It occurred to me this week that for a blog that has the word ‘confessions’ in the title, to date there hasn’t been a whole lot of confessing going on. And the last thing I want to do is mislead the Melbourne Storm faithful, so as such, I offer the following.

Today is Valentine’s Day and as fate and trial match scheduling would have it, I will not be spending this romantic day with my beloved. Instead I am spending it with a bunch of other temporarily abandoned Melbourne Storm wives and girlfriends and having a nice, girly Valentine’s Day dinner. And my confession is this: I think I might prefer it this way.

Because the thing is, I get to spend many nights with Hoff (admittedly not all of them romantic), but it’s not that often that I get to spend quality time with my Melbourne Storm girlfriends so as odd as the timing is, I am pretty happy with my non-traditional plans for this evening.

How’s that for juicy?

That said, I do believe that today presents us with an appropriate moment to expand on this theme of romance, by discussing the arguably related concept of ‘bromance’.

I don’t remember the exact context in which I first heard the word ‘bromance’, although I do vividly remember the accompanying ‘light-bulb’ moment. The feeling of unbridled joy that I had finally been presented with a word that would assist me in articulating that which I had long observed, but had never been able to properly express – Hoff and his plethora of bromances.

It all started way back when I first started seeing Ryan. Among the many unusual quirks that I had to get used to in dating a footballer, quite apart from the simple madness of being around one who earns a living playing what initially appeared to me as a gigantic game of ‘stacks on’, was the unusually close friendships shared by this boy and what were essentially his colleagues.

And here’s confession number two: to be perfectly honest, it irked me a bit. He spent all day training with these boys, all weekend preparing to play a game with these boys, every second weekend travelling interstate with these boys, and any and all spare time socialising with, you guessed it, these boys.

In short, they trained together, played together, socialised together, travelled together and sometimes even lived together. They had private jokes, they had matching tattoos, and at times they used words that were nonsensical to anyone else (they still do). In retrospect, it was kind of scary.

I noticed lunch breaks would be spent sharing a chat and a coffee together, days off would be spent playing golf or catching the latest testosterone fuelled offering at the movies, quiet nights on the road would be spent playing cards or watching videos in hotel rooms together, and then, at the end of a long season when you might be forgiven for thinking they would be sick of the sight of each other, they donned matching t-shirts and headed off on footy trip together.

I mean, really. Would anyone have blamed me for feeling a little jealous?

These days the bromance manifests itself in an (only slightly) more grown-up fashion, as many of the boys have entered into serious relationships, had kids and have generally made some further and promising steps towards grown-up-ness.

Days off are now spent only texting each other all day, as opposed to actually hanging out with each other. Living arrangements have altered usually to include a Significant Other of the non-football variety. Footy trips have given way for the most part, to family holidays and representative duties. Unless they aren’t committed to either of these, in which case, footy trip persists.

And I’m pleased to report that I am no longer as bothered by the odd bromantic moment as I used to be. I have grown to understand that the friendships forged whilst doing what these boys do is of an intensity that I cannot really understand. I don’t mean to downplay the many ace friends I have made through my work over the years; this it is just different. The need to get along and to have a good understanding of one another’s motivations is very real. I even now wonder whether this closeness has directly impacted on the success that they have enjoyed over the past few years.

As a result, I no longer see these friendships as an inconvenient relationship rival, but as a blessing. These guys have shared some of the most important moments of each other’s lives, the good and the bad, and there is something really special about that. I’m proud to report that around half of the attendees at our wedding were people that we’ve met through footy. Come to think of it, half of Hoff’s contingent of groomsmen were too.

Plus there are some bonuses, that I have only recently considered. If I ever need to vent about Hoff’s horrendous snoring habits or questionable taste in television viewing, I can always pick up the phone and call one of the unlucky few that have been assigned as his roommate over the years. Also, as all of our wonderful friends inevitably move on and scatter themselves around Australia and even the world, there are not many places we can venture where there’s not a friendly face ready for a catch-up and a laugh. And best of all, just as I was fighting my way into Ryan’s affections all those years ago, so too were a bunch of other great ladies, and it occurs to me now that I have scored myself a wonderful bunch of friends as a direct result of Ryan’s many bromances, too.

So, even though I forfeit this one night a year of romance with my man (well, this night and countless others), I feel content in the knowledge that my back-up plan is not a bad one. And what’s more, I’m pretty sure that Hoff probably feels the same way too.

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