You may have noticed a certain vibe at your local watering hole, a kind of electricity over the foosball table.
Maybe that old Semisonic chestnut, "Closing Time," is ringing out on the jukebox, and it feels more intense than all the billion other times you've heard it.
"I know who I want to take me home," guy-from-Semisonic belts out.
"So gather up your jackets, move it to the exits,
I hope you have found a friend."
Indeed, more and more men are finding a friend, and those friends just happen to be men. Thing is, it's mostly straight men in that bar, but they're all feeling the same something.
It's men supporting men
We're living in the Bromantic Age, a time when friendships between straight men are characterized not just by boozy camaraderie, but real emotional bonds.
The bromantic ideal is nothing new. Remember how James T. Kirk and Spock lit up the original "Star Trek" series back in the '60s? The tension practically crackled.
And there lies the danger, according to a new study from the University of Winchester in the United Kingdom.
"We find that the increasingly intimate, emotive, and trusting nature of bromances offers young men a new social space for emotional disclosure, outside of traditional heterosexual relationships," the study notes in its abstract.
In other words, men are increasingly turning to men to fill their emotional needs. And not just as booze-ridden brothers at the bar. The study notes that men — who don't seem to be in any hurry to leave adolescence behind — are even choosing to live with their male friends.
And women may be paying the tab.
The benefits (and price) of bromance
In The Telegraph, Stefan Robinson, one of the study's authors, called it a "significant and worrying" trend for women. He notes that a culture of sexism appears to be emerging alongside these unions.
For the study, researchers interviewed 30 male undergraduates, all with male friends they were living with. Among them, 28 said they prefer discussing emotional issues with their male friends vs. with girlfriends.
Participants preferred the benefits of bromance to its more traditional counterpart. They pointed to more emotional honesty, feelings of social fulfilment and better conflict resolution.
In fact, 28 of the men found the 'girlfriend model' to be wanting in all of those aspects.
But what does it mean?
Adam White, who co-authored the study, sees the writing on the wall, describing it in the National Post as more of a regressive social trend. The focus isn't on growing up and being accountable, but hiding away and focusing on the fun.
A bromance, White tells the Post, is "very, very good for men."
And women? Well, they would be seen as the gatekeepers of good times. You know, the adults in the room.
"What happens in 50 years, say, if these bromantic relationships really take off and men decide, 'Hang on, we really enjoy these. These are much better. We can gain more emotionality from it. We're less regulated, we're less policed,'" White added. "And therefore women actually just become the sexual fulfillers of men and nothing else. That's the worrying aspect."
Welcome to the Bromantic Age — a golden era for bar shots, zero accountability honest talk between men … over video games. But it just might be closing time for the rest of us.
Inset photo from "Star Trek": Wikipedia