Bromance

26 Jul

Bromance as a key to mens relationships with women

In the 1990’s Dave Carnie coined the word ‘bromance’ whilst writing about the close connection between male skateboarders in his magazine ‘Big Brother’. Skaters sharing their joy for life, their excitement at being alive, with each other in a free and spontaneous way.

More recently it has entered common parlance through film and television portrayals of loving, mostly non-sexual, friendships between two or more men. Despite this belated appearance in our dictionaries, the concept is as old as we are human beings. The Greeks and Romans knew all about bromance. Indeed it can be easily identified in our primate relatives, particularly chimpanzees. Hunter gatherers need to trust each other, they do this by bonding before the hunt, and obviously through the shared experience of the hunt.

‘Chivalry’, defined as a code of conduct, reflected the closeness of warriors. Chivalry asked the questions ‘Who would you go to war with?’ ‘Who has your back?’ We don’t have to go to war any more, but I do have a few men with whom I feel such a deep bond and it is a huge blessing in my life. When I am part of a men’s gathering with those I trust I can feel a deep connection which feeds my heart.

The nature of these bonds need not be sexual, but it is a deep love for each other which can appear to others as if it were sexual, because of the extraordinary levels of intimacy and familiarity. These are just normal and expected ways of being and feeling. They are reflected in the three stages of male development.

Imprinting
A boy doesn’t suddenly become a man, he needs to learn how to become one, he needs to be taught. A young boy will seek role models and imprint onto anyone or thing they feel inspired by. Nowadays this can be a cartoon character, a celebrity, some aspect of masculinity which excites and captures their imagination. A boy needs, and seeks, to be inspired. He follows their example. A man is not created in isolation it is within the community, and he finds his teachers, in whatever way he can.
Bromance
A boy becoming a man will be doing this work in the company of his peers. He will be seeking fellow travellers, people who may challenge him and people who will take risks with him. In this sense, he is part of a generation which has a unique way of being. He is forging new experiences and adventures and needs to be able to share these with his peers.
Teacher
A mature man will become a role model simply by being himself. He will be admired and therefore he will be copied, and so he becomes a teacher. The circle is completed, from having sought teachers, he has found his trusted friends and they have shared adventures, and by doing so they have been inspirations for the next generation.

Many women talk about the emotional immaturity of men, their lack of empathy, their lack of responsibility. Emotional disconnection comes from a lack of self-knowledge, and a lack of confidence. A man who has bromance in his life is less likely to be so immature. He hangs out with people he admires, and he is independent. Many women complain about their men’s neediness, their reliance on the woman to create friendship circles, their inability to have deep friendships with meaning.

Men who have experienced bromance are in touch with the wholeness of masculinity. Too many men say ‘I cry and feel emotions, so I’m in touch with my feminine side.’ They’re not, it is a cultural trap to believe only woman can emote. Such men are actually in touch with an aspect of their masculine self.

A man’s first love should be himself, and the way to self love is in self knowledge and acceptance. Bromance is vital fuel for this self love process, and it enables us to communicate and form relations with women in a more holistic and supportive manner.

The quality of a man can be judged not in his relationships with women, but in his relationships with men. A mature man has an ability to share his vulnerability with other men, he is able to dive deeply in the company of men. The UK has a large amount of 40 and over men who are still waiting to become ‘men’. Confused, lonely and isolated, afraid to have intimate relationships, they skim the surface of life and perpetually damage themselves. I suggest they need to take the risk of opening themselves to other men, they need to see other men as allies not threats.

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