Young men get more out of their close friendships with other men than their romantic relationships with women, a study by academics at the University of Bedfordshire has revealed.
The study, Privileging the Bromance: A Critical Appraisal of Romantic and Bromantic Relationships in the journal Men and Masculinities, is a collaboration between the University of Winchester and the University of Bedfordshire and explores the nature of the bromance, a close non-sexual relationship between men.
Researchers interviewed 30 undergraduate straight men and found that they felt less judged by their bromances than by their girlfriends, and that it was easier for them to overcome conflicts and express their emotions in their bromances than in their romances.
The study suggests that the rise in bromances can be recognised as a progressive development in the relations between men, but also suggested that this progress may negatively affect heterosexual romantic relations, for example, strong bromances could challenge traditional domestic living arrangements between men and women.
Adam White, a doctoral researcher at the University of Winchester and a lecturer in Sport and Physical Education at the University of Bedforshire School of Sport Science and Physical Activity, said: "This is a potentially a really significant shift in young men's behaviour, recognising they now may be able to talk, share and support each other with a whole host of physical and mental health vulnerabilities.
"Unfortunately, while positive for men, this may disadvantage girlfriends and traditional relationships which are seen as having more pressures and regulation. These men told us how they would often prioritise their bromantic relations over their romances. So, if guys can now get all of the benefits from their bromances, it reduces male to female relations to sex."
Professor Eric Anderson, a Professor of Sport, Masculinities and Sexualities in the Department of Sport, Exercise and Health at the University of Winchester, said: "The rise of the bromance is directly related to the diminishment of homophobia. It signals that young, straight men no longer desire to be trapped by older, conservative notions of masculinity."