What Are Platonic Relationships?

Updated April 9, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Many people think of romance when they hear the word “relationship,” but there are many ways to connect with other people that have nothing to do with romantic love or sex. Ancient Greek philosopher Plato theorized that people could transform the erotic impulses they would typically feel for someone of the opposite sex (or a potential mate of any gender) into desexualized motivations that serve a higher purpose and allow you to build a network of important people in your life. Read on to learn more about platonic love, how it can benefit your life, and how therapy can help you build strong, healthy relationships—platonic or otherwise.  

Do you understand the value of your platonic relationships?

What is platonic love?

Professionals in the mental health field typically define platonic love as a non-romantic and non-sexual connection between two people who could see each other as attractive and viable potential partners. 

“A platonic relationship is one with no romantic or sexual features, but it means more than ‘just friends.’ According to the ancient philosopher Plato, for whom the concept is named, this bond is a type of love experienced when we identify positive qualities we feel complete us, within another person.” — This Is Platonic Love

Comparing platonic and romantic relationships

The differences between romantic and platonic relationship include:


  • Deep Friendship
  • Complex Emotional Intimacy
  • Meets Some Emotional Needs
  • No sex or sexual physical intimacy
  • Generally no desire for sex or physical intimacy on either side


  • Deep Friendship
  • Complex Emotional Intimacy
  • Meets Some Emotional Needs
  • Typically includes sex and intimacy
  • Both partners usually have a desire for sex and physical intimacy

Platonic vs. unrequited love: What’s the difference?

Despite what the media says about the so-called “Friend Zone,” there’s a big difference between platonic and unrequited love. Unrequited love involves one person maintaining a friendship as they pine for the other person (with or without expressing their feelings). Platonic love transforms potential romantic love for someone into a productive non-sexual connection that adds value to your life or helps complete you in some way. Platonic relationships are often friends who understand you without explanation. 

Some people who feel they’ve been “friend-zoned” can develop anger, resentment, or hurt feelings if they aren't seen in a romantic light. It may never have even occurred to the other person to change the relationship dynamic because it is platonic for them. 

Characteristics of platonic love

Platonic love is all about:

  • Honesty
  • Respected Boundaries
  • Appreciation
  • Closeness
  • Acceptance
  • Understanding
  • Trust
  • Confidence
  • Loyalty
  • Lack of Romantic or Sexual Attraction

Benefits of platonic relationships


Explore some of the ways platonic relationships exert a positive influence on your life. 

Stress reduction

Stress can have many detrimental physical, mental, and emotional effects on you. Still, studies show that supportive platonic relationships can help you cope with stressful situations more effectively and reduce your overall stress level. 

Emotional support

Platonic relationships are often a reliable source of emotional support and a sympathetic ear to actively listen when you need to talk through your problems. Robust emotional support can be a massive benefit to your life. 

Improved resilience

When you have people who love and understand you to lean upon in times of trouble, it can make you a more resilient person who overcomes obstacles easier and with fewer adverse emotional reactions. 

Decreased mental health issues

Platonic love can help you feel like a complete person. It’s not healthy to receive everything you need from one person. You may love your partner, but they should not be your only source of love, friendship, companionship, emotional support, comfort, advice, etc. When you have platonic relationships to lean on—especially during troubles with your partner—being able to talk constructively about problems can reduce your risk of developing a mental health condition. 

Better immune system and health

Studies show that positive relationships that make you feel supported, accepted, and understood can benefit your overall health in surprising ways, such as boosting the strength of your immune system. Good friends can lower your risk of disease

Examples Of Platonic Relationships

  • Work Wife/Work Husband
  • Best Friend
  • Workout Friend
  • Cousin or Other Relative

Tips for maintaining platonic relationships

Given the numerous positive ways they can affect your life, it makes sense that maintaining your platonic relationships would be a priority for you. Keep those connections strong with these tips. 

Remember that both sides should make an effort

It can be essential to remember that you both have your own lives, and genuine relationships require effort on both sides. If they are always the one who has to initiate contact, make the trip to see you, or ensure you are included in events, you may be placing an unfair burden on them by not taking your fair share of responsibility to maintain the bond. 

Stay in touch

Life is chaotic, and people get busy. Your platonic friends understand that, but they may appreciate a simple text or email to say, “I was thinking of you. How’s your day going?” If you have a few minutes free, try calling them and see if they have time to catch up. You may see something funny scrolling on social media and feel an impulse to share it with them—do it! They will likely appreciate proof that you care, and it may feel like you pick up right where you left off, no matter how long it's been.

Be there when they need you

If they've been there for you when things were terrible and helped you work through it, make sure you show up for them, too. Reciprocate the platonic love, emotional support, understanding, and unconditional acceptance they offer. 

Can platonic relationships become something more?

Some platonic relationships progress to something more, typically after an event that makes one or both partners realize their feelings have evolved. Human beings grow and change as we experience new things, and you may notice different qualities about your friend that inspire a different set of feelings in you. Recent research indicates as much as two-thirds of romantic couples started as friends, though not necessarily as the more profound emotional intimacy of platonic love. 

For some people, their shared history and emotional intimacy can lead to romantic feelings. A close platonic friend likely knows about all your past relationships, how you were treated—and how you acted. However, you also already know nearly everything about each other and are motivated to make each other happy.  

Questions to answer before changing a platonic relationship

Check out these questions if you decide to change a platonic relationship.

  • Do you both have the same relationship goals?
  • Can you see the relationship becoming marriage and forever? If not, it may not be worth risking such a meaningful friendship. 
  • Do you have a plan to rebuild the friendship if things don’t end well?
  • Are you interested in a romantic relationship with your platonic friend because you love and want to be with them, or because they are a convenient or “safe” choice who makes you happy enough?
  • Do you have practical ideas about how the nature of the relationship will change?
  • Are you ready to talk about romantic and sexual expectations?
  • Do you actually have sexual chemistry, or was it a passing idea?
  • How will it affect your shared friends if the romance goes poorly?
  • Are you prepared to risk the friendship for the chance at romance?

How therapy can help you build healthy relationships

Do you understand the value of your platonic relationships?

Many people have trouble forming and maintaining healthy relationships for various reasons. Whether you tend to fall for people who don't feel the same way, struggle to keep friends, or don't know how to relate to people, consider working with a licensed therapist online through a virtual relationship teletherapy platform like Regain. Therapy can help you learn coping skills to manage your stress and emotional reactions, communication strategies to relate to and comprehend the people in your life, and teach you the emotional intelligence, awareness, and literacy to recognize, understand, and express your feelings. Parents or guardians seeking online therapy for kids 12 to 19 can contact TeenCounseling for assistance. 

Recent studies have examined the efficiency of psychotherapy in different formats and discovered that online and in-person therapy offer similar outcomes. However, many patients reported lower costs and shorter wait times with virtual treatments. Additionally, digital therapy platforms provide access to a comprehensive network of mental health professionals, making it far more likely that you'll connect with a therapist who makes you feel comfortable and works well with your needs, personality, and situation. 


Platonic relationships can bring many benefits to your life. This article offers insight into how to define platonic love, what it looks like, how it helps you, and how therapy can help you build healthier, stronger friendships and relationships. 

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