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Real Men Hate Affection

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"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 handshakes, but never a hug, at least not any longer than three seconds.

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. (Nineteenth-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.)

This is a huge Double Standard, as it implies that men who show affection are weak and/or swing the other way, but it is normal for women to do the same. Said double standard also underlies many cases of Shipping Goggles; if a pair of male Heterosexual Life-Partners in fiction are more affectionate to each other than what is commonly expected for men, expect shippers to pair them up even if the work never intended to portray them as a romantic couple at any point.

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, Manly Man, Sensitive Guy and Manly Man, All the Good Men Are Gay, Ho Yay. By the way, you know who else hates affection? Kids— see Affection-Hating Kid.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle:
    • Boy-turned-girl Matsuri stands out from the others girls by being more aloof and distant. He grows to open up emotionally, but is still taken aback by physical contact and almost never initiates it himself. Unusually, this is limited mostly to girls, as Matsuri thinks touching any of them is wrong so long as he still thinks of himself as a boy (even if he doesn't demand girls show the same restraint). Toward Soga, he's usually cheerful, adoring, and even a bit of a Cuddle Bug.
    • Soga himself is averse even to verbal praise that isn't somehow professional, finding Matsuri's affection embarrassing even aside the unwanted arousal. He can't even tell his rival "happy birthday" without a big struggle or smashing his head on a rock afterward.
  • Berserk: Zigzagged in spades. 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.
  • Chonchu plays with the concept. While the eponymous main character may appear as 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.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Vegeta rarely openly shows affection towards anyone. It took him almost eight years for him to give his son a hug.
  • Dr. STONE: Senku tends to dismiss big shows of emotion as "cringy"; he refuses to let his Dumb Muscle friend Taiju hug him (though the first time it was more understandable because Taiju was buck naked), and his relationship with his father Byakuya was more like Vitriolic Best Buds than parent and child. That said, he's Not So Stoic as he pretends: when he's shown Byakuya's grave, he waits until he's alone to weep for his father, and when the people of Ishigami Village build him a telescope and observatory for his birthday he's clearly touched but hides it behind his usual bluster.
  • Ranma : 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.)
  • Jojos Bizarre Adventure's third protagonist, Jotaro Kujo falls firmly into this with his being The Stoic. He loves his family and friends, but that doesn't stop him from being incredibly averse to affection (giving or receiving). This gets deconstructed in Part 6, however. You know what happens when you keep being an emotional brick wall that doesn't smile, cry or hug your children, even if you love them? Said children grow up to resent you.

    Comic Books 
  • Sonic the Comic: Word of God is that Sonic has trouble expressing his feelings. Case in point: when Porker Lewis quit the Freedom Fighters, Sonic's anger at him for doing so was in fact because he desperately wanted him to stay, but simply couldn't spit it out.

    Films — 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.
  • Discussed in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs:
    Manny: Guys don't talk to guys about guy problems. We just punch each other on the shoulders.
    Ellie: That's stupid.
    Manny: To a girl. To a guy, that's like six months of therapy.
  • In We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, Louie believes this at first, as he leaves home because his mother embarrasses him by slobbering kisses all over him, and refuses to kiss or show affection to Cecelia because he's been led to believe that showing any sentimentality is "unmanly."

     Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm goes out of its way to discuss and argue against this trope, with Thor (formerly James Potter. It's that kind of story) early on gently telling Harry that there is no shame in tears, and they don't make you weaker or more childish - indeed, he is known to shed them himself. Asgardians as a whole are much less uptight about such things, while human men tend to be a little more awkward about it. In any case, Harry takes this lesson onboard when coming out of his emotional repression, and becomes notably more openly affectionate, welcoming hugs and gestures of affection, becoming considerably better adjusted as a result. However, as is noted in chapter 48 of the sequel, Harry is distinctly unusual among his peers in this respect, with Sean Cassidy noting that the kind of shoulder clasp or hug that Harry would appreciate would be firmly rejected by Ron, and most other teenage boys, precisely because of this mentality.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bill & Ted: The boys are Platonic Life-Partners, but when they Man Hug in celebration that Ted wasn't killed by an evil knight, they instantly get embarrassed and chide each other with "Fag!" Once that's out of the way, they instantly revert back to their standard friendly enthusiasm.
  • This happens again with Rob Schneider in Fired Up!, except the one confessing his feelings calls his friend out on failing logic forever.
  • 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.
  • 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 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. Though they still toned it down from the books, which to a modern reader looks like Ho Yay at times.
  • In Pulp Fiction, Vincent Vega invokes this trope in a Seinfeldian Conversation with Jules Winnfield about a fellow gangster who got thrown out a window on the orders of their boss Marsellus Wallace. After explaining the rumor that the incident was revenge for the gangster giving Marsellus's wife Mia a foot massage, Jules mentions that he doesn't see a foot massage as intimate enough to warrant that kind of payback. Vincent retorts with the Armor-Piercing Question "would you give a guy a foot massage?"

  • Inverted in A Brother's Price; Eldest Whistler explains to Jerin that she doesn't blame him for being too trusting, as that's how boys are brought up - she notes that his little brother would allow himself to be hugged by a stranger, while the girls would check for weapons, first. Due to male Gender Rarity Value, boys are sheltered and cuddled and spoiled, which makes them much more prone to displays of affection than the girls (who are brought up to be able to defend themselves and their brothers).
  • In Harry Potter, Ron's usual display of affection was clapping Harry on the back. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince he's so thrilled to see Harry he practically assaults him, much to Hermione's chagrin.
  • In Hurog, Ward has an emotional scene with his brother Tosten, and lampshades this trope by pointing out that, thanks to his father (who was an affection-hating real man) he still isn't able to properly show affection to his brother. Averted in other parts of the series, he's very affectionate towards his sister, Ciarra, and occasionally shows his caring side when Oreg is having one of his PTSD-moments.
  • A repeated gag in the works of Dave Barry. Just as men cannot comprehend why women would buy entirely useless gifts for people they met maybe once, so women will never understand that men do not need to talk at length about their feelings even among friends (since they function at a more basic level).

    Live Action TV 
  • All in the Family: Archie hates showing affection, and is disgusted by Mike and Gloria for doing so.
    Gloria: You know, Daddy, that's the trouble with your whole generation! You're afraid to show affection openly.
    Archie: We ain't afraid the show affection openly! We believe in showing it openly where it belongs, behind closed doors!
  • CSI: NY: The b-plot of season 2's episode, "Grand Murder at Central Station" 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.)
  • 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 other a "quick hug" which involves wrapping their arms around each other for a split second and then looking away. Averted in private, though.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond
    • Frank, though some episodes indicate it's largely an act.
    • In one episode Ray 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.
  • Frasier: In the episode "Breaking the Ice", the trope is deconstructed with Martin. While Frasier and Niles know Martin loves them even though he can't express it, Martin complains that he wants to be able to express it, and his wife Hester used to nag him about showing affection for his sons.
    • In another episode, Frasier expresses his frustration that "we've become a society of huggers." This comes a bit out of left field, as in other episodes he doesn't show the same reluctance to show affection and has complained about his father's inability to say "I love you" to him. Perhaps it was because the man in this case is a coworker he barely knows.
  • 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.
  • Friends: Averted 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.
  • Hawaii Five-0: Averted. 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.
  • Home Improvement: Addressed more than once, 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!
    • 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. It turns out Brad is actually okay with affection, it's just the presentation that's problematic. The Aesop in this episode is about showing affection in a way people are comfortable with... for Brad, it involves his father spending time with him, as well as things like play-fighting and catch. They ultimately agree to use "How 'bout the Lions?" as a code-phrase to use in public.
    • In one episode 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.note  At the same time, Tim is disturbed to hear Brad complimenting him for taking the loss "like a real man" and not crying:
      Brad: You don't let stuff get to you.
      Tim: Stuff gets to me!
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • iCarly: The Father and son talk variant is inverted in an episode. Spencer and his younger sister 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!
  • Merlin:
    • There is a scene where 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.
  • My Name Is Earl: Brothers Earl and Randy, despite being unusually close to each other, are embarrassed by the thought of saying "I love you" to each other.
  • The Office (US):
    • 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.
  • Parks and Recreation: proud he-man Ron Swanson visibly squirms when he is hugged.
  • Scrubs: One subplot of the 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.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Kirk and Spock's complete aversion of this trope 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.
  • 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.
  • That '70s Show: Red and Hyde both hate to express any kind of affection. Hyde actually denies even having feelings.


    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.
    Jon's father: Well, got chores to do.
    Jon: Better go unpack.
    Garfield: A real father-son moment.
    (In one collection of Jim Davis' favorite strips, Davis wrote a caption underneath the strip, stating that several male readers wrote to his saying that's exactly how they interact with their fathers.)

    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. This is also thought to be the reason why men are more likely to become alcoholics, and women more likely to get depression.
  • Another comedian: "The only time a man is allowed to show any emotion is when he is sitting at his dying father's bedside. Only then is he allowed to say 'I love you" and allow a Single Tear (just one!) to fall. But what if he pulls through? I think I'd actually have to kill him 'cause neither of us would be able to stand the embarrassment."

  • 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.
  • Final Fantasy X: Jecht, Tidus' emotionally abusive father, truly did love his son, but was merely bad at showing it. This forms a major part of Tidus' character arc. At one point, the party can find a sphere Jecht left behind in which he tries to give a sentimental message to Tidus, but ultimately gives up:
    Jecht: Remember, you're my son. And... well, uh... never mind. I'm no good at these things.
  • Played with in God of War (PS4). Kratos is The Stoic and has a hard time bonding with his son Atreus but not out of a perceived sense of manhood but rather Kratos is suffering from insecurity and guilt from his traumatic and bloody past. He is so focused on teaching Atreus discipline that he simply neglects showing concern and affection to his son even if the player can see that Kratos genuinely loves Atreus.

    Visual Novel 
  • Discussed in The Freshman. At a party, Manny, an aggressive football player who is heavily implied to be Armoured Closet Gay, is ranting to his teammate Zig about his girlfriend dumping him. When Zig puts a hand on his shoulder, Manny assumes that because Zig is being nice to him and even touching him, he must be gay, so Manny kisses him. Zig is shocked, and Manny tries to pass it off as him being drunk and confused because Zig touched him. Later, when the main character accompanies Zig to help him talk to Manny about the incident, Zig mentions that he's upset with Manny, but also partly understands where he's coming from. He talks about how society gives men terrible messages about what it means to be a "real man" (which is sadly Truth in Television), and Manny struggled with the same stuff Zig did before he came out.

    Web Comics 
  • Played for Laughs in Buster Wilde Weerwolf when Hector is slightly disgusted by Buster and Gordon's over-the-top reconciliation after Gordon slapped Buster.
  • Dave and Dirk Strider in Homestuck both attempt to maintain their "cool stoic badass" personas by avoiding any open demonstrations of affection. When Dave finally gives in to his emotions and hugs Dirk, he apologizes repeatedly and calls it "fucked up" (Dirk agrees that it's fucked up, but hugs him back anyway).
  • The Order of the Stick: Referenced when Roy goes fishing with his grandfather in the afterlife, while temporarily dead:
    Horace: This is how men are supposed to relate to their offspring.
    Roy: By participating in a vaguely sports-related activity in which they can have conversations without looking directly at one another?
    Horace: Yeah.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • DuckTales (1987): Zigzagged. Scrooge has his hang-ups with relationships, but it seems to relate less to his being male and more to his troubled past and cynicism. He and Donald (when he appears) have no problem with hugging the boys. Duckworth is very stoic, but, again, one could attribute that to other factors: he's British. Huey, Dewey, and Louie don't seem to have a problem with platonic affection, though, being preteen boys, they sometimes fall into thinking Girls Have Cooties. Launchpad McQuack, Scrooge's muscular, daring (if accident-prone) pilot shows unabashed affection towards everyone.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "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 "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*
  • Hank Hill from King of the Hill is an extreme case. Growing up with an emotionally abusive father who yelled at him any time he showed emotion has made him genuinely afraid of emotional confrontation as an adult, to the point that he won't show any more affection to his own mother than a handshake (eagle-eyed viewers will also note that Hank never makes direct eye contact with anyone, as per the show's style guide). Ironically, Hank's greatest fear is that his father will die without ever telling him that he loved him, which is exactly what happens. Because Hank isn't in the room when his father dies, Peggy lies and says that his father gave him some affectionate parting words so Hank could have closure. Hank's three male friends are in similar situations, but nowhere near as extreme.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, a large portion of Freddy's Oblivious to Love status stems from his mistaken belief in this trope and like Hank above, was due to his father, Mayor Jones, though the Mayor is not really Fred's father, he still raised him as such. 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; the two of them embrace in the finale.
    • Sokka, with his obsession with being "manly", starts out as this. He loosens up by Book 2.
    • In the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra, this is slightly rarer due to the absence of non-adult males, but Mako and Bolin have shown at times an affectionate streak (most notably when Mako and Korra broke up for good), and Bolin is a very sensitive and overall touchy-feely person who isn't portrayed as malicious or unmanly.
  • In the Steven Universe episode ''An Indirect Kiss'', Amethyst tries to invoke this on Steven, apparently forgetting that this is Steven.
    Amethyst: Steven, why are you getting so worked up? Why, do you care about me or something?
    Steven: (teary-eyed) Yes!
  • Averted with extreme prejudice in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which has what might be one of the most openly affectionate depictions of the turtles. There are countless times where the brothers hug or say they love each other, and Mikey in particular is a Cuddle Bug who's never razzed for it.