For some young heterosexual men, a "bromance," or close male friendship, is more emotionally satisfying than a romantic relationship with a woman, a new, small study from England suggests.
Men in the study told researchers that their bromances served as an emotional outlet and helped them resolve conflicts in their lives. Bromances were also more socially fulfilling than their romantic relationships, according to the study.
"The main differences between romances and bromances were the lack of judgment and boundaries in discussion" or expressing emotion, said study co-author Adam White, a lecturer of sport and physical education at the University of Bedfordshire in England. "These men felt they could tell their deepest, darkest and most sensitive secrets to their bromances, as they did not feel like they would be judged, ridiculed or thought of differently," White said. [10 Things Every Woman Should Know About a Man's Brain]
But in their romantic relationships with their girlfriends, the "men felt pressured to maintain a certain standard, meaning they regulated their disclosures and emotions more," White told Live Science.
One study participant, for example, told the interviewers that there were no boundaries between what he could talk about with his bromance, but there were things he wouldn't tell his girlfriend out of fear "she might not like me after." In particular, he thought his girlfriend would judge him for listening to Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, he told the researchers, adding that he felt like had to be more "manly" around her.
In the study, which was published Oct. 12 in the journal Men and Masculinities, the researchers interviewed 30 young British men in their sophomore year of college who identified as heterosexual about their romantic relationships and their close male friendships.
Of the 30 men interviewed, 28 said they would rather discuss personal matters with a close male friend than with a tic partner.
The findings could have important implications for the health of young men, White said.
"We recognize that a whole host of physical and mental health conditions are exaggerated in young men, primarily due to previous pressures to not disclose their emotions," White said. But if men are happy to talk about and discuss their health worries with their closest friends, it may have therapeutic effects for reducing and managing a whole host of health-related concerns, he said.
The researchers noted that the rise in bromances can be recognized as a progressive development in the relations between men but that this progress may have a negative impact on heterosexual relations.
For example, strong bromances could challenge traditional living arrangements between men and women in romantic relationships, as men may choose to live with each other, just as many do in college, the researchers wrote.
One limitation of the study was that it involved only 30 men; more research is needed to see whether the findings apply to a larger male population.
Originally published on Live Science.