“No we’re not gay! Yes I love him. No, not the same way I love you.” Ever had this conversation? Welcome to Bromance Land.
Definition of bromance: a close but nonsexual relationship between two men that is affectionate and exceeds that of a usual friendship. Originally coined by Dave Carnie while an editor for Big Brother, a skateboard magazine.
Contrary to popular opinion, having a bromance will keep your marriage alive. Not only will it keep your marriage alive, it will keep you alive.
But how is a bromance different from a “good friend?” That’s a good question. The concept of a bromance, as currently defined, is a recent phenomenon. However, these types of relationships have been going on forever.
A key aspect for differentiation between a bromance, and say a homosexual relationship, is the non-sexual aspect.
For some people this can be confusing and terms like gay-straight have emerged to define a relationship between two straight men or a straight man and a gay man. Or, more disparagingly, man-wife.
Society, it seems, is not quite sure how to deal with two straight men that have a deep bond and are affectionate with one another.
I have been on the receiving end of this antipathy as described in an earlier article. Without going down that rabbit hole, let me describe the object of my bromance.
Actually, there are three men who fit into this category, and even though there are similarities between them, there are also key differences. Hopefully I won’t spark any jealousy between them when they read this article (just kidding – but you never know).
I will focus on the longest-lasting bromance I have had. We have known each other for thirty years. That’s a long time. Almost twice as long as I have known my wife.
Thirty years ago, the woman I was dating happened to live in the same house as my bro’ (bromate? What do you call the object of your bromance?) and she had been suggesting we meet. She said he was this amazing guy and we would get along famously.
For whatever reason, I kept avoiding a connection. Finally, about six months later, we met. And, just as my girlfriend predicted, we became instant and best buds.
God, now that I think about it, I was just coming out of a break-up with another bro.’ That’s another story but it does show me that I have had a number of bromances over the years. Just the kind of guy I am, I guess. I like deep intense relationships with men. Something I never had with my . . . father. Now we’re getting way too deep. This is not therapy, this is not therapy, this is not therapy.
Anyways, my bro’ and I did a lot of things together including double dating with our respective female partners, skiing, hiking, working out, and partying. When our partners were unavailable to go dancing we would head to the clubs and dance together.
Since that time, we have supported each other while going through relationship break-ups, physical injuries, marriages, divorces, assisted one another in our businesses (both free and for pay), trained together to become natural luge instructors, and counselled one another in our relationships with women.
We connect on three major activities; talking about women, physical activity (biking, rollerblading, intense hikes, and skiing), and creating playful experiences. This could include climbing telephone poles, hopping over parking meters (when we were younger), being witty and laughing up a storm over the craziness of life.
We phone each other every second day on average though we typically talk every day for three or four days in a row and then no contact for two or three days. We meet for lunch once a week and almost always engage in some sport or physical activity every week. In the winter we have skied together as often as three times a week.
In other words we see each other a lot.
How does this affect our intimate relationships? Generally speaking, in a positive way. Ten years ago when I moved back to Vancouver, there was a transition period when we had to discover how much time we could spend together without our wives feeling left out.
It was a bit of a balancing act at first, but we quickly discovered a happy medium. Our wives, being very wise, have been known to kick us out of the house and told to go see our “boyfriend” when in need of male company or when overloaded with testosterone.
What was critical in this successful transition was making it absolutely clear to our partners that they were number one. They were our primary relationship and time with our bro’ would not be at the expense of time with our wives.
We (bro’ and I) have been known in the early days to make arrangements without consulting our wives. MISTAKE (imagine angry buzzer sound). Now, any get together is run past our partners to make sure there is no scheduling conflict or a need to stay home and invest time with them.
Having a male playmate takes some of the pressure off my wife. Sure, I would like to talk business with her but it interests her not a whit. With my buddy, no problem.
Sure I wish my partner would like to do the Grouse Grind, but she is philosophically opposed to doing anything so strenuous. But with my buddy, no problem.
Sure I would like to talk to my wife about other women – what they hell I’m I saying. Of course I wouldn’t. I’m not stupid. But with my buddy, no problem.
My buddy and I have shed tears together, laughed together, and dreamed together. We have supported one another to enjoy life to the fullest and shared many moments of pleasure: like watching the sun rise over a chain of snow-topped mountains as we drive to the ski hill, racing to the top of a mountain with every ounce of our strength trying not to puke, dancing like there is no tomorrow with anyone and everyone – sweat pouring down our bodies.
We push each other to feel alive. I think that is our connection. That sense of aliveness when the two of us engage each other and the elements of nature. We are like warriors in those moments feeling the surge of energy course through our bodies and letting go of thought to become one with our environment.
And it is this energy I bring back to my wife – she likes it. So, yes, having a bromance is a good thing for my marriage.
Photo: Paul Bradley/Men watching football on tv