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An example of Bromance.

A bromance or man-crush is a close but non-sexual relationship between two (or more) men, a form of homosocial intimacy.[1] Coined in the 1990s, the term has typically referred to a relationship between heterosexuals influenced by the effect of second wave feminism in the United States or related movements elsewhere in the world.[1]



"Bromance" is a portmanteau, a combination of the words "brother" and "romance." Editor Dave Carnie coined the term in the skateboard magazine Big Brother in the 1990s to refer specifically to the sort of relationships that develop between skaters who spent a great deal of time together.[2]

The modern nature and circumstances of bromance is what separates it from more general homosocial practices and historic romantic friendships.[3][4] Aristotle's classical description of friendship is often taken to be the prototype of the bromance. He wrote around 300 BCE, "It is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends' sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality."[1] There are numerous examples of famous intense male friendships throughout most of Western history and such relationships were likewise common. It has been posited that in the late 19th century, Freudianism and the emergence of visible homosexuality directed heterosexual men to avoid expressions of intense affection.[3]

Research into friendship and masculinity has found that recent generations of men, raised by feminist mothers in the 1970s, are more emotionally open and more expressive.[1] There is also less concern among men at the notion of being identified as gay and so men are more comfortable exploring deeper friendships with other men.[5][6] Research done in the United States suggests that the trend of rejecting "traditional views of masculinity" is most prevalent amongst men of European descent and lowest in those of African descent, with those of Hispanic descent falling in between. Furthermore, it was found that men who strongly endorse "traditional views of masculinity" are more prone to alexithymia (a difficulty to understand or identify with emotions).[7]

Another factor believed to influence bromance is that men are marrying later. According to a 2007 study conducted by the Rutgers University National Marriage Project, the average age of a man's first marriage is 27, up from 23 in 1960. It was also found that men with more education are waiting until their 30s before getting married.[6] The financial pressure of staying single longer may lead to men becoming roommates for extended periods, promoting bromance.

It can also be noted that many cultures that have communitarian tendencies or communal social patterns do not exhibit strong signs of the bromance phenomena. Groups that may have traditional views of men or masculinity also have outlets in fraternal relationships that express male to male bonding. Examples include Latino and African American concepts of brotherhood and non-kin being considered family or surrogates. Bromance can develop in cultures or settings that may not exhibit these traits. This could be a factor in those from European descent exhibiting the bromance relationships. Being brought up in households where ties can be more detached can serve as a factor in the development of bromances. Where in some cultures men are open to kissing each other in non-sexual expression (despite having traditional male stigmas), cultures with high rates of bromance would be less tolerant of male to male kissing without the homosexual stigma.[citation needed]

Celebrity and fictional bromances

A number of celebrities have engaged in bromances with fellow celebrities. Examples include Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, described as "perhaps the pioneering bromance in showbiz history,"[8] which led to a hit off-Broadway play called Matt and Ben.[9] Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine after the filming of the 2009 Star Trek film, have become a modern [10] bromantic relationship. The close friendship between George Clooney and Brad Pitt, is even described by some as "George's longest lasting affair" [11] and Clooney's bromantic tendencies served as the basis for an episode of the animated series American Dad! entitled "Tears of a Clooney", in which lead character Stan Smith becomes bromantically involved with Clooney as part of an elaborate revenge plot. Brody Jenner, featured on MTV's reality show The Hills and the subject of bromance discussions for his relationships with castmates Justin Bobby and Spencer Pratt, debuted his own series on the network, called Bromance, on December 29, 2008. The six-episode series features Jenner selecting from amongst competitors to become part of Jenner's "entourage".[12]

Bromance on television has also become more commonplace, with some critics tracing its origins back to such shows as The Odd Couple.[13] In October 2008, TV Guide placed Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) and James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) on the cover, under the headline "Isn't It Bromantic?". Other shows such as Scrubs and Drake & Josh have also had strong lead characters with serious bromantic relationships; the former dedicated a song to the 'guy love' between the main character and his best friend saying, "There's nothing gay about it in our eyes." Incidentally, Zach Braff and Donald Faison (who play JD and Turk, respectively), are very close friends in real life.

In fiction, what had once been called buddy films have to a degree been re-branded as bromance films, although critics do still draw a distinction between the two, noting that a buddy film both tends to be more explicitly violent and more open about its latent homosexual content.[14] The intersection between buddy films and what would come to be called the bromance film was noted comedically at least as early as 1978, when National Lampoon ran a parody ad for the football-themed buddy film Semi-Tough, renamed "Semi-Sweet" and featuring an illustration of stars Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson holding hands.[15] The film I Love You Man stars Paul Rudd as a heterosexual groom trying to find a best man and best friend before his wedding and Jason Segel as his bromantic partner.

Though the original J. R. R. Tolkien novels predate what could formally be called a "bromance," the portrayal of the relationships between Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee and Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy may be characterized as a bromance.[16]

In the literary Aubrey-Maturin series, Jack Aubrey and his particular friend Stephen Maturin develop a bromance from an initial friendship into a close relationship where each loves the other, often referring to him as "brother." The two heterosexual men cohabitate as bachelors and while they are at sea. They go on to marry a pair of cousins, and generally spend much of their off-duty time together as well.

Politically, the relationship between Bill Clinton and Al Gore has been characterized as a precursor to the bromance.[6] The relationship between George W. Bush and former press secretary Scott McClellan as told in McClellan's book What Happened was called by one reviewer "the tale of one long, failed bromance".[17] The premiers of Ontario and Quebec, Dalton McGuinty and Jean Charest, have been engaged in what has been described as a "burgeoning bromance".[18][19]

Gay-straight bromances


While the term has generally been applied to straight relationships, mixed gay-straight relationships have also been dubbed bromances. Examples of well-known gay-straight bromances (sometimes dubbed "homomances" or "hobromances") include Ronnie Kroell and Ben DiChiara from the Bravo reality series Make Me a Supermodel, in which the pair was nicknamed "Bronnie"[20] (similar to such celebrity couple nicknames as TomKat and Bennifer), the Survivor: Gabon relationship between Charlie Herschel and Marcus Lehman,[21] and American Idol's Kris Allen and Adam Lambert which was given the name "Kradam".[22]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Elder, John (2008-10-18). "A fine bromance". The Age. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  2. ^ Elliott, Tim (2007-08-23). "A grand bromance". The Age. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  3. ^ a b Deresiewicz, William (2009-12-02). "Faux Friendship". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  4. ^ >Tenden, Per Aubrey Bugge (2007). "Male Imitation: A Look at Gender Performance and the Representation of Masculinity in The OC.". Oslo, Norway: Universitetet i Oslo. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  5. ^ Phillipot, Suzy (2008-10-06). "I love you, man". The McGill Daily. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  6. ^ a b c Bindley, Katherine (2008-03-24). "Here's to 'bromance'". Columbia News Service. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  7. ^ Rowan, George T. et al. (2003). "A Multicultural Investigation of Masculinity Ideology and Alexithymia". Psychology of Men & Masculinity 4 (2): 92–100. 
  8. ^ Yaskua, Mitsu (2008-10-29). "11 brands of 'bromances'".,0,384198.photogallery?index=lat-bro_affleck_ekfunfgw20080812102832. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  9. ^ Casablanca, Ted (2008-10-29). "Hollywood Bromances: From Leo+Kevin to Matt+Ben". Retrieved 2008-12-14. 
  10. ^ Burr, Nate (2009-04-19). "The Quinto and Pine Bromance Interview". Ponder Pop. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  11. ^ Synnot, Siobhan (2008-10-18). "I'm a loser in love, admits Hollywood star George Clooney". The Daily Record. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  12. ^ Yagedaran, Jessica (2008-10-13). "Bromance is in the air". Contra Costa Times. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  13. ^ Gilbert, Matthew (2008-10-29). "From buds to 'bromance'". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  14. ^ Carbone, Gina (2008-08-09). "Pineapple Express review: Stonerhood of the traveling pants". Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  15. ^ Russo, Vito (1987), The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies (revised edition), New York: HarperCollins, p. 82, ISBN 0060961325 
  16. ^ "Top 10 Movie Bromances". Time Magazine.,28804,1886693_1886714_1886585,00.html. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  17. ^ Kelly, David (2008-06-02). "One Long, Failed Bromance". Paper Cuts (New York Times). Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  18. ^ Florida, Richard (2008-10-17). "Ahead of the Curve". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  19. ^ Campbell, Murray (2008-10-03). "McGuinty and Charest: a fine bromance". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  20. ^ Aterovis, Josh (2008-04-06). "Interview with Ronnie Kroell and Ben DiChiara". Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  21. ^ Juergens, Brian (2008-10-17). ""Survivor: Gabon" bromance update: Marcus likes his fruit". Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  22. ^

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