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.

Family
Facebook / Mikhail Galin

Putting your pet in cargo during a flight isn't always safe. In 2016, the Department of Transportation reported a total of 26 pet deaths and 22 injuries on flights. Because conditions in cargo can be uncomfortable for animals, the Humane Society recommends taking your pet aboard when you fly, or just leaving it at home.

It's not surprising that one Russian man didn't want to put his overweight cat in cargo during an eight-hour flight from Moscow to Vladivostok. What is surprising is the great lengths he took to fly with his four-legged friend.

Russian airline Aeroflot allows pets to fly inside the plane's cabin, as long as the cat weighs under 17.6 pounds and stays in its carrier during the flight. When Mikhail Galin went to check in, he was told he couldn't fly with his four-year old cat, Viktor. Viktor weighed in at 22 pounds and would have to be relegated to cargo.

But Viktor was sick from their earlier flight from Riga, Latvia to Moscow. And besides, Viktor had been allowed to fly inside the cabin during that flight. The airline staff didn't even bother to make Viktor sit on the scales. Galin was unable to persuade staff to bring his fur baby on board.

"To all attempts to explain that the cat won't survive there on an 8-hour flight with the baggage and would haunt her in her nightmares for the rest of her life, she (the Aeroflot staff member) replied that there are rules," Galin wrote in a Facebook post translated from Russian.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Kelvin Octa from Pexels

Newborn babies don't seem to do much beyond eating and pooping and, of course, hiccupping. A lot. Parenting advice on how to cure a baby's hiccups runs the whole gamut. It's recommended parents try everything from nursing to stop feeding the baby so much, from giving the baby gripe water to letting the hiccups play their course. But when your baby hiccups too much, you shouldn't freak out. There's a good reason why.

A new study published in Clinical Neurophysiology found that hiccups play an important role in a baby's development. Researchers from the University College London found 217 babies for their study, but only looked at 13 newborns with persistent hiccups. Ten of those babies hiccupped when they were awake, and three hiccupped during their "wriggly" sleep. We have no idea how the scientists got any work done with all that cuteness lying around.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Actress Kristen Bell and "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon showed off their vocal and comedic chops on Tuesday night when the performed a medley of 17 Disney songs, spanning nine decades, in just five minutes.

The duo started with 1940's "When You Wish Upon a Star" and ended with 2013's "Let it Go" from "Frozen."

Bell will reprise her role as Anna in Disney's upcoming "Frozen 2."

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Ask almost any woman about a time a man said or did something sexually inappropriate to them, and she'll have a story or four to tell. According to a survey NPR published last year, 81% of women report having experienced sexual harassment, with verbal harassment being the most common. (By contrast, 43% of men report being sexually harassed. Naturally harassment toward anyone of any sex or gender is not okay, but women have been putting up with this ish unchecked for centuries.)

One form of verbal sexual harassment is the all too common sexist or sexual "joke." Ha ha ha, I'm going to say something explicit or demeaning about you and then we can all laugh about how hilarious it is. And I'll probably get away with it because you'll be too embarrassed to say anything, and if you do you'll be accused of being overly sensitive. Ha! Won't that be a hoot?

Keep Reading Show less
popular