WHEN YOU MEET A GUY LONG AFTER A TOXIC RELATIONSHIP
Love is the closest thing to real magic. Yet we rarely talk about platonic love, even though it’s an important part of our lives. Here we take a look at modern & healthy platonic relationships.
What is platonic love?
To put it simply, platonic love refers to a form of love that is not love. Platonic relationships generally involve a deep friendship of a non nature between two individuals who may or may not be of the opposite gender. According to Science Daily, “Platonic love, in its modern popular sense, is a loving relationship in which the element does not enter, especially in cases where one could easily assume otherwise.”
The term platonic love derives its name from the famous Greek philosopher Plato. In his work The Symposium, Plato extensively discussed the concept of true love in honor of Eros, the Greek god of love. It is through his discussions with his guests that the idea of platonic love was formed in their dialogues. His idea of platonic love is not based on lust or relationships. Lachlan Brown, author and founder of Hack Spirit, explains, “Plato defined platonic love as the kind of love that motivates us to become better versions of ourselves, that inspires us to pursue greater goals and lead us toward enlightenment or the… closer to the divine”.
Understanding platonic love in a modern context
Nowadays, the meaning of platonic relationships has changed drastically and is often used to say good friends without “benefits”. These relationships share a strong bond and affection for one another, yet there is no romantic or attraction. But as in Plato’s original version, platonic relationships today can be meaningful, deep, and lead to lifelong friendships.
It’s a relationship with healthy boundaries, trust, respect, admiration, gratitude, honesty, and no insecurities or jealousy. Author and educator Diana Raab, MFA, Ph.D. writes, “Platonic love is a distinctive emotional and spiritual relationship between two people who love and admire one another because of their shared interests, spiritual connection, and similar worldviews. It’s a relationship where you feel comfortable being your true self without worrying about being criticized or abandoned.
Crucial Elements of Platonic Love
Platonic relationships are simply good friendships that inspire us to be better. However, friendships and relationships today have become overly complicated. Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of platonic relationships. This will help us recognize and nurture them to create lifelong friendships with people we love and care about.
1. Genuine Honesty
One of the defining characteristics of a platonic friendship is pure and genuine honesty. Unlike a romantic relationship, a platonic friendship has no room for insecurities, fears of abandonment, or infidelity. There is no need for white lies or cheating. Since they are not your partner, you are not afraid that they will leave you. Because it’s not an exclusive relationship, the stakes aren’t high.
“Platonic love doesn’t have to spare anyone’s feelings. There is no need to keep up a facade. In a way, that brutal honesty is great; in fact, it is often a relief,” explains an article in A Conscious Rethink. In such a relationship one can talk about things that one cannot in a romantic relationship, one can be open about one’s own disadvantages and ask questions that we might not be able to ask our romantic partners.
Romantic relationships are sensitive and need to be nurtured. Platonic relationships are less sensitive and can take brutal honesty. You “do not have to worry about peace. You and your platonic partner can be separated for a period of time, and you can rejoin them when the wounds are healed,” Lachlan writes.
2. Healthy Boundaries
Although our platonic friends may not be as valuable to us as our romantic partners, we still love and cherish them. Therefore, we respect their personal boundaries. A Conscious Rethink explains: “Platonic relationships (especially in the beginning) require strong boundaries. These aren’t typically discussed or negotiated in the same way as steps in romantic relationships, but they still linger in the background.”
New or developing friendships may not have defined or established boundaries. As they begin to share more experiences together and understand and accept the differences in interest & attraction in friendship, platonic love can blossom. The more they learn about and respect the boundaries in the relationship, the more the bond will strengthen. As the relationship progresses, we can see what boundaries we can push and how far.
“Platonic love requires a lot of trust…You must take care to build trust to ensure your partners understand the nature of your relationship and that it poses no potential threats,” adds A Conscious Rethink.
3. No expectations
Expectations are one of the main reasons most romantic relationships get complicated. We often have unrealistic expectations from our romantic partners, and when they are not met, it can lead to many conflicts and complications, and even result in a breakup. However, platonic love is not defined by these traps of commitment, attention, loyalty, and expectations.
Lachlan writes, “You have no mutual obligations—no family, no mortgage, no pets, no shared finances—so you owe each other nothing but friendship. Having no expectations from each other is one of the biggest perks of a platonic relationship. This is what makes them functional and durable.
When it comes to platonic love, we usually act in an unselfish way. No matter how much you love your romantic partner, there will always be an aspect of selfishness in this relationship. Committed relationships often cause us to behave and act in ways that may not fully reflect who we really are. We act selfishly to protect our partnership with our spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend.While we can tend to be unselfish in love, we often have selfish motives in even our kindest gestures towards our romantic partners. We want them to love us and invest in the relationship. “The relationship comes first and the needs of the individual sometimes have to be sacrificed,” explains Ein conscious rethinking.
However, in a platonic friendship, we do things in the best interests of our friends, regardless of how that may affect the relationship. We often pull away from our platonic friends when they get into a new relationship or when they want to spend more time with their romantic partners. That’s because we realize it’s what’s best for them, even if it might not be good for our friendship. Platonic love teaches us to make space for those we care about. This is how we learn to let them go.
This is a selfless act and we personally gain nothing from it. However, when we see our platonic friend happy and content, it makes us feel happy and we hope to be able to reconnect soon.
Platonic love is uncomplicated
Platonic relationships are not overly complicated, unlike romantic relationships. However, it’s important that you decide and clarify what that relationship is and where you should draw the line, cautions author Lachlan Brown. He adds, “If you’re friends with benefits, great, if you’re just friends, great: whatever you decide, decide ahead of time what your relationship will be and stick to it no matter what.”
It’s that aspect of honesty and no expectations that makes platonic love truly valuable. It’s a relationship where you can be your true self, depend on someone for life, and live your own life without fear of losing your friend.
Platonic love shows us that we are loved and gives us new perspectives on how we should love someone: by being honest, respecting boundaries, letting go of unrealistic expectations, and doing what is best for the person we love.