Well, if you’re here, I’m assuming you are checking whether your friendship with somebody in your life can be called a platonic friendship or not. You’re not alone. Many often confuse different types of connections for being platonic friendships. Let’s quickly have a look at some facts, though!
What is a Platonic Friendship?
A common confusion is “Why are normal friendships called platonic friendships at all? Aren’t all friendships platonic by nature?” & the answer to that is no. Not every friendship is necessarily platonic.
Platonic friendships are specifically friendships between people who, in theory, have a chance at being attracted to each other, but do not decide to turn their friendship into romance.
What is NOT a Platonic Friendship?
In that case, it’s beneficial to also know what cannot be referred to as ‘platonic friendship.’ A friendship wherein there is either a one-sided or a shared desire to pursue any form of sexual intimacy or romance is not a platonic friendship.
Here is a list of connections you may be a part of that are often mistaken for being equal to platonic friendships:
1. Friends with Benefits
It may so be that you enjoy the company of a friend & develop sexual attraction toward them. If this feeling is mutual & you decide to go for it whenever the two of you feel like it, you cannot call yourself platonic friends anymore. This stands true even if you & your friend do not share a romantic connection. A sexual connection is enough to exclude you from the ‘platonic friend’ list.
It is very common for us to develop crushes on people we associate with, every now & then. Being friends with somebody you have a crush on excludes you from the ‘platonic friends’ list again, even if the other person does not know about the feelings you have for them.
3. Somebody that you may have friend-zoned
Well, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, should it? When you know somebody has a crush on you or is in love with you, but you choose to put them in a ‘friend-zone’, you do not get to call this friendship a ‘platonic friendship.’ Having romantic feelings for your friend does not go very well with the word ‘platonic’.
4. Friendship with an Ex
And… The good old controversy: Can you be friends with somebody you have previously dated? Can you be friends after a break-up? Are post-break-up friendships even a real thing? The answer to these questions is yes.
You can be friends with your ex. However, this friendship cannot be considered a ‘platonic friendship’. It’s simple. Having shared a romantic connection at any point with your friend excludes you from the list of ‘platonic friends.’
What Good are Platonic Friendships?
Regardless of the sexual orientation or gender of two people, a healthy friendship can enrich the lives of both.
Platonic friends bring a lot to the table. For starters,
- Regardless of whether you are romantically involved with somebody in your life, it is often more than just a ‘wish’ to prioritize a platonic friendship. Life, as is, is often stressful & tough. To make times easier, friends help a great deal. Romantic relationships can surely be a pillar of strength as well. But platonic friends need not do any less for you. The mere knowledge that a friend has your back is enough to add to your strength, at times. A friend in need is a friend indeed, & you’re always stronger together.
- Platonic friends train you for leading other healthy relationships at ease. For instance, before you judge yourself too much, friends help improve your inner voice for the better. Platonic friends help improve your communication skills as well & train you to look at ways of conversing healthily even when you may disagree with the other person. Dating may seem way easier when you have maintained healthy platonic friendships outside of it. Spotting the red flags becomes easy as well.
- Friends are often far more open in terms of communicating concerns & feelings than our romantic partners. It is easier to ask a friend for advice when you see a relationship failing. Unhealthy patterns in our romantic relationships can become easy to identify by considering the opinions of our friends. Even though our friends are not a part of our romantic relationship, they may often have useful insights & observations. Commonly, we are the last to know when we are in a toxic relationship. However, platonic friends can help us gain perspective & support us through our way out of any toxicity.
- In an opposite scenario, wherein you’re single & ready to ‘mingle’, platonic friendships are still there to make a huge difference. Everything becomes easier when a friend is by your side. Approaching somebody you’re romantically or sexually attracted to can seem like a difficult thing to do. However, a friend can help you ease the tension & pacify your inner voice when you’re nervous or anxious. Moreover, knowing that you have a friend who can keep an eye on you as well as whom you can go back to at any point adds to your sense of security.
- Strictly platonic friendships allow you to see who can be consistent & who cannot. When no stressful feelings are coming in the way, it can become much easier to form a solid bond with a friend. In such cases, there is no worry of sudden break-ups or there is very little space for insecurity & discomfort.
How to Make a Platonic Friendship Work?
A few simple things to be mindful of are:
If you intend to remain platonic friends with somebody & not grow into a romance between the two of you, you must respect each other’s boundaries. Your friend might be very close to you, surely.
However, you must maintain clear lines of your friendship. Kissing on the cheek or hugging may be common amongst friends. But more physical intimacy than this may exclude you from the list of ‘platonic friends.’ Maintain a level of comfort between the two of you, but do not go overboard.
Keep it honest
Speak your mind to your friend & do not hide your romantic or sexual feelings, if any. True friendship takes trust & honesty. It is always better to let your friend know how you see them rather than having either of you play the guessing game.
Don’t shrink your friendship
People might start asking if you are dating your platonic friend considering your closeness. Your platonic friend might have a romantic partner. In any case, it is not necessary to diminish your friendship with them at all. Rather, you must communicate your concerns & find ways to maintain what you have. Support the needs of your platonic friend & be considerate of their romantic partner if any.
Strike the balance
Do not dwell too much on what your friendships may appear to the world. Focus on how they feel, & maintain your boundaries as you like best. You can have platonic friendships while in a romantic relationship. Similarly, you can have platonic friends who are in romantic relationships. It’s all a matter of communication & choices. Learn to be mindful of your choices through friendships.
The key remains. Open communication & strong healthy boundaries. Maintaining these two key points consistently can help you form & maintain strong platonic friendships.
Signs of a Platonic Soulmate
At some point or the other, you may have been in a situation wherein either your friend called you their ‘soulmate’ or you called them yours. Well, set aside the worries & learn about the concept of ‘platonic soulmates.
The word ‘soulmate’ is very often associated with romantic partners & romantic partners alone. It is common for two people in a romantic relationship to see each other as the ‘soulmate’ they always needed.
However, the person you may feel you always needed maybe a friend you are not romantically involved with. Without sharing a romance, two friends can look very much like the conventional soulmates. Here’s how:
- The two friends are always there for each other, no matter what.
- The two friends have a language between themselves.
- The two friends share an understanding of each other’s humor.
- The two friends can share comfortable silences.
- The two friends can be themselves around each other.
- The two friends do not judge each other.
- The two friends are each other’s biggest fans & cheerleaders.
- The two friends do not feel alone due to each other.
- The two friends have no space to question each other’s loyalty.
- The two friends know everything about each other.
Friendships of all kinds can bring something for us to the table. It is best to learn simple ways to maintain whatever kind of friendship you share with somebody & let it enrich your life as it can.
With good communication & boundaries, one can make platonic friendships an exceptionally easy aspect of life to handle. Thereby, they can let it add the most value to life.