Getting it up for Bromance
The social climate we grow up in encourages friendships. We go to school each day with a set group of people and out of that group we connect with some for whom we hold a greater interest. They become our friends. Of course, we can have friends outside of school. But, for most of us, our school friends become our closest friends because of the cumulative build up of shared experiences. Although neighborhood buddies who can be seen seven days a week also can hold a familiar place in our lives as well as relatives and other people who you interact with on a semi-frequent basis.
Regardless of where you meet and how often you meet it is easier to make friends when you are young because so much of your life revolves around shared activities with these people. We go to classes together, connect on social media and play in the same parks and streets. Proximity , even if it is through technology, helps breed friendship.
As students leave school and enter the market place it becomes harder to maintain friendships. Yes, you may develop work friends, but as you age people live further apart and other activities draw you away from hanging out with each other. Where once it was easy to get a group together now it involves rounds of communication and planning. Most men form very new relationships with other men after school and if they do have new relationships it is often because their partner set them up with another couple and a friendship evolved.
We all know men are not great communicators. We know men do not have the same need to use their friendships to discuss the details of their life. Men do need men for moral support in dealing with women. Men can commiserate with each other and share the lessons they have learned that have helped them improve their own relationships. Men need time away from women so they can focus on the mundane and simple pleasures of belching, farting and being themselves. Men don’t need to be on their best behavior with other men. They don’t worry much about hurting each other’s feelings or making sure to throw in sufficient compliments or get caught looking at another women. Men relax with each other. They don’t have hidden agendas, they aren’t trying to get laid or be good enough to earn some quality time in front of the TV.
For all the support and enjoyment men can offer each other they are not skilled at forming new friendships once they become adults. The difference between buddy films and bromance is that bromance speaks to the issue of how do you become buddies. How do you court another man for the end goal of friendship? Men know how to pursue women, but they don’t know how to go after another guy for the sole purpose of being friends.
It is awkward for a man to reach out to another man just to go get a beer or watch a game or see a movie. If a guy from work called you today and asked if you wanted to hang out over the weekend most men would think he was hitting on them and run the other way.
How do you become friends if the very act of reaching out evokes resistance? Friendships are built on a series of shared experiences. They take time to develop, but they all began at some point when you did not know each other. When men reflect on how their friendships evolved they can’t always remember a starting point. But when men are asked how they met their wife or girlfriend there is always a story. In order for men to be able to develop friendships as they age they need to be able to manage their own homophobia. If a guy asks you out it does not mean he or you is gay. But for most men, this fear is evoked. It may not be rational, but it is real. For gay men when they reach out to other men for friendship that too can easily be mistaken as a sexual advance.
Men can hug each other if their bodies don’t touch too much and they can put their arms around one another as long at they slap the back and not pull the other guy into you. The introduction of bromance into our culture is a welcome addition. Men need to reflect and talk about how to build their male relationships.
As men age they lose friendships and become more isolated. Many men have no close male friends. It is not because they don’t want them, it is just that they don’t know how to take that work relationship and translate it into their personal life. Because in order to do that one man would have to ask another man out. And that is the kind of coming out that is keeping men’s friendships in the back of the closet.