Lately, the word “bromance” has been getting some tremendous mileage. You see it on movie posters, on TV, and in passing conversation. In general, the word refers to two heterosexual guys who have enough social interaction that they’re basically dating, only without the sex. Get it? BRO-mance instead of romance! Yeah, we know. It’s an annoying word. Unfortunately, it’s probably not going anywhere soon.Originally, bromance was a homophobic term, designed to shame men who had too close a relationship with their friends. Recently, though, it’s been adopted by guys as a means of proving how un-homophobic a relationship is. By adding “bro” to the word “romance,” they’re cleverly and humorously playing off their attraction to their platonic male friends. So, it’s like, totally not gay. Get it?
You see a lot of frat guys using words like bromance as a way of suppressing the strong feelings that come with any friendship. That’s problematic, because the actual relationship implied by bromance — which is essentially close friendship — is harmless, and it’s been around forever. The word has only recently become a fairly hip trend, spurred by Judd Apatow movies.
Guys now use it unflinchingly, and sometimes even in earnest. Bromances are serious business, but the word makes friendship seem dramatic and silly. That’s the scary part. The word “bromance” has entered the lexicon. It’s growing in popularity, and the only group we can blame for that is the lowly internet columnist.
Yes, I’m taking responsibility for all of us. Buzzwords that use some sort of a male prefix are all the rage and we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves. You’ll regularly hear about “mancations,” “mancaves,” “manscaping,” and “guybrows.” These words mean nothing, and could be easily substituted by words that make much more sense. We do not do that, though, because compound words are cute. And so we have bromance, which unnecessarily treats a male-male relationship like a heterosexual or homosexual relationship.
At its best, it implies that it’s not alright to be friends with another dude. At its worst, it implies that friendships should be treated as seriously as romantic relationships. It’s the kind of word that makes English majors run out of the room panting and hyperventilating, searching in vain for a usage dictionary.
The next time you run into “bromance” or any of its sister words that unnecessarily tack “man,” “bro,” or “guy” onto a perfectly usable, normal word, please do everyone a favor. Bludgeon the person using the word with a large stick. Actually, you might give them a warning thwack first, but if they keep insisting on using badly designed and poorly implemented words they read from Perez Hilton — go to town. Sure, you’ll go to prison for a while, but the language will be safer, and “bromance” will be left to die the death it deserves.
You could also just casually bring up how we don’t need “bromance.” Friendships are just friendships, people.