Jorge and I share a closeness that sometimes borders on the contemporary definition of “bromance”. Physical, geographical distance keeps our relationship from evolving into a full-fledged “bromantic” relationship.
“Bromance” isn’t just a new way of saying, “best friends”, it’s an expansion of the meaning of best friendship. It is the male manifestation of what females have long enjoyed, being “girlfriends”. The most famous example of bromance is the decades long, close friendship between Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.
A bromance is the paradoxical blending of a platonic unambiguously close, ambiguous loving relationship. It happens when two male humans feel and acknowledge, to each other, their deep affection. Similar types of relationships are “barracks buddies” in times of war, the unconditional comaraderie between two soldiers, marines, or sailors. As dad would have put it, “Army buddies”. Meantime, a bromance can develop in any context, military or civilian.
Bromances, under a different name, have been recorded since ancient times. I’m thinking of Achillies and Patrolus; Socrates and Alcibiades; Hephaestion and Alexander the Great; and Gilgamesh and Enkidu. As happens with human relationships and interactions, there are few strict borders. In the case of Hephaestion and Alexander, there is the crossover from bromance to romance.
closer to our time were Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh; Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne; and maybe J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson. Who can say for sure how deep these relationships were? Social norms regarding expression of deep male friendships were far more restrictive than they are today. For too long, there has been a great deal of priggishness about male to male affection in western culture.
“Bromantic” partners do more than shoot some hoops, drink a few beers, or attend sporting events together. The friendship is more than just “close”, it’s more like affection or even a “man crush”. Two guys relate so well together that you might say they have the deepest, most devoted possible form of platonic love for each other.
In the past, bromance was more about the deep love between two heterosexual males. Lately, the definition has become more inclusive to include bisexual and gay men. Bromances involving gays and bisexuals are still only platonic, only a little more complicated. To cross over into romantic territory would seem incestuous.
Just as romance cannot be premeditated, neither can bromance. It only happens spontaneously when two particular guys meet, hit it off right away, then, with time, their platonic love for one another expands and deepens. A bromance is egalitarian, that is, neither partner gives nor takes more than the other. Neither partner trumps the other in any way. Each would sacrifice his life for the other without hesitation.
I’ve had a few best friends, and a few lovers, but only one bromance. I still yearn for another bromance, but that may or may not happen. A bromance cannot be forced.
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes this verse from Shel Silverstein: “How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ’em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.”