What Does a Platonic Relationship Mean?

Does platonic mean just friends?
on November 23, 2023
Read time: 10 mins
by Moraya Seeger DeGeare

Platonic love can often be written off as the precursor to a romantic relationship, but even though we all love this trope in stories — in reality, the power of platonic relationships shouldn’t be underestimated.

Even though these relationships don’t involve any sexual intimacy, it doesn’t mean that the bond is in any way reduced. From the best bromances to the ferocity of female friendships, platonic love can come in many forms and is a huge aspect of our lives!

If you’re lucky enough to find your platonic soulmate, that kind of close friendship isn’t something you should overlook! 

Key Takeaways
  • Platonic relationships refer to an impactful bond between two people, where they share emotional intimacy but do not engage in a sexual relationship.
  • These relationships are no less important or impactful and are classed as more than ‘just friends’ due to the intimacy shared.
  • Work spouses, strong female friendships, and bromances are often considered examples of platonic relationships.
  • Honesty, understanding, and acceptance are important aspects of a platonic relationship.
  • Platonic love is incredibly beneficial, providing stress reduction, emotional support, and more.

What is a platonic relationship? 

Platonic relationships can vary depending on your circumstances but usually refer to two people who share a close bond but don’t have a sexual relationship. While you’re close friends with a strong emotional connection, you’ve not crossed the boundary into romantic love and remain platonic friends. This kind of platonic love can apply to both opposite-sex and same-sex friendships. 

However, platonic relationships are more than simply ‘just friends’, as you share a deep connection beyond the usual parameters of friendship. 

According to the Ancient Greek philosopher Plato, platonic relationships involve a deep bond, where you feel like this other person completes you in some way. In other words, your best friend could serve as your platonic soulmate — with a healthy relationship without any sexual intimacy or sexual attraction. Therefore, just because there is no sex, it doesn’t mean that there is no intimacy. 

In fact, many of the elements present in a platonic friendship are things that you look for in a significant other — such as trust, understanding, closeness, friendship, and more. Which is why sometimes things can get a bit confusing! 

While platonic friendships are often undermined by the ‘friends to lovers’ trope in modern media, romantic feelings or physical intimacy don’t have to be present to make this type of love any less valid! 

What is an example of a platonic relationship? 

We all experience different types of platonic bonds in our lives, from work spouses to bromances. 

These close friendships are significant parts of our lives, but spending time with this person doesn’t inspire feelings of sexual desire, even though you love them! Instead of being based on sexual connection or physical attraction, these relationships are defined by mutual respect, love, and friendship without the desire for something more. 

Examples of platonic relationships can include bromances, strong female friendships, work spouses, or any other significant long-term relationships. Familial love can also be considered a type of platonic love but is more commonly associated with attachment. 

While some people might consider friends with benefits to be totally platonic, as there is no desire to form a romantic partnership, the involvement of sexual intimacy can complicate this dynamic. 

Signs that you’re in a platonic relationship

Transparency: In a healthy platonic relationship, you feel like you can be completely honest with each other at all points. This person can feel like your safe space, and you feel like you can tell them anything.
Understanding: It’s a wonderful experience to know that someone truly ‘gets you’. In this type of relationship, there is a mutual understanding — with shared interests goals, and more.
Emotional intimacy: Just because this is a nonsexual relationship, it doesn’t mean that intimacy isn’t present. Such a strong friendship naturally facilitates emotional intimacy, with platonic love relationships often being incredibly intense and impactful. Even though you don’t consider this person a romantic interest, it doesn’t make your connection less important.
Acceptance: These relationships come with a natural acceptance. Despite our natural flaws as human beings, you feel completely accepted, valued, and wholly understood by your platonic love. No exceptions.

Why do you need platonic love? 

Society puts a lot of emphasis on finding your soulmate, but finding your platonic soulmate is just as incredible. If you’re lucky enough to find this person or multiple persons, this kind of platonic love can have so many benefits. 

1. Stress reduction 

Long-term friendships are incredibly important in your life, as these people provide you with the kind of support and love you need every step of the way. 

If you’re stressed, who do you turn to? It’s natural to turn to your romantic partner, but often, you can turn to your best friend — as they know exactly what you need. They might know what to say to de-stress you, or know exactly how to distract you and make you laugh when you most need it! 

2. Being able to confide in someone 

A platonic relationship comes with innumerable benefits, especially as you have someone with whom you can tell absolutely everything — no filter. 

As we know, bottling things up never works out in the long run, so having someone to spill your secrets to is incredibly beneficial to your overall happiness and well-being. Or, if you messed up, you feel like you’re able to tell this person without fear of retribution. They might tell you you’re in the wrong, but judgment is off the table. 

3. Challenge each other

Platonic friendships should inspire you and challenge you!

In romantic relationships, you might shy away from confrontation over a difference in opinion or don’t want to express your side for fear of damaging the relationship. While not wishing to hurt someone else’s feelings applies to all relationships, platonic love gives you a little more freedom to express your feelings authentically — without fear of fallout! 

4. No pretences  

Platonic love means no pretending. With all your barriers down, you feel that you can be authentically yourself around this person. 

Whether it’s sitting in your sweats on the couch, or if they’re looking after you when you have the flu, you’re not worried they’ll think anything differently of you. 

5. Emotional support 

We all go through rough patches in our lives, and platonic love relationships mean you can have someone by your side no matter what. 

Whether you’re going through a heartbreak, or need someone to comfort you after a rough day at work, this platonic relationship will be with you through it all. 

What if you don’t want to be in a platonic relationship? 

We’ve seen it on TV shows throughout time, the kind of pining relationships where the guy or girl is stuck in the friend zone — with no clear way out!

This kind of platonic relationship defers from the usual dynamic, as it’s a story of unrequited love. In this instance, one person wants to upgrade the relationship to something romantic or sexual and the other is either completely clueless or doesn’t feel the same way. 

These situations can get very complicated, as you’re worried you’ll ruin the incredible friendship that you have if you speak up. Due to the lack of communication, it’s easy to read into things until you end up driving yourself crazy! 

However, even though it’s tough, it’s best to try and articulate how you feel. If they don’t feel the same way, it doesn’t mean that you can’t maintain the friendship that you have — even if you need to take a step back in the short term to preserve your feelings. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between platonic and romantic relationships?

    Platonic friendships involve deep emotional intimacy, closeness, mutual respect, and trust. These are all important elements of a romantic relationship, but platonic love doesn’t involve any physical intimacy or romantic interest.
  • What is the difference between platonic relationships and queerplatonic relationships?

    The definition or dynamics of a queerplatonic relationship can vary from person to person, with the rules often flexible depending on the circumstances. Generally speaking, these relationships involve queer folks who are romantically committed to one another but without physical or sexual intimacy.
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