A bromance or man-crush is a close but non-sexual relationship between two men, a form of homosocial intimacy. Coined in the 1990s, the term has historically referred to a relationship between heterosexuals, but the term has gained currency in describing such relationships when one of the men is gay.
When I was in college, Brad and Ethan would have been called buddies. Noah and John would have been called roommates. Michael and Todd would have been called good friends. And Josh and Mike would have been called questionably and unnaturally close.
With the Millennials, a friend is someone in your sphere on social-networking sites. You may or may not know them personally. In fact, a friend on one of these sites might be the acquaintance of a guy who was the roommate of your sister's boyfriend's cousin who you met at a party and both thought the host's girlfriend was a pain. The next morning you have a friend request and you are connected. You have another friend to add to the 579 already in your collection.
Friend is used loosely on the web, consequently, the language around the male personal/social relationship has changed from buddy, pal, main-man, friend-o'mine and best-friend to some more descriptive vernacular.
Now young men have bromances.
A few years ago, back at an entertainment company I was working with, a woman named Bobbie, who worked with me in HR offered to make one of the young executives life easier by running a few errands. The executive, Brad, was managing a portion of the sales team, he was traveling all of the time and he was backed-up with some banking. Bobbie offered to help.
So, Brad brought Bobbie a bunch of checks he needed deposited, paychecks, gifts from Mom and Dad, half-the-rent from his roommate Ethan. Bobbie added them all up, prepared a deposit slip and then came to my door.
Have a minute? Bobbie asks.
Sure, I reply.
I am not sure I should show you this, but... Bobbie is stammering a bit.
What is it? I am beginning to feel uneasy, Bobbie's pretty tough.
It is this rent check, from Ethan to Brad...the notation.... she is really stammering now.
The notation on the bottom of the check did not identify the month for which this portion of rent was due. Oh, no....it read: For big sloppy-wet man kisses
Now, I must be very, very clear. There is no doubt that Brad is straight and we are open to the idea that Ethan might be too.
While the obvious purpose of the notation was to make Brad too uncomfortable to deposit the checks (ergo, Bobbie's service), there is also the understanding in these relationships that if the genders were different (or in some cases, just a trifle more bent) this would be a love-affair. This is a bromance. And some of what Ethan wrote on that check was an endearment in service of the alternate-world-love-affair.
Don't misunderstand, this is not about being a metro-sexual as straight, sensitive, well-groomed men were called over the last 10 years. Metro-sexual is about a man's relationship to society. A bromance is about his relationship with another guy. The one non-sexual relationship a man is willing to pour some attention into. So guys in a bromance know things about each other one used to only know about a lover. Favorite drink, restaurants, vacation spots, sexual positions, bands, sports, TV shows, jeans manufacturer, deodorant, shoe designer, sandwiches, bars and video games. They not only know them, they try to make sure the other guys needs are met in these areas.
And, they dress for each other. Lately, when I see young people go out on dates, the girls are often dressed up, little black sheaths and come-get-me stilletos...and the guys are in t-shirts and jeans. As if in preparation for the date she got ready and he.....got up. Now, we all presume that girls like to dress up more than guys, but just hold on there a minute; the last time I heard about Michael and Todd going out together ,they wore suits. Suits.
And when these guys plan or anticipate a costume party...watch out, they are much more into coordinating costume selection with their bromance partner than their girlfriend/date (Dude, you go as the penis and I will go as an undecended testicle!).
I have heard of bromance double-dating situations where the four principals will all wear suits, sunglasses and with only their AmEx card in their pockets go to London or Vegas for 24 hours. Since they never rent a hotel room, this event is not called by it's usual name: Honeymoon.
I like bromance. It is sweet and so much less sloppy than the old days when two guys got liquored-up and delcared I love you, man, I really, really love you!. The Millennials do not need the liquor for the sloppy sentiment.
In Ethan's case, I think he summed up the bromance phenomenon with his March rent check notation: For my hunkahunka burnin love. Brad was so touched, he deposited it himself!
This piece was first published in 2008 at http://consultingadultblog.blogspot.com/