Sometimes a boy just needs a cuddle, and according to a study published by the Men and Masculinities journal, British lads are turning to each other.
Two sociologists, the University of Winchester’s Eric Anderson and Durham University’s Mark McCormack, interviewed 40 straight male undergraduate students recruited from Anderson’s sociology of sports class. The boys were all athletes, chosen because of the close physical contact between jocks and for their archetypical masculinity. What was discovered is that 93 percent of straight young British men have cuddled (defined in the study as “gentle physical contact for a prolonged period of time with another man’’), and 98 percent have shared a bed with another man.
‘‘We’re always cuddling, my lot,” says one of the studies subjects, Jarrett. “We’re all comfortable with each other.’’
‘‘I love a quick cuddle,” another subject, Max, adds, “just so you remember your friends are about and are there for you.’’
Matt, who also participated in the study, loves to cuddle with his friend Connor — but the intimacy isn’t monogamous.
‘‘I feel comfortable with Connor and we spend a lot of time together,” he says. “I happily rest my head on Connor’s shoulder when lying on the couch or hold him in bed. But he’s not the only one. The way I see it is that we are all very good and close mates. We have a bromance where we are very comfortable around each other."
It seems prime cuddling time is after a night of clubbing, when a hung over group of boys gather at one friend’s house to veg out, watch movies, play video games and hold each other.
"If your mate has a headache you can, like, massage his head, or you just lie there together holding each other and laughing about how awful you feel,” Max says.
The study narrowed in on white 18- and 19-year-old middle-class straight guys, so further research would need to be done to see how far the bro love spreads among ages, races and social backgrounds. The investigation did expand to America, where it achieved similar results, although British boys are more likely to cuddle than boys on the other side of the Atlantic.
“Homophobia hasn’t disappeared, but straight men today are not expected to be homophobic like they were in the 1980s and 1990s,” McCormack tells The Huffington Post. “This enables them to be [engaged] in softer gendered behaviors — they can cuddle and hug, wear fashionable clothes, care about looking good, and openly declare love for their friends.”