I know exactly what you mean !!! From what I've seen, it is gender based - and no, I'm not here to slam men or demean them.
I've worked with dogs and their owners for a number of years, and without fail the "gender" that I have to encourage to get playful with their dogs is always the men - or rather, the husbands! They just didn't seem to "get it" ... BUT I will say, once they "got it" man oh man, did they have a blast, and you could just the bond strenthen.
With younger boys ... so not an issue! The only issue I ever had with younger boys was getting them to "calm down / slow down" with their "attention." They wanted to wrestle and be all rough and tumble.
I think a lot of is society, and could also depend on the age of the "man". Society is changing, and thankfully men aren't looked down on anymore for showing their emotions.
My great grandfather would be perceived as very cold as he very seldom spoke to anyone, didn't laugh very often, and was seldom engaged with family members. He did however, know each and every one of us by name, and knew all our birthdays.
His son, my grandfather was similar, but a bit more talkative (as long as there wasn't a hockey game on).
My dad was different, and I credit a lot of it to my mom. My mom is very vivacious, and lives every moment in joy. She passed this on to him (a somewhat watered down version of her!) My parents divorced, but they are still friends.
My dad lives upstairs, I live downstairs. When Kyleigh sees my dad, she's a nut - she LOVES my dad. My dad doesn't get "all down and rough" with her, but he loves to see how happy she is to see him, and he always takes time to say hello to her, play with her for a bit. He never shooes her away, and she gets to leave on "her terms" (i.e. when she's done the greeting!)
My dad's brother, who has had dogs his whole life (and a wife who is an ice queen!) NEVER shows affection to his dog the way my dad does, or "other" people. I asked him one time how come he never played with his dog. He looked at me and said, "I'm not a dog, she can play with other dogs, I am her owner." I thought it was sad.
I think the next generation of kids is going to be a real eye-opener (in so many ways LOL). But I really believe that in the next 20-30 years we are going to see some huge changes in what is "manly / womanly" and I really hope that the "emotionless" man is gone for good!!
Marion’s Zoo-Kyleigh, Raylan-cat, Echo-TAG,