I’m not someone who spends a lot of time telling people about my feelings—although certain family members are usually well aware when I’m pissed off. But you know who generally spends even less time talking about their feelings than me? Men.
Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t men out there who openly share their thoughts and emotions with the people they’re close to. But most don’t, at least not often and, usually, not easily. I’ve read some works that suggest that this state of affairs is tied with our society’s views on masculinity: that a real man does, not feels; that manly men should be tough and stoic and bullet-biting and up-sucking (hey, that’s a phrase, right?). Childhood socialization undoubtedly plays a part: girls tend to play games that involve sharing and cooperative interaction, whereas boys are encouraged to play games that involve physical action and competition. Other factors may be involved as well.
Whatever the causes, in my experience few men—gay or straight—talk about their feelings very much, whether to women or to one another. When I read gay romances, one thing that never fails to pull me out of a story is when the two guys sit down (or lie down) and have a long, deep, carefully thought out discussion of how they feel. These scenes just ring false most of the time, especially when the characters are generally macho or taciturn types to begin with.
For example, I just cannot see the protagonists in my novel Good Boneshaving this kind of talk, at least not until their relationship is very well established. Neither of them is especially chatty, Dylan’s used to hiding things about himself and unused to intimate company, and Chris has some pretty major self-esteem and abandonment issues. When I was writing Good Bones, there were plenty of times I wished I could tie Dylan and Chris to chairs and not let them go until they were completely open and honest with another. I bet Kay would gladly tie them up for me. Ditto with Miner and Ennek in the Praesidium trilogy.
Instead, my characters and others have to show their feelings in more subtle ways. When Chris cooks dinner for the two of them, or when Dylan in wolf form pisses around Chris’s house, that says something about how they feel about one another. I think there are some really excellent authors who can convey a character’s emotions and thoughts with a good description of a body movement. Sometimes even what the characters don’t say can be very telling.
What do you think? Am I on the right track with this or totally off?