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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Cowboy Code: Chapter Eleven, Art of the Bromance

One of my guys called me earlier. He's feeling lonely.

His two closest male friends have recently moved away - second time that's happened to one of my guys in recent months. So he's craving a new bromance.

On the scale of platonic relationships between straight men, there are acquaintances, buddies and friends, good friends and guys and homies, and bromantics.

You say hello to your acquaintances in the hallway of your apartment building, in the laundry room, or on the smoking deck at work. You grab a beer after work with your buddies and friends. You help your buddies and friends move furniture on weekends. You go on double dates with your good friends, guys, and homies. You will stand back to back with your good friends, guys, and homies in a hostile bar and fight off the onslaught of angry drunks whose girlfriends your good friend/guy/homie hit on. You know your good friends', guys', and homies' parents and siblings. You take road trips with your good friends, guys, and homies.

Your bromantics, though? These are guys you'll make plans to go to dinner with, without a woman along for the ride. You'll do a vacation with a bromantic. You'll meet for Happy Hour for drinks and you'll consume something more frilly than beer. You'll have serious conversations with these guys, about life and religion, and women, and politics. And you'll share your innermost thoughts on each of these topics.

Women have been this tight with one another for eons. But they don't require stupid names for this level of closeness. Well, actually they do. They call it being "girlfriends." But you'll understand why most straight men, even those who consider themselves to be secure and open-minded, would have a problem referring to their closest of male friends as "boyfriends."
But my guy has a problem. As with his romances, he doesn't know how to pick a new best dude friend.

With his romances, he tends to select women who are off the scale, like in another galaxy in terms of beauty, because they satisfy his visual fantasies. But he finds 'em without personality. Or he'll pick the woman whose knowledge of video games and action movies is as deep as his own, but she tends to be the woman who wears lots of flannel and could bodyslam him if she wanted to...whether he objected or not. There's no middle ground for him.

Conversely, when trying to locate another bromantic, my guy tends to pick guys who are only acquaintance material, or basic friend material.

So fellas, if you, like my guy, have a problem maintaining healthy bromances, take note of the rules:
  • If a dude doesn't get your jokes, he's not bromance material. He's an acquaintance. It's simple. You wouldn't go on a second date with a woman who thought you were dull....unless she was a super model. So you wouldn't hang out with a guy who doesn't think you're funny.
  • If a dude lacks self confidence, he's not bromance material. When you guys are in the high end cocktail lounge getting your professional-fresh-from-the-office look on, you don't want a guy who is going to be almost clingy with his conversation. You don't want that guy who is going to pine for you when you walk away to the can or to go make a cell phone call. Women in the joint will notice this and will think you two are a couple, or just pathetic. And your chances of planting the seed(s) of romance that evening are shot. Again, would you go on a second date with a clingy woman...who isn't a super model?
  • If a dude is the smash-an-empty-beer-can-on-his-forehead kind of guy, then he is not bromance material. He is not the guy you have dinner with. He is the guy you have a beer with on that occasional after work-honey-I-have-to-work-late outing to the gentleman's club. As for that second date analogy, think of this guy as you would the woman who belched a lot on your first date.
  • If, for example, you would not date a stripper, then you should not engage in a bromance with a bouncer. It's not about elitism. It's about connecting with people you have lots in common with.

And one rule for you: if you like women and you don't have one in your life, even for casual dates, then forget the bromance. Grow up and focus your time on getting a girl...or two or three. After you have that worked out, then you can get back to the bromance.

Follow these rules and you too can have a balance in your life of romance and bromance. Don't laugh. Every well-rounded guy needs 'em both.

Labels: , ,


  • Excuse me while I take a Bromo-seltzer.

    Seriously, I have found it interesting that men have not been given the resources to have a non-female shoulder on which to lean. I wonder if this is a cultural thing.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 10:03 PM  

  • oouuh. This was like taking a University of Burnett crash course.
    Wheres the quiz? hee hee

    By Blogger Pamela, at 10:44 PM  

  • It is amazing that men don't have other men that they are intimate with. You might try a course on how to find a woman. That seems to mystify a lot of men. Women too.

    By Blogger The CEO, at 11:12 PM  

  • Bromances. That's dash brilliant, James.

    By Blogger Kevin, at 10:53 AM  

  • Guys are funny a hell!

    Okay - nothing to do with your class here, I just like saying it.

    I learn quite a bit on my visits here.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:06 AM  

  • Guy stuff, it's so complicated!!

    By Blogger Claudia, at 12:15 PM  

  • Wow...bromantics! I absolutely LOVE this!

    However, I'm up for the job of bromantic chick - is it open?

    By Blogger Tiggerlane, at 1:58 PM  

  • Sarc, men are expected to not need a shoulder to lean on - a shoulder that doesn't belong to a female who isn't their mother, sibling, or significant other. Gotta be cultural. An American thing, or are guys abroad like this too? I've spent a lot of time in Europe. I noticed dudes walking around holding hands and carrying man-purses. And they were straight. Maybe it is just American.

    Pamela, no quiz. You get a passing grade just for reading this post;>)

    Monty, I'm gonna charge money for the how-to-find-a-woman post.

    Kevin, thank as always. I try.

    Jali, you do like saying we're crazy. That's alright. We are, sorta. I'm glad you learn from Burnettiquette U. I'm gonna start offering associates degrees soon. We'll work our way up from there.

    Claudia, that's what we guys say about women. And I think we're more right in that regard ;>)

    Tiggerlane, you can be bromantic chick. Some guys will never be able to bring themselves to enter a bromantic relationship. Their loss. For those guys we need platonic women friends who can be their bromantics. You are now in charge of that office.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 4:39 PM  

  • Well now I am getting a better picture of how men move towards commitment with women. First they have to meet certain male friend criteria in order to graduate to being a one woman man. I see. Thanks - this was quite eye opening. Now I have to figure out some things about how women friends connect. Now that I ditched my fat friend that every one thinks is my lesbian lover I should do well. I blame her for how hard it was to meet men when we hung out. Everyone thought I was her pretty lipstick lesbian girlfriend.

    By Blogger C, at 5:09 PM  

  • C, ha ha ha ha ha! You crack me up. See your dilemma with your friend is why more guys can't just "be themselves" and initiate bromances. They worry. Tsk, tsk. I always thought women were fine with such intimate platonic friendships. Guess you guys have the same issues as men. Who knew?

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 6:20 PM  

  • Bromance? & there was I thinking the term was 'good friend'!

    Oh & BTW - we still have the 'Big boys don't cry' 'stiff upper lip' culture over here (UK), though it's more of a generational thing now. After all, we invented it!

    By Blogger Bronchitkat, at 5:51 AM  

  • Bronchitikat, I forgot that you guys invented that whole stiff upper lip thing. Thanks a lot! Kidding. Sometimes a stiff upper lip isn't all bad. It can be a calming influence on people who are prone to panic.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 11:07 AM  

  • You know James, usually I love your posts but I think this may have qualifed as "More Than I Ever Wanted To Know About The Male Psyche".

    ...and now I can't get the mental image of my husband getting all bromantic with some dude out of my head.

    By Anonymous Steph, at 12:02 PM  

  • Ha ha ha ha ha! Sorry Steph. If we, guys, have to learn more than we ever want to know about women (and any man who's married has learned such things) then it's time women had to suffer in kind.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:16 PM  

  • So are you saying that you would be okay with having a tight friendship that was openly gay or at least seemed gay? My ditched friend claimed to be straight but looked gay - she wears Eddie Bauer khakis, birkenstocks, has wide shoulders, short hair and is into sports more than most men I know.

    By Blogger C, at 1:21 PM  

  • I meant to say a tight friendship with a guy that was openly gay or seemed to be... :)

    By Blogger C, at 1:23 PM  

  • C, that is a very interesting question. One of my closest buddies, a guy I assumed for years was straight 'cause we were always talking women and sports and all the other things that straight guys tend to obsess over more than others. And then not too long ago this guy came out to me and other buddies. We had no clue that he was gay. And when I think about it, in the past I've had the bromance dinners and conversations with this guy. So I guess,theoretically, I've tested your question. And that would mean the answer is yes. Now, to be fair, I don't know if I'd be so easygoing and comfortable entering a bromance with a guy I knew up front was gay. I'm just being honest. I love everybody. But I'm human. I have my phobias like a lot of dudes. So I definitely wouldn't pursue a bromance with a guy I knew was gay - my buddy's the exception, 'cause I've known him forever; he's like family to me and mine - because I'd be too worried that it appeared to be borderline romance. Maybe one day I'll be more enlightened. I'm working on it. But I admit I'm not quite there.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 2:22 PM  

  • I see your point because I have often felt uncomfortable at the stares people give me and my lesbian looking friend when we are out together with our kids.

    By Blogger C, at 11:02 PM  

  • My wife and I have a very close relationship with the two gay men who live three doors away. The relationship has lasted over twenty-five years. I have been out with both of the guys individually, the four of us go out, etc. I guess I don't care if or how people look at me when I'm out with either of the guys or both of them. I'll also admit I have never noticed any looks, but I never looked for them either. I guess I'm pretty secure in myself.

    By Blogger The CEO, at 1:11 AM  

  • C, it's human nature. None of likes feeling like the odd man or woman out...except for a few slightly off kilter people who seem to relish being goats.

    Monty, kudos. You may be the most secure guy that I know.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:30 PM  

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