This recent study which was published in “Men and Masculinities,” found that men are more emotionally satisfied by the close relationships they have with other men than they are with the romantic relationships they have or had with their partners.
Although “bromance” is a relatively new term, the concept is nothing new as there are several examples in history of bromances. This includes George Washington who would write affectionately to other men and Abraham Lincoln who shared his bed with another man for a few years.
The acceptability of close male-male relationships waned in the later part of the 20th century primarily because of the definition of masculinity changes and because there were more homophobic mindsets emerging during that time. However, now that bromances have become much more acceptable again, more men are openly engaging in them.
Although the study that was done was admittedly small as it only involved 30 white heterosexual males in college with sport-related majors, it certainly shines some light on the reasons as to why men find their bromances more satisfying than their romances.
The bromances that these young men reported having involved few relationship boundaries, with these men sharing secrets, sharing a bed on occasion, expressing their love for each other, and even cuddling with their “bro.” Every male in the study had at least one “bro” with which they shared this level of intimacy.
Here are several of the reasons these men gave as to why they valued their bromance above their heterosexual relationships:
“Bros” Don’t Judge
Around their girlfriends and other female friends, men feel the need to be more masculine which causes them to hide anything that may come off as being feminine, such as being a fan of Taylor Swift’s music. However, since “bros” are much more accepting of these interests, men tend to feel safer and able to be more open.
Easier to Overcome Conflicts
Perhaps because men know how other men think, they find it easier to resolve conflicts that they’re having with their “bro” compared to when in a battle with a woman. Women also tend to be more emotional in an argument which can make it difficult for men to resolve conflicts with them as they don’t feel comfortable sharing their own emotions.
More Comfortable Sharing Personal Problems
For many of the men in the study, they felt more comfortable sharing their problems with their “bros” such as when a family member died or when they had a medical problem. This could likely go back to feeling like other men are less likely to judge their feelings of grief or sorrow compared to women.
The primary difference between a bromance and a heterosexual romance is that it requires a personality compatibility and an emotional connection whereas a romance needs to have sexual attraction and a personality compatibility. For many men, a deep emotional connection with a woman was not necessary.
What does this mean for society as a whole?
Although the researchers believe that this shift in men finding emotional intimacy with other men more than with women is a step forward for men, they also think that it’s a double-edged sword because it can make a man less likely to seek out a long-term relationship and marriage with a woman.
The other problem that researchers found is that many of the men in the study drew a distinct line between men and women, and put their “bros” before the women in their lives, some going as far as using sexist and demeaning language when talking about women.
While having lifetime friendships with other men that they can reach that level of emotional intimacy with can certainly be advantageous to men, it could also make things more difficult for women who are looking for that level of intimacy with a man.
Since this study was so narrow, there is certainly much more research that needs to be done to cover other demographics and to get a better understanding of male-male relationships. However, there can still be a lot learned from the results of this study about the way society as a whole may be moving.
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About the Author: Originally from Michigan, Melody now enjoys working as a freelance writer from her home in Nicaragua, which she shares with her amazing husband and their crazy cat that was raised on goat’s milk from the time her mother abandoned her at just ten days old. They’re excited to be expecting their first baby, who they thought was a girl, were told was a boy, and then was told was a girl. She also recently finished her first novel and is working on making a cat coloring book.