Is It Friendship Or Is It Bromance?

Rose MacDowell

What do you get when you cross brother and romance? Bromance, of course.

The word "bromance" may be the stuff of jokes and big-budget comedies, but behind the humor, there's some genuine male bonding going on. At its core, a bromance can be a sign of men's vulnerability, need to connect, and appreciation of each other. 

How do you know when you're in a bromance? How is it different from friendship? Come along as we talk about the bromance, its unique benefits, and how to find one when you're ready for a little bonding of your own.

Bromance Meaning

Maybe you've heard the term but aren't exactly sure what it means. Despite the inclusion of the word romance, a bromance refers to a non-physical but exceptionally close relationship between men. A bromance goes beyond buddies or typical friendship, and involves more of an emotional bond (dare we say chemistry?).

We all know about the infamous girl crush, that fun, platonic infatuation that can happen when women meet and "just click." Bromance describes the same semi-intense feelings of limerence and connection. Put simply, a bromance is a non-sexual crush between men. 

Bromance Signs

Maybe you have a bunch of close male friendships, some old, some new. How do you know if you've got a bromance going with any of them? Here are several sure signs you're in the full-fledged grip of the B Word:

  • You get each other. Like great romantic relationships, friendships can have a natural synergy that goes beyond sharing things in common. Call it being on the same wavelength or feeling a rapport  when you meet another man and feel like you've known each other for years, bromance could be in the air. 
  • You're comfortable feeling vulnerable. It's not a bromance if you can't open up to each other. One key sign of a bromance is the ability to share feelings, painful experiences, and deep, dark secrets. You don't feel the need to burnish who you are or pretend you've got everything together. A bromance is all about being your true self, flaws and all, and feeling accepted. 
  • You share something deep. Maybe you were both cheated on in the past or grew up with addiction in your families. You might have similar values, like wanting to help in your communities, or you share a passion for politics. If you find yourself saying, "Yeah, me too," a lot, you could have a bromance brewing. 
  • You're happy to see him. We all have friends we like but maybe aren't always excited to see. Your bromance partner is different. He makes you laugh, think, and look at life in a different way. When you're in the thick of a bromance, you look forward to seeing the other person, often more than anyone else. 
  • There's little, if any, competition. Many male friendships are characterized by an undercurrent of rivalry. It may be good-natured, but it's there nonetheless, a competitive edge that can make the relationship feel like a contest. A true bromance is less about competing and more about supporting and cheering each other on. When he wins, you win. You're there to build him up, not tear him down. You don't secretly gloat when his girlfriend leaves, you stay up all night with him, cry together, and drink tequila shots. 
  • You can trust him. Maybe you haven't known each other that long, but you feel you can rely on him. He says he'll put you in touch with somebody and he does it. He doesn't disrespect you to other people or flake out at the last minute. If you tell him a secret, you know he won't tell a soul. You both keep your word, and that's a rare and special thing.  
  • You're invested. Buddies come and go, but a bromance isn't just another friendship. You feel more invested in a bromance because of the inexplicable bond you have, that "brother from another mother" vibe that doesn't come around often. You've invested your emotions and time in this relationship and are less likely to let your bromance just fade away. 

Benefits Of A Bromance

It's well-known that close relationships of all kinds make us happier, help us live longer, and make us feel more fulfilled. Bromances are no exception. Beyond your tight bond, here are some of the ways a bromance can improve your life:

  • A bromance can reduce stress.  A close platonic relationship helps you feel understood and less alone in the world. This, in turn, can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, and drive down levels of stress hormones in your bloodstream. Turns out that a bromance isn't just a good time, it's also an excellent way to boost your health. 
  • You'll get more emotional needs met. Whether you have a romantic partner or not, a bromance can help fulfill your emotional needs. It's all too easy to rely on partners for everything from advice to a listening ear when you need to vent. A bromance can give you another close connection, make you feel more grounded, and take a little heat off your romantic partner.
  • His good habits can rub off on you. Bromance partners can be a great influence when it comes to fitness, diet, and leveling up in general. Part of the reason we fall in deep like with a friend is that we admire them and want to emulate them in some way. A good bromance can inspire you to work harder, live in the moment, push yourself, or slow down a little and practice some overdue self-care. 
  • You'll have someone to go through life with. Romantic relationships, family bonds, and marriages can and do end. With a little care and feeding, a solid, close friendship can be the rare gift that lasts decades and makes life worth living. 

How To Find A Bromance

All this talk about bromance may make you feel like you're missing out. Perhaps you're an introvert, or you're still trying to squeeze the last few drops of connection from the neighborhood kids you grew up with. Or maybe your friends have all moved on and you're feeling stuck in a boring rut. 

Studies show that it's harder for adult men to make friends, particularly as they get older. But it's far from impossible. How to scare up some new friends? Easy: expand your horizons. As your mother used to say (at least mine did!), you're not going to meet anyone in your living room.

If you're feeling a lack of close friendships, it's time to go out and find them! Here are some tips for finding your next partner in bromance:

  • Join a sports league
  • Volunteer
  • Go to parties and art openings
  • Travel
  • Go back to school
  • Hike, bike, or train to run a 10K
  • Go to high school and college reunions and reconnect with old friends
  • Take a boxing/cooking/pottery/hip-hop dance class
  • Chat with people in a political or hobby group online
  • Don't be afraid to make the first move when you encounter someone with a whiff of bromance about them. "We should get together for a beer/run/game" is all you need to get the ball rolling