I’ve noticed a lot of people here in Los Angeles, CA will often refer to their friends as “family.” Maybe it’s because all of our real families reside far away, but in some sense, we all need deep connection beyond typical city life acquaintanceship.
For men, that need can be summed up with bromance. What’s bromance? It’s
a close, emotionally intense, non-sexual bond between two (or more) men.
Over four years ago, I started a men’s group, and it’s become a large-scare bromance. What started off with four guys became a list of over 250. This next month, we are moving into a theater to accommodate the growth.
We don’t advertise. We don’t have a website. Why has our group grown so large?
I’m sure many factors play a part, but when speakers come through, they all note the safety and vulnerability within our group.
Close friendships have become more important to guys, especially younger men. Chivas published a report a few years ago detailing “The New Friendship” among men. One of the main elements of the New Friendship is “emotional openness.”
If you think our men’s group is composed of a bunch of softies who get together for crying sessions, that we are not. Leaders and influencers need a space to be authentic and discuss real men issues. Guys sometimes need to share their “deep secrets.” That’s what we provide.
As a leader, it can be difficult to be open and real. I end up carrying a burden too much to handle alone. I’ve found 5 good reasons guys need bromance:
1. You’ll discover you’re not alone
What I’ve found through our men’s group is that no matter what you are going through, you’re in good company. In other words, whatever struggle you might have, another guy most likely struggles with it, too.
Shame thrives on loneliness. But, when you discover another brother on the same journey as you, the seemingly impossibilities becomes conquerable.
2. You won’t need to put on an act
Being emotionally open with other men is tough because we’re taught to be tough. Sharing your burdens and struggles may seem weak and feminine. We were laughing last night because one of my buddies told me when I hug him, I slap him real hard on the back just to show I’m a man. I think a lot of guys try to find a balance between being vulnerable and manly.
But, studies have shown it’s harmful when boys are taught to “man up” or “be a man.” A researcher “found that boys who shunned masculine stereotypes and remained more emotionally available had, on average, better rates of mental health through middle school.”
If you want to be the best man possible, drop the act. I want to be the best man I can be physically, spiritually, and mentally. But, to be at the top of my mental health game, I have to break down the walls and perhaps stop slapping backs, too.
3. You’ll decrease stress
Next time someone tells you to quit monkeying around with your friends, tell them about this study: “male macaques form social bonds similar to human friendships that buffer them against day-to-day stressors.” It turns out, a bromance has health benefits. One of those benefits is less stress. Knowing that you have friends you can be transparent with lowers glucocorticoid levels, a stress hormone that can be physically damaging over time. The strength of your friendships has an effect on your mortality, and that strength is partially built on vulnerability.
Bottom line is, whatever you’re going through, don’t try and handle it on your own. According to researchers, bearing life on your own can be just as bad as smoking.
4. You’ll make more friends
Maybe you don’t currently have close friendships. Don’t lose hope, you can develop them.
“How can you cultivate genuine friendships? It’s actually quite easy if you keep two concepts in mind: Share & Bear – both of which necessitate engagement.” Dr. Matt Morris
Both elements are necessary for an authentic friendship or group to develop. Not only is it important to share the good and bad of what’s going on in your life, but the other important piece of the puzzle is to be their for others, too.
5. You’ll help your romantic life
One great thing I’ve discovered through marriage is that I now have someone who is always in my corner. But, problems might arise if I depended on Kristen for my entire emotional being. Guys have a tendency to depend on their partner as they get older because we get lonelier. We try and find our identity in work instead of friendships.
While my wife wouldn’t want me spending more time with friends than with her, having balance is healthy and can help your relationship. Psychotherapist Amy Morin says oxytocin released when spending time with close friends can promote social bonding with your significant other, too.
We often think of a bromance as a close friendship between two friends, but it can be about a group of men, too. Some of the most popular movies and shows depict these groups: The Hangover and Entourage. Technology has also changed the way we do friendships. Through GoodGuySwag.com, we have an online group that’s been meeting for over two years. Bottom line is, you can find a group almost anywhere. Don’t do life alone.