A platonic relationship is a friendship between a man and woman with no sexual desire towards each other. The question of the universe is “Is it possible for men and women to be friends without falling in love?”.
Men and women have different ideas of friendship. Being anatomically different, they think differently of being friends with each other.
Since we’re all human, we are easy at developing feelings towards another person. Unfortunately, they’re not always mutual. As often as people experience one-sided feelings, having a purely platonic relationship is possible.
Men and women don’t need to be in separate committed relationships to establish a non-sexual one with another person. But if there’s one thing that everyone needs to take into account, it’s having and respecting boundaries.
How realistic and possible are platonic relationships and how do movies portray friendships between men and women?
Hollywood has romanticized platonic relationships since lord knows when. Boy meets girl, they become friends, one of them starts to like the other, the other party eventually understands that they’re in love too, the end.
We’ve watched so many rom-coms that have the same, predictable ending that many of us believe that that’s how men and women are supposed to end up.
The movie industry has shamelessly promoted platonic relationships developing into a sexual, romantic one. Although there are countless real-life examples of that, it is not how things always end up. The reality is you’re not always going to reciprocate feelings or vice versa.
Another unrealistic expectation that movies have given us due to their depiction of platonic relationships is that we overthink things. By overthinking we mean that we have subconscious expectations that our friend is going to like us and we have to stop that from happening.
The other party may or may not like us, but the fact that we are convinced that at some point they’re going to like us is already a hindrance.
Why do we seek platonic relationships? Why are some people convinced that it’s not possible for men and women to be friends?
It’s impossible to eliminate the connection between men and women. We live, work, interact, play, study together from a very young age. We go to kindergarten and interact with boys with pure intentions as we are unaware of non-platonic relationships.
Once puberty hits us, we start taking an interest in boys and girls as potential partners and not play-dates or classmates. That’s when the awkwardness hits us, because all we’ve known is a platonic relationship, leaving us confused on how to act around them.
Being friends with the same sex has its perks, you usually deal with the same set of problems. But why do we look for establishing a friendship with the opposite sex?
The core of every friendship is the same: we want someone we instantly get along with. We look for someone to spend time with, a person we have chemistry with.
A person that’s fun to be around soon because a person we rely on. Whether it’s a platonic relationship or a sexual one, we tend to be attracted to people with similar characteristics or interests.
The key to developing friendships is finding common ground even if you’re completely different people. This also refers to finding a significant other.
Having a platonic relationship is possible, but it’s also rare nowadays. Setting boundaries is almost usually a must. Having a purely platonic relationship is uncommon when both parties are single.
Being attracted to someone you spend your time with on a daily basis and share your thoughts with is only normal. When the “inevitable” happens too often, it convinces people that platonic relationships are basically non-existent.
What do relationship experts say about platonic relationships? Is it really possible for men and women to have a connection devoid of lust?
According to science, platonic relationships are possible. The Journal of Social and Personal Relationship claims that the connection between men and women is changing.
The opposite sexes see each other more as friends now than a possible significant other. The study showed that participants who’ve been friends for a longer time have had zero feelings towards each other than the ones who have been friends for a shorter time.
Relationship expert April Masini argues with the fact that a platonic relationship is possible. She believes that at some point, one of the parties develop romantic feelings for their friend.
She claimed that if two people from the opposite sexes have a platonic relationship, then the clock is ticking. Eventually, one of them is going to like the other.
Being attracted to someone and having a crush on your friend might seem fun, but it becomes an obstacle to maintaining the friendship.
Most romantic feelings are usually associated with women. Science has proven otherwise. According to a 2012 study, men are more likely to have a crush on their female friends than women.
The study also reported that men are more likely to overestimate how attracted their female friends were to them and claimed that women underestimate how attractive they are to their male friends.
The same study proved that most of the platonic opposite-sex friendships have a primitive level of attraction. The more the person is attracted to their platonic friend, the more dissatisfied they are with their current romantic relationships.
Scientists have also approached platonic relationships from evolution’s perspective. According to researched April Bleske-Rechek, men tend to be attracted to their female friends than vice versa because men face the risk of being shut out genetically if do not take the advantage of reproductive opportunities.
The main argument is that men have evolved to become more sexually opportunistic. In short, our basic mating instincts have an influence on whether it’s possible for men and women to be platonic friends.
Since we are exposed to the opposite sex on a daily basis, it’s normal to develop attraction towards them. According to psychologist Dr. Carmen Harra and life coach Alexandra Harra, psychologically speaking, when a person is exposed to another person all the time, their inhibitions begin to disappear and they start having a crush on their platonic friend.
Statistics on how possible it is for men and women to have a platonic relationship
Being attracted to a friend is different than being attracted to a random person. If you like a hot coworker, it’s not the same as falling in love with a friend.
Here, you have fear of ruining the friendship, making your relationship all about sex instead of actual connection, or completely having a different opinion of your friend. It leaves you confused whether or not to act on it. This is when you start setting boundaries.
The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships reported that out of 300 college students, 67% of them had had sex with a friend. 56% of the latter decided not to be romantically involved after the encounter. This showed that they valued friendship more than sex.
According to one of the earliest platonic relationship studies by Guerrero and Chavez, there 4 kinds of opposite-sex friendships:
- Mutual romance: when both parties want each other.
- Strictly platonic: when being romantically involved is out of the questions.
- Desires romance: when one of them wants the other but fears rejection.
- Rejects romance: when one them does not want love but assumes the other does.
The key to having a successful relationship is communicating and reaching a mutual understanding. The parties must not violate each other’s barriers and respect each other’s comfort zone.
John Mathews, a psychotherapist said about platonic relationships: “Generally, I think normalizing these feelings of attraction is an appropriate response, it’s okay to find someone sexually attractive. We are, after all, human. The important thing is to have healthy boundaries.”
Assistant professor of Social Psychology at Alabama William Hart also agrees on the fact that men struggle more than women with sexual interest when they develop romantic feelings towards their platonic friend.
He also agrees that movies overdo it: “I am sure the media hype up sex differences in sexual interest. Men are often portrayed as ‘dogs’ and only interested in ‘one thing’. Also, when friend-zoning is portrayed in the media, it’s typically the male that is interested in romance.
Platonic relationships in conclusion: It is possible for men and women to be pure friends
Can men and women be platonic friends? Yes. Does this refer to everyone? No. Is it going to be like Hollywood movies? Highly unlikely, but still possible.
There are friends who used to like each other but made no advances. There are friends who used to sleep with each other but refused to take it on a romantic level.
There are couples that used to be friends but ended up together. There are women who like their male friends, and men who like their female friends.
There are friends that make it work, and friends that don’t. Members of the opposite sex make good friends to each other, but sometimes, sex is going to ruin it.
Some experts advise to not act upon it. It’s easier to look at sexual attraction as simple as attraction. Many advise that it’s not worth ruining the friendship, as it will create tension.
Many insist that life is neither a movie nor a fairy tale, and not every friend we like is okay with being your life-long partner.
Long story short: the answer is yes. Platonic relationships are possible.
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