Men, this is what we need to learn about bromance (and how it could make us healthier).

Is anything better than a beautiful bromance?

"What?" GIF from "Sherlock."


You know, bros being bros with each other?

GIF from "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."

Love or hate the bro + romance portmanteau (and many people do have strong and valid feelings about its usage, not to mention the ways it's used as queerbaiting instead of actual LGBTQ representation), you've got to admit that close male friendships do sometimes seem as though they're reserved exclusively for male friends in TV shows and movies.

And don't get me wrong — bromances are fun to watch, but...

...as much as we love to see pairs of dude friends in our TV shows and movies, they may be becoming an endangered species here in the real world.

Though men desire friendship and affection, studies have shown that a lot of us are struggling to form lasting friendships with one another.

GIF from "Star Trek"/Omaze.

This struggle may be the result of one of the worst (and most pervasive) stereotypes: That men want to be alone.

"There's a stereotype of the lone male wolf," says Liz Kirby, one of the authors of a new study about male bonding, referencing the idea that guys are just naturally more isolated than women and don't need emotional support systems or aren't as biologically predisposed to having feelings.

It's the same stereotype that says that men don't need help dealing with day-to-day stress, that a guy shouldn't open up about his feelings, that he shouldn't complain or cry, and that when something bad happens men just deal with it.

Usually stoically.

"I'm not crying. It's raining on my face." — Men, probably. GIF from "Doctor Who."

"There's no reason that has to be the case," Kirby told me. "This idea that only women are the ones who need these social bonds or who can draw on these social bonds is really just not true."

Even science thinks bromances are awesome.

At least, so says the results of Kirby's new study from University of California Berkeley that involved male rats, bro-bonding, and good ol' brain chemicals.

Mmm ... brain chemicals. GIF from "Ratatouille."

The results of the study show that after male rats experienced mild stress, their levels of oxytocin (a hormone in the body which helps bond with others) went up. What's more, they found that male rats, when allowed to hang out with their male rat friends after those mildly stressful days, would get another hit of oxytocin as well.

"Bonding causes oxytocin and oxytocin causes bonding. It's a vicious love cycle," Kirby says. In essence, the study showed that male bonding time can be both a male body's natural response to stress and also one of the best treatments for it.

And guys, this isn't just metaphorically good for our hearts.

Studies show that deep male friendships may be good for our biological hearts too. Friendships can reduce stress, make us more resilient to future stresses, decrease our chances of getting depressed or anxious, and help keep us healthy. One study found that having a friend is as important to a person's health as quitting smoking.

"We do better, we live longer, we are healthier when we have friends," said Kirby.

The idea that deep friendships are good for you isn't exclusive to men, of course — all this stuff about hormones and friendships and health applies to lady-lady friendships, lady-dude friendships...

...human-Hulk friendships... GIF from "Avengers 2: Age of Ultron."

...or any types of friendship, really, but male-male bonds often get kind of ignored in these discussions.

This isn't just a feel-good message either — Kirby's research could one day help defeat one of today's greatest specters: post traumatic stress disorder.

Remember oxytocin, the friendship hormone? Kirby's researchers found something interesting about that. When stress is bad enough — like car-accident, PTSD-levels of bad — oxytocin levels don't go up the same way as when we experience mild, bad-day-at-the-office stress.

Instead, those traumatic experiences lower oxytocin in the body, and no oxytocin means no bonding instinct.

This might help explain why people sometimes retreat away from their support networks after experiencing a traumatic event or why they don't act a certain expected way. It could even help scientists figure out better ways to help anyone suffering from trauma.

This is what Kirby wants to study next — to see if her team can figure out a way to help refuel a person's oxytocin levels. If they can do that, she says, "we might be able to help people with PTSD come back out of their shell."

So, yes, men: Bromances have incredible power.

We should embrace friendships, not shy away from them. Spend some time with friends. Share your feelings. Ask for help. It's OK; it's even good for you!

Bromances can turn stress into friendship, help head off future stress, and can actually help us live longer.

Most hearteningly of all, they might be able to kill off that stupid lone-wolf stereotype that society tells us we need to fulfill — the part that can make you feel the most alone when you're struggling.

So, bros. Remember this the next time you have a bad day at the office.

Don't be this guy:

Be these guys:

You and everyone around you will be better off for it.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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4 minutes of silence can boost your empathy for others. Watch as refugees try it out.

We could all benefit from breaking down some of the walls in our lives.

Images via Amnesty Poland

This article originally appeared on 05.26.16


You'd be hard-pressed to find a place on Earth with more wall-based symbolism than Berlin, Germany.

But there, in the heart of Germany's capital city, strangers sat across from one another, staring into each other's eyes. To the uninitiated, it may look as though you've witnessed some sort of icy standoff. The truth, however, couldn't be more different.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."