July 24, 2011
A Fine Bromance
The modern nature and circumstances of bromance are what separate it from more general homosocial practices and historic romantic friendships. Aristotle’s classical description of friendship is often taken to be the prototype of the bromance. He wrote around 300 BC, “It is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends’ sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality.” There are numerous examples of famous intense male friendships throughout most of Western history, and such relationships were likewise common. It has been posited that in the late 19th century, Freudianism and the emergence of visible homosexuality directed heterosexual men to avoid expressions of intense affection.
Research into friendship and masculinity has found that recent generations of men raised by feminist mothers in the 1970s are more emotionally open and more expressive. There is also less concern among men at the notion of being identified as gay and so men are more comfortable exploring deeper friendships with other men. Research done in the United States suggests that the trend of rejecting “traditional views of masculinity” is most prevalent amongst men of Anglo-Saxon descent and lowest in those of African descent, with those of Hispanic descent falling in between. Furthermore, it was found that men who strongly endorse “traditional views of masculinity” are more prone to alexithymia (a difficulty to understand or identify with emotions).
Another factor believed to influence bromance is that men are marrying later, if at all. According to the 2010 US Census, the average age of a man’s first marriage is 28, up from 23 in 1960. It was also found that men with more education are waiting until their 30s before getting married.
Friendships among men are often primarily based on shared activities, This can include playing video games, shopping, watching movies, fishing, camping, and other sporting activities, gambling or social drinking. Emotional sharing (which is common of women’s friendships) is another such activity.
It is not uncommon for people in a homosocial friendship to be physically affectionate with each other, not implying sexual bonding or desire. Hugging, piggybacking, shoulder leaning or teasing are all common features of homosocial relationships, as are frank discussions about sexuality, life, and health. Researchers believe that the physical aspect of such friendships may actually be an important socializing tool, pointing out that people with less physical contact in their lives can be less socially confident and emotionally stable.
Many of us have probably had a bromantic relationship, especially if we have been good friends with a straight guy who is secure enough in his masculinity not to be threatened by your homosexuality. One of my best friends and I have this type of relationship. We kid each other and joke with each other and are very close, yet he is straight and I am gay. Yes, I do have a crush on him, but over the years it has turned into more of a man crush, than a gay/straight crush (you know that type of relationship where we fall for the straight guy that we can’t have).
PS My nerves are a bit on edge today, and I expect it to be even worse for the next several days. I have a very important job interview tomorrow, and I think I am as prepared for it as I can be (but you never know how these things will go). I hope everything goes well. I think that this job would be a good career move for me. I hope you guys will wish me luck and send your prayers/positive energy my way. Thanks in advance.