Bros Cuddling Bros

Cristen Conger

Platonic physical intimacy is a common hallmark of straight female friendships. The HBO series "Girls" is rife with visual evidence of besties holding hands with, cuddling with, sleeping with and even bathing with besties. Due to the post-1920s homophobic underpinnings of hegemonic masculinity, "Girls"-level "homosocial tactility," as academics put it, would be deemed gay if straight guys were to openly engage in it. And though the term "bromance" is now firmly cemented in 21st-century language, platonic affection between guys likelier sticks more exclusively to verbal, rather than physical, expressions -- for which reason I doubt there was ever a BFF bathtub scene in "Entourage."

But! A March 2014 study of 40 British male college student-athletes suggests that, along with the welcome erosion of homophobia among younger generations of boys, bro-on-bro cuddling may be on the rise. In interviews with the study participants whose athletic status was important since jocks have "traditionally been labeled the arbiters of esteemed forms of masculinity," all but three had engaged in couch and/or bed cuddling and spooning with straight male pals. Even more guys -- 39 out of 40 -- reported sharing a bed with a bro as well, which may or may not involve cuddling from time to time. Cozying up on a couch together actually seems to be a favored hangover cure for these party-hardy blokes. As a guy named Sam told the researchers: "I spoon,'s very common for us to go out [late], and then the next day after class receive a text from someone saying something like 'do you want to come and nap?'"

What happens in the case of spoon-induced erections? Do they ever instigate weirdness? Apparently, not. The consensus among the group they interviewed was that erections happen, and some of them will call attention directly to it if/when it happens, while other stay mum and trot off to the bathroom to "relieve the tension," as one described it.

The researchers positively conclude: "Rather than male youth transgressing masculine norms, we find they have redefined them for their own benefit." Truly, if this study finding, albeit from a small sample, indicates that younger generations of men are growing more comfortable with platonic physical intimacy, detached from old school homohysteria, this bro-on-bro cuddling could eventually benefit us all.

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