LET’S TALK ABOUT ‘BROMANCE’

“Lovers are temporary. A bromance can last a lifetime.”

Over the past decade, I’ve noticed the way female issues have been thrust to the fore with female reporting in the media. Girls are better achievers at school as I assume they are given more encouragement by their female teachers. With all the opportunities and support now available it is a great time to be a woman in the world’s developed countries. Meanwhile, New Zealand has one of the highest incidents of teen suicide in the world. From my research, most of these kids are boys. In the western world, it appears to me that male issues have been shunted into the shadows. If a guy has the courage to comment on his life threatening thoughts or complains about the unnecessary demands from an autocratic female boss, he is more often than not brushed aside as just a moaner or worse, is labelled a loser.

MY OWN EXPERIENCE

I had a successful career in television for a number of years but I eventually left as the industry became female dominated. I soon found female producers listened more favourably to other females and began to request them to make their programmes for them. There were even women who clearly showed their contempt for their fellow male workers. One in particular was blatantly nasty to me and my male crew members. I’m sure this has been happening in other occupations too.

Men have been called sex addicts and are only interested in sexual encounters. I’m not denying this. The male sexual urge remains throughout a man’s life. The media has been diligent in reporting Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour (and rightly so) but how often do we read about female sexual harassment towards men? I have spoken to guys who had pressure put on them by females to provide ‘personal favours’ in return for a promotion. When the harassment comes from women, the media turns a blind eye. It appears male editors regard reversed sexual harassment a ‘no,no’ to report, probably because they don’t want to fall foul of their female superiors. They also don’t want to appear anti-female. With all this happening in the daily lives of so many men, an increasing number are taking comfort in the company of other men so it’s no surprise to me that over the past decade there has been a noticeable increase in the popularity of ‘bromances’ in the western world. It has long been a fact of life in the Muslim world because free access to female company is limited. Bromance is not about being gay, it’s about being human.

As a body therapist, I have men who come to me for treatment and I’ve been shocked at the number who complain about feeling lonely and aren’t able to communicate with their wives and admit they have not been lovingly touched in months. Despite their attempts to be close, they are discouraged from being too intimate. They add that they don’t dislike their wives they just wish they had someone they could really talk to about the issues that bother them. I’m confident they would not suffer the loneliness they endure if they had close male friends to fill the emotional void in their lives. Male workmates can be a source of friendship but this is not the same as the nurturing intimacy a bromance provides. Bromancers live with their wives but only truly relax when in the company of their male companions.

IT’S NOTHING NEW

Close male friendships have been around for centuries but after two world wars last century men were expected to be brave and strong. ‘Man up’ became the catchphrase and to show any emotion or softness, was frowned upon. That’s when the trouble began and in my opinion this has been partly responsible for the unfortunate rise in teen suicides. Men have been conditioned to hide their female side by not showing, or talking about, their emotions which leads to an unprecedented amount of unhappiness and frustration in the male population. On the other hand, females have been supported in using their masculine side to gain major inroads into previously male dominated jobs and institutions.

Prior to the two world wars, men felt comfortable publically being in close male relationships. Authors wrote about it. Sherlock Holmes had a famous bromance with Dr. Watson as did Robinson Crusoe with Man Friday. Shakespeare gave us Hamlet and Horatio and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn had a bromance with Tom Sawyer. Even way back in ancient history, Homer wrote about a bromance in The Iliad. Archilles and Patroclus were so close that Archilles returned to battle to fight off the despair he felt after his beloved Patroclus was killed. Alexander the Great was so distraught after the death of Hephaestion that he had statues of his dead pal erected in cities across his empire. Even though Alexander was married and apparently had a successful relationship with his wife, he still regarded Hephaestion the most important person in his life and was obviously deeply involved emotionally with him.

Alexander and Hephaestion

BROMANCE TODAY

Why do more straight guys now prefer bromance over romance? Essentially it is the same as a romantic relationship, but generally involves a more fulfilling combination of shared interests, emotional intimacy, and physical tactility. A bromance also doesn’t have the expectations and pressures guys dislike about their female relationships. It is normal for a guy to have a close bond with another, as it is usually due to their similar interests in a wide range of things from sports to travel, entertainment and lifestyle. This is why there have been male only clubs in numerous cities around the world since pre-Victorian times. I have been to these clubs in London and Hong Kong and I felt an atmosphere of peace and warmth when I entered them. This is because members can be themselves as they share drinks and dinners together to discuss issues in their lives and in return, receive guidance with genuine concern. I think this is why there has been such resentment against allowing females to participate in previously male only activities in various organizations such as the armed forces. Introducing the female dynamic changes the way men are expected to behave. They are forced to act in ways that doesn’t necessarily agree with who they really are as sensitive individuals.

Adam White, a lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire did research for the academic journal, Men and Masculinities and the majority of straight guys he interviewed told him their close friendships with their male buddies were less regulated and pressured as well as more emotionally satisfying than relationships with their girlfriends. In a romantic relationship, these men felt they had to be on their best behaviour while in their bromances, they could be their true selves and discuss their worries and vulnerabilities without fear of judgement or drawn-out arguments. “The guys we spoke to were clear to distinguish the difference between friends and a bromance, with a bromance being significantly more important. Essentially they are an equivalent to a romance, with the exception of sex,”

IT’S HEALTHY TOO

As well as the emotional stability a bromance provides, the researchers also discovered other benefits for each guy. Apart from having someone you can feel amazingly comfortable with, having a close male mate improves the mood as well as increasing pain tolerance and sleep quality, while also decreasing the risk of heart attacks and early death.

Hopefully in the near future, before any young guy reaches the decision to take his own life, he will feel comfortable expressing his deepest fears without being judged. Having a close male friendship will, in my opinion, allow him to discuss his issues and allow him to see how special his life is. A girlfriend may be able to help, but only a bromance allows him to truly open up without fear of ridicule or judgement. That to me is the special magic a bromance provides to each partner.

If you want to see bromances in action, Hollywood has featured them in a number of box office hit films. “Oceans 11”, “Lethal Weapon”,“The Hangover” and “Toy Story2” to name just a few.

Ceidrik Heward

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Anne White says:

    My husband and I both read this and it is the opposite to the reality women and men live. Married women spend their lives caring, loving, cherishing and treating their husbands with great kindness. It is they who are being betrayed by men hiding their ‘secret’ lives. Deep down they know something is wrong in their relationship but their husbands haven’t the courage or decency to reveal themselves.

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