Platonic relationship: Definition and characteristics

Platonic relationship: Definition and characteristics

Have you ever been in a platonic relationship? It is possible that you have without even knowing it. Sometimes, this type of relationship is mistaken for unrequited love, but they are absolutely not the same. How can you tell the difference between the two? Are there any features or definition of platonic relationships?

Platonic relationship
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This term, ‘platonic love,’ bears reference to Plato, a philosopher from Ancient Greece. He used to elaborate on the subject of affection in his works. In accordance with his ideas, the purest love ever does not have a physical component. Bodily desires have their right to exist, but only the most genuine spiritual feelings can make people god-like.

Platonic relationship: What is it?

When speaking about a spiritual connection that involves no corporal desires, Plato meant something different from what is commonly put into this notion now. If we try to give a definition of platonic love using its initial meaning, we need to mention that the ancient notion referred to all types of relations between people. The classical platonic love definition embraces the adoration one feels towards a teacher, a good friend, a leader, or a famous personality.

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If you have at least once felt this affection towards a famous actor, a singer, or another famous personality who is beyond reach, you have experienced this emotion. Of course, the feelings one may have for a merely unreachable person can involve bodily desires. Still, there is no physical contact, meaning that this is a simple example of a pure platonic crush.

define platonic
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What is a platonic relationship in modern understanding? As a rule, this term is used to describe a relationship between two people who choose not to have any intimate contact though theoretically, they could possibly have a romantic affair.

These people may be good friends, they may belong to different social groups, there may be an age gap between them, but they just cherish each other without any bodily contact.

Such a platonic friendship unfolds people's best traits. They are ‘just good friends’ who might be even closer to each other than lovers or blood relatives.

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The best example of such a relationship is a lasting, true friendship between a man and a woman. They may never share a bed like lovers, they may know everything about each other, but remain friends without any lust or flirting. Of course, the so-called friendship with benefits is quite the opposite.

Is it a platonic relationship or unrequited love?

what does platonic mean
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The main difference between these two notions is imbalance. Unrequited love supposes that one party has a strong affection and physical attraction to the other, while the other does not want any romance. It is a painfully imbalanced partnership in which one party will practically always be unhappy because of unsatisfied emotions, and the other will possibly be oppressed with the affection they cannot return.

The platonic relationship meaning suggests that both parties are satisfied with their way of life and lead it on mutual consent.

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It is necessary to remember, however, that pure bodiless emotions may once undergo a profound transition. At this stage, one partner may start to want more than just being good friends.

It is absolutely normal when spiritual phases grow into physical or vice versa, under the condition that both partners feel comfortable about this transition and welcome the changes.

Platonic relationship and its features

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Several distinctive features may help you find out whether the partnership you have with a person is strictly platonic or whether there is a trace of romance.

You are completely honest with each other

  • You are not jealous and do not need to know where and with whom your friend spent the night yesterday. You also do not need to report on your activities, and nobody is policing your free time.
  • The two of you can put up a fight and break your communication for days, weeks, months, or so. It will hardly affect your mutual future because when you restore communication, everything goes back to normal.
  • You do not need to worry that you will look unattractive; there is no need for you to maintain a false face. You do not need to impress or charm them; you are not ashamed of asking just any questions and discussing any matters.
  • You can speak to them about the problems you have with your spouse or date and receive comfort and advice, not jealousy and tears.

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Many elderly couples reach this level and become platonic friends when all their passions are long gone; when physical desires step aside; and when both need a comfortable and secure life side by side with a person they cherish and trust.

platonic friends
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You are aware of boundaries

Setting precise boundaries is essential if you would want your relationship with a person to be platonic.

  • If you are on a trip together and need to stay overnight in a foreign place, would you share a room?
  • If any of you develop a romantic affair with another person, would it in any way affect your attitude towards each other?
  • What does platonic mean if both of you are married?
  • How would you explain your connection to your marriage partners?

All these situations require attention from both of you because the platonic meaning supposes that there is not a hint of possessiveness, jealousy or physical attraction in your partnership.

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You do not expect anything from them

  • You do not think that they will stay by your side forever, and you calmly and naturally accept the possibility that he or she may develop a romantic affair and create a family with another person.
  • You do not expect that your non-physical friendship will grow into something more sensual and passionate because you are attracted to them only as a friend.
  • You do not worry about the way they spend their free time without you, but you are always around when they need a shoulder to cry on, a pair of ears to listen to their heartbreaking stories of unhappy love, and so on.

If you start to expect more, it is a sure sign that something other than platonic love is developing between you. You will probably need to discuss this situation with them and come to a solution together. It may turn out that they may want to take it to another level, too.

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what is a platonic relationship
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You are selfless towards your friend

Selflessness and awareness of individuality are the things that define platonic partnership. You may want to spend some time with them, but you also know that they are not obliged to spend time with you. What you want them to do is not necessarily what they want or would prefer.

Nevertheless, this awareness of individual needs and the absence of commitment cannot ruin the bond you share.

A real platonic relationship is something to be cherished. It is fragile and precious because it gives one the feeling of being appreciated not as a lover, not as an object, but as a personality.


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