CLOSE: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Picture: Reuters

London - The rise of the "bromance" means men are now more comfortable sharing their feelings with each other than the women in their lives.

A study found they are far more affectionate than previous generations, opening up, hugging and even happily declaring "I love you, man".

A shift means close male friendships no longer risk being misinterpreted as gay. 

Research into 30 British men with "bromances" found that these relationships are closer than those with relatives or female partners. 

The team, led by Winchester University’s Dr Stefan Robinson, interviewed 30 young male undergraduates, who said their bromances were more emotionally intimate and tactile than other friendships. 

The study, published in journal Sex Roles, concludes: "For those dealing with depressive symptoms or social anxieties, bromances may offer a way forward."