Sunday, 12 April 2009


You've got to give it to MTV. Just when they seem to have covered reality TV in all its tacky, exploitative (and endlessly entertaining) permutations, they pull something else out of the bag. Bromance is a competitive dating show in the vein of Flavor of Love and A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila, but with a difference: these guys are fighting over a guy. Only the contestants don't seem gay - unless there's a subset of American homosexuals so obsessed with their own masculinity that they've made macho bullshit their mating call. No. While they may be competing for another man's heart, they have just one thing on their mind: "an intense brotherly bond that makes two buddies become virtually inseparable". Ah...bromance.

Even when you get your head around the are-they-aren't-they quasi-queerness of the show, seeing heterosexual men in dating scenarios is just plain weird. Granted, riding tiny pink BMXs over obstacle courses and modeling super-skinny jeans aren't typical dates, but they serve the same old purpose: getting to know the other person well enough to decide whether or not to "take things further". Women do this all the time - they go on "lunch dates" with their "girlfriends", and talk candidly and affectionately... and all in pure and simple enjoyment of one another's company. The closest we men get to this is when we tag along on one of our other half's lunch dates, and have to entertain someone else's bored boyfriend/husband.

Of course, this isn't a problem if you know the fellow, but a first - or worst, a blind - platonic same-sex date can be just as awkward as the regular kind. So best to avoid anything too intimate, and follow our top tips for great "mandates":

\m/ Pub - Alcohol's a great lubricant, even if the only thing you're slipping into is easy conversation. And if the chat doesn't flow, there are plenty of distractions - pool tables and dart boards (if you're into the old "sports"), TV, juke box, other people... In fact, you can set up a "meeting your mates here" arrangement just in case things get real bad.

\m/ Gig - If you and your "date" have music taste in common, exploit it. A concert is a great way to avoid conservation for an evening, and allows you to tap into your fanboy teen-self - that guy who could get on with anyone who can tell their hardcore metal from their metalcore.

\m/ Cinema - Works in much the same way as a gig - no talking needed - but with the added advantage that film is a medium in which almost anything can be tolerated. A movie will eat up a good three hours, morning noon or night, and - good or bad - will give you something to talk about afterwards.

\m/ Shopping - But shopping with a purpose. Aimlessly wandering around town is just like being with the missus, but without being able to whinge, because it was your idea. However, give a man a clear, time-bound task - "we need to find a cheap new iPod within the hour, before I reach my boredom threshold" - and he'll be happy.

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