The Death of the Bromance

Thanks, Jezebel, but your latest post about the death of male friendships has me totally depressed.

Since I don’t like to wallow by my lonesome, here’s a quote. Maybe you all can get equally alarmed and bummed on a sunny Friday morning: “According to [author] Niobe Way, male friendships are in a state of crisis. … Way says that while boys are often viewed as unemotional loners, they actually need close friendships as badly as girls do. After conducting interviews with boys from the U.S. and China for two decades, she found that in early adolescence, they would often express that they valued having a best friend they could talk about their feelings with, not just a guy they occasionally exchange grunts with while playing Wii. Yet, when the boys got older they reported fewer intense friendships and seemed worried about being seen as girly or gay for having feelings for another guy.”

It’s nice to hear that, at least when boys are young, they are happy to admit–brag, even–that they have a best friend they can tell everything to. The unfortunate part comes later, when they are too old and macho to pursue friendships, and so, in some cases, they simply accept loneliness.

The simple fact that guys will let important friendships fade for fear of appearing gay, if true, is really quite sad. Perhaps not shocking, but sad. And I’m feeling extra bummed about it today, because for the past few days, I’ve gotten bonked over the head with the influence a true friendship can be in a guy’s life. You see, today I’m off to Matt’s best friend’s wedding. The value Matt puts on this relationship is incomparable to any thing else in his life (yes, including his wife. Not more important but different, and probably equally important). His BFFship, though he’d never call it that, means the world to him, and the fact that some guys choose to let that kind of relationship fade for reasons of appearance is just the worst.

The last couple of nights, I’ve come home after Matt’s usual 10 pm bedtime, shocked to see him still awake. Let me be clear, there’s pretty much nothing, aside from a Red Sox World Series run, that can keep him up. Except, apparently, his best friend. He’s been preparing his speech, trying to get it just right, to make sure his pal is happy and entertained on the big day. There are so few things a groom gets, really, but Matt at least wants to give him a laugh.

Watching–and listening to–the preparations, I keep thinking how glad I am that Matt has such close friendships. Even if they are long-distance. And even if the last time I tried to force him to make man-date instead of go to the casino he told me to “stop friendshiping me.” (Apparently I’ve become a pusher.) The friends he has mean everything to him.

If I were to have a son one day, I’d hope he’d feel the same. Not, as Way, whose new book is called Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection, purports, that he has to choose between having a girlfriend and a best friend or that people would think he’s gay, as if that’s the worst thing in the world. With amazing timing, Jezebel author Margaret Hartmann writes, “Way makes boys’ teenage years sound pretty lonely, and without close friendships, those kids grow up to be be emotionally stunted men who will never know the joy of showing up late to a dude’s wedding and declaring that you love him.”

Exactly.

Do you think guys are afraid to admit how important their friends are? Has it always been like this? Is there a fix?

 

6 Comments

Filed under The Search

6 responses to “The Death of the Bromance

  1. Marie

    My husband does not place much emphasis on his friendships. He thinks his family is all he needs. I think it has to do with how he was raised rather than an appearance issue. His parents don’t have any close friends so he never had a model to follow.

  2. Rachel

    I don’t think most guys are afraid to put importance on friendships. They may not be as verbal as girls are- the ‘I Love Yous’ probably don’t flow as often, but I have seen the relationships my boyfriend has with his guy friends and they are a pretty tight group. Sometimes I think all of these studies make male friendships and feelings seem worse off than they actually are. Most men I know aren’t as stoic and impersonal as all of these articles make them out to be. They have feelings and need friends just like women, but just because they aren’t as vocal it doesn’t mean they aren’t accomplishing the same bonding women are.

  3. Chelsey blair

    I’ve seen just over the past couple of years how much my dad’s friendships mean to him. His college roommate and he have kept up for almost fifty years now.

  4. Jess

    This is interesting. I was just talking to a friend the other day about how a lot of men don’t seem to have (or even really want) close friendships the way we as women do….and how some guys want their significant other to be their best friends. Her husband is one of those, and so is the guy I’m dating. When I asked him early on what he was looking for in a relationship, he said ‘someone who will be my best friend, and have sex with me’, lol. I don’t mind being his best friend…but I’m not looking for someone to be mine! I cherish my BFFs, and even the perfect husband or spouse couldn’t fill their roles in my life.

    This article sheds some light on why some men might want their significant others to be their best friends…maybe they long for emotional friendship connection too, but don’t feel ‘safe’ pursuing it outside of a romantic relationship. Really makes me think…

  5. I definitely don’t think this is the case with my significant other. He has several close male friends who he has mutually deep relationships with. Are they the same as my relationships? No, probably not. But I think they are just as deep and meaningful (possibly more so, in some ways).

  6. Abbey N.

    Rach,
    I just saw your beautiful, amazing, sweetheart mom-in-law Sat. night, right after the wedding, and she was telling us all about it. I went to sleep thinking about how incredibly tight Matt and the rest of that gang is, and how special that kind of friendship is. I’ve noticed that the men, like Matt, who have those kinds of bonds with other men in general seem to be more open and relationship-ready and communicative. I read that article too, about the death of male friendships, but I actually dont see it. I feel like way more yougner guys have real true male friendships than the men of my father’s generation.

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