February 3, 2009

I Cringed As I Read This

This is legitimately from the Boston College school newspaper - this piece was published yesterday, on the day of the Beanpot. It's impossible for me not to share it with you - courtesy of Barstoolsports.com and BCHeights.com. Prepare for douchechills. The piece is called "Isn't it Bromantic?":

"When Tom Sharkey, A&S '10, arrived at freshman orientation three summers ago, he didn't know anyone. He thought he would meet some new people, perhaps make a few friends - he never expected he would find such a strong, instant connection that would evolve into a lasting relationship.

"It was love at first sight," Sharkey says.

Shrugging, Ryan Boudreau, A&S '10, agrees. "It had to be. We had to spend four days together at orientation, and we were the only two guys in our group."

Boudreau and Sharkey, both heterosexual males with girlfriends, have been involved in a close, exclusive friendship for the past two and half years, a relationship that they say is incomparable to typical friendships.

"We use the term 'guy love' to describe it. We like to think of ourselves as a Turk and JD [from the TV show Scrubs]," Ryan says. Tom corrects him, "More JD and JD actually."

This type of platonic relationship between two males, popularly known as a 'bromance,' has become increasingly prevalent in the media, acting as a centerpiece in TV shows such as Scrubs and Flight of the Conchords and movies such as Superbad. Newspapers and magazines dedicate articles to the exploration of the 'man-date,' the 'man crush' and the rise of bromance. The MTV reality TV show with Brody Jenner even uses the catchword 'Bromance' as its title.

A combination of the words "brother" and "romance," the term bromance was first coined in the 1990's by Dave Carnie, editor of the American skateboarding magazine Big Brother. Originally referring to skaters who spent a great deal of time together, the term has since broadened to include all close, non-sexual friendships between two males.

A true bromance runs deeper than this basic definition, however, explains Frank Forde, A&S '10. Forde, who openly admits to being in a bromance with John Bertolon, A&S '10, since they became roommates freshman year, says the two know each other very well and are completely comfortable when they are together. "It's beyond friendship - it's like being brothers. It's like best friends forever, but a man version."

These types of friendships are becoming more common, says Peter Nardi, a sociologist at Pitzer College who specializes in male friendships. Nardi explains in the Columbia Reporter that men are increasingly comfortable in developing such friendships and being open about them because it has become more acceptable for them to show emotion. Men are now more secure in how other people perceive their sexuality, and the idea of a nonsexual attraction between guys has even become fashionable, according to The Boston Globe. "Intimacy, understanding, and admiration in male friendships are no longer cultural taboos," says Globe writer Matthew Gilbert.

Forde says that while he has other friendships, he is able to be himself with Bertolon. "I tell John things that I wouldn't talk about with any other guys. I'm not afraid of how I act and sound with him - we just get each other. We complement each other well, too. He's more of an extroverted person, while I'm more introverted, more of a thinking-planning kind of person. He completes me," he says, with a sheepish grin.

Bertolon, who is currently spending the semester abroad in Spain, says that their bromance is difficult to put into words. "It's kind of hard to describe. We're always on the same wavelength and thinking the same things. It's a kind of inexplicable connection - we tend to think the same things, and we can predict what the other one is going to do before it even happens. We know each other so well," he says. "It's the type of connection people don't realize exists."

Sharkey and Boudreau are equally unabashed in confessing the depth of their friendship. "I feel more comfortable with him than I do with almost anyone else," Sharkey says. Boudreau nods thoughtfully. "Same, actually," he admits.

"The way I differentiate it from normal guy relationships, or even relationships in general, is it's a very non-superficial bond," Sharkey says. Boudreau continues the thought. "I know everything I need to know about Tom. It's a safe place - the nest of trust, if you will," he says with a joking smile.

The two spend most of their free time together and freely admit to going on the types of one-on-one outings that most reserve for their girlfriend or significant other.

"Oh dude. Do we go on man dates," Boudreau says laughingly. He and Tom describe a day-long excursion they went on last year during which they walked the freedom trail, got ice cream, walked along the beach, watched the sunset in Boston Commons, then caught a movie - Forgetting Sarah Marshall. "Probably the only semi-masculine-sounding thing in that whole story," he says.
"That was the cap on a wonderful, wonderful day," Sharkey says.

The two say they are completely comfortable being seen together in public and don't care what people think about them. Such 'man-dates' are becoming increasingly acceptable, even if men may not refer to them as such.

Chip Triebwasser and Daley Gruen, both A&S '11, say they went on a 'man date' as recently as Friday. "We went to the science museum together last night. It was beautiful. Everyone else who was there was on a date or as a threesome, and Chip and I were on our own little date. We thought it was very funny," Gruen says with a laugh. "We end up doing things together - we don't necessarily call it a man date, though."

Fondly known by friends as "Chip and Dale," the two met at orientation and are now roommates their sophomore year. They plan to continue to live together and open an environmentally-related business.

Though they definitely define their relationship as a bromance, they have a larger group of friends as well and welcome them on their outings.

"We encourage others to come," Triebwasser says. "To show what we can offer," Gruen finishes.

While some say women can interfere with male friendships, the two insist that they support each other's romantic efforts, even if that means canceling their plans.

"I would definitely want him to pursue a girl first, above anything," Gruen says. Triebwasser echoes his sentiment. "Definitely, yeah. I would make him cancel our plans - I'd be pissed if you came out with me," he says to Gruen.

Forde says that while having a girlfriend might cut down on the time he and Bertolon get to spend together, it doesn't change their friendship. "I think it hasn't changed because John gets along so well with Maria, so the three of us can hang out," he says. "Like me, Maria and John go out to dinner a lot of times, and it's not awkward at all - it feels like I have two girlfriends," Forde says with a laugh.

A romantic relationship can never act as an adequate substitute for a bromance either, explains Boudreau. "Our bromance is easier than our romantic relationships," he says. "It's easier because there are no demands," Sharkey says, nodding. "It's also similar psychology, too. It's a safe place - I don't have to wonder, how would a girl think about this? We understand each other," Boudreau says."


Oh, and BC lost badly last night at the Beanpot. More coverage on that and last week in BU sports to come.

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