Because stress dramatically increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, obesity, and gastrointestinal issues, it's important to relax and reduce stress whenever possible. While stress reduction typically comes in the form of hobbies, meditation, or exercise, a new study reveals that men have another tool at their disposal: a solid bromance.
A bromance is a non-sexual relationship between two guys that involves a lot of emotional bonding that doesn't always happen in the average friendship. While many may think that guys shouldn't be sensitive, the evidence suggests that it is in their best interest because of its ability to decrease stress, which in turn improves quality of life.
Researchers at UC Berkeley found that rats are more likely to lean on each other for comfort after experiencing stress. In fact, the rats that experienced occasional stress were more likely to be social with one another than rats that didn't. In particular, pairs of male rats would form non-sexual relationships, cuddling close with their buddies.
By leaning on one another when times get rough, they are able to forge strong bonds.
"A bromance can be a good thing," principle investigator Elizabeth Kirby explained in a press release. "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."
After experiencing mild stress, the mice engaging in bromantic relationships had higher levels of oxytocin, commonly known as the "cuddle hormone." This hormone, which comes into play during social contact, helps strengthen bonds between individuals and reduces anxiety.
"Having friends is not un-masculine," Kirby continued. "These rats are using their rat friendships to recover from what would otherwise be a negative experience. 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."
These findings build upon previous research in rodents, which found bromances to be a healthy way to overcome stress. While it's not known exactly how this translates to male humans, it does bode well for guys who have close friendships, as any way of reducing stress is of benefit to overall health and well being.
Time to kick the stereotype that men shouldn't be emotional with their friends? Definitely.
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