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The Definition of Bromance: Characteristics of the Intense Male Relationship

I have a BA in history and creative writing and an MA in history. I enjoy politics, movies, television, poker, video games, and trivia.

What is a Bromance?

Ask any red-blooded American male in public what satisfies him as a man and the answers are all likely to involve women: love, sex, fatherhood; etc.

What men are less likely to acknowledge, and what forms a huge, gaping hole in a man's heart if they are absent, are his relationships with other men.

Men desire and need intense, satisfying relationships with other men: Bromance.

labeled for re-use

labeled for re-use

Let's Get Bromantic!

Bromances occur when two men share similar interests and have a fulfilling friendship as a result. However, the term bromance more often refers to two men who meet as adults and are not lifelong or best friends.

Bromance occurs suddenly and is often characterized by the thought: "man, I really like this dude and I'd like to hang out with him." If both men have this epiphany at the same time, then it is a true bromance.

A bromance has similar characteristics to a romance in that the two participants are usually of similar age and similar physical attractiveness on the hot or not scale (where 10=hot and 1=not). In other words, it's extremely rare that a bromance will occur between a 25-year-old and a 60-year-old, though it is technically possible.

It is also not likely a bromance will occur between a stud and a schlub just like it is rare that a hot woman will date an ugly man or vice versa. However, whereas a hot woman will sometimes date a man who is below her on the "hot or not" scale if he has money (and vice versa), a bromance can not occur between two men in the same situation.

Bromances are partially defined by other bros and there's something a little too weird about one bro hanging around another bro just because he's leeching off resources. That's an imbalance in the bro universe and not a bromance.

So How Does a Bromance Work?

A bromance can happen anytime two, willing men meet each other and engage in a friendship. Most male friendships do not reach the level of the bromance. Male friends may spend time together in a wide variety of ways, but to take on the characteristics of a bromance, that friendship must become a focal point of their lives for some period of time. Effectively, the friendship becomes consuming and it does so because the bros share so many similarities and enjoy so many activities together.

Can a Bromance Be a Threat to Another Relationship?

Bromances can definitely seem threatening to insecure women. A man is much more susceptible to becoming involved in a bromance if he focuses too much of his attention on a female companion at the expense of his male relationships.

Unfortunately, women simply don't fulfill the same needs for a man that other men do. Thus, as a man romances a woman and begins to compromise his manly needs (like watching sports, drinking, playing video games, talking about hot chicks, farting; etc.), he runs a deficit that a bromance can fill.

When and if the man meets another man who might also be in a relationship and is running the same bro deficit or just another bro who's living the life that the relationship bro remembers he once had, the bromance becomes a distinct possibility. If entered into, the bromance becomes a balancing factor for the bro. He gets some things from his female companion and others from his male companion.


The Gay Factor

A bromance will tend to become unstable as it approaches and/or skims homosexual undertones.

For men who are comfortable with their sexuality and are not bigots, homosexuality represents a normal threat to their existence as a man because a bromance, by definition, is a male friendship that does not involve sex, so if there's an implication through action that one of the participants in a bromance wants to have sex with the other one, that's a problem that would promptly end the bromance.

Critics of the bromance may tend to view such fear as bigoted or anti-gay, or even hateful, but it truly is not. Even the most open-mined bromantics must fear the implication of homosexuality in their bromance because it will destroy it. Bros cannot be perceived to be too into each other. That's anti-bro, anti-bromance.

How Do Two Bros Enter Into a Bromance?

So how do two bros enter into a bromance?

It starts with something I'll define by "The Manly Scale".

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A successful bromance is frequently predicated by two men who are equals or near equals on "The Manly Scale". The "Manly Scale" looks something like this (1=most manly. 10=least manly):

The Manly Table

The Manly Scale  

complete wussy 

Pauly Shore 


Paul Rudd in "I Love You, Man" 

average dude, average skills

Good-looking, no other talents 

Manly capable 

Good-looking with 1 manly skill 

Kevin Costner in "Bull Durham" 


Gerard Butler in "300" 

Understanding Bromance Through the Application of Man Points

The general conclusion one should draw from the above is that a "10" cannot have a bromance with a "1" because the "10" has nothing to gain from the endeavor. Bromances are usually had between two "5's" or two "6's" or between bros who are only one or two points apart on the manly scale. If there is any more than two points difference between bros, then there's an inequity between them that makes the bromance increasingly unlikely.

Man Points

If you carefully observe the way men act with other men, you can quickly develop a point system to measure their manliness and deduce their bromance worthiness. This is necessary because mere physical attractiveness and outward social appearance aren't always enough to establish the possibility for a bromance conclusively.

For instance, a bro who is a "6" and meets another "6" may have to do some additional work to figure out if a bromance is possible.

Thus, if two bros are measured during the same interval and assigned man points, their potential for a bromance would be based on the similarity of their scores. This is assuming they're doing basically the same activity.

For instance, bro #1 approaches a woman in a bar, makes light conversation, but does not get the woman's phone number. Bro #2 walks up to a woman in a bar and before he even gets a word out of his mouth, vomits all over her. Bro #1 would score a 4 out of 10 while Bro #2 would score a -500.

These two would not be a good match for a Bromance unless they shared a lot of similar interests and Bro #2 was really attractive or good at sports or something and the social interactivity was his only weakness and a place where Bro #1 could help him out and was willing to do so. Usually though, a Bro who can't even talk to a woman at a bar is usually a "1" on The "Manly Scale" while Bro #1 is at least a "5". There's virtually no potential for a Bromance there.

If you look at the chart below, you should be able to deduce clearly which two bros have the greatest potential for a bromance. As far as the chart goes, a negative score implies a negative action and a positive score a positive one.

So, for instance, if one bro receives a "+1" on the "loves beer" characteristic while another bro receives a "+10", the second bro has a much more refined beer palette while the first bro loves beer, but probably just sticks to Pabst Blue Ribbon and thinks all other beers are stupid. A negative score would indicate a Zima drinker.

Man Point Awards

Bro CharacteristicsBro #1Bro #2 Bro #3 

Loves Beer




Can throw a football 30yds. 




Talks easily to women 




Fit and works out




Likes action movies 




Messy eater 




Farts in public 




Body odor 








Man Point Application

Bro 1 and bro 2 clearly have a higher chance for a bromance than either of them have with bro 3. Aside from the fact that bros 1 and 2 may not be that coordinated, they are otherwise socially adept individuals whereas bro 3 drinks beer, may be athletic, but is also stinky and not particularly concerned about his place in society.

Real men carry their bags. No rolling!

Real men carry their bags. No rolling!

More Man Point Assignments

The chart below provides some other ideas for applying man points to determine the viability of a bromance.

Please note that the scale can be expanded by any factor if the scores are particularly close for a group of candidates.

So, if you're having trouble because you have two or three bros vying for your attention, changing negative manpoints on rolling luggage from -1 to -10 and applying a factor of 10 to all other characteristics will help you determine which bro has more bromance potential.

Other Man Point Designations

Other Man Point QualifiersPoints 

uses rolling luggage 






boxer briefs


watches NFL


watches ice-skating


plays Halo


plays Lego Star Wars








Picks nose 


Picks nose in public 


Picks nose and eats it in public 


Man Point Summary

As you can undoubtedly see from the above, there's a wide variability in man point assignments with characteristics and even within the same characteristic.

For example, if a bro uses rolling luggage on a business trip because he is able to get from one place to another faster, then that may not be a deduction. However, if that same bro brings his rolling luggage along on a trip with other bros, that could be cause for a deduction.

A bro can play Lego Star Wars if he is doing so with his kid, but if he's doing so because he likes it better than Halo, that could be cause for a deduction. Keep in mind that the man point scale and its assigned qualifiers are not static and can be adjusted by each bro accordingly to see what other bros might be potential partners for a bromance.

One does not have to award positive man points for beer-drinking if one prefers wine, for instance. A bromance can easily occur between intellectuals who love wine, books, and opera. Bromances are not discriminatory just because they don't obey cultural stereotypes of defined manliness.

Bromances can be seen in popular culture throughout history.

The most recent bromance-defining film was "I Love You, Man" in which a desperate Paul Rudd forms a bromance with the more experienced Jason Segal. The two are clearly close on The Manly Scale, with Rudd's character lacking in social graces. However, since Segal's character is willing to tutor Rudd, the bromance is possible.

I have written about the lifelong friendship between NFL players Mark Sanchez and recently drafted Scotty McKnight. That is clearly a bromance with a lot of history that is largely immune to any outside criticism.

These two guys are best friends, have the same job, and have clearly established the grounds for a satisfying bromance. Although they might not consider it a bromance since they grew up together, other bros would probably define it as a bromance, and a good one at that.

Other easily identifiable bromances in culture: The Rat Pack, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, Siskel and Ebert (a perfect example of how shared love of one particular thing - movies - can make a bromance), Captain Kirk and Spock, Butch and Sundance, Wayne and Garth from Wayne's World, George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

As you can see, the bromance has a long and storied history, so don't be afraid of the bromance if you happen upon one. Embrace it and enjoy it. Just make sure it's right for you.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Allen Donald


Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on September 09, 2012:

What a fascinating discourse into the subject of bromances -- and I'm surprised that no one has commented on it. Maybe it's not manly to do so ;)

It's unfortunate that close male relationships in American culture are seen as so bizarre as requiring a humorous term. The good news is that I'm seeing more of the younger men developing such relationships more so than my baby boomer generation.

Voting this Up and Interesting.

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