For those with high hopes for a “happily ever after”, there’s nothing that makes us shudder more than the word “platonic”. But with a little shift in mindset, it has the power to form a unique, authentic relationship between two people.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, there are a few things that may pique your curiosity:
Here are the answers to those questions.
What Is a Platonic Relationship?
Human beings are not meant to live in isolation. We are here to have relationships.― Katherine Woodward Thomas, author of “Conscious Uncoupling“
The literal meaning of “platonic” is the absence of romance or sex. It does, however, honor mutual feelings of love, respect, honesty, support, and shared interests and values.
Sounds like friendship, right? Well, to a certain extent, it is.
The term “platonic relationship” is mainly used to describe a close bond between people of opposite genders without feelings of attraction, passion, or sexual tension. But, especially in this day and age, it can also be used for same-gender friendships, too.
But the thing about friendship is that there is the potential for it to turn into a romantic or sexual dynamic. So the difference between these two types of relationships essentially comes down to the intention.
Types of platonic relationships
Just as there are several different names for certain things (like soda, pop, coke, carbonated drinks…), there are also different terms to call platonic relationships. You may recognize some, if not all, of them.
- Bromance: a close but non-sexual, non-romantic relationship between two or more men. Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly from Game of Thrones, for instance.
- Womance: the same as bromance, but between two or more women. Think Thelma and Louise.
- Work spouse: a bond with someone — similar to those of a marriage, but without the sexual connection — at your workplace. For example, Jake Peralta and Rosa Diaz from Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
So platonic relationships equal a mutual, non-romantic involvement with another person — be it with your friends, colleagues, neighbors, extended family members, or anyone who you value in your life.
Why Is It Good To Have a Platonic Relationship?
Platonic relationships can enrich your life in a number of ways that perhaps familial, romantic, or social ones aren’t able to offer.
“We have a desire for so much more than, maybe, our grandparents desired in relationships,” explains Katherine Woodward Thomas, author of Mindvalley’s Conscious Uncoupling Quest. “We desire very deep, authentic connections with people who are our true tribe, who truly get us, who are supporting us really to become who we have the potential to be.”
Here are a few benefits of platonic relationships to note:
- There are fewer expectations, so you won’t feel the pressure to put on a mask or worry about a breakup. And because there’s less stress, it’ll increase your sense of belonging and purpose. It’s like actress Isabel Norton says, “in a friend, you find a second self.”
- You can explore a deeper part of yourself. Knowing that you’re in a safe space filled with platonic love, you can use this social support to build unique experiences and memories. It will also enable the capacity to improve your self-confidence, enhance your self-worth, and boost your happiness.
- It’s good for your well-being. A healthy social connection helps reduce the risk of many common, yet significant health issues, including depression and high blood pressure. In fact, studies, like this 2010 meta-analytic review, show that people with meaningful relationships and strong social support outlive those without.
This type of love and bond isn’t always easy to find — like finding a needle in a haystack. And when you do, it’s meeting a kindred spirit.
How Do You Make a Platonic Relationship Work?
Much like any other connection, a platonic relationship without a vision will take you nowhere.
It’s always wise to have clarity on what you want and what the other person is expecting. And while there are no set rules when it comes to relationships, here are some essential etiquette that you can use as the Gorilla Glue for your platonic love.
- Love with no conditions. Platonic or not, it’s about agape — selfless, unconditional love. The passage from the Corinthians says it best: “[Love] does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”
- Honesty is the best policy. Being honest says more about your character and values than anything else. And it comes hand-in-hand with trust. If you feel the need to criticize the other person, then try to make it constructive and positive so it gives them the opportunity to grow.
- Communication is the key. Unless you’re Professor X from X-Men, you won’t be able to read minds. This is why effective communication is key. It minimizes the chance of barreling toward a misunderstanding. And because keeping things platonic is the intention of the relationship, communication helps set up boundaries to not cross.
Welcome to the Tribe
The question isn’t “are platonic relationships possible?” but rather “are you willing to open yourself up to one?”
Katherine Woodward Thomas suggests, “allow yourself to undertake this journey exactly as you are. Be free to be your imperfect, messy, unenlightened self as well as your magnificent, extraordinary, fabulous self.”
If and when you’re ready to improve your love relationship, Mindvalley’s waiting to welcome you in. As a Member, you’ll have full access to quests like Katherine’s Conscious Uncoupling, podcasts on how to cultivate strong connections, and the Mindvalley Tribe that’s made of like-minded souls.
Great change starts with you.