Strong bonds between men are posing a threat to heterosexual relationships, social scientists at the Universities of Winchester and Bedfordshire have found.
A study, published in the journal Men and Masculinities, revealed that young heterosexual men find bromances more emotionally satisfying than romantic relationships with women.
Whilst the increasing prevalence of the bromance boasts a number of scientifically-proven benefits for men, co-author Adam White explained that they “may well be disadvantaging” women by exacerbating sexist behaviour.
Scientists gathered their data through a series of in-depth interviews with 30 male undergraduates studying sport degrees, each of whom had engaged in at least one romance and one bromance in the last 12 months.
They found that the modern bromance offers men “a new social space for emotional disclosure,” with participants revealing that they feel less judgement from their male friends than they do from their girlfriends.
28 out of 30 confessed that they would rather discuss their personal issues with a male friend than with a girlfriend.
“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 study states.
The results led researchers to theorise that the bromance might soon become a domestic normality, with two heterosexual men living together and enjoying the benefits of a traditional relationship but without intimacy.
The study follows the team’s preliminary findings published in the journal Sex Roles in May, which explored the definitions of the bromance outside of cinematic representations.
They found that men were embracing more tactile and emotionally-open relationships with one another, crediting the decline in homophobia for a rise in deeper male-to-male expression.
However, the new research has provoked concerns at the ways in which the rise of the bromance could negatively impact how women are perceived by heterosexual men.
“What happens in 50 years, say, if these bromantic relationships really take off and men decide, ‘Hang on, we really enjoy these. These are much better. We can gain more emotionality from it. We’re less regulated, we’re less policed and therefore women actually just become the sexual fulfillers of men and nothing else,” White told National Post.
“That’s the worrying aspect,” he added.