Young men derive more emotional satisfaction from their ‘bromances’ – friendships with other men – than from their romantic relationships with women, according to a small study published in the journal, Men and Masculinities.
The study examined 30 heterosexual, male sophomore students who had a relationship before, or at that time. The group was certainly homogeneous; except for the fact that all participants were heterosexual students, they were all white, except for one man, and followed a sports-related education.
The authors of the study reported that each participant had at least one ‘bromantic’ friend, with whom they shared a boundless friendship, including behavior such as sharing secrets, expressing love, or sleeping in the same bed. 29 out of 30 men said that they had cuddled with their ‘bromantic’ friend.
In general, the students reported that they felt less judged by their good male friends than they did by their girlfriends. In the words of one of the participants, “Tim knows I like listening to Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, but I’m not going to tell my girlfriend that because she would laugh at me. I feel like I need to be more masculine when I’m with her.”
Survey participants also said it was easier to resolve conflicts with their male friends, share their emotions – such as talking after the death of a grandparent – and discuss personal health issues. 28 out of 30 participants said that they would rather discuss personal issues with a male friend than with their lover. “If I found a lump in my testicle, I would rather discuss it with my ‘bromance’, than with my girlfriend,” said one of the students.
But the men also expressed concerns about traditional roles within heterosexual relationships. Some participants indicated that their girlfriends sometimes used sexist or disdainful language and demonstrated an ‘us versus them’ mentality, suggesting a stronger loyalty to their ‘bros’.
The authors of the study even suggested that these changing cultural norms could influence the living situation of the modern man. For example, they would choose to live with a male housemate rather than a girlfriend, delaying relationships that could eventually lead to marriage and family.
“Lovers are temporary,” said one of the participants during his interview. “A bromance can last a lifetime.”