sensitivity is never a priority for guys, no matter how they appear on the surface. Every guy is like this, even the most understanding guy will not want to seem sensitive, for fear of being called a pussy or "gay".

Also, don't expect teenage boys to be sensitive even with their own fathers. After a rare personal talk, no matter how short, always expect an awkward silence followed by a throat clearing, and a quick mumble of "I gotta go" or "that was a good talk, son". You can also expect lots of nervous hand shakes, but never a hug, at least not any longer than three seconds. This is a huge Double Standard, as it implies that men who show affection are weak, but it is normal for women to be affectionate.

This is a relatively recent trope, and of varying geographical distribution. Until around the eighteenth century, it was expected of "men of sensibility" to show their emotions much more openly (as in The Song Of Roland, in which the heroic French weep and faint away in groups of twenty thousand at a time). Even PDA between males was much more common as little as a hundred and fifty years ago, though generally more restrained in Anglophone countries (with their Puritan traditions) than elsewhere. (19th century English diarists record their horror at seeing male Frenchmen and Germans kissing each other on the mouth, though this gesture had been actually more common among all genders in England than elsewhere up to the time of the Civil Wars.)

As the title implies, examples of this trope are almost Always Male, but inversions are welcome. This also only usually applies to male bonding.

See also Man Hug, Accidental Hug, Men Don't Cry, Rated M for Manly, All the Good Men Are Gay, Ho Yay. Contrast Asexuality.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  

  • Zigzagged in spades in Berserk. The main male characters, Guts and Griffith, can be described as ambitious, ruthless, Jerk Asses, uncultured in the case of Guts, and a monster in the case of Griffith (and almost with Guts), but one thing for sure is that they're not afraid to talk about their feelings in very poetic manners, especially to one another (making certain implications arise). In the case of Guts, he can switch from being a gruff jerk to being very tender and caring.
  • Ranma ½: Played straight with Ranma and his father, Genma. They never hug or tell each other that they care; they very rarely have personal talks. The thought of getting parental affection from his dad is so weird to Ranma that Genma once used an attack against him that consisted only of an overly affectionate hug, which totally freaked him out. Growing up with the Real Men Hate Affection mindset could explain why he doesn't really like being touched and seems to only have love/hate relationships with the people he's closest to. (i.e. Ryoga, Akane, etc.)
  • Interestingly inverted in Death Note, where Light Yagami's hatred of female affection cements his status as Ambiguously Gay. A Serial Killer Badass Gay, but gay nonetheless.
  • Chonchu plays with the concept. While the eponymous main character may appear as a your regular Ax-Crazy Blood Knight who lives to kill, deep down he really wants to be shown affection, especially from a woman who could soothe his damaged mind and calm his outbursts. And the only woman who can do that in the series so far is, quite ironically, his nemesis' fiancée.

     Film  

  • Averted in Across the Universe, with Max and Jude. They only knew each other for about a year, yet they are doing the Meadow Run by the film's end.
  • In The Hot Chick, the eponymous hot chick's boyfriend describes his feelings for her to a friend, expecting a similar confession from the friend, who calls him gay.
    Actually, pursuing a woman you have heterosexual feelings for... not gay.
  • The two Bill & Ted movies both have moments where the boys respond to a display of male affection with "Fag!" In the first, it follows a Man Hug between the boys when it turned out that Ted wasn't killed by an evil knight. In the second, the boys say it to their evil robot duplicates to try and stave off death; the robots deliver the line, then throw them off Kirk's Rock anyway.
  • In Groundhog Day, when Rita describes her ideal man:
    Rita: He's kind, gentle, sensitive. He's not afraid to cry in front of me...
    Phil: This is a man we're talking about, right?
    • And then he later subverts it when weeping bitterly after the homeless man continually dies after Phil's repeated attempts to save him.
  • The Lord of the Rings movies averted this - however, that can be chalked up to Values Dissonance due to the when the original books were written.
  • Averted in Pain and Gain, as one of the main promotional items of this movie is how tender and emotional these burly body-builders are around each other.

     Film-Animation  

  • The Emperor's New Groove has this at the very end. Kuzco and Pacha finally get the potion, embrace... and then separate, looking rather embarrassed because guys don't do this... see it here, at about 2:50.
  • Averted in Aladdin, the (arguably) most important relationship in the film is between Aladdin and Genie, two male characters. They are often shown talking about their feelings and hug multiple times, all while averting the trappings of Ho Yay, and neither coming off as unmanly.

     Live Action TV  

  • There is a scene in Merlin which fits this trope to a tee: Merlin and Arthur have a Friendship Moment, and Merlin moves to hug Arthur, feeling it was the logical follow-up. Arthur doesn't quite see it that way. After an awkward moment, Arthur rolls his eyes and leaves. Merlin just smiles.
    Merlin: I thought you were going for a hug.
    Arthur: Nooooo.
    • Averted between Gwaine and Merlin. Gwaine has no problems hugging Merlin.
  • The Father and son talk variant is inverted in an episode of iCarly. Spencer and Carly are both visibly uncomfortable as Spencer tries to give Carly The Talk.
    Carly: We are not having this conversation.
    Spencer (clearly relieved): Thank God!
  • Averted in How I Met Your Mother with Marshall. He is very affectionate and emotional, and he tells his father everything, literally.
  • Friends also averted this with Chandler and Joey who were very close, did talk about their feelings and often engaged in hugging. Chandler even lampshades this trope, joking "Do you think we do this too much?" but they rarely let it bother them.
  • Kirk and Spock's complete aversion of this trope in Star Trek: The Original Series led to the creation of the first Slash Fics. Particularly interesting since Vulcans dislike showing emotion in general, so Spock's obvious affection for Kirk effectively breaks two sets of social rules.
    • That said, Spock does try to exhibit some propriety on occasion. For example, after having saved Kirk's life by taking control of a Klingon warship, Kirk goes in for the Man Hug...
    Spock: Please Captain, not in front of the Klingons.
  • In Supernatural, Dean Winchester often acts like this, rather to Sam's annoyance. Mostly because Sam is more straightforward about his emotions, whereas Dean is notorious for wallowing in Mangst and then denying it.
  • In That '70s Show, Red and Hyde both hate to express any kind of affection. Hyde actually denies even having feelings.
  • Ray in Everybody Loves Raymond. In one episode he seems incapable of understanding his wife's need for affection, almost convinced she does it just to annoy him. He even states that no man enjoys cuddling, they only put up with it to get sex.
  • In The Office Jim post marriage to Pam gets mocked by Dwight for openly showing affection.
    • Angela is the rare female example, hating affection as much as Dwight, making them perfect for each other.
  • Addressed more than once on Home Improvement, as it tackles a lot of "man stuff".
    • In general, Al and Tim are a Sensitive Guy and Manly Man, and Tim is occasionally put off by Al's shows of affection. For instance, after he sticks up for Al and keeps him from being fired:
    Tim: Oohhh, you're getting that "I'm going to hug you" look; I don't like that, Al!
    Al: Just a little one!
    Tim: No, Al, I— [Al glomps him] AAAA! You're fired!
    Al: I am not, you big friend, you!
    • On the other hand, Tim isn't afraid of showing some affection himself. One episode is driven by the fact that his son Brad is embarrassed by Tim telling him "I love you" in front of his friends.
    • Then there's the episode where Tim's boss and friend Mr. Binford dies. Both Al and Tim's wife Jill get on his case for not mourning openly, while Tim wonders why it's a big deal if he doesn't turn on the waterworks like they do. At the same time, Brad compliments him for taking the loss "like a real man" and not crying, which bothers Tim greatly:
      Brad: You don't let stuff get to you.
      Tim: Stuff gets to me!
      Brad: Well, the great part about it is, no one can tell.
  • My Name Is Earl: Earl and Randy, despite being unusually close to each other, are embarrassed by the thought of saying "I love you" to each other.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Anytime Carlton wants to hug Will, or even spend time talking to one another. Carlton is all for it, while Will puts on his Manly Face and bears it.
    • Occasionally inverted. In the episode where Will gets shot he asks Carlton to give him a hug and Carlton is reluctant to do it. Possibly because Carlton started carrying a gun and didn't want Will to see it.
  • One season 1 CSI NY ep has the group questioning someone at a 'cuddle party'. Danny makes it clear that he does not cuddle. (although it's quite likely that's changed by now, between Lindsay and Lucy lol)
  • Strongly averted in the new Hawaii Five-0. Steve and Danny talk about feelings so much, hug enough and, in one instance, cuddle on a couch, that they are well across the line into Ho Yay. Despite otherwise being really Badass action guys.
  • Done in Drake & Josh, despite the two being brothers, they are too embarrassed to hug in public, so whenever they share a tender moment, they will give each others a "quick hug" which involves wrapping their arms around each other for a split second and then looking away.
  • One subplot of the Scrubs episode "My Half Acre" had Dr. Cox refusing to kiss his young son Jack and Jack's mother Jordan complaining about it. Perry confides to Carla that he worries about not being able to be an affectionate enough parent, though he does kiss Jack at the end of the episode. Considering the relationship Perry had with his own father, a violent and abusive Alcoholic, it makes sense.

     Literature  

     Music  

  • Played with by "A Father's Love", sung by Bucky Covington and High Valley (not sure which is the original and which is the cover). The song talks about the singer's dad and how he wasn't all that affectionate, but helped out with home maintenance, checking the oil and filling the tires his car, and so on. The singer admits that "I didn't see it then, but I see it now: he was saying 'I love you' the only way he knew how." It's treated just as valid as physical affection, just more subtle. (Also averted by the singer himself, by the line "I knew he'd stiffen up, but I hugged him anyway.")

     Newspaper Comics  

  • In a Garfield strip when Jon visits his family:
    Jon's father: Good to see you again, son. You're looking well.
    Jon: Thanks... You too, dad.
    [beat]
    Jon's father: Well, got chores to do.
    Jon: Better go unpack.
    Garfield: A real father-son moment.

     Theatre  

  • In Pippin when the title character returns home from the university of Padua, he and his father almost hug, but wind up shaking hands. Pippin then attempts to talk to him about his feelings of emptiness and quest to find something meaningful, but his father fobs him off with cliches and 'well I've got to go.' By the way, his father is Charlemagne. Yes, that one.

     Video Games  
  • In Final Fantasy V, Bartz, Galuf, and Faris might not hate affection, but they are absolutely terrible at expressing it to each other, whereas don't have issues being emotional with Lenna and Krile. Case in point, Galuf asks Bartz why he, Lenna and Faris leave their homeworld without knowing if they can ever return, in order to help Galuf protect his own planet. The reply?
    Bartz: ...No particular reason.

     Web Comics  

     Web Original  

  • Achilles and Guardsman of the Global Guardians PBEM Universe love each other like brothers. They support each other and are there for each other when it's needed. But they do this all without ever actually demonstrating their feelings for each other in any way, shape or form that isn't "100% manly".
  • Yahtzee from Zero Punctuation does this often.

     Western Animation  

  • On The Simpsons episode "Bart the Genius," Bart is shocked when Homer kisses him.
    Bart: You kissed me.
    Homer: Now, now, there's nothing wrong with a father kissing his son. I think.
    • In the "Homer's Phobia", Homer, fearing Bart was gay, took him out to try and spend time with him. It does not go well.
''*Homer places his arm on Bart's shoulder*"
Homer's Brain: You're leaving the arm there too long. You want to make it worse? (Abruptly removes it)
Homer's Brain: No, no! He'll know you're on to him! Quick! Shake his hand!
Homer: (shaking his hand) Just remember son, whatever happens, I'll always I love you.
Homer's Brain: (fearfully) As? As?
Homer: As a father! Uh, a father! Regular father! *sighs with relief*
  • Most of King of the Hill is like this, with Hank being mortified whenever Bobby doesn't follow this trope.
    • Hank is an extreme version of this, unwilling to show any more affection than a handshake to his own mother. It's implied that this is due to emotional abuse from his father. Ironically, his greatest fear is that his father will die without ever telling him that he loved him. Which was exactly what happened, so Peggy (who dared Cotton to just die already with reverse psychology) made up some nice last words for him to have said about Hank while nobody else was around
  • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, a large portion of Freddy's Oblivious to Love status stems from his mistaken belief in this trope. He gets over it, though his obliviousness continues to shine in other respects.
  • Averted in Avatar: The Last Airbender where the main characters often share hugs and other shows of affections. The ones that are arguably most poignant are Zuko and his Uncle Iroh; when the two of them embrace in the finale, its widely considered a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
    • Sokka, with his obsession with being "manly", starts out as this. He loosens up by Book 2.

     Stand Up Comedy  

  • Comedian Bill Burr has a theory that men have a lower average life expectancy than women because of all the stress that builds up from their asshole "DudeBro" friends calling them "fag" any time they show any signs of caring, kindness or sensitivity.
    • He might be on to something. At least one study said that women might live longer because they process stress and emotion better. If a woman feels bad, she'll have a good cry or talk it out with her friends, whereas a man tends to bottle it up. All that stress wears on you over time.
    • The higher suicide rate in men is probably a related issue- even the fact that men are more likely to ignore symptoms of illness for too long.


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