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Platonic friendship gets a bad rap for a lot of reasons. Here’s what you must know about platonic friends, what people think, and the rules to follow.
Everyone seems to be looking for love, but there’s nothing wrong with a platonic friendship either. If you can handle being platonic friends with someone from a gender you’re attracted to, then more power to you!
We’re going to be honest. If you find a friend attractive, it’s not going to be easy to stay in the path of platonic friends for too long. As much as you like staying friends with them, there’s a possibility you’re staying friends mostly because you’re attracted to them.
And while it’s flattering for your friend, it can also be uncomfortable – especially if the romantic gestures are unwanted.
Of course, the reverse could be true too. Maybe they like you, or have a secret crush on you, but you either aren’t interested, or are already in a relationship.
Either scenario is difficult.
Of course, there’s always the situation where you are both attracted to each other, and on the same page, but that doesn’t always happen. If it did, you’d be dating already!
But if you do want to experience a healthy platonic friendship, there are a few rules you must follow, and we’ll get to those rules soon. For now, let’s understand this special friendship just a bit better.
What is a platonic friendship?
It’s surprising we need to label pure friendship by another word. Because that’s exactly what a platonic friendship is. Platonic friendship is a friendship in which two people are friends, and share emotional intimacy, but there is no kind of sexual intimacy involved at all.
So doesn’t that just make it friendship? Yes, it does. But these days, the term ‘friendship’ has transcended into various forms, so it’s only fair that platonic friendship gets its own definition.
If you’re friends and sleeping with each other on the side, or if you’re friends and one of you like the other, or if there’s any kind of sexual interest or chemistry involved, that clearly violates the idea of platonic friends.
Why are platonic friendships so hard to hold on to?
Simply because sexual attraction or sexual tension almost always finds its way into the friendship.
The thing about friendship, or any relationship for that matter, is growth. If you want the friendship to thrive, you both have to invest more time and intimacy into the friendship. You need to share secrets, have conversations, spend time together and bond.
This is great for a healthy friendship, because this is the only way it can grow. The day you stop nurturing your friendship is the day it slowly starts to wither, and both of you start to drift apart.
But when we’re we’re talking about two people slowly getting closer to each other, there’s always the off chance that attraction may slip in. Sometimes, it’s inevitable. You’re both spending a lot of time together, you miss each other when the other person isn’t around. And the atmosphere feels exciting and electric when you’re sitting close to them. How different is that from sexual attraction or love?
This is where a platonic friendship can start to get complicated. And that’s why it’s really hard to keep a platonic friendship going unless you follow some very clear rules.
Can men and women be friends?
Of course, they can! But can they grow and nurture the relationship without slipping out of the friend zone?
Platonic friends are a bit like the unicorn of relationships. Something so rare and pure that it is more fabled than real, a heterosexual relationship without the sexual and romantic feelings that usually develop when you put a man and a woman together. This is a friendship so rare people tend to be skeptical that it even exists.
Can men and women stay exclusively friends? We know that people of the opposite sex can be good friends for a while, but how long can they keep it up before one of them folds and starts to develop romantic feelings towards the other person?
Regardless of general opinion though, there are many men and women that have stayed friends for most of their lives. But as everyone sees later on, it takes a very special set of circumstances for a friendship to stay platonic.
So, how can you have a truly platonic friendship without sexual tension and attraction getting in the way? It’s not as difficult as you think.
Rules for a platonic friendship
It’s easy to keep a friendship platonic, all you need to do is remember to avoid building sexual chemistry or allowing the sexual attraction to grow.
If both of you can do that, chances are, you’ll be able to stay platonic friends for a long time to come. That, and of course, these rules you MUST follow!
1. Be conscious of your words and actions
When a person is crushing on someone, sometimes it seems like their brain has been hijacked. They are so gah-gah that they might not know that they’re making a fool of themselves.
So, whether you are the crusher or the crushee, be careful of what you say and do. You don’t want to lead them on, and/or you don’t want to make them uncomfortable.
2. Talk about it
You probably didn’t want to hear this one. It’s not easy to be vulnerable. But if you have the crush, why not just be honest and just put it out there? Take a chance – you never know, they might feel the same way.
Or, if you know they’re crushing on you, but you don’t feel it, maybe politely and kindly bring up that you noticed their interest but you just want to keep it platonic.
3. Establish boundaries
Once you’ve talked about it and it’s out in the open, then you can talk about the boundaries. Like, maybe you don’t hang out at each other’s houses and watch Netflix.
Because we all know where that could lead, right? Or maybe you only hang out during the day and not at night. Any boundary that will help one or both of you resist romantic temptation should be discussed.
4. If you’re married or in a relationship, be respectful to your partner
Many people don’t like it when their partner has a friend of the opposite sex. We all want them to ourselves! However, that’s probably unrealistic.
But if you are in a relationship and have a platonic friend of the opposite sex, don’t do anything that would make your partner uncomfortable or jealous. Always keep it respectful.
5. No touching
Of course, you’re just a really outgoing, friendly, touchy-feely person with everyone. That’s cool – a lot of people are.
But, if you really want to have a strictly platonic friendship, then you are going to have to watch your touchy-feely-ness. Touching can really send a flirty, sexual message if you’re not careful.
6. No “date-like” outings
Your friend may ask you to come over to watch Netflix at night. You may want to stay over after partying the whole night because you’re too drunk and tired. Unless you know with absolute certainty that things won’t get out of hand, you should avoid these scenarios.
Why? Because it screams “date” and “making out” and… well, you know. Sometimes, your friend may have an ulterior motive to seduce you because they’re secretly attracted to you, even if your intentions are purely platonic. So, stay away from things like that. Even movies or dinner can feel like a date.
7. Don’t manipulate your friend to get them to like you
Okay, so you have a massive crush and you’re having a hard time keeping it a platonic friendship. Well, that doesn’t mean you should make a fool of yourself trying to get their attention in a romantic way.
Don’t try to make them jealous or dress like a stripper. They’ll just think you’re weird, and it might actually turn them off.
8. Treat it like a same-sex friendship
You know how you behave with your same-sex friends, right? You’re not touchy-feely and flirty. So, why do you think that would be a good idea with an opposite sex friend? It’s not. It’s flirting with disaster *no pun intended*.
9. If you have feelings, it doesn’t mean you have to act upon them
This is a message especially for the guys out there. Just because she’s friends with you doesn’t mean that she’s necessarily attracted to you.
Yes, we know you’re a dude, and you want to conquer all women. But hey, she’s your friend. You should just keep it at that.
10. Accept that there might be sexual tension
The tension might be mutual or one-sided. But chances are, it might be inevitable. So, just accept it. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. But just expect it so that you won’t be surprised.
11. Avoid sexual conversations
It’s easy to get into all sorts of sexual conversations, whether it’s with the same sex or opposite sex. It’s just fun.
But, it can be a really bad thing to do if you want to keep a platonic friendship. Just don’t go there. Talk about the weather if you have to.
As exciting as it may be to talk about how each of you look naked in bed or while having sex, it’s a conversation that can make one or both of you fantasize about the other person.
12. Don’t cozy up to each other
Even though we told you that you should avoid any date-like circumstances, sometimes you’ll forget that. Sometimes, it might seem like a good idea to watch a movie at home and have some drinks.
But that doesn’t mean you have to sit attached to each other on the couch and cuddle. Just don’t do it.
13. Don’t go on vacation together
This may or may not seem obvious. It might seem harmless to go on a weekend getaway or a cruise together just to have some fun.
But, if you are going to be sharing a hotel room, well, that can get tricky – even if you have two beds. So, why not just avoid going away altogether?
14. Remember the benefits of keeping it platonic
Believe it or not, there are a lot of benefits to keeping it platonic. It’s kind of like having another sibling, and that’s kind of cool.
Sometimes, having a friend of the opposite sex that you can count on but have no sexual relationship with can be really awesome.
Having a platonic friendship is a wonderful thing. Of course, sometimes it’s difficult to ignore the sexual tension, but if you follow these rules, you will do just fine!
Platonic friendships and other people’s opinions
Now that you know the rules of being platonic friends, and what it really takes, we need to confront the world we live in. You two may be perfectly happy just being friends. But is the world around you ready to accept that without bringing in a bit of drama?! Here are a few things you need to keep in mind, especially when it comes to other people’s opinions.
1. The mistaken couple
After all, you do what normal couples do minus the making out. You go on “dates”, hang out, shop together, and maybe even live as roommates. You spend a lot of time together. More than average friends do, and trying to explain that you’re not having sex to everyone else can sometimes be your greatest struggle.
2. They’re skeptical you’re “just friends”
It usually starts with a question “How long have you guys been together?” Followed by a moment where you and your friend stare at each other and laugh, before explaining “just friends.”
What follows is usually a moment of awkward silence, raised eyebrows, and a long “oookay.” So if you’re going to be platonic friends, this is something you both have to get used to.
3. “You look good together, why don’t you just date?”
It’s just a reality of life that people cannot get over the fact that you’re just friends of the opposite sex. It’s time you mentally prepare a snappy answer for every time someone will ask you this question!
The pros and positive side of platonic friendships
This is something you will have to confront if you’re ever considering a serious platonic friendship with someone.
If you’ve been friends with a guy or a girl, and been getting platonically closer to each other with time, perhaps you both are definitely ready to be platonic friends. But here are a few pros and cons for you to keep in mind.
1. Good advice and honesty
If you find yourself struggling with a relationship problem, life problem, opposite gender problem, or a difficult decision, your friend will be able to offer you a whole new perspective, and unadulterated advice.
Your friend knows what’s best for you, and can see things from a totally different perspective.
2. A code of loyalty
Just had a bad breakup? In urgent need of cash? Need a place to stay for a few days? Your platonic friend is usually your first point of contact, and the first one who’ll probably help you, even before your other friends.
For some reason, platonic friends are usually more loyal to each other, and always have each other’s backs. And this is not just in the good times, but in the bad as well.
3. Help with your relationship
A platonic friend usually works harder to win over your partner, because they understand the insecurity they may cause in your relationship. So this means they’d try to get to know your partner just as well as you do. And your friend can offer you the right kind of advice during times like these.
The unfair but bad side of platonic friendships
As simple as being platonic friends may seem to you, there are always a few other things that can play spoilsport in a perfect friendship!
Here are a few warning signs of a platonic friendship that could spill over into other parts of your life. Of course, we know you’re ready to face all of these annoyances. But, it’s better you know!
1. Your friend may get fewer dates
So will you! As most people would mistake you two as a couple, there’s a possibility that anyone attracted to your friend may back off because you’re always with them.
On the other hand, many people just avoid dating someone who’s in a platonic friendship with someone of the opposite gender. They’d rather avoid the messy complications they assume it would bring.
2. Your partner WILL get jealous
And likewise, your friend’s partner will get jealous too.
Both of your partners may be totally understanding and very secure in the relationship. But no matter how secure they feel, they would always experience the smallest hint of doubt or insecurity when you spend so much time with your platonic friend.
And every time you have an argument with your partner, and vent to your platonic friend, it’s only going to make your own relationship worse.
3. YOU may get jealous!
You want the best for your best friend. And you’re happy they’re dating someone wonderful and perfect.
But at the same time, you can’t help but feel a hint of jealousy and possessiveness yourself when your friend starts to date, or spend time in someone else’s arms.
All of a sudden, they have less time to spend with you. AND your friend is in love with their new squeeze, which may even make you hate their new partner just a little bit for taking your best friend away from you.
4. You’re both misunderstood
Your partner and your friend’s partner can’t understand why you need a platonic friendship with someone of the opposite sex, when you have them.
Your partner think’s it a valid point, because they want to be your best friend and the closest member of the opposite sex. As hard as you try to explain that your platonic friend was here first, and you totally like/love them only as a friend, your partner will probably never understand it.
5. Avoiding sexual tension is hard work
Spending time with someone where there’s a possibility of sexual attraction is not easy. Of course, if neither of you feel any sexual tension at all, that’s a breath of fresh air.
But the odds of that are low, especially if you’re ever in a situation where you’re bound to admire your friend sexually.
The subtle undertone of sexual tension between platonic friends
If your platonic friend is attractive, you’d obviously know that. You’re not blind, and you are still human. So this isn’t about pretending like you find them unattractive. It’s about accepting it, and looking above and beyond it.
But sometimes, especially when you feel all alone and miserable, or you need a comforting shoulder to lean on or cuddle with, there’s a chance that all the love and affection you feel towards this platonic friend could find an outlet though sexual attraction.
You like them a lot already, and one lonely night, you may find yourself wondering how things could be if you two did end up together.
This is especially true *and a warning sign* if you both jokingly pledge to “get together if you find yourselves at 40 and are still single” in future.
If you’re just friends, why would this thought cross your mind? If the only reason you’re not sleeping together or dating each other is because there are plenty of fish in the sea or other hotties to date, that’s not a healthy way to stay platonic friends.
Is it worth being platonic friends?
Friendships are great, it’s something all of us need and cherish. And it’s incredibly unfair if you have to remove 50% of the world’s population from any chance of being friends with the other 50%. And it’s also a bit silly and immature.
As an adult, if you want to have a healthy platonic friendship, you need to learn to be honest with each other. And most importantly, you need to be mature about it.
Being platonic friends isn’t a childish game, nor is it about bragging rights, it’s about having a true and loyal friend of a gender that sexually interests you, and it’s about putting friendship over base emotions like sex.
If you can remember all of this, the rules, and the pros and cons, and still think a platonic friendship is something you can handle, more power to you! After all, platonic friends are rare and complicated, but they are a special bond that should be cherished.