Gay/Straight Advice: Wink, wink, nudge, nudge

A reader e-mailed us for some perspective. Here's her message:
I am female, with a male friend who I've only known for about a year and a half. We've grown very quickly in a year because we were both interns at the same company and had to move to a new city. We both happen to come from the same hometown. Now that the internship is over and we've moved back home, we see each other a lot less but still keep in touch.

For the past 6 months, I've noticed that my friend will sometimes physically touch me at times when we're hanging out, i.e.:
• We were taking a walk at a park and to dodge a swarm of insects he put his hands on my shoulders and moved to my other side.
• He'll pat my head.
• He'll nudge or lightly kick my foot in a theatre or something.
• He usually nudges me with his shoulder if we happen to pass by in public.

One major note: my male friend is gay. He usually avoids touching me or even standing too close to me, so while the above might seem trivial, they were very noticeable changes.

I suppose my question then is... why the change? Does he just feel more comfortable around me? I highly doubt he's bi and has those sorts of feelings towards me, plus I already have a boyfriend. I don't mind the small prods and bumps at all; he's my only gay friend and I'm just curious as to what may be going through his head. :)

Thanks in advance for your input!

Signed: Huh?

GAY GUY RESPONDS: What goes through a gay guy's head? Oh, if this gay guy only knew... My guess about your buddy and his blasts of being tactile: Mostly, it doesn't mean a thing about your friendship, so don't read anything into it. Your friend obviously feels comfortable with you, likes your attention, and might be tactile in general. We all like feeling connected and he likes that physical thread between you.

He's affectionate, he's playful, he's flirtatious. He wants your attention, but in a way that doesn't sound completely healthy to me. It feels like he's practicing his flirting skills in a safe environment. Doesn't make him a bad guy.

I'm affectionate with my friends . . . up to a point. I'm good for a meaningful hug and the basic hello/goodbye hug, but that's it. No head pats, no foot nudges.

STRAIGHT GUY RESPONDS: Good call, GG. This guy is just getting comfortable and looking for attention. Seems pretty harmless. I think you have a little more freedom to flirt with our female friends than I do. Just a little, mostly with words.

I think Huh's friend is just letting loose because there's no sexual tension for him. I can't imagine a straight guy playing footsie if he didn't think (or hope) it would lead to bigger and better things.

Gay or straight, this guy's not boyfriend material because -- when confronted with the "swarm" -- he quickly maneuvered to put her between the bugs and him. Chivalry is dead.

But, Huh, let me ask you this. Why are you so worked up about it? Just wondering if maybe YOU wish things could be different. You say you have a boyfriend, but you've grown pretty intimate with this other guy over the last year, too. And I'm not talking about the hallway shoulder bumps. But walks in the park? Theater tickets? C'mon.

There's emotional intimacy and there's physical intimacy. Don't marry that boyfriend unless he gives you both.


Straight in Upstate said...

I'm interested that neither of you voted "bi-curious" or even "bi-wishful thinking." Is Huh his only female friend? If he has others, does he exhibit similar behavior? Not to stir things up, Huh, or create expectations (if you were so inclined), just curious that SG/GG came to the same conclusion.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

You two should be therapists. It's almost eerie how well you do this stuff.

kathryn said...

I am also curious about Huh's response to this armchair, renegade therapy, Guys. GG: I'd like to think that you'd feel comfortable enough to pat my head and say, "Good girl". The shoulder nudging is just too intimate to not send up red flags, I think.
But maybe it's just me.

Dorn said...

I got that he was just a tad childish in his flirtatious nudges in the friendship. Kinda like Lady and the Tramp. But he knew enough to keep it strictly professional when in the work environment. I just think he really feels close to Huh.

Anonymous said...

To me it sounds like simple "sibling contact". Just how two younger straight guys will occasionally "assault" each other with nuggies (is that how you spell it?) or how straight females will occasionally share a blanket during a night in watching a movie. Just how siblings tend to wrestle, or even just pccasionally hug each other (some more than others), i think his touchy-ness is simply a sign that he now feels you two have become sorta like siblings.

Gay Guy said...


Just not getting a "bi-curious" vibe from Huh's pal. Neither does "Huh," or so she says.

I'm just working from my own experience bank. I've only played footsy, etc., under two situations: Hoping something's going to happen, knowing that it never will (and not wanting it to happen). The latter hardly ever happens -- not just how I work. But, as SG says, I am allowed to engage in a mild amount of flirting with women, as long as everyone understands the playing field.

SG is spot-on: What matters is whether it matters to Huh. If it's just a psychological mystery, that's fine; if it's really tugging her and creating a sense of loss, that's a ringing phone that she needs to answer.


Ricardo Jacome said...

Very well said from both, GG and SG. Huh's friend just sounds like the average gay guy friend.

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