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Hey, can we just be bros?

OPINION

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December 12, 2012|By Ryan Smith, @ryansmithwriter | RedEye

Forget OKCupid, it's time for BroKCupid—a website where guys can find platonic dude dates without all the built-in awkwardness of trolling conventional dating sites. To me, it's the final frontier of online social networking—boldly going where no man (with a straight face) has gone before.

In case you haven't noticed, romantic dating websites have reached a critical mass for us urbanites over the past couple of years. Roughly half the people I know use match.com or okcupid.com, and there are a growing number of websites popping up dedicated to matching people with niche tastes—book lovers, geeks, vegans, even (gulp) Ayn Rand fans—to that special cyber-someone.

It's now safe to assume that the "Oh my god, only desperate virgins or creepy ax-murderer psychopaths use those sites!" stigma has all but evaporated. (Side note to those who use missed connections on Craigslist: Sorry, I Saw You On The Blue Line, but your romantic whimsy is still hopelessly futile.)

Apparently, it's even becoming normal for women to meet each other online for friend-only encounters. As The New York Times reported earlier this year, sites such as socialjane.com and girlfriendcircles.com are beginning to attract bigger user bases. But the places for guys to connect with other guys online for the purpose of hanging out, catching a Bulls game, hitting a show at the Empty Bottle or playing "Call of Duty" remain conspicuously absent.

Ok, it's true. Technically you have the option to change your settings on your current dating profile and say you're looking for "new friends" or "activity partners" on dating sites and message other guys, but the reality is that no one follows through with this. It's against Guy Code in the same way you can't meet a male stranger at a bar and ask for his number for a platonic rendezvous.

I know that if I ever received a message from a straight man on OKCupid to the tune of "you seem cool, we should hang out," I'd instantly be suspicious that person was: A) Stealthily gay; B) Trying to rob me; or C) Experimenting with a desperate plan to sell insurance.

Personally, I'm in the market for some new BFFs. My old friends and I have drifted apart over the years, for various reasons. Some are submerged in their jobs, some are more focused on their wives/long-term girlfriends, and some have faded because of the strain of long distance.

Finding new friends isn't easy. The way it traditionally has worked is that friendships evolve organically, usually by meeting randomly at college, work or playing on the same sports teams. But I'm long out of school, I work from home, and most of the guys I've met from my pickup basketball league or Twitter don't seem interested in being more than super casual buddies.

That's why I need someone to invent manmatch.com or friendup.net, because I'm left with this odd truth about the state of relationships in the city in 2012: It's easier to get a hookup than a handshake.

Ryan Smith is a RedEye special contributor.

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