Platonic vs Romantic Relationships: Why You Need Both in Your Life
When you hear the word relationship, thoughts of dating and romantic partnership might be the first to come to mind. But the fact of the matter is that every connection you have to another person (or even animal) can be described as a relationship. And a full human experience requires all types of relationships. Relationships outside of your family can be broken up into two broad categories, romantic and platonic relationships. A romantic relationship is a close relationship to another person that involves deep friendship as well as physical intimacy and sex, and maybe even love. A platonic relationship is a relationship between friends, and while these relationships can be loving, they are not physically intimate.
It’s possible that you may find yourself in a platonic relationship, even if you have romantic feelings for the other person. If this is the case, regardless of what your feelings are, if you are not physically intimate with the other person, then you are not in a romantic relationship. Physical intimacy can mean a lot of different things, and doesn’t necessarily need to involve sex, though after a certain stage most romantic relationships do involve sex. Physical intimacy can be touching, hugging and kissing in addition to more sexual forms of intimacy.
If you are feeling romantic feelings towards a platonic friend, and want to turn your relationship into a romantic one, there are a few things that you should consider. Do you think that your friend is on the same page as you are? Have they given you any signs that they are interested in you in more than a platonic way? Are you willing to potentially change your friendship dynamic for the worse, if the person does not have romantic feelings for you? Are your romantic feelings long term, and actionable or feelings that seem to be fleeting? If you have asked yourself these questions, and are still interested in turning your platonic relationship into a romantic one, the first thing you should do is talk to your friend.
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Expressing your emotions can be difficult, especially if there is a lot on the line and you’re running the risk of rejection. But it’s important for both their sake and your own that you are honest about how you feel and what you want out of your relationship. After you openly share your feelings, LISTEN to them and how they are feeling. In the best case scenario, they’re on the same page and you can talk about what the future of your relationship will look like. In other cases, they will not be on the same page, and it will be important for you to take their response seriously and move forward in a way that you are both comfortable with.
After all, we can’t choose who we are attracted to, and it’s nothing against you or your friendship if a platonic friend doesn’t want to take things to a romantic place. You should try and move forward in a way that you feel comfortable with, while still respecting their feelings and wishes. And, you should rest easy knowing that there are plenty of health and social benefits associated with platonic friendship!
Help with emotional development
Humans are social beings, and it’s important for everyone to have friendship in their lives in order to emotionally develop. To help visualize this, think of kids in school and how important it is for kids to socialize with their peer groups so that they develop skills like listening, problem solving and empathy. While these skills are often introduced at a young age, it’s important for people of all ages to interact with others to achieve more emotional development. If the kid analogy doesn’t work for ya, you can also think of how important it is to socialize your dog at a dog park. Introducing your pup to others at an early age helps them navigate social situations and play better with other dogs. Achieving emotional development is crucial to having a successful romantic relationship, so it’s important to work on developing these skills through friendship and platonic relationships.
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Act as a support network
Everyone goes through good and bad times in life, and the fact of the matter is, it’s almost always better to go through both highs and lows with someone else. Having a solid support network with a platonic friend or group of friends can help you weather bad news and celebrate exciting things. Romantic relationships can and should also fill this role, but it’s equally (if not MORE) important to have friends by your side during life events as it is to have a romantic partner there with you. It’s also important to maintain your platonic relationships while in a romantic relationship so that you have a support network outside of your partner. This is super important and will help you navigate romantic relationship troubles more easily.
Work as a sounding board
As much as we all love the sound of our own ideas, it’s often a good practice to run your ideas by other people so that you can hear different opinions and perspectives. We don’t always have all the answers, and platonic friends can work as a sounding board, helping you parce out your ideas and plans and come to a better solution. We need people that we trust to challenge our ideas, and who better to do this than our peers and platonic friends. Again, a romantic partner can probably fill this role as well, but having platonic friends who you’ve known for longer (probably) and who perhaps know you better (at the start of a romantic relationship at least) can be a huge benefit to you.
Not only do platonic relationships last longer than most romantic relationships (until you find the one of course), but strong platonic relationships lead to social support, which can actually cause people to live longer. There are lots of diseases that are negatively impacted by social isolation. And studies have shown that friendships can lead to lower incidence of things like cardiovascular diseases.
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