Love isn’t really the easiest thing in the world to explain, is it? That feeling you get when you meet your partner after a bit of a gap is quite unlike any other. Immediately, your sheer joy induces tunnel vision and the only thing you see is them. While that feeling helps us understand the feeling a little bit, explaining the whole ‘love’ thing is another doozy altogether. What we can take a jab at today, however, looking at platonic love vs romantic love.
The romantic love you share with a partner is different from the platonic love you might share with your best friend. Though they’re similar in the sense that you can cry your eyes out while watching The Notebook with either of them, there are still subtle differences.
What is the difference between platonic and romantic dynamics? Why do they feel similar, yet so different? Is sex the only thing that’s separating the two? Let’s figure this out together.
What Is Platonic Love?
When one talks about love, our minds usually picture the face of a partner or a crush. And why wouldn’t they? Hundreds of movies everywhere have been dedicated to the idea of romantic love and its twists, turns and characteristics, but nobody ever seems to speak of platonic intimacy.
Whenever we talk about love, whether as a tragedy or as a happily-ever-after, it is usually romantic love that we are thinking about. And while romantic love deserves all the sonnets and songs, poets and writers have dedicated to it, there is one other side of love that usually goes ignored even though it is just as important in anyone’s life. And this is platonic love.
Great epics may not have been written celebrating it, poets might not have died pining for it, but platonic love has always been and will always be a very important part of our lives. From the comforting and constant presence of a friend in times of need, to the kindness of that one person whom you do not want to be romantically attached to but who still has a special place in your heart, platonic love takes many forms.
In all of its various avatars, it has the capability of filling our hearts with as much warmth and passion as any romantic love would and that’s why I think it is time that platonic love received the recognition of being as important as romantic love in our lives. But what exactly does it mean to be in a platonic relationship? And how is it different from romance? Let’s delve into these queries and discover the nuances.
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What is a platonic relationship? Simply put, it’s a relationship with someone that features a close bond, but is devoid of any sexual tension or the act of sex itself. A dynamic such as this usually features fewer problems and enjoys an honesty and acceptance that’s hard to come by.
Is it really possible to be in love and not be physically attracted to someone? The answer is, yes. I know that it’s possible and we do experience many relationships like that in our life. One of the most well-known platonic relationship examples is the one between the famous poet-writer Amrita Pritam and painter Imroz.
What Is A Romantic Relationship?
Romantic relationships feature love, closeness, adoration, and commitment. The subject of a million books, a million movies and a million poems, romantic love is the feeling of intense adoration you feel towards another. Emotional as well as physical intimacy are involved in such a dynamic, thus the inclusion of sex is what can set it apart.
When lust is thrown into the mix, a whole different aspect of the relationship ensues. Commitments are now more meaningful, expectations skyrocket and the intimacy touches levels you can’t really expect to reach with a best friend. Sure, you can talk about almost anything with your best friend, but this is where the difference in the platonic vs romantic lies; the blurred lines of distinction between two souls don’t just exist in romantic relationships.
Signs Of Platonic Love
If one is looking at the divide between a platonic relationship vs romance, the most basic difference would be the absence of physical intimacy. But apart from that, there are many facets to platonic love that include the tendency to give more than take, to revel in the love and not think of what the future holds, or the simplicity of just enjoying every moment of togetherness.
Platonic love simply trumps any labels. One does not consider that they are in a relationship, dating, or in some kind of committed partnership where there is a give and take. Platonic intimacy is already way above all that. It’s a sense of closeness that does not need any defining.
There are also many signs of platonic love that can help one understand what the platonic relationship vs romance distinction is all about. We will also tell you why platonic love is just as important as romantic love.
1. It has no expectations of you
Sounds way too good to be true, right? Platonic love is a shoulder when you need one to cry on. It reads the poems you write as you cry through the night and does not point out either the grammatical errors nor the fact that your nose is running. In all probability, it will hold a tissue in front of you and ask you to blow into it.
This kind of intimacy is there because it simply wants to be and not because it wants to get into your pants. Which is strange yet liberating. One can say platonic love is surreal and thrives on intellectual intimacy because, in platonic love, the mind and heart do all the talking.
Michaela and Troy had this kind of a relationship. It was a love that kept them in splits, in cahoots, in tissues, wine and chocolates, depending on who needed what, when. So when Michaela moved to Chicago for work, neither of them worried about the distance doing any damage, because that’s the kind of bond they shared.
2. It accepts you the way you are
This kind of love accepts you in all your sweaty, covered in chips, wearing sweatpants all day, kind of glory. And yes, we also mean that literally. It knows you are gross, but it does not mind. Love persists here anyway, even though you might be pushed to take a bath once in a while.
No amount of body odor or hair in funny places is going to make them run away. This kind of love is so pure and so beyond the superficial that there is nothing that can make it ebb.
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3. Platonic love understands and never judges
Well, it judges you sometimes, especially if you drunk called your ex again the night before. But it will also listen to what you have to say without judgment and try to understand where you are coming from. While it might also smack you on the top of your head while at it, it will always listen. And hand you tissues. And bring you ice cream.
Over drinks one night, Michaela mentioned to Troy how she had met up with her ex when they lived in Chicago, and ended up dating him again for a couple of months. Troy wasn’t appalled or shocked. He was a little disheartened, but he understood where Michaela was coming from.
He felt it was only natural for her to do something like that, and while he didn’t think it was the smartest of things she could have done, he realized that it was probably what she needed at that point. And at the end of the day, he just wanted Michaela to be okay.
4. It also scolds you when you have done something wrong
Platonic intimacy is strange, and there are also some platonic relationship rules. It will hand you fresh tea and food while simultaneously scolding you for your recent mess involving a cute person and you being a potato. There will also be judgment for your poor hygiene and choices. It will also judge your tendency to judge others.
There will also be disappointment in you because it knows what you are capable of and hates to see you wasting away. Till you crumble under the pressure. Once you do, that same love will pick you up and feed you chocolates till you can function again.
5. Sometimes, they know you more than you know yourself
From your favorite kind of tea to your favorite seat in the room, your platonic love knows it all. It also knows when you last lied to your mom about being busy. Probably because you told them when you were drunk. Your platonic partner often knows you better than your romantic partner ever will. Which basically means that they also get you the best gifts on your birthday and make everyone in the vicinity jealous.
One of the best platonic relationship examples in Troy and Michaela’s relationship is when he surprised her with tickets to Hawaii. He’d noticed how she had been scrolling through this particular hotel’s page on Instagram. She mentioned a couple of times that she really liked the private beach at the hotel, and that they had some fun Friday night activities. Right around Thanksgiving break, Troy knew what to do and bought them both tickets with a booking to the same hotel in Hawaii!
6. Platonic love is not selfish
Whatever platonic love is, it is not selfish. In fact, there are no platonic relationship rules either. It is just a raw and real connection without any strings attached. A strange weight is taken off a relationship the moment the people involved decide they don’t want to sleep with each other or get married or something. They just want to be there for you, by your side.
What does it mean to be in a platonic relationship? It means being with someone where no terms and conditions are involved. You can be platonically in love with someone without having any expectations of them. Too many expectations finish off relationships and destroy love. But with platonic love, you do not need to worry about that.
7. No matter who comes and who goes, it stays by you
They are the family that you chose, the ones that are always cheering you on even after you keep messing up. So, romantic partners may come and go, but your platonic love stays by your side no matter what you do.
Platonic love is simply happy to be able to share a moment of warmth and companionship with you. Despite Michaela having gone to Chicago for so long, Troy’s love for her remained unaltered and he did not even have to put in an effort for it to be that way. It was something that came most naturally to him. He knew that she’d be back, they would pick up from where they’d left off. And they did just that.
8. Simply by being there, platonic love fills us with warmth
There is something very reassuring about this kind of love. Even if you have to pretend to have your act together for everyone else, when it comes to this kind of love, you don’t need to do a thing. You can be snoring in your sweatpants or covered with ice-cream stains at 3 am and it will still be there to show affection, even on the toughest days.
You might not speak for weeks or months, but you know that they are there for you the moment you call them. You do not want anything more from each other than the company and complete honesty.
This is something that no romantic love can give us as easily. And this is what you call platonic intimacy: the ability to reach out to each other at the oddest of times and not be apologetic about it.
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Platonic Relationship vs Romantic Relationship
Now that you know everything you need to about the signs of one of the purest forms of love that exists, let’s take a look at the differences between platonic and romantic relationships. While both are wonderful in their own right, there are still some considerable differences you need to map out. Let’s take a look at how those subtle differences can add up and create two completely different dynamics.
1. Romantic love calls for greater commitment
Though platonic love stays with you no matter what happens, a commitment to always being together is never truly established in most dynamics. In romantic relationships, however, when a couple chooses to declare their love to the world (a.k.a. your families and society) by getting the government involved (a.k.a. getting married), a literal “till death do us part” promise is made.
That’s not to say, however, that there’s no commitment with that best friend of yours. The commitment still stays, but the expectations of commitment are far greater in the romantic dynamic. Which brings us to our next difference, the expectations that tend to skyrocket.
2. The expectations differ
For some reason, you don’t expect your best friend to be as nurturing of your relationship with them as you’d expect a paramour to be. When a best friend forgets your birthday, it sure does hurt, but you get over it pretty quickly. Especially if you’re not 16 any more.
When a lover forgets an important date, however, questions about the sincerity of their commitment are sparked involuntarily. And it’s not just with remembering important dates, but you tend to expect a lot more from a lover than someone you’re not physically intimate with. Be honest, you’ve expected a partner to read your mind at least once, haven’t you?
3. The fights differ in intensity
Though you may fight with a best friend, fights with your spouse feel a lot more intense. Simply because there seems to be more at stake, more you can lose. When was the last time you fought with someone with whom you have platonic love? Chances are, even if you did, you ended up circling back to each other pretty quick.
Fighting in romantic relationships, however, can end up with blocking each other on all social media and stonewalling each other.
4. Tough love vs compromises
Did you ever sugarcoat your words with a best friend? You probably told them how pathetic they looked in that floral coat they just bought from the mall. But if your spouse came home with something just as bizarre, you wouldn’t go “Take that off, it’s hideous,” you’d probably say something like, “It’s… yeah, it’s okay.”
The point is, we tend to be more blunt with the people we share a platonic relationship with. With a romantic partner, however, we may be more considerate, and opt to compromise on some things in order to not hurt their feelings. If you’re looking for a major difference in platonic vs romantic love, notice how bluntly you speak with best friends vs how you talk to a spouse.
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5. There’s an added layer of intimacy
Throw physical intimacy into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a bundle of complicated emotions. While the emotional connection in a romantic relationship may in itself be a little more significant, the added layer of sex and lust makes things feel a lot more intense than they can ever be in a platonic dynamic. This is, undoubtedly, the major difference between platonic love and romantic love.
Platonic love is irreplaceable. But a romantic partner is the person you first call when something goes right or very wrong. Your platonic love is the person you are possessive about, your romantic partner is the person you cannot live without. Both relationships fulfill a unique purpose, and perhaps the greatest blessing a person can receive is to experience both sorts of dynamics in full swing.
Absolutely. Platonic relationships are right on the border between romance and just great companionship. So it is possible to find platonic love in your romantic partner. The difference between platonic relationships vs romance can sometimes just erode.
Because if you are lucky, they are often the same thing. If your romantic feelings towards someone remind you of how loved, cherished, and valued it makes you feel, your relationship is indeed platonic as well. Platonic intimacy is about having a connection larger than romance and if you seem to find both in the same person, wow!