ENTITY reports on platonic love.

Strictly platonic is one of the few categories you will find in the Craigslist personals. And why wouldn’t you? It seems hard to find a good friend nowadays. 

And by the way, what are you even allowed to do in the friend zone?

The difference between romantic and platonic relationships often gets confused. Although people generally know that romantic love involves sex, is that the only differentiation? Well, we did some digging to try and find the answer and here’s what the experts had to say about platonic love.

What is platonic love?

IEP (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy), a peer-reviewed academic resource, defines love as “an intrinsically higher value than appetitive or physical desire.” Platonic love, on the other hand “belongs to the higher realm of transcendental concepts that mortals can barely conceive of in their purity, catching only glimpses of the form’s conceptual shadows that logic and reason unveil or disclose.” 

The term is named after Plato although the philosopher never actually used it himself. Instead, it comes from Plato’s dialogue, the “Symposium,” which discusses the different types of Eros (love).

“Symposium” explains how love begins and evolves – both sexually and non-sexually. And in Socrates’ speech, it relates the idea of platonic love to the prophetess Diotima, thus presenting it as a means to contemplate the divine. For Plato, the best way to practice love is by directing one’s mind to the love of divinity.

This, then, relates to how some people use platonic love today. It is not about the physical relation, it is about something more spiritual, more transcendent. As Bilal M. Ayyub explained in the “Elicitation of Expert Opinions for Uncertainty and Risks,” “In common usage, the adjective Platonic refers to the ideal; for example, Platonic love is the highest form of love that is nonsexual or nonphysical.”

How can you keep your friendship strictly platonic?

ENTITY reports on platonic relationships.

You don’t have to read a ton of philosophical books to get a truly platonic relationship. There’s a much simpler way.

Relationship Coach Rachel DeAlto shared with Shape Magazine five steps to follow so you won’t get yourself into confusing territory.

  • Tell him/her that you have a girlfriend/boyfriend early. DeAlto said, “If you have a boyfriend or significant other, make sure it’s included in the conversation earlier rather than later.” This can signal to your friend that they are for sure in the friend zone.
  • Always hang out in a group. “Try to hang out in groups at the beginning, so you can establish your friendship as just that,” she explained. If you hang out one-on-one too many times, this can start seeming like regular romantic dates.
  • Do not treat men the same as your girlfriends. DeAlto explained that giving a guy a flirtatious compliment as a friend can seem innocent, but it can end up confusing him. “Male friends have to be handled differently than girlfriends – especially if you think there is an attraction on his side,” she said. “You can compliment him, but don’t do it flirtatiously.”
  • Don’t get too touchy. “Touch is a powerful flirtation tool,” DeAlto warned. So ticking, knee taps and extended hugs are definitely out of the question.
  • Clarify any confusionIn the same interview, Rachel McLaren, Ph.D., assistant professor of interpersonal communication at the University of Iowa, jumped in and said that bringing up the “more than friends” subject can be tricky, but it must be addressed immediately.

Okay, so what IS the difference between platonic and romantic relationships?

ENTITY reports on platonic relationships.

It can be a slippery slope when it comes to being friends and being more than friends.

Attraction, intimacy, respect, support and pleasure are just as important in platonic relationships as they are in romantic relationships, according to Theresa E. DiDonato, Ph.D. from Psychology Today.

For example, in terms of intimacy, DiDonato explained that “closeness matters in romantic relationships, certainly, but it matters in friendships as well.” Intimacy in both types of relationships is gained through self-disclosure. When people share feelings and concerns with someone they trust, they build a closeness that helps sustain the relationship.

But to answer the original question from the beginning of this article – no, sex isn’t the only differentiating factor between romantic and platonic relationships.

Beyond the sexual component, romantic partners also have shared goals, spend more time together and have greater influence over their partner. Sure, friends affect your decisions, but your romantic relationship will have a strong pull on who you are and your personal sense of self. In addition to this, romantic relationships have interdependence.

“Yes, friends depend on each other,” DiDonato explained. “But the lives of romantic partners tend to be netted together. When developing a romantic relationship, individuals become increasingly reliant on each other, and this is considered a healthy progression from a ‘me’ and ‘you’ to an ‘us.'”

And above all else, romantic partners make everyday decisions to commit. Although commitment is often overlooked as a factor of romantic relationships, DiDonato argued on Psychology Today that it’s the most important factor. “[Commitment] predicts stability [and] reflects an intentional choice to work on creating a romantic partnership,” she wrote. “While many friends could be good partners, it is a decision and commitment toward a life with someone that promotes relationship success.”

How can you get out of the platonic, friend zone?

ENTITY reports on platonic love.

GIF via Giphy.com

If you’re willing to take the leap, there is a way out of the friend zone and into your platonic partner’s heart.

Jeremy Nicholson M.S.W., Ph.D. wrote on Psychology Today that when you are trying to get out of the friend zone, it’s better to go into ghost mode – for a little while, anyway.

Nicholson says that you can’t be too available for your friend anymore.

“Spend some time away from your ‘friend’ and do less for them. If they truly appreciate you, then your absence will make them miss you and want you more,” expressed Nicholson. “When you are no longer around as much or tending to their needs, they will most likely feel the loss. This will increase their desire for you and their willingness to meet your needs back.”

He also suggested that the next step will be to ask directly or indirectly. This will solidify whether or not you are going to stay friends or not. So have the conversation.

But whether it’s platonic or romantic, the most important thing is the love you share for one another. In the words of Plato himself: “Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods.”

Edited by Angelica Pronto

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