Most of us are constantly surrounded by platonic love and relationships. But, in general, this kind of love does not get the credit it deserves. Movies have had people convinced that romantic love is the ultimate goal of human relationships. In the bid to find true love, many people end up overlooking the platonic relationships they have. But there is so much love, comfort, and safety in platonic relationships – though many don’t realize it. In fact, platonic love can last a lifetime! Here, we discuss everything you need to know about platonic love. Read on.
In This Article
What Is Platonic Love?
Platonic love is a special emotional and spiritual relationship between people. It comes from a similar view of the world or common interests and fosters a deep connection and mutual admiration for each other. This is love without any sexual or romantic ties. It is more of an emotional and intellectual connection that binds people. Platonic relationships may turn sexual or romantic, but many mental health professionals strongly suggest against it because if done wrong, it may disrupt the dynamics, communication, and the relationship itself.
Here are some factors of a platonic relationship:
- Attraction: Here, attraction is not physical (neither romantic nor sexual). You instead feel drawn to the person due to their intelligence or views about certain things.
- Intimacy: Emotional intimacy brings people closer. It is found in platonic relationships through mutually shared feelings, reactions, and concerns. This helps deepen the trust and understanding in the relationship.
- Respect: Mutual admiration and respect for each other will help foster a healthy friendship that helps you build each other up.
- Support: Support is what lets people thrive. Such friendships give people a feeling of knowing that they can always depend and fall back on these friends.
- Pleasure: Enjoying the company of another person is one way of investing in a platonic relationship. You may enjoy the sense of humor you both have, views of the world, or intellect. This further strengthens the foundation of your platonic love.
Platonic love has so many health benefits. We will explore the same in the following section.
Health Benefits Of Platonic Relationships
Human beings are inherently social. They crave connections and social interactions with others, which, in turn, boosts their mental well-being. This is one reason psychologists encourage platonic relationships as they keep people feeling connected and heard. Following are some of the benefits that come from having platonic relationships:
- Decreases Risk Of Mortality
Loneliness is found to reduce life expectancy (1). People who feel loved have a decreased risk of depression, high cholesterol, and anxiety. Having someone you can share your inner thoughts and feelings with and knowing that you can depend on them may lower your stress levels. This could promote longevity.
- Increases Oxytocin
Oxytocin is often referred to as the ‘love hormone’ and is linked to a feeling of well-being (2). It brings that warm feeling within and may also serve as an anti-anxiety drug. This is a hormone that promotes social bonding.
- Promotes Mental Health
There is a link between dementia and increased loneliness in older people (3). This feeling of loneliness, as opposed to being alone, can contribute to cognitive decline.
- Provides A Support System
Everyone lives on and needs support systems. Having people around you that love and care for you may also influence you to make better choices. Your platonic relationships may serve as your compass, guiding you to be your best. Because of the love, mutual respect, and admiration you share with each other, you are more likely to give each other honest advice.
- Increases A Sense Of Belonging
Platonic love may make you feel connected spiritually to each other, giving you a feeling of belonging. Such friendships can make you believe in a higher purpose or even help you find your own.
The benefits of platonic love sure tell us that it is worth cultivating and nurturing. But how can you separate it from other forms of love? Knowing the characteristics of platonic love can help.
Characteristics Of Platonic Love
- Unfiltered Honesty
When it comes to romantic feelings or love, many times, honesty could take a hit as people worry about how they would be perceived if they were completely honest. Platonic love, on the other hand, thrives on honesty. It helps build a relationship that can go through rough times and make it even better. With platonic love, you may feel like you can talk just about anything with the person, unafraid about judgment.
- Respected Boundaries
In such relationships, you gain a keen understanding of the boundaries you both have and learn how to respect them. You do not hold the other person to the same standards as romantic relationships, so you know that there are more boundaries to acknowledge. These could be emotional or physical boundaries. Remember that each platonic relationship has a different set of rules, depending on the people involved.
- No Expectations
A factor of many conflicts in romantic relationships is expectations. You may want a romantic partner to behave a certain way with you and may count many things as a breach of your relationship and trust. But with platonic love, you hold no such expectations from them. You know that they do not owe you anything but rather choose your friendship. Since the bar of expectations in platonic relationships is much lower, it may also be easy to forgive any associated lapses.
Platonic love that genuinely pushes each other be the best version of themselves. You learn to celebrate each other and derive genuine joy from your accomplishments. A lot of your actions may purely be just to benefit them, and not you. Romantic love, on the other hand, may get caught on to the idea of owning a person or belonging to them – and may be driven by jealousy, insecurity, and distrust.
Remember that platonic love is easy and comes naturally, leading to life-long friendships. But romantic love may have complex dynamics to work through.
How To Maintain A Platonic Relationship
Maintaining platonic relationships involves devoting time to get to know each other better on a deeper level. All relationships take work and effort, but the end results and satisfaction derived from them are worth it. Here is how you can maintain platonic relationships or friendships.
- Make Time For Them
Time is the best gift you can give someone. Make time to talk and connect with your friend. Honor your commitments. Your schedule may be quite busy, but make sure to allocate some time to meet or talk to them weekly.
- Share Personal Information
The best way to get someone to open up is to open up yourself. Since platonic love relies on a deeper understanding and connection with each other, sharing experiences close to your heart that have made you who you are is a good way to go. This does not mean you share things that make you uncomfortable. But you can share what you feel would be relevant to the situation and what you are comfortable with.
- Be There For Them
Your platonic friends may reach out for help once in a while, and that is a great way to deepen your connection. Them reaching out to you shows that they trust you enough to be there for them – always honor this. You might be worried about how to help them – but remember that even just listening to them can help them release their stress and share their burdens.
What If Your Platonic Relationship Becomes Romantic?
Platonic relationships can often turn romantic if one or both people have a romantic attraction to each other. It is well and good if you both decide to move on to a romantic relationship – but remember that you will have to navigate new waters. Keep the following pointers in mind:
- Your expectations from each other will change – whether it is showing up to events or your relationship with certain people. A lot may have to be relooked at when you both enter a romantic relationship.
- Your dynamics may change, at least in the first few months of a romantic relationship. Do not worry, though. You should be able to figure things out as time passes.
- In a platonic relationship, you may not mind if you do not talk or meet for quite a while. But this may change with a romantic relationship as your expectations of each other grow and change.
On the other hand, it may so happen that neither of you are interested in pursuing a romantic relationship despite your platonic feelings turning romantic. What do you do then?
- Be prepared for some stress in your relationship. You may feel awkward too. You may avoid each other and seem to over-explain things to each other.
- Be open and honest about your feelings. Discuss them together so that you are both aware of the perspectives you both hold. More importantly, learn to respect each other’s views. A lot of stress can come from assumptions – and discussions can help put a lot of them to rest.
- Establish boundaries that suit both of you. Keep both your feelings in mind and avoid making rash decisions.
- Till you both return to the platonic dynamic, it is best to limit your interactions.
- Refrain from having conversations on sex and relationships for a while.
- Watch what you say to each other and be mindful about how you treat each other.
Are Platonic Friendships Possible?
While movies and fiction may tell you otherwise, not all platonic friendships lead to romance. Think about your best friend with whom a platonic relationship has worked beautifully (unless you are in love with them romantically, of course) – and you would know that it is possible to have platonic friendships.
Be honest about your motives and goals. If you became friends with an intent to turn the relationship romantic, you may be hurt as you end up putting a lot of pressure on this ‘platonic’ friend.
How To Make A Platonic Friendship Work
Here is how to make a platonic friendship work:
- Understand different friendship needs. Take the time to gauge and understand your needs as well as the needs of the other person.
- Be clear about your intentions. This can save you both a lot of time and confusion. Being clear about what you feel and where you stand will also contribute to more honest communication in your friendship.
- Stay with the ones that feel like a solid foundation. Go with your gut. If the motives and goals for your friendship do not match, feel free to gently, but firmly, severe the friendship. It only would be in the best interest of you both.
You can see that platonic relationships are the kind that are meant to last. They do not come with the complexities of romantic relationships but are just as deep, if not deeper! So open your heart to platonic love and give it the space and recognition in your life that it deserves. We are sure it will have a deep impact in your life.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is platonic intimacy?
This is the closeness and deep connection you share in a platonic friendship. It comes from sharing secrets, worries, and feelings.
Can married people have platonic love?
Yes, married people can have great platonic love in their friendships. Having platonic relationships helps enrich one’s mental and physiological well-being.
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- Association of loneliness with all-cause mortality: A meta-analysis
- A novel role of oxytocin: Oxytocin-induced well-being in humans
- Loneliness Increases the Risk of All-Cause Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease