Platonic Friendships Are Possible (and Important)

What Does That Even Mean?

The word platonic comes from the Greek words for friend and love. It’s derived from the Latin word platonicus which means “of or pertaining to friends.” The term was first used in 1843 by English writer Charles Kingsley, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that it became popularized in Western culture. Today, the term is often used interchangeably with romantic relationships between two individuals who are not romantically involved with each other.

In general, platonic friendships are those where one person is close enough to another that they feel comfortable confiding in them about their personal lives. They may or may not involve sexual intimacy. A platonic relationship might be considered intimate if both parties felt comfortable sharing intimate details with each other such as names of family members, current illnesses, past loves and losses, etc.

However, platonic friendships do not necessarily imply any sort of emotional closeness. While there is no hard definition on what constitutes an emotionally intimate relationship, many would argue that being physically affectionate with someone is probably the closest thing to being emotionally intimate.

Platonic relationships are usually characterized by mutual respect and admiration for each other’s personalities and beliefs. There is rarely any pressure to conform to some sort of social norm such as gender roles or sexual norms.

For Success, Boundaries are Key

The key to any platonic relationship is boundaries. If you and your platonic partner both agree on a set of limitations for your relationship then you’ll avoid unnecessary arguments and complications down the road. For example, if you’re both open to exploring different sexual experiences but do not want to be in a traditional romantic relationship with each other, then you should sit down and talk about what exactly is and isn’t allowed.

On the other hand, if you and your partner both want to remain sexually exclusive to one another, then you should talk about that as well. Perhaps you don’t want to go out in public and be seen as a couple. Perhaps you also want to set ground rules about how much time you’re allowed to spend together when you’re not having fun.

Just remember that this boundary setting should apply in both directions. You should both be willing to listen to the other person’s concerns and feelings. This way, both parties can feel safe and secure in the knowledge that they’re getting everything they want out of the relationship and neither one feels taken advantage of or exploited.

If you’re worried that coming up with boundaries will ruin the spontaneity of your relationship, then keep in mind that this is a temporary measure until you’ve gotten everything settled. After that, you can get back to having fun again.

Going Steady

One of the main benefits of a platonic relationship is that you don’t have to worry about messy breakups or having to deal with a jealous lover. This means you get to avoid a lot of the hassles and complications that are involved in a romantic relationship. In fact, some people would argue that the closest thing to a platonic relationship is a friendship because they both have so much in common.

Of course, the one thing that many people look for in a relationship, especially one with as much sexual tension as you and your platonic partner have, is exclusivity or defined as being someone’s “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” This means that you’re not allowed to go out and see other people or at least there will be consequences if you get caught.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that you both can’t still see other people. It just means that there needs to be some ground rules about how this will be allowed to happen. It’s perfectly fine to see other people as long as you’re safe and get tested on a regular basis. You might even decide that you want to live separately and have your own lives without feeling too threatened by the other person.

Of course, the best boundary to have in this type of relationship is to not get too emotionally attached. This will help you and your partner avoid getting hurt and it also ensures that the relationship will stay platonic.


Whether you decide to enter a sexual relationship or a platonic one with your new partner, it’s important to remember that the most important thing is that you and your partner are enjoying yourselves. If you find that the relationship is becoming toxic in any way, then you have every right to cut your losses and walk away.

Remember, you can always find someone else to take their place if they don’t work out. Finding someone who’s compatible with you and shares your interests isn’t easy, so you don’t want to throw away a potentially good thing over petty squabbles or misunderstandings.

Sources & references used in this article:

Affectionate behavior in adult platonic friendships interpreting and evaluating expectancy violations by K Floyd, M Voloudakis – Human Communication Research, 1999 – Wiley Online Library

Sex and relationship variables as predictors of sexual attraction in cross-sex platonic friendships between young heterosexual adults by DL Kaplan, CB Keys – Journal of Social and Personal …, 1997 –

Friends forever: A longitudinal exploration of intimacy in same-sex friends and platonic pairs by E Griffin, GG Sparks – Journal of Social and Personal …, 1990 –

Gender differences in best friendships by LE Elkins, C Peterson – Sex Roles, 1993 – Springer

Motives to remain platonic, equity, and the use of maintenance strategies in opposite-sex friendships by SJ Messman, DJ Canary… – Journal of Social and …, 2000 –

Attributions for expectancy violating changes in affectionate behavior in platonic friendships by K Floyd, M Voloudakis – The Journal of Psychology, 1999 – Taylor & Francis

Plato and Aristotle on friendship and altruism by J Annas – Mind, 1977 – JSTOR

On BeingJust Friends’: The Frequency and Impact of Sexual Activity in Crosssex Friendships by WA Afifi, SL Faulkner – Journal of Social and Personal …, 2000 –

Cross-sex friends who were once romantic partners: Are they platonic friends now? by CS Schneider, DA Kenny – Journal of Social and Personal …, 2000 –