Men are hap­pier with their mates than girl­friends

Scottish Daily Mail - - Life - By Colin Fer­nan­dez Sci­ence Cor­re­spon­dent

IT is some­thing that many wives and girl­friends have long sus­pected.

Lots of men find ‘bro­mances’ – close friend­ships with other men – more emo­tion­ally re­ward­ing than their ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships with women.

Whether it is the lure of go­ing to the pub, a foot­ball match, fish­ing or just help­ing a pal with DIY, a best mate can leave many women feel­ing they play sec­ond fid­dle.

Now Bri­tish re­searchers look­ing into close male friend­ship among het­ero­sex­ual men may have an an­swer. They found men felt ‘less judged’ by their close male friends than their girl­friends. They also found it eas­ier to solve con­flicts and speak openly about their emo­tions in bro­mances.

How­ever, the au­thors of the study warn these re­la­tion­ships could threaten the tra­di­tional pat­terns of men and women liv­ing to­gether.

The re­port said: ‘Be­cause het­ero­sex­ual sex is now achiev­able with­out the need for ro­man­tic com­mit­ment… the bro­mance could in­creas­ingly be­come recog­nised as a gen­uine life­style re­la­tion­ship; whereby two het­ero­sex­ual men can live to­gether and ex­pe­ri­ence all the ben­e­fits of a tra­di­tional het­ero­sex­ual re­la­tion­ship.’

Male friend­ships used to be con­sid­ered lack­ing in many of the qual­i­ties seen in close fe­male friend­ships – par­tic­u­larly emo­tional and phys­i­cal in­ti­macy.

But this has changed in re­cent years, the study found, as young men ‘openly pro­nounce love’ to their male friends in a way that would have been so­cially un­ac­cept­able in the past – partly out of fear of ap­pear­ing gay. The au­thor of the study, Adam White of Winch­ester Univer­sity, in­ter­viewed 30 Bri­tish male un­der­grad­u­ates for the study pub­lished in the jour­nal Men and Mas­culin­i­ties. Of the men, 28 out of 30 said they would rather dis­cuss im­por­tant emo­tional is­sues with their ‘bro­man­tic’ part­ner than their girl­friends. One study par­tic­i­pant, ‘Brad’, said: ‘There are ab­so­lutely things I tell my bro­mances and not the girl­friend. She ex­pects so much from the re­la­tion­ship and will have a go if I say some­thing out of line, and with Matt we just tell each other ev­ery­thing.’

Sum­maris­ing the re­search, Mr White said: ‘Our par­tic­i­pants mostly de­ter­mined that a bro­mance of­fered them el­e­vated emo­tional sta­bil­ity, en­hanced emo­tional dis­clo­sure, so­cial ful­fil­ment, and bet­ter con­flict res­o­lu­tion, com­pared to the emo­tional lives they shared with girl­friends.’

The re­search said other re­ports have found ‘men in their 30s have re­grets about not main­tain­ing their bro­mances into later life, with mar­riage be­ing a key bar­rier to this.

Up to the early 20th cen­tury, men would of­ten write ‘en­dear­ing letters’ to one an­other, and even sleep in the same beds. For four years, for ex­am­ple, Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln shared a bed with his male friend, Joshua Speed.

Such be­hav­iour started to dis­ap­pear amid a rise in ho­mo­pho­bia. This has re­versed to­day, the au­thors say, with much more male in­ter­est in art, mu­sic and fash­ion. They com­pared the ma­cho Rambo movie char­ac­ter to the band One Di­rec­tion as an ex­am­ple of how male iden­tity has changed in re­cent years.

‘Emo­tional sta­bil­ity’

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