What Is Platonic Love And Why You Need It
Platonic love is something we hear little about, but it plays an important role in our lives. Do you know what platonic love is and what it can do for you? It is time to change everything you thought you knew about relationships. If you're looking for guidance in your relationships, you can get help with online therapy. Discover what platonic love is and what it is not, why you need platonic love in your life, and what you can do if someone you love loves someone else.
What Is Platonic Love?
The term "platonic love" comes from ancient Greek philosophy. The great writer and thinker Plato (c. 428 BCE-c. 348 BCE) touched on the idea in his famous dialogue, "Symposium," (although he never actually used the term itself). Written as a series of speeches which explore the various concepts of love, the work leaves the reader with an understanding that love goes far beyond physical attraction. In fact, love exists in intellectual and spiritual forms too.
What is a platonic friendship or platonic love? Today, we have simplified Plato's point of view. Love based on sexual attraction and physical intimacy is referred to as romantic love. On the other hand, love that involves no romantic intent or sexual attraction is understood as platonic love.
Platonic love can come from anywhere, but most generally it is used to describe strong friendships. In platonic love, there is no sex, no attraction, and no romantic involvement. The relationships often occur within the same gender, but heterosexual platonic love is common, too. This type of love can transcend gender, age, race, and sexual orientation to bring two people together.
In platonic love, both parties feel overwhelming gratitude, fondness, and interest for one another. These relationships, which often grow from typical friendships, turn into deeper and stronger bonds. Individuals who say they are in a platonic relationship may talk frequently about their happiness to be near one another, and their unique ability to stay emotionally and mentally connected despite living in opposite areas of the globe, or through temporary separations.
Why Do You Need Platonic Love?
Think of platonic love as having a best friend who is just as close to you as a spouse or beloved relative. Sometimes, the connection is even stronger. There are many benefits to having a relationship like this. Here are just a few to consider:
Platonic Love Is Comfortable
Platonic friendships, unlike romantic relationships which often need a lot of work, tend to flow naturally. In platonic friendships, you can speak your mind, be yourself, and have a safe space.
Platonic Love Is Easy
Platonic love is effortless. Just as two close friends can spend hours talking with one another, or get lost on an adventure of their own, platonic friendship is capable of the same. Such interactions just tend to happen more often in this type of relationship. A true platonic friend fully accepts you no matter who you are, meaning you will likely not feel forced to put on a facade or be someone you are not when you are with them.
Platonic Love Is Powerful
Very few words accurately describe just how intense platonic love is. Think of it as having a soulmate, but in a non-romantic sense. Individuals in platonic relationships are often very vocal about how important it is to spend time together and how much they enjoy having the other person around.
This type of behavior is not the same as a lover who is too clingy. The connection in a platonic friendship is a spiritual love, one where the presence of one another is central to each person's well-being.
Platonic Love Doesn’t Create Pressure
Because there is a lack of romantic interest in platonic relationships, many challenging situations do not occur. There will never be pressure to get married, have kids, be physically intimate, or take part in any other behavior that happens in typical relationships.
Platonic Love Doesn’t Set Obligations
Sexual relationships can involve unique insecurities. Moving the relationship at the right pace, coping with pressure to be intimate, and having suspicions of infidelity are just a few examples. In a platonic friendship, none of the above will be relevant. Because there is no end-goal to this type of relationship, the bond can form naturally and freely. Being there for one another is all that is important.
Platonic Love Involves Deep Connection
Have you ever thought about someone, and then they immediately called? Some would argue it is because you are deeply connected. With the ability to openly speak any thought, feeling, or idea with one another, a strong foundation of trust forms. The more trust two people have for one another, the closer they are.
Platonic Love Is Healthy For You
It is a proven fact that the more support you have, the happier you will be. While you likely have a romantic partner or family relative who cares deeply for you, there is no harm in opening your arms to others who will appreciate you. Even a spouse cannot meet all of your needs all of the time. In these cases, a platonic friend is there.
Things To Consider About Platonic Love
One thing to keep in mind -- violating the trust of someone who is only looking for a platonic relationship can have a devastating impact on them. Before you decide if this type of love is right for you, make sure you are not in it for the following reasons:
To Get A Door In
You might think that a platonic relationship is a great way to get to know someone better, especially if you are physically attracted to them but do not have the confidence to let them know. Part of the appeal of a platonic relationship is that there is no pressure for romance, but if you think you might be able to change their mind in the future, you are already breaking your potential partner's trust.
Platonic relationships are not a way to test the waters, nor should they be used as an opportunity to show someone what you can offer them. If someone agrees to build a platonic relationship with you, they have no interest in taking things further physically. Respect their boundaries and avoid a bait and switch.
To "Help" Them
Maybe the person you want to connect with is in a bad romantic relationship. Maybe they are making poor financial or career decisions. No matter what your opinion of how they live their life is, do not try to befriend them to help them navigate their challenges.
Friends are supposed to be there for one another, and in platonic love, even more so. But even in the shallowest of friendships, it takes time to build up that kind of trust. Do not try to come in to be a savior or martyr. Express your genuine concern about their choices when the time is right.
You Need Someone To Talk To
A platonic relationship requires commitment, which needs to come from a place of sincere love for another person. Do not try to connect with someone simply because you are bored or in need of support. A friend is not your personal form of entertainment. If you are not truly invested in growing a deep relationship with someone, stay away from platonic love.
Guidance For Navigating Platonic Love
On a final note, partners of people who are in a platonic relationship might be wondering if their loved one's behavior is normal. Feelings of jealousy, concern, and loneliness might come up from time to time as you watch the person you give your heart to bond with someone else.
There is no right or wrong way to feel when your partner has a platonic relationship. Take confidence in knowing that with genuine platonic love, there is no threat to your relationship. The reason the connection is so deep is that the person you love is having a need fulfilled that otherwise might be unmet.
You might think you should be the person meeting all the needs of your lover, but people are incredibly complex. Sometimes what brings complete contentment is not romantic love. If you want to learn new ways to be there for your significant other, simply ask them what they need or speak with a licensed professional at Regain. There is a way your partner can nurture their relationship with you, and keep their platonic love. A therapist can help you understand emotions like jealousy or guilt. They can also teach you strategies to build trust in your relationship.
One of the great things about Regain is that the online therapy platform enables you to meet virtually with a licensed therapist from any location with a safe internet connection. Rather than having to leave work early or miss another important commitment due to driving to and from therapy, Regain enables you to schedule appointments at convenient times. This kind of flexibility and convenience may appeal to many people with busy schedules.
If you are seeking therapy because you feel your marriage or relationship is in jeopardy due to a platonic love, feel assured that many couples have sought online therapy for the same situation before you. In one study, researchers measured the difference in efficacy between face-to-face therapy and online therapy as interventions for couples experiencing challenges in their partnerships. Results highlight that there were no significant differences between cohorts, with both showing improvements in relationship satisfaction and reductions in their symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.
If you’re interested in learning more about people’s experiences with online therapy, consider reading some counselor reviews of Regain online therapists below.
“Austa has been wonderful thus far. She has helped my partner and I during an unimaginably difficult time... She has also guided us in communicating effectively and setting appropriate boundaries in our relationship. I was hesitant to pursue counseling at the beginning, but I truly believe that it is making a difference for our relationship. Austa is easy to talk to and she is a great listener. I would wholeheartedly recommend her as a counselor.”
“With Cassandra’s help, we’ve been able to bring our relationship to a new, healthier, and much happier level, working through painful situations, growing as individuals and as a couple, and with tools to stay on this path. She’s very responsive, and it has been great to have her facilitate our messaging through the app all week. I highly recommend Cassandra. She’s skilled, supportive, and down-to-earth. We feel totally comfortable with her.”
Platonic love is complex, and sometimes challenging to understand. This is because we are so used to understanding love in a physical sense. If you open your mind to what love can be, you can enjoy all the benefits of a relationship that speaks to you intellectually and spiritually. Remember, a platonic relationship is special and requires care. Trust is the foundation. Should you desire guidance in navigating a platonic friendship or accepting your partner’s platonic friendship, you can reach out to a licensed, compassionate Regain therapist for support.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Meaning Of Platonic Love?
When we hear the word ‘love’ we might usually think of romantic love. However, romantic affection is not the only kind of love that exists. Platonic love is neither sexual nor romantic.
Likely, you've expressed appreciation for a very close friend more than once. A close friendship is an example of a modern interpretation of what we know or refer to as platonic love. Platonic love generally exists in long-lasting friendships or connections.
The idea of platonic love is nothing new and has been around for a long time.
The word ‘platonic’ stems from the well-known Greek philosopher Plato. In Plato's symposium, he wrote, "The truth is that we isolate a particular kind of love and appropriate it for the name of love, which really belongs to a wider whole."
Another famous quote from Plato's symposium reads, "Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature."
Also in Plato's symposium, the Greek philosopher Plato described different types of love by talking about a "ladder of love." Plato's symposium consisted of six steps or types of love. When talking about the ladder in Plato's symposium, he ordered the steps from physical attraction to deep soul connections.
Since the time of Plato's symposium, which dates back to 385-370 BC, our knowledge about different types of love has grown immensely, but the work is still used and referred to often.
Can You Be Platonically In Love With Someone?
You can love someone platonically, but it won't look the same as a relationship with a romantic subject of love. Platonic lovers are connected deeply and have a special understanding of one another. Platonic relationships, platonic friendships, and platonic loves are often sacred. This is a soulful bond where two human beings care for each other deeply, which is something that can enhance our lives in many ways.
When two human beings love each other platonically, they will be very close, possibly to the point that others think that they could be in a romantic relationship That is not the case.
Is Kissing Platonic?
Technically, kissing can very well be platonic. For example, a close friend or family might kiss someone on the cheek. That is not necessarily romantic. That said, kissing is not platonic, more often than not.
If you are dating someone and kissing someone outside of the relationship on the lips, for example, it would likely mean that you're stepping outside of the relationship in most cases. Of course, conventions related to kissing vary from culture to culture, which is an important thing to recognize when you meet other people.
Are Platonic Relationships Healthy?
Having platonic relationships is both healthy and necessary. Social relationships are crucial to our emotional and physical well-being, so having people in our lives whom we care for but aren't necessarily romantically or sexually attracted to is highly valuable. There are many types of care that we might experience with other human beings, including platonic love, romantic love, unrequited love (when your feelings aren’t returned), and familial love, among others.
In the Middle Ages, there were rules and ideas affiliated with courtly love, which has since passed. Greek philosophers had names for the different types of love, such as "eros" and "storge". Most people have multiple types of love in their lives or at least the potential for many types.
For example, there are many people who have a love for family, friends, and romantic partner or partners. It is beneficial to have a variety of loving relationships in your world, and unless the bond is toxic in and of itself, platonic relationships are there to enhance your life.
What Is A Platonic Girlfriend?
When the word ‘girlfriend’ is used platonically, and usually just referring to a friend who is a girl. For example, if someone says that they are going to "go hang out with their girlfriends," it may very well refer to a group of that person's friends that are female. These platonic friendships can be extremely close and should be celebrated.
Love can light a fire in us, but it doesn't always mean that you're going to be more than friends. Some people even celebrate platonic love on Valentine's Day by giving their friends a gift. Though Valentine's Day is something that human beings once thought of as being strictly for romantic love, the modern interpretation allows people to celebrate it however they want.
If you hear someone refer to a group of people as their girlfriends, it is likely just slang, unless someone has multiple romantic partners that are female.
Is Platonic Love Cheating?
Platonic love is not cheating. If there's platonic love between two friends, it doesn't mean that either person is cheating on their partner if they have one. The modern interpretation of platonic love is that it has nothing to do with your sex life or sexual interest and isn't a replacement for a romantic relationship.
If your significant other has purely platonic relationships with someone of the gender or genders to whom they're attracted, unless more is going on, there's likely nothing to be concerned about in terms of what that means for your relationship or trust. Despite common assumptions or beliefs, people of any gender can be friends, and in many of those friendships, romance never crosses either person's mind.
What Does Platonic Love Feel Like?
Platonic love is close, but not interchangeable with the love that exists in a romantic partnership. When you experience this type of love, you will experience it by caring about a person very deeply. You will have the desire to have them in your life for a long time, and you will greatly value their time and connection with you.
Platonic love is something that you might have for a lifelong friend. It's not something you would have for an acquaintance. Think of a person in your life who just "gets" you. Someone whom you appreciate, whom you feel is special, and for whom you are enormously grateful.
Characteristics of platonic love include a sense of appreciation for the other person, the ability to be honest and candid with the other person, the ability to be yourself around the person, and mutual fondness. These traits are part of why purely platonic love has an essential place in our lives.
Having someone you love, even platonically, typically means that you have someone in your life who makes you happy and who supports you, which is invaluable. Of course, unhealthy interpersonal relationships are also possible. If you are struggling with toxic connections of any kind and are not sure what to do, talking with a counselor or therapist can help.
Can Platonic Friends Fall In Love?
Platonic friends can fall in love. Often, we hear stories of childhood friends growing up to date one another or get married. This can occur at any point in life. Two people who were previously just friends and proceeded to date, get engaged, or marry one another may not have always had the desire to be in a romantic love relationship with that person. Feelings may have grown over time and evolved into classic romantic love.
Can Your Soulmate Be Platonic?
Many people certainly believe in platonic soulmates. Have you ever met a friend and felt like you have known them for your entire life even though you had just met them? Did you grow closer over time and develop a best friendship that feels strong, supportive, healthy, and unshakable? Do you feel like you were meant to be friends and feel like your connection is unlike your connections with most other friends? If so, that might be a friend whom you can refer to as a platonic soulmate.
Can Cuddling Be Platonic?
People can cuddle platonically. Sometimes, people cuddle friends or other people in their life. Nowadays, there are even professional cuddling services that allow you to pay to cuddle another person. Cuddling isn't something that's just reserved for those involved in your sex life.
However, if you have a partner, you should ask them how they feel before utilizing cuddling services, just so that you're both clear on what using a cuddling service means. If you and your partner have any communication difficulties or disparities related to platonic connections in your life, online couples counseling can help. Search the network of providers at ReGain or look for a mental health professional in your local area and find the best fit for you.
What Are Some Common Platonic Boundaries?
Is There Really Such A Thing As Platonic Love?
Why Is It Beneficial To Have Platonic Relationships?
Can You Be Platonically In Love With Someone?
What Are The Signs Of Platonic Love?
What Is Platonic Love Vs Romantic Love?
Is Platonic Love A Friendship?
Can You Kiss In A Platonic Relationship?
Is Platonic Love Rare?
What Is A Platonic Crush?
What Is Platonic Intimacy?
What Is Allowed In A Platonic Relationship?
What Are The Seven Types Of Love?
- Previous Article
- Next Article