Sammy Nickalls
March 09, 2016 11:09 am
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Close male friendships are often stigmatized due to totally bogus gender roles that deem sensitivity and companionship to be “un-masculine.” However, it turns out that having a good bromance can actually be good for guys, according to recent research.

A study published in Neuropsychopharmacology analyzed male rats who were housed in the same cage. When the rats underwent mild stress, they were more social with each other by huddling and touching. The rats showed increased levels of oxytocin, which helps to cope with stress and bond with others.

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“A bromance can be a good thing,” lead author Elizabeth Kerby told the site Futurity. “Males are getting a bad rap when you look at animal models of social interactions, because they are assumed to be instinctively aggressive. But even rats can have a good cuddle—essentially a male-male bromance—to help recover from a bad day.”

As Kerby noted, having friends is not “un-masculine.” “These rats are using their rat friendships to recover from what would otherwise be a negative experience,” she said. “If rats can do it, men can do it, too. And they definitely are, they just don’t get as much credit in the research for that.”

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However, although these positive responses happened when the rats were subjected to mild stress, severe stress caused them to withdraw, becoming solitary and even aggressive — perhaps even showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “This really aligns well with what you see with pathological effects of stress on humans,” Kirby said. “If you repeatedly take away and return their water, normal rats become very aggressive, pushing and shoving at the water fountain like a bunch of thirsty seven-year-olds who don’t know how to stand in line yet.”

But when it comes to everyday stressors, a bromance can be perfectly healthy. In other words, the stigma surrounding close male friendships isn’t only bogus, but damaging to men’s health — so, guys, don’t feel weird about bro-ing out with your best bud. It’s good for you both!

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