Life / Health

Bromances blossom: Study shows millennial men love platonic mates just as much as their partners

As a group, young men are getting more emotional support from their best mates than their girlfriends or partners, according to new research out of the U.K.

Jason Syvixay and Andri Shchudlo shared clothes when they lived together and recently bonded over pedicures.

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Jason Syvixay and Andri Shchudlo shared clothes when they lived together and recently bonded over pedicures.

Luke Vermeer and Ustad Khaira, both 27, have the archetypal modern bromance.   

They met about nine years ago, in class during their second semester at Humber College – they both remember the day when Khaira joined a hockey-related conversation between Vermeer and their other bestie, Jacob.

Soon they were best friends in the way only college kids can be; hanging out virtually every day after class, eating, talking, playing video games, bonding over sports and working on homework until midnight.

“We take the piss out of each other. That’s the bedrock of our friendship,” Khaira said.

Khaira, mindful of Vermeer’s pride in his hometown of Hamilton, Ont., puts the city down constantly. Vermeer is still on Khaira’s case about an incident years ago, when a game of Madden NFL got so competitive he slapped the controller out of Vermeer’s hand (Allegedly. The details are disputed).

But it’s not all fun and games — they’re like family.  

“I can only speak for myself, but I think I’m closer to (male friends) than I have been to any of my partners,” Khaira said. “We can tell that something’s off when we look at each other.”

As a group, young men are getting more emotional support from their best mates than their girlfriends or partners, according to a new study of 30 in-depth interviews with male undergrads in the U.K.

It’s the latest in a string of studies showing that close male friendships are blossoming in the 21st century. There are a couple reasons for this, the authors argue. One is extended adolescence — people are settling down and coupling up later in life, spending more years with friends as their closest relationships, and taking care of each other.

When Khaira was going through “an incredibly tough time” in college, isolated from friends and family, “Those two … brought me back from the brink. They got me back into school, socializing again. That’s something that I’ll never be able to repay,” he said.   

It’s mutual: During college, Vermeer blew out his knee and Khaira drove him around for months, taking him to and from school and to get groceries.

Years later, when Vermeer had a bad break-up, Khaira and another friend dropped everything they were doing and drove to Hamilton on a weekday to keep him company at work. Vermeer has since gotten married.

Physical distance — different cities, busy careers — has separated them, but the pair still catch up on the phone for about an hour at least once a week, usually when Khaira is driving to work.

“There’s no topic that is not safe with him that’s safe with my wife,” Vermeer said.

According to the U.K. paper, in past generations male friends bonded over stereotypical guy stuff like playing sports, fixing things and gambling. But the modern bromance includes shopping, eating, vacationing, and (non-sexually) sleeping together, the study says. All but one of the participants said they have cuddled with a male best friend.

Another reason for rise of the bromance the authors argue is the decline in homohysteria — the fear of being thought of as gay.

Nothing illustrates this better than the relationship between urban planner Jason Syvixay, 31, and lawyer Andri Shchudlo, 29 — a long-distance bromantic duo. They met 13 years ago as student activists at the University of Winnipeg, and were roommates for years. Shchudlo is straight and Syvixay is gay.

“We talk a lot about professional advancement and the insecurities that we face about where we’re at,” Shchudlo said. “Same thing applies to our love lives, we talk about that a lot, whether it’s going well or not going well.”  

When they lived together, they shared clothes, Syvixay said. They got pedicures together recently.

They’re just that close.

“I just wish two men could hold hands and hug in public space and people wouldn’t say they’re gay,” Syvixay said.  

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