Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Guy codes...

Do you ever use the words "I love you?" when you're talking with another guy...

I was listening to a national radio program on Friday where these guys were talking about the "guy code". They were making fun of one of the guys who had just said "I love you" to another guy - and said it on the air just like that. According to their dialog, there is an unwritten "guy code" where certain things just aren't done, such as:

1. Never say "I love you" to another guy, even if you do. Instead, say "Luv ya", or "Love ya, man". Saying "I love you" to another guy just confuses him and makes him feel uncomfortable, no matter how close a friend you are.

2. When you hug another guy, make it quick and jerky - don't linger.

3. If you do hug in a more connecting way with another guy, be sure to hit him in the shoulder or slap him around in some way where he knows that you're just friends and everything's cool.

4. When you go to a movie with a guy, don't sit in the "gay seat". The "gay seat" is that seat that you leave open between the two of you, so it's clear that you're still together sharing a movie, but not in "that" way.

Having lived my whole life as a gay in the "guy world" I am very much aware of these and other "unwritten codes". Having not lived at all in the "gay world" I wonder how many unwritten "gay codes" are out there that I just don't know about. My gaydar is severely out of tune and I just assume that no one I know is gay anyway so why even try to receive a signal.

The radio program dialog got me laughing how seriously these men were taking the "guy code" and how much you must be careful to not violate these rules of conduct. As I think about it, I violate them all the time... I don't worry about the "gay seat". I give affectionate hugs to almost everyone, and especially with my closer friends. And I never say "luv ya, man" because it sounds so goofy, though I've noticed among guys just how much that is said and it really is forbidden socially, culturally, in the buddy-to-buddy code to ever allow the phrase "I love you" to escape your lips... why is that?

I like saying "I love you".

In Italian, (besides being much more fluent in the language of physical touch and affection without such "guy code" limitations of expressing affection among friends), as with other romance languages, there are three basic ways of saying "love": 1) piacere 2)voler bene 3) amare. There are various ranges of intensity within each, but there are precise distinctions of meaning within each range of each word. You can really, really, really "piace" ice cream, but you never "amare" ice cream. You can totally "voler bene" a dear friend and mean a deep abiding love, without getting romantic. And then, you can "amare" your partner, your spouse, the Lord.

I wish there were more distinctions with the word "love" in the English language. I find myself, particularly with dear friends, such as Will, or say a fellow saint in a spiritual connection, or with blogging friends that have become more than friends, that I tend to say "I love you... I hope you understand what I mean". I feel compelled to clarify that feeling of affection and emotion with that added phrase. I guess it means the same as "luv ya, man" and then follow up with a slap on the back of the head.

But, as I listened to the radio guys chatting away, I thought of Tim. We don't use those extra words. We don't use the words "with a different spelling or a subsequent clarification, or a follow-up slap on the head. We just say to each other "I love you!"

I like that. Now that he's moved on to another "love", I am desperately seeking my next friend where I can say with no appendages - "I love you!" Where are you? I need to find you!

I wish we didn't have to have "guy codes" or "gay codes" (whatever they may be - can someone please give me some enlightenment so that I can be a better receiver of these hidden messages I'm obviously missing???). I wish we could just say...



Scot said...

"I wish we could just say..."

Heck, you can. I break all those rules too, both in and out of the gay realm. Actually, I think straight men are much more willing to toss such rules when with their gay friends. There's no need to worry if the gay friend is worried about feeling straight; once you sleep with a dude, you're pretty much set free from such shackles ;-). Or maybe it's just that most of my straight friends aren't worried about being thought of as gay. Either way, I've never got any complaints about my hugs.

"I wish there were more distinctions with the word "love" in the English language."


Anyway, love ya, Man.

Damon said...

You're right it is funny and I've never consciously followed those rules. To me, it's never made a difference.

Luv ya, Man. LOL

Beck said...

Okay, Scot, but you didn't answer my question of the "gay code" equivalents to the "guy code". Meaning, what are the eye signals and head nods and the like that I'm missing...

Not that I'm looking or anything... :)

Beck said...

Damon: There's a guy that I've been friends with for 20 years and he will always say "luv ya, Man" in emails, after our hugs, saying goodbye etc. He can't say anything else. It's funny... and so limiting.

I like the Italian way of not having such restraints in language or in physical space.

Scot said...

"Okay, Scot, but you didn't answer my question of the "gay code" equivalents to the "guy code". Meaning, what are the eye signals and head nods and the like that I'm missing..."

You got me. The closest thing I've got to a code is the picture of my family on my desk, but that's not much in need of a cryptologist :-).

Rainbow bumper stickers? Neck turning at hot guys when there are hot girls around? The super secret handshake that I could only tell you about if you were a 14th level homosexual, or above?

I'll have to think on it, as nothing really comes to mind outside of stereotypes, and those aren't too accurate, particularly in Utah.

MoHoHawaii said...

Gay people will smile and laugh with their friends more often than their straight counterparts. I think humor and affection are a big part of gay code.

MoHoHawaii said...

Can someone please give me some enlightenment so that I can be a better receiver of these hidden messages I'm obviously missing???

The basics are this: you hold eye contact slightly longer than is usual, especially in places where you wouldn't expect much eye contact such as restrooms and parks. If you are both on the same page, there will be mutual recognition of this. Note that this ritual is not about friendship in any way. (Ask Larry Craig how many gay friends he has.) Many of us think that it is an unsavory relic of a previous era. It's dying out in mainstream gay culture.

On the other hand, nonsexual friendship between two gay people is best achieved by coming out. Personal openness is the foundation for the kind of direct, sincere communication found in long-lasting friendships.

However, what you seem to want is romantic friendship, a sexualized connection that is never consummated. I don't have anything against this, except that these relationships are not stable in the long run. You may end up with an unending series of 'special friends', which may be hard for you and the objects of your affection.

Just my $0.02. (You can see why I don't like the closet. Of course, this is just my perspective, and I understand there are practical issues to consider as well.)

Beck said...

MOHOH: My question was more rhetorical than anything else. I was poking fun at the "guy code" concept. I'm not out to be a pick-up artist like Larry Craig! I know you weren't suggesting I was, but that is not up my alley at all... public restrooms are in and out as fast as you can, man!

As for romantic friendships that are non-sexual - yeah, that's been my pattern whether for good or for bad. I know it's not the best, nor should it even be a desire - unfortunately (and fortunately) it's just what it is.

But again - be it clear - the question was rhetorical - or at least, I wanted to know if there really was a secret handshake that I should know about. :)

Silver said...

Interesting post!

My experience is adding "man" or "bud" or some other expression at the end of "I Love You" is definitely a modifier or qualifier which diminishes the depth of the expression. Definitely a "guy code".

In the last year I have formed a few close friendships where we drop the guy code and just say "I Love You". There's definitely more intimacy involved and more reasurance and confidence in the relationship. No back slapping or quick hugs either, heck, just give the man a warm, affectionate hug. Nothing like it! Just have to use discretion who the man is...

Romantic relationships? Okay, why not? Loving a man doesn't diminish the relationship I have with my wife. I think each relationship stands on it's own. I don't see them as competitive with each other, just distinct. Sexual? There is the issue. There needs to be an understanding of context in the relationship. If if turns sexual, it will destroy the relationship with the man and probably the marriage as well.

I guess it's a tough line to walk at times but, so rewarding to be able to express love for another man and not violate the marriage covenant. Our American culture has so many hang ups surrounding this!

I speak Spanish. It's so much more romantic than English. They express love so freely and without embarassment. I've missed that and love their culture for it's romantic values.

My two bits!


Sean said...

Beck, I have to say I LOVED this article and I'm glad you brought it to my attention.

In the past few months I have speaking kinda regularly to a fellow from our sphere. We've gotten in to the habit of telling each other "Love you" or "I love you." It has been most sincere and heartwarming to myself to be able to be frank about my emotions towards him and he to me. Though we do have a relationship and ya, we get to talk about things we arent able to talk about with either our spouces or other straight male friends. It has been a boon to me to have him as my dear companion on this journey.

On another thought, last week my BFF, whom I have spoken of as my Samwise Gamgee in the past (unfortunetly the blog doesnt exist anymore). But Sam came over to my house recently, I have been having a great deal of emotional issues in mylife. anyway to make a long story short...we talked and i cried....typically i dont like to cry in front of guys, simply cuz i try to maintain the "guy code". but i cried. sometimes that is just a great big relief to cry. we ended up in a great guy code broken hug telling each other we loved one anther. what a relief to be able to speak freely in this regard.

now on a completely different tangent and one that Scot brought up regarding the 14th level of Homosexuality.....i just have to say ..... I knew IT! , I knew there was a Secret Agenda by the Pink Mofia!! LOL

all my love


danman said...

hahaha. guy code. there is a website dedicated completely to guy code.