Love is the closest thing we have to real magic. However, we seldom talk about platonic love even though it forms an important part of our lives. Here’s taking a look at what is platonic love and how important healthy platonic feelings are.
What is platonic love?
To put it simply, deep platonic love refers to a form of love that is not sexual. Platonic relationships generally involve a deep friendship of non-sexual nature among two heterosexual individuals who may or may not be of the opposite sex. In today’s world, platonic affection refers to a loving relationship between two or more individuals where sexual attraction and impulses are absent, particularly when sexually interest may be easily assumed by others.
The term platonic love derives its name from famous Greek philosopher Plato. In his work The Symposium, Plato thoroughly discussed the notion of true love in honor of Eros, the Greek god of love. It is through his discussions with his guests, the idea of platonic love was formed in their dialogues. His idea of platonic love and platonic relationship was not based on lust or sexual relationships. When answering the question what is platonic love, Plato defined this emotion and affection as a form of love which is not reliant on sexual attraction. Instead, deep platonic love makes us feel connected, motivates us to pursue our dreams and passions, inspires us to improve ourselves and empowers us to feel enlightened and connected with The Supreme Being. Moreover, there are several benefits of platonic relationships such as having a sense of belongingness, a stable connection, lower expectations and a lifelong bond.
Read also: Opposite Sex Friendships
What does platonic love feel like in the modern era
Today the answer to the question – what is platonic love? – and the meaning of a platonic relationship has changed drastically and is widely used to mean good friends, without any “benefits.” These relationships share a strong bond and affection for each other, yet there is no romantic or sexual attraction. But like Plato’s original version, platonic relationships today can be meaningful and deep, leading to lifelong friendships.
There are different types of platonic relationships which are pregnant with healthy boundaries, trust, respect, admiration, gratitude, honesty and without insecurities or jealousy. When trying to figure out what is platonic love, we need to realize that platonic feelings are the key to unique, spiritual and strong bonds between two individuals who trust, respect, love and care for each other. Such a platonic relationship is typically based on similar goals, common interests, shared worldviews and a deep spiritual connection. It is a relationship where you feel comfortable to be your genuine self without worrying about being criticized or abandoned.
Crucial elements of platonic love
Platonic relationships are simply good friendships that inspire us to be better. However, friendships and relationships have become overly complicated today. Let us take a look at some of the characteristics and signs of platonic love & relationships. This will help us identify and nurture it to create lifelong friendships with people who we love and care about.
Here are a re few primary elements that define what is platonic love –
1. Uncorrupted honesty
One of the defining features of a platonic friendship is pure and genuine honesty. Unlike a romantic relationship, a platonic relationship or friendship has no space for insecurities, fear of abandonment or infidelities. There is no need for white lies or deceit. As they are not your partner, you are not worried about them leaving you. As this is not an exclusive relationship, the stakes are not high. This is one of the crucial aspects when figuring out – what is platonic love?
Platonic affection is natural and free from any compulsion. In a platonic friendship, you don’t need to worry about being overly sensitive about speaking the truth. You don’t have to think about what you have to say as it may hurt the other person’s feelings. It is based on brutal honesty and that is often one of the foundations of a great friendship. In such a relationship, you can talk about things you can’t in a romantic relationship, you can openly discuss your own drawbacks and ask questions which we may not be able to ask our romantic partners.
Romantic relationships are sensitive and need to be nurtured. Platonic relationships are less sensitive and can endure brutal honesty. There is no pressure to maintain peace in a platonic friendship. You can argue, disagree, fight and still enjoy a healthy, supportive relationship with your platonic friend after the emotional wounds have been healed.
2. Healthy boundaries
Although our platonic friends may not be as valuable to us as our romantic partners, we still love and appreciate them. Hence, we respect their personal boundaries. However, a platonic relationship may need some strong and healthy personal boundaries. These are typically not directly stated or discussed, but are followed more like unwritten rules of the relationship.
New or evolving friendships might not have defined or established boundaries. As they begin to share more experiences with each other and understand and accept the differences in interest & attraction in the friendship, platonic love can bloom. The more they learn about the boundaries in the relationship and respect them, the more the bonding will strengthen. As the relationship progresses, we can realize which boundaries we can push and how far. Establishing boundaries can help you describe what is platonic love for you.
3. No Expectations
Expectations are one of the main reasons why most romantic relationships become complicated. Oftentimes we have unrealistic expectations from our romantic and sexual partners and when they are not met, this can create a lot of conflict and complications and may even lead to a breakup. However, deep platonic love is not defined by these trappings of commitment, attention, loyalty and expectations.
Regardless of the different types of platonic relationships, shared commitments, paying bills or mortgage, are generally absent in such relationships. You are not responsible for anything, except for maintaining and nurturing the relationship and friendship. Having no expectations from each other is one of the biggest benefits of platonic relationships. This is what makes it functional and lasting.
Read also: Why Close Friendships Can Be So Challenging
Our ability to be selfless in a friendship can also help you understand what is platonic love. When it comes to platonic love, we usually act in a selfless manner. Despite how much you love your romantic partner there will always be an aspect of selfishness in that relationship. Committed relationships often make us behave and act in ways that might not fully reflect who we truly are. We act selfish to protect our partnership with our spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend. Although we may tend to be selfless in love, we often have a selfish motive in even our kindest gestures towards our romantic partners. We want them to love us and invest in the relationship. In a romantic relationship, the need of the relationship gets more importance than the need of the individual.
However, in a platonic friendship we do things for the best interest of our friends, irrespective how it might affect the relationship. We often back away from our platonic friend when they get into a new relationship or when they want to spend more time with their romantic partners. This is because we realize it is best for them even though it might not be good for our friendship. Platonic love teaches us to give space to those we care about. So we learn to let them go.
This is a selfless act and we don’t personally gain anything from it. However, seeing our platonic friend happy and content makes us feel happy, hoping we can reconnect again soon.
Platonic love is uncomplicated
So what is platonic love? A platonic relationship is not complicated, unlike romantic relationships. However, it is important that you decide and clarify what this relationship is and where you should draw the line. Once the terms of the relationship are clear between both individuals and they are committed to maintaining the relationship dynamic, such platonic friendships can work great.
It is this aspect of honesty and no expectations is what makes platonic love truly valuable. It is a relationship where you can be your true self, rely on someone for lifelong companionship and live your own life without worrying about losing your friend.
Platonic love shows us that we are loved and gives us new perspectives on how we should love someone: by being honest, respecting boundaries, letting go of unrealistic expectations and doing what’s best for the person we love.
Here is an interesting video that you may find helpful:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
What is the difference between romantic and platonic love?
Romantic love is characterized by affection, love, care, sexual attraction and physical intimacy. Platonic love involves unconditional love, admiration, trust and care but lacks physical intimacy and sexual interest.
Can you kiss in a platonic relationship?
Although a platonic friendship may involve hugging or kissing on the cheeks, other types of kissing may not be acceptable in a non-romantic platonic friendship. Such relationships do not have any place for physical intimacy or sexual contact.
What is platonic intimacy?
Platonic intimacy may refer to non-sexual physical contact like embracing, hugging or cuddling. Such intimacy is rooted in unconditional love, trust, comfort, compassion and safety. However, there is no romantic interest or sexual tension involved.
What is a platonic soulmate?
A soulmate is not necessarily a romantic partner. Hence, a platonic soulmate refers to a friend with whom you share a deep connection and love them unconditionally. You feel a soul connection with your friend that goes deeper than romantic or sexual interest.