Cracking the Guy Code: Deciphering the unspoken rules

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More recently, an episode of the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” saw the character Barney Stinson (played by Neil Patrick Harris) espouse the virtues of the “Bro Code,” a tongue-in-cheek guide to male friendship later turned into a pair of books, primarily penned by show writer Matt Kuhn. Among its do’s-and-don’ts:

Article 8: A Bro never sends a greeting card to another Bro.

Article 44: A Bro never applies sunscreen to another Bro.

Article 52: A Bro is not required to remember another Bro’s birthday, though a phone call every now and then probably wouldn’t kill him.

Probably.

Cracking the Code

Rule No. 30: A hug involves one - and only one - arm.

When Toronto Raptors players Reggie Evans and Leandro Barbosa walked off the court following a victory over the Orlando Magic last spring, they did - at least by Guy Code standards - the unthinkable.

They held hands.

No bro-dacious fist bump.

No supportive, you-might-have-a-torn-ACL arm over the shoulder.

Just … intertwined fingers! The same affectionate gesture, it should be noted, that is totally cool and decidedly non-sexual in many other countries, and also when deployed during meetings between American presidents and Saudi royals.

“Fitting into the code, a piece of it is to assert that we are straight men,” Mr. Greif said. “For my book, we did research with 400 guys. A large percentage let the fear of appearing gay shift the kinds of things they will do with their male friends.”

In part, the Code is rooted in a desire to not send the wrong sexual signals. Article 27: A Bro never removes his shirt in front of other Bros, except at a resort pool or on the beach.

More broadly, the Code is a coping mechanism for male social fears and insecurities.

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