Male friendships have evolved massively over the years.
Of course, they have existed since the beginning of mankind, but it’s not until recently that they became important and talked about.
Over the last couple of decades, male friendships have become more intimate. And not just that – people, in general, have become more accepting of close male relationships.
Homophobia has obviously receded, making people more open-minded and understanding towards others. People have also stopped being opposed to homosexuality.
Besides that, the stereotype that a man has to be ‘tough’ and ‘never cry’ is old news. Nowadays, more and more men are proud to show their emotions and be intimate with the people in their lives.
This brings us to a recent study published by Men and Masculinities magazine in 2017. This study shows that men actually enjoy and appreciate the relationship with their mates (a.k.a. bromance) more than any other relationship in their lives. This includes any romantic heterosexual relationship, too.
The researchers interviewed 30 British undergrads. The participants talked about their bromances and how they compare to their romantic relationships.
Most of the participants said that they had a better relationship with their mates than with their girlfriends.
Why is that, though?
Many said that they felt judged by their girlfriends. With their male friends, however, they felt like they could fully relax and be themselves. And not just that – they feel like they have to act tough around their girlfriends, whereas with mates they can express real emotions. In their bromantic relationship, they feel safe and accepted.
The participants were also asked who they would turn to in an emotional situation (for example, the death of a loved one). They often said that they’d prefer to discuss it with their male friends.
Robert Sternberg, one of the most renowned psychologists, defines relationships with his Triangular Theory of Love.
He says that there are 3 main components of any relationship, male or female:
Intimacy refers to how close two people are, how much they share with each other, how much time they spend together, etc.
Passion refers to mutual sexual attraction.
Commitment is how loyal two people are to each other.
Sternberg also believed that these 3 components combine to create 7 different types of love, one of them being consummate love, true love which contains all 3 components.
This theory is obviously outdated.
Many of today’s experts critique it, and for a good reason.
Here is why Sternberg’s theory no longer applies:
First of all, the theory defines love very roughly and oversimplifies it. Sternberg states that real love can only occur between a man and a woman. Also, it states that it can never be better than a relationship between two men. Besides that, it clearly pays too much attention to the sexual aspect of love.
Still, the basis of the theory stands. A relationship between two people has to have certain components in order to be successful.
Bromance has intimacy and commitment. Other than that, it has an even more important element that some romantic relationships lack – likeness. Bromance is essentially two similar people who share interests and like to spend time together doing things they both love. Romance is just that, but with the added element of passion, right?
Well, that’s how it should be, according to Sternberg’s theory.
However, it’s never that simple. Oftentimes, romantic relationships contain only the element of passion and lack intimacy or commitment. Unfortunately, for a number of men and women, that is the idea of a romantic relationship.
So, it’s no wonder men find more comfort in their bromances. They are essentially perfect.
It’s just two people who love each other, care for each other and willingly do things together, without any strings attached.