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dating coach for smart, strong, successful women Evan Marc Katz
Dear Evan,

There is this guy whom I like. Mark seems as though he is a decent person. However, there is something very curious about him. He can be very expressive, and well, that is amazing (for a Marlboro-type Man). Of course, he will go right back into his shell and be extremely quiet, but in those moments that he speaks his mind, it’s usually very powerful and I am often times stunned (in a good way).

Anyway, Mark and this other guy, Brandon, have this interesting exchange about how they will be a couple one day. I came across it because Mark, Brandon and I are on the same online forum. I just joined the forum a few months ago, but apparently, this whole dialogue about being a couple was started by Brandon a few years ago.

Mark does not seem gay. I do not know if he is bisexual, and now that I think about it, I think it’s high time I asked. I am not sure whether I would have a problem with that, per se. It does not appear that Mark and Brandon are in a relationship. I must say that they are very playful and the dialogue that occurs between them is interesting to watch. It really is something else. From what I have seen on the forum, Brandon will lay it on THICK, but Mark does not reciprocate those feelings. Brandon’s comments usually get nothing more than a “you’re too much” or something like that. It comes off as an unrequited love sort of thing.

If Mark isn’t gay, he’s certainly in line to star in “I Love You, Man II: Laying it On THICK”.

I asked Mark about it and he did not hide in any way about who Brandon is. Surprisingly, he was very open. He told me that he doesn’t go around saying guys are cute, but that he thinks that Brandon is cute and I would actually have to agree with his opinion. I thought Brandon was a female from his photo.

What gets me is that if Mark is not gay/bisexual, then why would he continue that whole dialogue? They’re friends? It boosts his ego/confidence that much? Is he that bored? Is he that nice that he doesn’t want to hurt Brandon’s feelings? Do I applaud Mark for not being homophobic or is what’s happening going way too far? Before I knew about this situation, Mark said he wants to be with me, but I am not sure I should take him seriously and am a bit hesitant now.

I do not know what to think. Is it a big deal? I am extremely puzzled. Mark  and I are pretty much together already, so I think I will just watch the situation and keep my eyes open — wide open.

Any thoughts that you may have will be a great help. Thank you for your time!

Aki

If Mark isn’t gay, he’s certainly in line to star in “I Love You, Man II: Laying it On THICK”.

Hey, I should know about such things.

Once upon a time, back in college, it was suggested that I might be gay. Except it was suggested multiple times, by total strangers, including one of the leaders of my university’s Gay/Lesbian Association, who, apparently had a crush on me.

Embarrassingly known as a heterosexual player at the time, I remember asking my favorite gay professor why this kept happening to me. He said, in so many words:

“You dress well. You’re articulate. You’re cute. You look men in the eye when they talk. You know how to communicate about your feelings. You’re not homophobic. And since gay-dar is an imperfect science, all gay men can do is pick up on these traditional clues and take an educated guess. Sometimes we guess wrong. Frankly, I think you should take it as a compliment.”

And, ever since then, I have. Then again, I never declared in a public forum that I was going to be part of a “couple” with my best guy friend. That’s either very weird, or very homosexual.

While most men can acknowledge that another guy is attractive, it’ll generally be under the guise of “Wow. That dude’s got serious guns,” not, “Brandon’s cute and one day, he will be mine”.

So let’s dissect this peculiar latent bro-mance.

First, guys DO like to make gay jokes. But most of them are straight, and they’re usually doing it in a derogatory manner. Being gay is one of the most popular insults from the sub-100 IQ and homophobic set. This doesn’t at all describe what’s going on between Mark and Brandon.

Second, close guy friends CAN make jokes about being a couple — but it’s usually done in a self-deprecating way. I used to call my former roommate “my wife”. After all, we lived together, worked together, and shared an apartment for 9 consecutive years. After another bad dating stretch with toxic LA women, I might joke that it would be easier to just marry my best guy friend. I was kidding. I suppose if you wanted to read into it, you probably could, but, to a casual observer, these jokes were made without intent.

But what makes your situation unique and compelling, Aki, is that this doesn’t sound like a joke.

Societal conventions have taught us that the role of women friends is to support other women friends — even to the point of disingenuousness. “No, you don’t look fat in those jeans!”, “He’s a total jerk. He doesn’t know what he’s missing!” “Have you lost weight? Your figure looks amazing in that dress!”

Men, on the other hand, exist to belittle each other. Insults ARE their bonding mechanism. As a result, a guy is more likely to be called fat, bald, stupid, lame and gay than he is to be called “cute” by his best friends. While most men can acknowledge that another guy is attractive, it’ll generally be under the guise of “Wow. That dude’s got serious guns,” not, “Brandon’s cute and one day, he will be mine”.

Thankfully, Aki, this dynamic makes your job really simple.

If you’re really “with” Mark, then he’ll start acting like your boyfriend — calling you consistently and trying to get into your pants every chance he gets. If he doesn’t do this, it doesn’t matter whether Mark is gay.

He’s just not that into you.

Whether he’s into Brandon or Britney doesn’t really make a difference.