How bromance can save Valentine's Day

    Valentine’s Day is a fine day for some bromance. Photo by davidgljay on Flickr, licensed under the Creative Commons.

    Unlike America’s other saint-based holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day suffers from an image problem. Where St. Patrick’s Day unites people in their love of booze and their hatred of snakes, Valentine’s Day only succeeds in dividing people into varying pools of self-pity, cynicism and disgust.

    If Valentine’s Day is to be saved from a piteous, ignoble fate, a balance must be struck — traditional conventions must be overcome and emerging trends embraced.

    That is to say, Valentine’s Day needs a little less self-pity and a little more bromance.

    Bromance, the cultivation of an especially strong relationship between two straight males, is really just a term that’s been slapped onto a very old concept. Even Aristotle described something resembling bromance, writing, “it is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends’ sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality.” Though, at its core the term bromance is not meant to be taken seriously. Instead, the application of its tenets could serve to invigorate Valentine’s Day with new energy, reversing the cynical, mopey and ironic attitudes that get channeled around February 14 every year.

    The lack of love for Valentine’s Day comes from many corners. Some reject the holiday as a brainchild of the greeting card industry — no more a means of bringing people together than of separating them from part of their paycheck. Others less concerned with the evils of the “The Corporation” sometimes prefer to wallow in some jilted notion of loneliness. This wallowing can take place outright or be masked by some form of ironic behavior — like watching a bunch of chick flicks with friends while exchanging snarky comments in between spoonfuls of chocolate ice cream (straight from the container, mind you, as girls peculiarly prefer to consume it). Guys mimic the behavior of their female counterparts by displaying a sort of brusque indifference when they find themselves without a date, usually retreating into a world of video games and other electronic forms of… entertainment.

    But lamenting a lack of love through ironic activities and veiled self-pity is fast on its way to joining acting all lovey-dovey in that rose petal-strewn bin of Valentine’s Day clichés. It seems that to go out is to showboat, yet by staying in you are effectively declaring yourself an antisocial hermit, creating a sort of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” conundrum. This is why it’s time to get bromantic…

    After all, haven’t girls been acting “bromantically” for years — translating their disillusionment with Valentine’s Day and romance in general into girls’ nights on the town? If the girls can replace Valentine’s Day in its sorry state, with some kind of Dionysian homage to Carrie Bradshaw, then guys should feel no shame in turning the night into – as trite as it may seem – a replication of anything and everything they’ve ever seen on Entourage.

    A bromantic night out is really no different from a regular night of chilling with your friends. It is merely taking the same camaraderie and conversation to a nicer, more public setting. Think top restaurant, not Top Ramen. Guys are often all too willing to relegate themselves to a life in which squalor and crudity masquerade as masculinity. The bromantic solution only asks that guys throw on some clean clothes and take it outside.

    As a loose and not very serious concept, bromance is open to interpretation. A bromantic Valentine’s Day could be defined as any activity that includes at least two male friends. A double date — that reviled and unavoidable female construct — even has a lot of bromantic potential, provided it is spearheaded by the bros and not the accompanying long-handled implements used to break up the surface of the ground, destroy weeds, etc.

    Don’t be a Valentine’s Day cliché. Girls — Renée Zellweger movies need to stay out of the DVD player and guys — Xbox controllers need to stay on the shelf. If you don’t have a date, just have fun; bromance is not part of the problem, it’s part of the solution.


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