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Bromance Keeps Men and Marriages Healthy

New data suggests the secret to keeping the spark alive in a relationship might merely be letting boys be boys.

| October 18th, 2011
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A new study out of the Sociology Department at Cornell University has shown that men need time to hang with their buddies and it isn’t just for their physical and mental health—it’s time well spent for their partners too.

While it’s easy to fall into the trap of sharing friends by socializing as a couple, data analyzed from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project—a 2005 survey of 3,005 Americans ages 57 to 85, has shed light on the importance of men having their own close personal friends. And the benefits don’t just last through their poker game! 

According to the study, about a quarter of men experience “partner betweenness” and that these men are 92 percent more likely to report erectile dysfunction.

Within that 92 percent, baby boomers (ages 57-64) showed over double the likelihood of erectile dysfunction if they cited their wives or girlfriends as the primary link to the people they call their pals. 

COLUMN: Sneaky Health Issues that Mess with Your Sex Life, by Dr. Oz & Dr. Roizen

As the study points out, this “partner betweenness,” or the social phenomenon where the woman in the relationship has more contact with the people the man considers his confidants, can prove to be toxic to his masculinity because “his relational autonomy, privacy, and control are constrained.”

The solution seems simple: men must cultivate relationships with their own confidants. “The important thing is that he can let it all hang out and know that what he says isn’t going to get straight back to his wife,” study co-author Professor Edward Laumann from the University Of Chicago  told The Daily Mail.

YouBeauty Relationship Expert Dave Sbarra, Ph.D. points out that women don’t seem to fall into the same dependence trap as men because they generally tend to be better at maintaining a network of friends separate from their spouse. 

So, whether he plays a round of golf or busts out the Xbox with his buddies, Sbarra suggests to partners that “encouraging men to [cultivate social relationships] is a good thing.”

Especially in light of the data on the social and sexual repercussions, everyone should be able to vent about what’s on their mind from work, to politics, to the bummer that is the NBA Lockout­—seriously, what are those guys thinking?! We hope Carmelo Anthony’s best friend knows. 

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