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What Are Platonic Friendships?

Defining Platonic Friends:

A platonic feeling is when two people have a close bond but are not sexually involved. The term derives from the ideas of Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher. Whereas Plato believed that this type of love could bring people closer to a divine ideal, the modern definition focuses on people being close friends.

A sexual or romantic relationship is the polar opposite of a platonic relationship. While it is sometimes assumed that the term only refers to opposite-sex friendships, it can also refer to same-sex friendships.

At first glance, the phrase “platonic friendship” may appear redundant. After all, friendships are, by definition, platonic! Platonic friendship refers to friendship between two people who could theoretically be attracted to each other.

They may feel some passing sexual tension or wonder, “What if we tried dating?” The relationship could continue as a friendship or evolve into a romantic relationship. If you have these feelings and decide to keep your friendship, it’s platonic!

Assumptions About Platonic Friendships

The assumption that people can’t stay friends after having these feelings is based on misconceptions like:

  • Everyone’s ultimate goal is romance
  • People of different genders don’t have enough in common to maintain friendships
  • You’ll eventually desire a sexual relationship with any friend you’re attracted to.

The truth is that you can be friends and only friends with anyone, regardless of gender. And honestly? Platonic friendships can be complicated. At their very worst, you might get caught in a jealous, frustrating relationship. But at their very best, platonic relationships can enrich your life in countless ways.

Why We Need Close Friends

We sometimes overvalue romantic relationships in our society, as if having a life partner is the most important thing in the world. Don’t let societal pressure distract you if you have a close platonic friend. Without the involvement of sex, a platonic friendship can improve the quality of your life, challenge your perspective, and make you feel loved and supported.

Friends are also crucial in promoting your overall health. Adults with strong social connections are less likely to suffer from various serious health issues, including depression, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have found that older adults with meaningful relationships and social support live longer than their peers who have fewer connections.

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