A World Obsessed With Romantic Love

14.03.18

by Kim EvensenFounder of Brothers

A World Obsessed With Romantic Love

We live in a culture that is obsessed with romantic love. Finding ‘the one’ has become the ultimate goal in the lives of many. In most movies, music, and media, romantic relationships are valued and pursued at all cost. This culture has affected us more than most of us would like to admit. if we're even aware of it. "That's cool, but maybe guys just aren't really interested in having these deep friendships, since having romantic relationships are so much more valued?"Well... Professor of Applied Psychology at New York University and Director of the Ph.D. program in Developmental Psychology, Niobe Way, says in her book "Deep Secrets" after interviewing numerous of teenage boys about their friendships, that "teenage boys who have sex, video games and sports on their minds [...] spoke about 'spilling your heart out to somebody', 'sharing deep [...] secrets' and 'feeling lost' without their male best friends." Clearly, after her research, the guys definitely valued their male best friends. But when growing up it's easier to conform to the culture we live in, than to go against it. Now, with that said, I'll try to stay on topic... It’s sad to see how friendships are at the mercy of romantic relationships. I’ve heard lots of stories of guys losing their best friend when a girl has entered the picture. A dating relationship becomes the number one priority in one’s life – and one’s friendships simply become replaced by their romantic partner (a classic story that I've heard many times). For many men this relationship becomes their only source of intimacy, closeness and warmth. And as a guy, I sometimes feel it’s unreasonable for me to ‘expect’ a lot from a best friend when he is dating. I just have to settle with our friendship being more or less neglected. My question is; does it really have to be like this? It’s good to be aware of the culture we live in, and how it affects our behaviour. Let’s have a look at friendship in some other cultures:"In many countries, male friendships are formalised. In southern Ghana, same-sex best friends go through a marriage ceremony similar to that performed for husbands and wives.In Cameroon, parents urge their kids to find a best friend (much in the same way that we in Western culture urge our kids to get a romantic partner).In China (at least until the late 1990s), and in other Eastern and Middle Eastern countries, heterosexual men hold hands with their friends and regularly rely on them for emotional support." (Niobe Way, “Deep Secrets”)- Now imagine doing any of these things in a Western country! People would go nuts! ...I am not trying to say that we should all just start 'holding hands' or have ceremonies for our friendships, but I’m writing this because I think it’s good for us to get some perspective. Reserving all forms of warmth and closeness for our romantic partner only, is a very 'Western way of thinking' - and I've been guilty of falling into this pattern of thinking myself. But read this:"Stephanie Coontz, an historian, blames the decline of social connectedness on our twentieth-century notions of romantic love in marriage where a partner is expected to fulfill all one's emotional and social needs." She also adds that "only in the twentieth-century (and early twenty-first century), under the influence of Freudianism, we have found overselves increasingly 'suspicious' of same-sex relationships and focused exclusively on romantic partnerships. These patterns may indeed help to explain the patterns of loss in boys' friendships." (Niobe Way, “Deep Secrets”) Now, read and allow yourself to think about these statements. I am comparing what’s culturally accepted to ‘do’ for a romantic partner versus a best friend.  1) Moving to another country to live close to your girlfriend is accepted, even honourable. But moving to another country to live close to your best friend might be frown upon. 2) Being strongly committed to your girlfriend is ok. But being strongly committed to your best friend is a little bit weird, isn't it? 3) Introducing a girlfriend to your family is important.Introducing your best friend (as your best friend) to the family might make them very suspicious. 4) Talking about your girlfriend and how much you miss her is beautiful. Doing the same about your best friend...well, it can be misunderstood as gay. So maybe I shouldn't? 5) Creating a movement that encourages great romantic relationships is amazing.A movement about male friendships though....that’s a bit extreme, isn’t it? The culture we live in puts romantic love on a pedestal that is unhealthy and destructive. I am not saying that romantic love is bad – not at all! It’s beautiful! But is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other.

*Niobe Way - "Deep Secrets" - page 91**Niobe Way - "Deep Secrets" - page 7***Niobe Way - "Deep Secrets" - page 219

A World Obsessed With Romantic Love

14.03.18

by Kim EvensenFounder of Brothers

A World Obsessed With Romantic Love

We live in a culture that is obsessed with romantic love. Finding ‘the one’ has become the ultimate goal in the lives of many. In most movies, music, and media, romantic relationships are valued and pursued at all cost. This culture has affected us more than most of us would like to admit. if we're even aware of it. "That's cool, but maybe guys just aren't really interested in having these deep friendships, since having romantic relationships are so much more valued?"Well... Professor of Applied Psychology at New York University and Director of the Ph.D. program in Developmental Psychology, Niobe Way, says in her book "Deep Secrets" after interviewing numerous of teenage boys about their friendships, that "teenage boys who have sex, video games and sports on their minds [...] spoke about 'spilling your heart out to somebody', 'sharing deep [...] secrets' and 'feeling lost' without their male best friends."* Clearly, after her research, the guys definitely valued their male best friends. But when growing up it's easier to conform to the culture we live in, than to go against it. Now, with that said, I'll try to stay on topic... It’s sad to see how friendships are at the mercy of romantic relationships. I’ve heard lots of stories of guys losing their best friend when a girl has entered the picture. A dating relationship becomes the number one priority in one’s life – and one’s friendships simply become replaced by their romantic partner (a classic story that I've heard many times). For many men this relationship becomes their only source of intimacy, closeness and warmth. And as a guy, I sometimes feel it’s unreasonable for me to ‘expect’ a lot from a best friend when he is dating. I just have to settle with our friendship being more or less neglected. My question is; does it really have to be like this? It’s good to be aware of the culture we live in, and how it affects our behaviour. Let’s have a look at friendship in some other cultures:"In many countries, male friendships are formalised. In southern Ghana, same-sex best friends go through a marriage ceremony similar to that performed for husbands and wives.In Cameroon, parents urge their kids to find a best friend (much in the same way that we in Western culture urge our kids to get a romantic partner).In China (at least until the late 1990s), and in other Eastern and Middle Eastern countries, heterosexual men hold hands with their friends and regularly rely on them for emotional support."**- Now imagine doing any of these things in a Western country! People would go nuts! ...I am not trying to say that we should all just start 'holding hands' or have ceremonies for our friendships, but I’m writing this because I think it’s good for us to get some perspective. Reserving all forms of warmth and closeness for our romantic partner only, is a very 'Western way of thinking' - and I've been guilty of falling into this pattern of thinking myself. But read this:"Stephanie Coontz, an historian, blames the decline of social connectedness on our twentieth-century notions of romantic love in marriage where a partner is expected to fulfill all one's emotional and social needs." She also adds that "only in the twentieth-century (and early twenty-first century), under the influence of Freudianism, we have found overselves increasingly 'suspicious' of same-sex relationships and focused exclusively on romantic partnerships. These patterns may indeed help to explain the patterns of loss in boys' friendships."* Now, read and allow yourself to think about these statements. I am comparing what’s culturally accepted to ‘do’ for a romantic partner versus a best friend.  1) Moving to another country to live close to your girlfriend is accepted, even honourable. But moving to another country to live close to your best friend might be frown upon. 2) Being strongly committed to your girlfriend is ok. But being strongly committed to your best friend is a little bit weird, isn't it? 3) Introducing a girlfriend to your family is important.Introducing your best friend (as your best friend) to the family might make them very suspicious. 4) Talking about your girlfriend and how much you miss her is beautiful. Doing the same about your best friend...well, it can be misunderstood as gay. So maybe I shouldn't? 5) Creating a movement that encourages great romantic relationships is amazing.A movement about male friendships though....that’s a bit extreme, isn’t it? The culture we live in puts romantic love on a pedestal that is unhealthy and destructive. I am not saying that romantic love is bad – not at all! It’s beautiful! But is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other.

*Niobe Way - "Deep Secrets" - page 91**Niobe Way - "Deep Secrets" - page 7***Niobe Way - "Deep Secrets" - page 219