What Is a Platonic Relationship? Health Benefits And How To Make It Work

A platonic relationship is one in which two people share a close bond but do not have a sexual relationship. They may even feel love for each other, referred to as platonic love.

It is a concept that originated in the ideas of the ancient philosopher Plato, from whose name the term is derived. Though Plato never used the term himself It was Plato’s belief that people can be brought to a level of divine perfection or divine ideal through platonic love.

Conversely, the contemporary use of ‘platonic relationship’ or ‘platonic love’ is motivated by the idea of people being close friends. This term can apply to both opposite-sex and same-sex friendships.

Definition of Platonic Love

Platonic love is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a close relationship between two persons in which sexual desire is nonexistent or has been suppressed or sublimated.”

Platonic Love means more than just friends. It concerns rising through levels of closeness to wisdom and true beauty, from carnal attraction to individual bodies to attraction to souls, and eventually, union with the truth.


Platonic Relationship vs. Romantic Relationship

A platonic relationship is often mistaken for a romantic relationship but in actual sense, a platonic relationship differs from a romantic relationship in some ways.

Despite the fact that both types of relationships often involve sharing a deep level of connection and occasionally, they can even feel love for each other.

Usually, there is no sex or physical intimacy in a platonic relationship whereas individuals in a romantic relationship are typically physically intimate.

There is the possibility to yearn for physical intimacy (for example hugging, kissing, or touching) or sex with the other person but not be engaged in these activities.

A relationship remains platonic love even if there is the desire for physical intimacy or sex as long as such desire is not fulfilled.

Here are some basic characteristics of a platonic relationship and a romantic relationship:

Platonic Relationship

  • A deep level of friendship is involved
  • A desire for physical intimacy may or may not exist between the people involved.
  • No physical intimacy or sex occurs

Romantic Relationship

  • Involves deep friendship
  • Both people involves generally have a desire for physical intimacy
  • physical intimacy and/or sex are often involved


Signs You Are In A Platonic Relationship.

There are numerous features that differentiate a platonic relationship from other relationship types. Besides the lack of a sexual feature, platonic love is also likely to be noticeable by:

  • Friendship: Both people involve in a platonic relationship feel a deep level of connection, and closeness to each other and feel that they have things in common.
  • Honesty: People in the relationship have the assurance that they can share their feelings and think with the other person.
  • Acceptance: Individuals in platonic relationships feel that they are safe and free to be themselves. This tends to make platonic relationships feel easy and comfortable.
  • Understanding: People who share a platonic relationship have a connection, but they also recognize and respect each other’s personal space. They don’t try to force the other person to do things they don’t want to do or be something that they are not.

Platonic relationships are often friendships. And while the lack of a sexual relationship is what characterizes this type of connection, it does not necessarily mean that the individuals in the relationship are not attracted to each other or could not start to feel attracted to one another.

Types of Platonic Relationships

Over the past few decades, a handful of terms have emerged to define diverse types of platonic relationships. These include:

  • Bromance: This is a form of a close, affectionate, non-sexual relationship between two men.
  • Womance: This is a type of platonic relationship in which an emotional, non-sexual, non-romantic bond exists between two women.
  • Work spouse: This phrase is sometimes used to describe a close but non-sexual connection between colleagues or co-workers that involves bonds and sometimes even roles similar to that of a marriage.


How to Foster a Platonic Relationship

It has been established that platonic relationships can have a great impact on the psychological well-being of individuals. Research has found that having social support plays a vital role in mental health, so building a network that includes family, platonic friends, and other loved ones can be important for your overall wellness.

Some things that you can do to help foster platonic love include:

  • Join social networking groups where you can meet people
  • Sign up for workshops or classes on topics that interest you
  • Participate in online communities
  • Volunteer for causes you care about in your community

Furthermore, on the way to developing new platonic relationships, it is also important to know how to keep the ones you have now healthy and strong. Here are some suggestions that could be helpful:

  • Be supportive,
  • maintain healthy boundaries, and
  • practice honesty.


Benefits of Platonic Relationships

Being in a platonic relationship comes with many health benefits and it’s important for your overall well-being. Listed below are some of the positive things that platonic friendships or relationships can bring to your life.


1. Enhanced Good Health

Having love and support from people in your life can have significant health benefits. This is backed by research carried out by the American Psychological Association. Physically, this type of platonic love and support can lower your risk for disease, improve your immunity, and decrease your risk for depression and anxiety.

Also, emotional support can as well be provided by your platonic support system.  This they do usually by listening to what you have to say, providing validation, and helping you when you are in need.


2. Reduces Stress

Stress can take a serious toll on both your physical and mental health. Serious health problems such as cardiac disease, high blood pressure, decreased immunity, and digestive issues can emerge as a result of chronic or prolonged stress. Stress can also be a contributing factor to mood problems such as anxiety or depression.

It has been found that being in strong relationships outside of immediate family and romantic partnerships helps people better cope with sources of stress. Not only that but having supportive platonic friendships also lowers the stress that people face.


3. Increased Resilience

Whether you have troubles in your romantic relationships, problems in your family, work struggles, or health challenges, your platonic associations can play a role in helping you become more resilient in the face of life’s challenges. Having platonic relationships can be a support system for you as you weather these storms.

The biggest predictor of a person’s ability to recover after a traumatic or stressful event according to one study was the presence of strong friendships.

Tips for a Healthy Platonic Relationship

It’s not always easy to find platonic relationships. So, it is important to continue to nurture and strengthen that connection when you do establish a strong platonic bond. Here are some things that you can do to help keep these relationships healthy:

  • Don’t make the other person do all the work: Don’t rely on the other person to make all the plans or initiate all the contact. Reach out to them regularly to invite them to participate in activities.
  • Stay in touch: Call, text, or email the other person from time to time just to keep the lines of communication open. Let them know you are thinking of them, reach out to share a funny joke you know they’ll enjoy, or just ask them how they are.
  • Show up for them: Other people can be an important source of emotional support, but it’s just as important for you to reciprocate that support. Be there when they need you, even if it is just to lend an open and supportive ear.

It is also important to know when to let go of a platonic relationship. Unhealthy relationships can create stress, so don’t be afraid to end your association if the other person is unkind, manipulative, hurtful, or doesn’t support you the way you need.


Potential Challenges of a Platonic Relationship

It is important to note at this point that platonic relationships are quite different from unrequited love. An unrequited relationship is basically a crush or affection that involves one person being romantically or sexually interested in someone who does not feel the same way and is not ready to return their feelings. True platonic relationships involve an equal balance of emotions and feelings.

This is not to say that a platonic relationship can’t or won’t develop into something romantic or sexual. While such a relationship can potentially turn into a strong romantic relationship, it is important to bear in mind that you can lose the friendship if you end up breaking up.

Try to focus on establishing and maintaining clear boundaries if maintaining a platonic relationship is your sole aim. Set limits on things such as time spent together, the amount of contact, and the level of physical intimacy.


Queerplatonic Relationships (QPR)

Queerplatonic relationships are committed intimate relationships which are neither romantic nor (necessarily) sexual in nature and that differ from close friendship by having the same structure and status as a romantic relationship. The concept originates in aromantic and asexual spaces in the LGBT community.

Queerplatonic partners are each other’s significant others, and the concept of queerplatonic relationships posits the existence of a special class of platonic love, distinct from romance, that provides an appropriate basis for this kind of formal intimate relationship. Like romance, queerplatonic love is often said to involve a deeper and more profound emotional connection than friendship.


Platonic Relationship Boundaries

Some boundaries to maintain in a platonic relationship include:

  • Don’t gossip or complain about your partners to each other
  • Don’t engage in physical contact beyond casual intimacy (i.e., avoid things like handholding, kissing, or “friends-with-benefits” situations)
  • Don’t ditch your partner to spend time with your platonic friend
  • Don’t hide your platonic relationship from your partner
  • Give each other plenty of space
  • Make time for your other relationships

Watch this video to know more about platonic relationships:


If You Want Something More

If you want to extend a platonic relationship or platonic love into a sexual or romantic relationship, it is important to be open and honest with the other person. Express your interest without pressuring them.

Discuss what it might mean to the relationship and how it might ultimately affect your friendship. Platonic relationships can serve as a great foundation for a romantic relationship, but it is important, to be honest, and communicate openly.

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