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There are have been a lot of famous bromances throughout history. Explorers Lewis and Clark. Presidents Adams and Jefferson. Authors J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. President Obama and VP Biden. And, of course, a bromance for the ages: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.
But don’t laugh at or make light of the bromance! Because research shows that relationships — friendships included — are among the most important factors contributing to happiness and longevity. Yes, your (or your man’s) bromance might just help him live longer!
That’s because loneliness is unhealthy and breeds stress.
According to Geoffrey Greif, psychologist and author of Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships, both men and women expect friends to be understanding, trustworthy, dependable individuals with whom we have things in common.
But we may not teach boys and men how to be good friends.
We expect our friends to be available for activities, to reach out to us and to stay in touch, and I’m sorry to say that men are often not so good with reaching out and staying in touch — behaviors that nurture relationships.
When you’re young, it doesn’t take much. You go to games, work on projects or party together.
As those activities disappear, generally after college, you have to find new reasons to get together.
When you notice you’re growing apart from a friend, it’s helpful to step back and have a look at what’s causing the rift. If you’re really no longer interested in the same things or your priorities have shifted in ways that drive you apart, then maybe the bromance is really over.
Often there are other reasons that may not be deal breakers: your friend has focused exclusively on the new girlfriend and you’re feeling pissed (even though you’ve been there yourself); he’s been inundated with work and unavailable to hang the way you used to; or, you’ve felt dissed about something, backed off, then he backed off, and a small slight quickly got out of control.
Maybe with a little soul-searching, you decide the relationship is worth resuscitating.
When you have a person in your life you really value, the kind where you get together after eight months and pick up right where you left off, it’s worth trying to make the effort to maintain the friendship.
Try some of these:
1. Be a better friend.
Everyone appreciates a friend who is willing to be there for them, so if you’re trying to salvage a friendship, ask yourself how you can be a better friend.
It could be offering to help with a repair project or empathizing about a family illness. Try to stay on top of things going on in your friend’s life. Reach out and ask how it’s going, especially if you know he’s having some tough times.
You can just shoot a quick text or check social media to find out what’s happening, so there’s no excuse for being uninformed, but you have to make it a priority.
Set reminders if it will help.
2. Do damage control.
Maybe your friend did something that got under your skin. How about discussing that with him?
Tell him how important the friendship is to you and how his behavior made you feel.
I know talking about feelings is not a typical guy thing, but research shows that men seem to value the same type of intimacy in a relationship that women value, a reason they like to have female friends.
A true friend is willing to listen and address your concerns. Maybe it was a misunderstanding or miscommunication. It’s always worth giving it a shot if the relationship is important.
3. Create opportunities to make your friendship stronger.
Find the time to go biking, running, fishing or surfing with a bro or two. Take more than one friend to an activity, even guys from different friend groups.
Go to a game with your friend and his kid or have dinner with him and his partner. Use a few vacation days to visit a friend that’s moved.
Who knows what will happen with male friendships as society evolves. If we can do a better job of teaching boys how to be good friends, maybe the bromance, instead of being the target of snark like “Larry Stylinson” (see: Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson), will become commonplace with younger generations of men. We won’t even have to call it a “bromance”… it’ll just be a friendship.
In the meantime, if the person is someone you really have a bond with, don’t give up.
It’s worth going the extra mile, literally and figuratively, to keep the bromance alive.
Judith Tutin, Ph.D., ACC, is a licensed psychologist and certified life coach. Connect with her at drjudithtutin.com where you can request a free coaching call to bring more passion, power, and purpose to your life.
This article originally appeared on YourTango. For more like this from YourTango, try:
- 10 Friendship Quotes From ‘Sex And The City’
- 15 Friendship Quotes You Need to Send To Your BFF
- Yikes! 10 Warning Signs That You’re In a TOXIC Friendship
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