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Bromance & Why We Need It More Than Ever!

A platform that presents so many benefits to unwind, to cry on a trusted one’s shoulder WITHOUT being judged and most importantly, to relieve oneself (albeit temporarily) and the emotions haunting them.

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Man, as Aristotle put it, is a social animal. (Depending on the man’s behaviour, the word “animal” can be alternated with “beast”.) Furthermore, man is, by his instincts and his inherited dispositions, predestined to a social existence beyond the intimate family circle. Society must be conceived, therefore, as a part of nature, like a beaver's dam or the nests of birds- says Ernest Watson Burgess.

And how true is that! And yet how far away we have moved from the concept. More the widgets & gadgets we have to “chat”, lesser do we “communicate” as individuals. Take away the “Social” from man and then all that remains is an animalistic nature. Especially in today’s time when ‘40s is the new 60s’, when Obesity, Diabetes, Cardiac Arrest, and other “illness” of the mind and soul are so commonplace. 

Beneath any illness (or discomfort) is an underlying, yet in fatigable mind-body connection - be it Cancer, hypertension or even a Kidney related ailment. Depression is so commonplace amongst teenagers, just as it is between adults. Except that most teenagers do get help (simply because they are fortunate to have parents / caregivers who watch over them with concern and take steps).

Crying Vs Venting

But what about adult women? Well. Between a job (either formal workplace or being the unpaid chief task executor for the family), stress of almost every family member being treated as her own, trying to grab a meal in between the schedules of her family members, her health takes a backseat in India. They are far more resilient and have their way of emotional vent. Even if he thinks that she does a fair bit of crying (and therefore cathartic sharing too) …

So, that leaves the adult men population whose sharing is limited to sutta breaks (cigarette breaks) at office or a daaru party (where Glenfiddich or Old Monk -depending on the socio-cultural milieu- and the “Boss” takes centre stage than loss of a loved one, romantic breakups, career jolts, loss of a pet or even a tussle with a family member). Men aren’t “allowed” to cry in public or show their emotions. But why?

Our societal fabric requires that men behave (and be) machos, despite being hurt in the deepest of emotions, for the smallest and largest of the reasons, for social or emotional causes. What happens over time is that these emotions (or the lack of support to handle it) builds up and one day jolts the family (and himself) in the form of life-threatening illness which is crippling on every front- morally, mentally, physically, and financially. Even worse, Suicide. 

According to broadly available statistics, over 55 million Indians suffer from depression and another 38 million Indians suffer from anxiety disorders. Does every single adult male out there with these anxiety symptoms receive help?

More than ever, Covid has preyed on the mental health of people worldwide - sleeplessness, feeling nervous or on the edge or just having trouble concentrating on everyday matters, a morbid fear of a job or business loss, unable to perform everyday actions like driving or childcare, an uneasy feeling or encroachment of personal spaces, a more time-therefore-more stress syndrome or simply boredom coupled with anxiety - this is a demon lurking in the shadows for some time now. Emotional support therefore is not just a need or a want but a necessity, much like a smartphone for the urban populace.

The New “Sharing Is Caring”

This is not about gender-based issues, but rather than a NEED to share something deeper, something more intense than layoffs or the boss or a bad spouse / girlfriend.

Isn’t Bromance therefore the need of the hour? A platform that presents so many benefits to unwind, to cry on a trusted one’s shoulder WITHOUT being judged and most importantly, to relieve oneself (albeit temporarily) and the emotions haunting them.

Even in Bollywood flicks like ‘3 Idiots’ or ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ - the underlying theme was bromance of the purest kind. Where & when can men talk about the loss of a parent, or a job or a pet? How can he “emote” effectively without being judged? Is there a platform that lets him do so? Yes, of course there is social media. But that puts pressure to showcase himself as non-vulnerable, and even larger-than-life! Yes, there are social self-help groups. And yet socially very few men access it. Seeking help for emotional need seems to be as much as taboo topic as sanitary pads or condoms were even a decade ago!

School friends & college mates (and especially those who don’t despise you for your growth) are great platforms to start these healthy discussions. Men can be great listeners too if there is a platform that advocates healthy sharing. Women are often accused of being melodramatic and / or too “open” in their discussions around family-work-kids-in-laws dialogues.

The great Indian family. Or not. 

But isn’t that ONE great reason to start bonding? Rather than catch up only at Diwali “Taash” or new year parties, why can’t we have bromance as a support system to bond? Cousins simply hanging out (without the need to have a reason), calling a sibling instead of waiting for a parent to fall ill / die so we could mutter condolences and then pass on the buck to whichever sibling is the fall guy to take care of the remaining parent. Family reunions where unrequited love comes together naturally flowing from generation to generation, thus providing a “safe” space to vent, to connect, to bond. More reasons to break down the walls (of ego, of greed, of jealousy, of intolerance) and although it may not be one-huge-loving-family-living-happily-ever-after, it is a start.

Office groups or project workers again could be an extended family. Covid and its aftermath has brought many new-tech and large corporates to the fore, many of whom formed exclusive Employee Support Teams; to handle emergencies from oxygen support to vaccination drives to day care packages for new moms to bereavement leave to grief counsellors. 

Isn’t that a wonderful way to give back to the cohort that works 24x7 (with covid and WFH blurring the lines of a 9-to-7 desk job)? Schools (when they come into offline mode) can undoubtedly help to take the edge off parents by counselling the kids to ease them back into a new-normal scenario.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Perhaps it takes another to support an adult. More importantly, the kids do watch the adults and form opinions in “what to chase in life”. Monkey see, monkey do.

Hence it is more critical to teach them (early on and through adults behaving) that happiness is state of mind, and not just what the world makes it to be!

For if done right, ‘Zindagi Milegi Dobara’, isn’t so? Life then, would be worth so much more!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Kalyani Srinath

The author is a keen observer of social behaviour, an L&D (Learning and Development) Professional and an avid blogger at www.sizzlingtastebuds.com

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