What’s Platonic Love?
According to Wikipedia, Platonic love or platonic relationship means a close relationship between two people that is not sexual. In the modern use it has generally been used to mean a non-sexual relationship between heterosexual friends. The term is named after the philosopher Plato, although the philosopher never used the term himself. He was the first to describe this kind of love. Plato calls this his theory of erôs (meaning “love”). Platonic love includes a sexual desire that is overcome by a stronger desire and appreciation for friendship.
Back in the past, according to Plato, every human being has an unstable mix of two types of desires: physical and emotional. When the physical one exceeds the emotional: that’s lust. When the emotional desire overtops the physical one: that’s love. However, when a relationship includes only emotional desires, the noble pure spiritual kind of love that is devoid of sexual desires glows, that’s when a platonic relationship arises.
Platonic love used to be described as this spiritual pure love between the souls of two people. That connection includes strong deep feelings without any sexual fulfillment. Nowadays, platonic love can exist between two people who are considered to be best friends in either same or different genders. It concerns those two who are too close to each other way more than other people or any other person in their lives including life partners.
How Does a Platonic Relationship Work?
However, nowadays this kind of love became difficult to have or to maintain because of our society and culture that are loaded with stereotypes. People always transmit ideas about dating and push toward having casual sex, which lead to a lot of sentimental confusion like: “Maybe we would work better as a couple. Maybe there should be a next step. Maybe we love each other and we just didn’t realize it soon enough. Maybe we can try and have an affair” etc. As a result, the two friends would either follow those cultural restrictions or avoid them.
Therefore, at this point, platonic relationship would go through 3 possible directions:
First, sex begets a successful romantic relationship: after liberating the physical desire, the two individuals discover that they love each other both emotionally and physically.
Second, sex results a confusing or awkward situation: they’d become friends with benefits because they’re confused about what they really want or they find out they’re not sexually attracted toward each other which is a very awkward situation; later on a sad ending might occur.
Third, the relationship remains stable: they avoid whatever the society tells them, and they try to maintain that platonic relationship because they are happy the way they are.
In other words, platonic love is a selfless close relationship between two persons in which sexual desire is nonexistent or has been suppressed or sublimated and excluded from any expectations or materials.
Do you think you are in love with someone in a platonic way? Check these signs to find out!
17 Signs You are in a Platonic Relationship With Your Friend
1- You love being around each other more than anyone else in the world including that person you are committed to: you feel happy by their side and time passes quickly.
2- You try your best to make time for each other: even on your busiest schedule, they stay a priority.
3- You feel that person understands you the most: no one else in the world gets you the way they do, and you feel really comfortable opening up about your insecurities and life issues and you expect them to make things better.
4- You pay extra attention to how you look like before meeting them: even if you two are just friends, you want to impress them and hear compliments about how attractive you are in their eyes. You care a lot about their opinion toward your appearance.
5- Their call and text make you happy: you rush to pick up your phone and check what they are up to. You wonder what they’ve sent you with excitement.
6- You keep souvenirs and pictures of them: you cherish every moment you’ve spent together that’s why you preserve the evidence.
7- You don’t imagine a life without them: when you think about your future life, you include them in. You believe if you two go into separate ways, which would break your heart because you would lose a piece of it.
8- Whenever you talk about future plans or trips you include each other: when you want to travel to places you want them to join you because there’s no excitement or fun without them.
9- You feel comfortable around them more than your life partner: you might be judged by your lover or fight over stuff you two disagree on but you don’t experience that with you platonic friend.
10- You are very interested about each other: you care a lot about what they have to say, what they like what they hate, what annoys them, what makes them happy, etc.
11- You’ve got a lot in common: pretty much everything, same interests, hobbies, music, favorite movies, life style, etc.
12- You talk for hours and you have endless conversations to make: you don’t stop talking, laughing, sharing things. The awkward silence never accurses.
13- When you have news to tell, your friend is the first one that comes to your mind: you think their opinion is highly important, and since they care back, you want to see that happiness and excitement on their face when they hear the good news about you.
14- Your other friends always tell you that you two should date: they would try to convince you that there is an absolute obvious attraction between you two and they’d push to reveal it, and also think you two are a match and you should try dating because you’d make a perfect couple. Or, they’re just jealous because you found your true best friend and they’re actually lonely.
15- People always mistake you as a couple: they see you together all the time is parties or hanging out more than with other people and they notice the charisma you two have.
16- You like to talk about them: either with your partner or family, whenever you make a conversation about your life updates you mention them a lot because they are mostly there in every situation of your life.
17- You make a big effort trying to avoid flirting and sexual intimacy: because you feel it’s not right, you two are friends not a couple.
However, when one of them decides to let a partner into their life, the situation might get complicated unless the partner is very open and understanding.
But who would really accept seeing their partner having a deep emotional connection with another person? Which is why, here are some difficulties of being in a platonic relationship.
Every platonic relationship might go through some difficulties especially when the platonic friends have partners in their lives or they cross boundaries. Joan Moran, from Huffpost magazine, an author and expert on wellness, talked about the danger things that can end platonic relationships.
7 Difficulties Every Platonic Relationship Might go Through
1- Trying to avoid flirting or intimate talk: you think it would be weird and awkward because they do give you butterflies but the reason is mostly joy, excitement and fun not romance.
2- Feeling jealous when they spend time with another friend: you don’t like it and you’d feel they’re taken away from you
3- Entering a new relationship can be difficult: every person wants to spend time with their loved one and give them all the love and attention, which means you probably won’t be able to meet the way you used to during single life.
Single life is the perfect circumstance to make a platonic relationship works, because no jealousy from the other partners, no dates, just you too. But who wants to be single forever?
4- Confusing feelings: there might be moments where you’d doubt that maybe what they said indicates they’re having romantic feelings toward you, or maybe that slip of your tongue will lead them to think the same.
5- Unbalance between your love life and friendship: when you are in a relationship, you will have to balance your time between your partner and your friend, and it can be very difficult.
6- Jealousy: if you excessively hang out with your friend and neglect your romantic relationship, your partner would feel not getting enough time, love and attention which are the basic rights so they would definitely be jealous and feel like they’re in a constant competition to have you.
7- Crossing boundaries: crossing your limits would harm your relationship with your friend and would cause confusion. You two are friends, not lovers. Platonic relationships strongly anchor on boundaries. If one of you keeps crossing them, there won’t be a platonic relationship anymore.
According to Plato, friendship is the highest level of relationship, however every platonic relationship, like any other type, might face difficulties, complications, and danger so if you think you’re in this case, take some time off to yourself to think about what you want and need from the relationship.
On psychology today magazine, Diana Raab, MFA, Ph.D, is an author and educator, shared her own experience with her platonic relationship and she gave some tips to keep the friendship intact.
4 Tips on How to Make Your Platonic Relationship Work and Stay Healthy
1- Be respectful and mindful: remind yourself that your friend and you, eventually, have separate lives so keep in mind that you and they have the complete freedom to meet other people because this is a selfless relationship that is empty from any expectations. None of you owns the other.
2- Don’t be too attached or needy: if they are busy or enjoying their own private life, don’t be too pushy for attention. Give them all the time they want otherwise that is also considered as stepping over limits.
3- Set boundaries together and be conscious about them: talk to each other about your true feelings and needs. Discuss the things that make you comfortable and those who don’t. Your likes and dislikes about the relationship. Keep everything crystal clear so no confusion or misunderstanding would occur later on. Remind yourself with the reasons why you are in a platonic relationship with them in the first place. Ask yourself why did you get too involved with them like that and remind yourself of good and bad sides then decide if you are able to keep it going or you need to end it because it no longer makes you happy.
4- Refrain from causes of physical attraction: avoid flirting and sexual conversations. Avoid touching outside of greeting. Blocking these things will stop you from having sexual thoughts about each other and fantasies. Also, it’s a good reminder of your boundaries.
Why do some people Choose to be in platonic relationships and others don’t?
It’s always a matter of choice. There can be numerous reasons why someone would choose to be in a certain type of relationship rather than others. Here are some of them:
6 Reasons Why Platonic Relationship is a Better Option
1- Freedom: A lot of people like to have a mix of both Platonism and romance in one relation, with one partner. They want to own each other and be owned completely both sexually and emotionally. That’s how they feel comfortable and that’s how they define loyalty and faithfulness. They are each other’s best friends and lovers.
On the other side, some others prefer to have a close friend with whom they share everything, their insecurities and weaknesses, but also they want to explore their physical desires separately. If those emotions get too deep, a platonic relationship might happen.
2- Sexual orientation: as I mentioned earlier, platonic relationships aren’t related to gender. The platonic friend can either be male or female. So, if they’re heterosexual, and they both belong to the same gender, that’s a valid reason why they’d never think about dating each other. Same thing goes for homosexual orientation.
3- Partner material: maybe one of them isn’t the partner material the other wants to be involved with. They believe they’re good as best besties but if they date they’d expect things from each other that they can’t afford.
4- Absence of physical attraction: that’s also a reason why two platonic friends wouldn’t think about taking a next step. They are on Platonism because it’s emotional; their physical appearances don’t necessarily matter. That’s why, they can have different types.
5- Absence of sexual desires toward each other: simply there was never any sexual desire between the two. It just never happened.
6- One is or both are in a relationship: out of respect, the two friends don’t come across their boundaries. They don’t try to sabotage the relationship and also they’re mindful that this is a selfless friendship and it’s normal to have other people in their lives who also matter just as much.
To conclude, platonic relationships may seem to be fun but they’re mostly predicted to be short termed. When a romantic relationship gets involved, things might get complicated unless, somehow, balance is established. However; if your platonic relationship makes you happy and doesn’t hurt those you care about, then nothing should stop you.