Is The Lack of Platonic Affection Among Men Contributing To Our Violent Culture?

Click to see a photographic history of male affection

Click to see a photographic history of male affection

I was recently asked by to comment on the popularity of the Bromance movies that dominate the comedy genre in our American films, and as usual, my mind kept on unwinding why it was so popular until I landed on a feeling I often get when I hit a genuine nerve, one we need to take a look at.  What dawned on me is that part of what is common in Bromances is male affection.  Guys hug each other (not the pat on the back sports kind), kiss each other, sleep in the same bed, openly discuss vulnerabilities.  Now, as a woman, this is all just normal, natural and non sexual behavior in this context.  I couldn’t imagine a life where I didn’t regularly experience these kinds of affection with other women, and with men who are my friends.  For purposes of this post, my use of the word “affection” here will be referring to the non sexual kind.

So as my mind is wont to do, it ran down that road paved by lack of affection among straight men in our culture.  Gay men have no problem with non sexual male-to-male affection, so for purposes of this post, I am also referring only to heterosexual men.

Touch is vital to human life.  Care and nurturing are not exclusively the domain of women.  Babies who are touched regularly in the neonatal units in hospitals thrive, grow and gain weight more quickly than those that aren’t.  Affection, primarily touch, is as essential to our lives as human beings as the air we breathe, yet men in our culture are almost entirely deprived of experiencing it with each other, for fear of being labeled gay.

Little boys naturally express affection towards everyone, just as little girls do.  They hug, they kiss, they cuddle.  It’s not a gender thing.  It’s a human being thing. It’s natural, normal and not judged.   At a certain age, usually around the time boys go to school, so as early as kindergarten or sooner, the social programming begins that tells boys to suck it up when they cry instead of being comforted by the same hug offered to little girls when they cry.  “Be a man,”  they’re often told, or “be tough,” teaches boys quickly that in order to be loved and accepted, and to be separated from the girls and considered a boy, that they should not express their feelings or desire to be comforted.  Anger of course is the only socially accepted emotion given to males.  All the rest belong to us.  I often say that women get all the emotions, except anger, and men get none but anger.  All of this containment of natural desires for affection is happening gradually over the development of a boy’s life into manhood.  There’s little conscious awareness for most, if any, that they are being forced to abandon a basic human need and desire, until one day that boy wakes up in what I call the Man Box.  I’ve often said that we women know we live in society’s box, but we are aware that we are in one.  Men, I feel live in one, and it’s invisible to most.

That box forces men to conform to false notions of what it means to be a man, as our society defines it, and forces men to exhibit behaviors, and not exhibit others, that also define what a man is.  It also determines whether other men in the box will respect you.   This box in my view deeply affects the emotional interiors of men.   So much of these societal dictates are borne of homophobia.  I’m sure most guys reading this can think of a time in their childhood, and all throughout, where if they cried, or sought comfort in affection, they were called any of the many homophobic names that little boys who are sensitive (or simply normal, in my view) often are.

Boys grow up, as do girls, as do all human beings, learning from what they see and hear.  I often speak to mothers about this in modeling the kind of woman they’d like to see their girls become, as what they see you do and how they hear you speak, ultimately informs who they become.  This is true for boys whose ideas around masculinity and how being a man is defined.  These modeling behaviors will ultimately determine this Man Box for him.  It will determine how he feels he needs to behave in order to be accepted by all the other men in the box.

So I followed the trail of my mind to the next thought, which was that women are far less violent than men as a generally accepted belief, and much is attributed of course to the prevalence of testosterone in men as the ultimate agitator of undesirable behavior, but I had another interesting thought.  What if the fact that men are deprived of normal affection causes a backlash inside them?  After all, it’s the repression of expression.  A withhold of care and nurturing that we all need. What if it’s a kind of male PMS?  I often describe mainstream PMS (I have my own definition) as the repression of expression, and right before our periods, before the actual bleeding, that repression backs up into rage if a woman hasn’t been allowing a natural expression of ALL her emotions throughout the month.  For most women, it’s anger.  Remember, that’s the one we don’t get.

What if all this repression of the need and desire for non sexual touch, affection, hugs, intimacy ultimately backs up and contributes to the kind of rage that we are seeing so prevalent in our men these days; played out in gun violence and sexual violence against women and children?  What if men were not chastised, criticized, belittled, judged for wanting and needing and expressing affection?  What if a simple thing like natural affection between men, and non sexual affection between men and women were a key to tempering the violence in our current culture?

Here’s another thought that occurred to me as I kept meandering down this road, could lack of platonic affection also cause men to sexualize what is in reality not sexual?  When the need for affection is unconsciously  mixed with the need for sex,  can we distinguish which we are actually craving?  It’s not necessarily always both simultaneously.   Women can easily do this, because we express and receive platonic affection constantly in our lives.  We know what it is to just need a hug, or to cuddle for comfort.  We can separate affection from sex.  But for men in this culture, there is a Pavlovian response that has forced them to live with the equation that touch/affection = sex.  And it deprives men of this nurturing that is so essential to us all, a nurturing that began to decline from the first time a crying boy is told to be a man.  This tendency to equate touch with sex is also a concept that women have come to believe.  The idea that “if he’s touching me, he must want sex,” because we aren’t taught that men can JUST want the affection.  And the notion that men can only want sex from touching is one of the biggest societal mindfucks perpetrated on them.  Men in relationships understand this well.  They do know that there are times they want affection, to cuddle, and don’t want to have sex.  Sometimes they’re tired and don’t feel like “performing.”  And men who have children understand this as well.  The desire to love, touch, nurture your children is innate.  And that’s my point.  Men need and want affection, and not just from women.  Men need to feel comfortable wanting, giving and receiving platonic affection.

I haven’t done this research, and if anyone has and would like to share it with me, I would be grateful, but I wonder in cultures where men are “allowed” their affection with other men, if there is a lower rate of violence.  I have traveled the world and everywhere I have been, I see hugging, kissing, hand holding, and walking arm and arm between men.  But almost not at all here in America.  Doesn’t it make sense that this could be part of why men are imploding and exploding all around us?

As I often like to do, I will leave you with these questions to ponder.  I have discovered in my own life that the questions are often more important than the answers, as they lead us to take action, to understand, to learn, to grow and to share.  To all you men reading this, please let yourself out of the Man Box if you are in it.  Let yourself reclaim a powerful, beautiful part of your masculinity and your humanity.  Don’t let other men’s or society’s or women’s opinions of you dictate how you live your life, how you express yourself, how you love and share your heart.  And ladies, stop participating in shoving them into the Man Box.  When we endorse society’s beliefs about platonic affection from men to men or to us, we place a lock on that box and invite more violence into our own lives as a result of participating in their repression.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially from you men.

With love and Blessings,

Gina Cloud



8 thoughts on “Is The Lack of Platonic Affection Among Men Contributing To Our Violent Culture?

  1. I don’t think the level of male-to-male affection is really the issue. The real issue is in the balance of masculine and feminine energies.

    Affection-wise, the masculine is like an oak tree while the feminine is like water. Oak trees don’t necessarily mix very well with each other and need more space. Water mixes and flows very fluidly. That’s just the nature of things. However, we have both polarities within each one of us.

    The masculine is your ability to create and make things happen. The feminine is your connection to the spiritual source. As a society, we have become hugely disconnected (both men and women) from femininity, from the spiritual source, and that leaves a feeling of emptiness and separation that leads to pain, frustrations and violence. Period.

    So it’s not necessarily about having more external display of affection between men (which gay men do). It’s about reintegrating that feminine energy into our lives, for both men and women.


  2. I love the distinction you made about Men desiring affection and intimacy that is non sexual as they enjoy with their children and how that translates to lovers and friends. Really beautiful Gina. Thank you ❤


  3. Awesome post, Jihna! ;-P

    I personally get very uncomfortable with affectionate contact with other males. I think a lot of that is my specific past, and partially as a result of that fear of judgement and ridicule for expressing that. Now that i feel it, i have a hard time  separating platonic touch from sexual touch.- with both sexes. 

    I was thinking that prostitution being legal where both men and women can go and have a deeply connected, loving, touching, kissing experience could help these lonely and frustrated people a lot.  Have a chain of places where there are rules for how the client and worker treat each other- where the main idea is to share love.

    If u listen/read the words of the sb shooter, the guy is desperate for affection.  If he had a pro woman with some psych/spiritual training to release the pressure, we might not have the same level of violence. 

    I think a lot of men don’t even realize the emotional ‘release’ (giving and receiving loving affection) they need. I imagine many of them think the ‘having’ of the woman is all they want. 

    I don’t know if u can get behind prostitution, but if woman/men were to do it coming from a foundation of service, it could be a great addition to society imho. 

    Otherwise, teaching kids exercises in sharing non sexual affection at a young age would also probably assist as well if u could get it implemented on a wide enough scale. Also, i can imagine the outrage of homophobic parents, “you’re teaching my son to hug other boys?!”

    Thought/feeling provoking blog. Thanks for sharing!


  4. Wow, Gina, you truly understand what is wrong with America’s idea of how relationships are to be between two people. I have done the research, and from what many other people are also saying, what you say in your article is on point! I’m always looking through the internet for people who understand what I understand, and that is that I, along with millions of other men are suffering greatly from deprivation of love and affection from both men and women (mainly other males).

    Aside from homophobia, pride is the other cause for the males’ lack of receiving from-and freedom to give affection to those around them. At the age of two years old I noticed in our cartoons that the men drooled and got googly-eyed at attractive women in the cartoons. And also that other men were to be beaten up badly for having the same feelings for the same girl. How selfish. The men were constantly fighting and hating each other over a woman as though they had no use for each other. And most of the time, the women had no interest in the men who were fighting over them! Unless of course the man bought her a huge diamond ring. And as I grew up, many people seemed to feel that this selfish mindset was what men where supposed to have. That nobody wants a male/man. That we are selfish and are to only GET for ourselves. That this mindset is disliked by everyone (including other men), but expected to be had by a man, because if he didn’t have it, he wouldn’t be a man. That you are less than if you do not make yourself dominant to everyone around you. That we as men don’t desire affection as we get over the age of whatever. That men only want sex from women, not a relationship, and the only way to keep a woman and to get sex from her, is to buy her everything she could ever want and that if you can do this, your a man. That was what I picked up from the cartoons I saw at TWO freaking years old (I have a very good memory for things like this). Many men have been convinced that they themselves do not desire affection from other men. That is why, if you ask them, they tell you that “I could never appreciate a platonic kiss on the cheek by another dude! I only kiss girls! cause I’m a dude!”

    I have, however, been blessed to have been kissed on the head, gently held with his arms around me, and told ‘I love you’ (all platonicly) by another guy during my life. I can tell you it is one of thee most nicest, appreciated, and most cherished feelings I have ever experienced in my entire life. It is up there with the equally required kisses, hugs, and love given from a parent to their child in order for that child to be truly happy and healthy (in general). And the times I had given some form of platonic affection to my friends, I could always see that they greatly appreciated that love from me. They would always be trying to give it back to me too! Trying to sit next to me at a table at mealtime, wanting to be on my team when playing sports ect. And all of this only made for a healthy relationship. It was through the bad comments and put-downs of others aimed at our affection sharing that cause my platonicly affectionate relationships to end with my guy friends.

    later in my life though, I have said and done many hurtful things to my guy friends in recoil of them showing and giving me platonic love and affection, for fear of being labeled gay by others around me who could be watching. I regret all of those mean things iv’e done so much! And now I’m suffering greatly because of it! Mostly because I see the hurt and pain i’ve cause those guy friends of mine after I pushed them away.

    There is so much more that I have to say, but I’m not that good at explaining my thoughts. So, I will leave you with this.

    The world would be a much much better place if the platonic love between humans was shown the way it is supposed to be shown and given to all! There would be much less wars in the world and so much less pain, suffering, strife, and hate.

    Only a later time, that is coming, will fix all of the problems in the world.

    Thank you Gina!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s