We checked into the hotel with my friend. We registered at the reception and, tired from the long journey, we struggled to carry our suitcases up the stairs. When we opened the door to the room, a double bed was waiting for us. We looked at each other incredulously and said, “This can’t be right.” Since a shared bed was not acceptable, we went back to the reception and requested another room. The receptionist apologized for the mistake and provided us with another room without any problems.
This kind of situation is a common theme in American sitcoms. They even coined the term “bromance” (brother, bro + romance) to describe the relationship between two men that transcends the boundaries of friendship and takes on elements of a romantic relationship. For sitcoms, such “bromance” is a great theme. The protagonists are usually full of fears of being too close and afraid of crossing their own boundaries.
Why does male friendship evoke such conflicting emotions? It seems that the idea of two men being close to each other creates suspicion and unease for many of us. There could be multiple reasons for such a reaction. Personally, these reactions make me think about how we view friendship.
In the situation where my friend and I found ourselves, some imaginary boundaries of our intimacy were crossed. Sleeping in the same bed was “too much” for our relationship and exceeded our comfort zone. However, as both of us are completely heterosexual men, we should not be worried about crossing these boundaries. Nevertheless, I think many men would do the same in our situation.
Friendship is such a natural part of our lives that we do not even think about what it really means. Therefore, we all have different understandings of friendship and often learn from each other’s perceptions. For some, friendship is a lighter form of affection, while others see it as a specific kind of relationship that cannot be compared to a romantic partnership. It is precisely the inconsistent understanding of friendship and the desire to avoid excessive expression of affection that contribute to creating barriers between men. In addition, men in our culture are often not accustomed to talking about their feelings, so these barriers are often never overcome.
Despite the existence of various barriers, male friendship has great effects. Good relationships and friendship are the number one “psychological hygiene” tool. Support from friends is one of the best predictors of a long life. Regular meetings with friends are an important means of self-affirmation, gaining support and understanding, and identifying with a group. In other words, men who have quality and frequent bonds with friends have healthier self-esteem, are better at forming relationships, and better understand them.
Friendships often face various barriers created by culture, expectations, and often, a misunderstanding of what friendship actually is. However, for men to function well, it is necessary to overcome these barriers and not let them hold them back. The benefits of good relationships not only affect one’s psyche but also one’s wider surroundings and all other relationships that one forms.