Between love songs, romantic comedies and TV shows for couples, the world has done a good job of convincing us that romantic love reigns supreme. But the rarely mentioned partner in romantic love, platonic friendship, is just as important and is a key part of maintaining a healthy relationship. “It seems to me that society doesn’t place enough value on platonic love,” says New York psychologist Jordana Jacobs, Ph. Such strictly non-sexual relationships, she says, “have the potential to be deep, intense and life-changing.” But how to make them work, especially if you’re already married to someone else, is a question many couples and friends struggle with.
A “platonic relationship” is basically a super-deep connection.
This type of friendship can exist between many pairs, although it is most often a connection with the opposite sex (think: when Harry met Sally). Of course, this can also happen between friends of different genders and orientations. It’s worth noting that not every friendship is platonic. Jacobs says: “When you meet someone, you go through a process of deciding what role they will play in your life, including how close you should be to them.” If you end up feeling that deep connection, that’s platonic love.
A healthy platonic friendship means no sex involved.
“I think of platonic love as a special emotional and spiritual relationship between two people,” says Dr. Diana Rabb, author of “Writing for Happiness. “It doesn’t involve any type of sexual interest, but there is deep concern, mutual respect and loyalty,” she said.
Jacobs says platonic love is actually a helpful cornerstone of romantic love. “It creates a foundation that ultimately gives us enough courage to take the necessary risks in romantic love because it’s usually more reliable and stable,” she says.
Signs of platonic love include that famous “friend obsession.
Jacobs says the good feelings between friends are very real. It’s not the kind of nervous infatuation you feel apprehensive about being around the person you want to kiss, but a compatibility infatuation. Jacobs explains:The process is not necessarily sexual in nature, but more about the power of human connection and its ability to make us feel more alive.” “This happens when we meet someone and become infatuated; when we feel noticed, understood and less alone in the world.” That’s why you know you’ve got true Platonic love – when you understand.
The first principle of a platonic relationship is to maintain boundaries.
Rabb says this cannot be overemphasized. For example, if you’re traveling with this friend and you end up making a sexual connection to this friend (which neither of you is interested in exploring), then you’ll be staying in different hotel rooms. Also, avoid conversations that turn to flirting. READ:Even after a drink or two, don’t share those fantasies unless it’s a path you want to explore.
Platonic relationships can exist outside of marriage, but be careful.
It’s normal for your spouse to be jealous of a platonic relationship, but communication is key to helping manage those feelings, Rabb says. “Jealousy is always tied to some kind of fear,” she says. “Saying openly and honestly, ‘I’m having dinner with someone tonight,’ instead of ‘I’m going to have dinner with someone,’ helps address that fear by showing your partner that they’re not losing their footing in front of you. “
She explains that when people start hiding things, it can lead to suspicion and jealousy. If your spouse is still struggling, ask yourself:Are your concerns about your spouse really valid? Are you willing to give up your marriage for this friend? If not, you may want to spend less time with each other.
Yes, you can fall in love with someone platonically.
There seems to be a perception in our culture that platonic love is somehow a threat to romantic love – in other words, that you can’t feel both at the same time. Jacobs says that’s not the case. Rabb agrees – and her own experience is evidence of this. She says: “Deep friendships hold a lot of power.” “Intimacy doesn’t always enhance that feeling.”
So can a platonic relationship work?
The short answer is yes – if you’re willing to invest the time. But to make sure no one gets attached to anyone else, you need to ask your friends and see that everyone is on the same page. Jacobs says: “Have an open and honest discussion about what both parties want in the relationship.” “Even though people are afraid to have such conversations, avoiding the topic can do more harm than good. Unexplored, inconsistent intentions can lead to resentment and possibly the end of a friendship.”