Hey Guys! What’s With All the Bromance?

Your man is smitten and spends every minute he can with the object of his affection. Trouble is, it’s not you, says Martin Robinson. Meet your new love rival…

When your man asked if his best friend could join you for dinner, you didn’t really mind – you thought it might be fun for a change. At no point did you think you’d be the gooseberry, but here you are being largely ignored, as your man hangs on his buddy’s every word, agreeing with all his opinions and finding everything he does hilarious. His best friend is upstaging you simply by sticking two breadsticks in his upper lip and pretending to be a walrus.

Welcome to the bromance. Largely, social progressions are a good thing, and modern men are open, communicative and affectionate with the women they love. The problem is that now men are also increasingly open, communicative and yes, even affectionate, with their male friends. And when it comes to his best friend, well, it can end up being such a close relationship that you start to feel jilted.

I myself have been in a bromance. In fact, I’ve happily been in one for five years now. He came into my life when he moved into a house-share I was in, and after discovering shared interests in sitcoms, music and girls (this is important: bromances are platonic, and a shared interest in the opposite sex is essential), we realised we’d met a long-term partner. Over time we’ve become closer and can even say we love each other, albeit after many drinks. However, when I got a girlfriend two years ago, trouble started. My pal became jealous and sometimes complained about her. It’s been hard work pleasing both. My girlfriend even once said to me, ‘You clearly love him more than me.’ And I’m not the only one having these problems.

Bromances are everywhere. Ant and Dec, Horne and Corden, Pitt and Clooney… these guys touch and hug and aren’t afraid to let the world know what they think of each other. There are now even bromantic comedies – films usually starring Seth Rogen or Vince Vaughn, which are aimed at men and focus on male friendships (like the recent mega-hit, I Love You, Man).

But bromance can be a huge problem for women. Suddenly your man is not only getting his boozy, sporty needs taken care of by his best friend, he’s also getting many of his emotional needs looked after, too. So where does that leave you? Increasingly isolated from him, or feeling that you’re not longer a couple, but a trio.

‘Sometimes, it does feel like I’m going out with two people,’ admits Jennifer, a 32-year-old PR who’s been dating James and (it feels like) his best friend, Nick, for three years. ‘I often feel I have to compete against Nick for James’s time. They jog together, go to the cinema, go to the pub. Sometimes I think he’s more in love with Nick than with me.’ James, in contrast, doesn’t believe it’s a problem: ‘We’re just normal mates. It’s a completely different thing – he’s my best friend, Jen’s my girlfriend, it’s not like he’s competing with her.’ Nick, for his part, just sees it as changing times: ‘I’d definitely say we’re in a bromance! We’re closer than my dad was with his mates, but that’s a good thing. James has been there with me through tough times.’

Dr Colin Gill, a chartered psychologist, believes that bromances show how men are improving in their social skills. ‘Previously they haven’t been able to distinguish between platonic and sexual relationships,’ she says. ‘Sexual relationships took priority, so men have been careful not to have bromancey feelings misinterpreted. Now, though, men are more aware of social signals, and the open display of affection acceptable in today’s society means it’s not as risky to show deep affection for a friend.’

However, Dr Gill stresses that this isn’t a modern trend. ‘Historically, bromances are nothing new. In the 18th century, English men were known for being very emotional. And in Middle Eastern countries it’s very common for male friends to hold hands in public.’

The reality of this social evolution isn’t always much fun, though. Emily, 28, a policewoman from Yorkshire, is frustrated by her new husband Tom’s bromance with a friend called Scully. ‘After we got married, it was just Tom and me,’ she says. ‘But now Scully’s over here all the time. They’re like kids together. I’ve turned into a nag, and I hate being in that role.’ Tom sees his bromance as harmless, but admits, ‘It means I have an ally. He does back me up if Emily’s having a go.’

If your man’s in a bromance, you should try to avoid seeing it as a threat. Dr Gill says, ‘Women often have very close relationships with their girl friends, so they should see it in those terms. Most people only have a small number of close relationships and if he has that with one or two men, that’s normal, and nothing to worry about.’

Indeed, Dr Gill is adamant that a bromance could be the path to greater happiness, should your man’s bro have a girlfriend who you love too: ‘The golden scenario is that the bromance is matched by two women who love to hang out, and both men and both women get on well. If that happens, it’s a fantastic social set-up.’

However, if you do still feel the need to pour cold water on your man’s bromance, try to be sensitive about it. Spare a thought for David and Stuart, close pals who met at uni and were recently split up after David’s wife, Gemma, took a job in New York. David has just joined her there, and is a little heartbroken. ‘I do miss Stuart,’ he says. ‘He’ll visit, but it’s a shame my bromance is over!’ Gemma insists it’s not that dramatic – ‘They’re in touch all the time!’ – but confesses, ‘I do feel guilty for breaking them up.’

The fact of the matter is that in the end, your relationship with your man will always trump his relationship with his bro. Even if he spends his weekends rolling around in hay bales with his handsome pal in what, to you, looks a bit Brokeback Mountain, know that his most important relationship is always with the woman he loves.

How to tell if your man’s in a bromance
1. He starts dressing like his mate
One week, his friend turns up in Converse. The next, your man’s bought some. His mate’s in a leather jacket? Guess who buys a different-yet-similar one. Yes, your man thinks his mate is the coolest-looking guy ever.

2. He dresses down for a night out
Blokes dress up to get girls, and down to get mates. If he gets scruffier and scruffier for nights out, then stops shaving, he’s likely to have fallen for his mate: ironically, he wants to impress him by not looking too try-hard.

3. He laughs at everything his mate does and says
It’s the most inane gag you’ve ever heard, the most stupid face pulling, the most silly conversation topic, yet your boyfriend is laughing so hard he’s crying. They have found heaven on earth in each other’s idiocy.

How to intervene…
1. Find his best friend a girl
Yes, just get him a new, super-hot lady, and we guarantee you’ll barely see him for at least three months. Men are like selfish children – if they find something sweet, they run off with it to their bedrooms so they can have it all to themselves.

2. Start talking babies
His best friend will run a mile – he wants to play Xbox with your man, not help him change nappies. While a baby could be the making of your romance, it’s the beginning of the end for a bromance.

3. Wear hotpants
To remind your man where his attention should be, just wear your hottest, tightest outfits. He’ll follow you around like a devoted puppy, yip-yipping for your approval. It’s also a powerful and timely reminder of his heterosexuality.


16 Responses to “Hey Guys! What’s With All the Bromance?”

  1. 1 MarcyS January 12, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Whats the difference between male friendship and bromance–or is there any? Women have close friendships like these, but they don’t let them intrude on their romantic relationships.

  2. 2 Irene (Ryoko8761) January 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    If my husband’s bromance is George Clooney….bromance away honey!!

  3. 3 Uninvoked January 12, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    I’m bookmarking this, if only to save the fabulous ‘how to get rid of’ list. ^^

  4. 4 magictrance January 12, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I liked the concept of ” Bromance” thank god now guys would understand too that girls really share deep relationship with their girl friends which is very normal……and its not gender specific so even guys are now biten by the bug of sharing loads now!

  5. 5 irinsade January 12, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    This is so hilarious…and scary..men would probably stop looking for girls if this continues!!! lol!!

  6. 6 cluelesspedestrian January 12, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    “yip-yipping”? I’ll add that to my vocabulary of horribly creepy phrases disguised as cute, alongside “wubsy-bubsy” and “oochie coochie”.

  7. 7 thelocalguide January 12, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    lol, really nice post :)
    tight outfits? O.o

  8. 8 Abzolutely January 12, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Excellent blog. Funny too! We are behind in the U.S. when it comes to cultural affections beyond gender. I was traveling in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and saw two grown men holding hands who were not at all gay. I don’t know if it will ever get that far here in the states, but I’m hoping these culture trends become norm and hopefully, maybe, sort of, (oh for goodness sake) help to alleviate the homophobia in this country particularly towards gay men. I can speak as a lesbian we have it a tad bit easier. But beyond any political agenda I may have I think it’s damn healthy men can display PDAs. It may reduce the level of suicide rate too. Which is higher for males than females. Bless you Clooney and Pitt!

  9. 9 Shanna Germain January 12, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Really loved this post today — made me laugh out loud over coffee (always a bonus!). Plus, yeah, I’ve been there. But not in the bad way — I like my men to have someone to share with other than me. I think it’s a lot to ask of a relationship for one person to be the other person’s everything — roommate, sex partner, life partner, emotional wringer. I’m all for the Bromance!

  10. 10 lightenup January 12, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    great observations and suggestions! Thnx

  11. 11 Tara Aarness January 12, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    This is brilliant! Finally, a well written article from the males point of view of friendship, and how women can cope.

    While I admit, my jealous side does try to peek through now and again, I do my absolute best to squash it, as I want my hubby to be truly happy. Thanks for sharing this and I, too, am bookmarking it for future reminders.

  12. 12 BadWitch January 12, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Funny funny funny. I love bromances (and am privy to one firsthand with a metrosexual hubby whose BF I call his “girlfriend” and who can’t take that) except Brody on the Hills and Fill-in-the-blank.

  13. 13 vbrekkidd80 January 13, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Well this is quite an interesting article, ?I think I first realized this growing up with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Although the term was never dubbed back then, bu under the bromance category. It’s nice to see that they are showing how it’s alright to have a cool buddy and I agree with Marcy S and Irene I know I’ve had one for 10 years with my buddy scary enough people thought we were dating we hung out all the time. Very annoying, but we’ve pushed back on hanging all the time and now we’re still cool and all and keep in contact here and there. I never saw it an issue in relationship in issues since it was an open topic. Anyhow, buddies who can support like girls who frenzy ff to the bathroom same thing just us guys have a term for it. Dane Cook says girls have a signal they emit from their VJJ hence that’s the unseen bond. It’s alright we make it proudly displayed now, we can still talk sports and girls, the day to rock pink and have good friends is finally here!

  14. 14 it'snotcalledBreastFriends January 19, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    The word Bromance is stupid. It’s just a trendy word Judd Apatow and Co. coined such that men could “not seem gay” while loving their friends platonicly. And to suck people in to their sub-par movies. In fact it’s really the reverse. If I see boys going around going “Yeah, we’re in a Bromance” I’ll think, “wow… they must have some unresolved sexual tension or something”, as opposed to a guy going, “Hey, this is my best friend since like grade 7! I love this guy.” I’ll think “wow… they have a really close friendship. That’s awesome!” Making a pun on the word romance does not succeed in making you look “manly”. It just shows you watch stupid “Bromance” movies.

    Just call it friendship. Girls don’t use stupid phrases to justify their friendly love. They’ll just say “I love this girl.” I suppose BFF is one, but it doesn’t have any romantic implications the way ‘Bromance’ does. It’s nice to see that guys now can express affection and love for their close friends, but to have to attach it to a word as stupid as Bromance, suggests to me that guys still aren’t mature or emotionally confident enough to admit they have strong friendship love.

  15. 15 Rich T. October 6, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Just One Word Of Caution…

    Start talking babies and it might be your man that runs…
    And who knows, it may be directly into the arms of his ‘bro’.

    Well then, good riddance!

  16. 16 Khadija January 29, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    This is so true, my guy friends all seem to have bromances. Although I have to say, if you talk babies, how can you be sure that both men won’t run a mile. Great opinion article though, did make me giggle.

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