The platonic relationship meaning has changed over time and has been known to raise a few question marks over relationships, especially in male/female platonic relationships. Knowing what a platonic relationship is and how to sustain it can sometimes be the difference between a long-lasting and healthy platonic relationship and losing a friend.

What is a platonic relationship?

what is a platonic relationship
“Neither family, nor privilege, nor wealth, nor anything but Love can light that beacon which a man must steer by when he sets out to live the better life.” – Plato


Platonic love derives from Plato’s analogy that this type of love is centred around bringing us closer to the ‘divine’ or enlightenment. In other words, platonic love taught us to pursue greater goals and essentially motivate each other to become the best versions of ourselves.

However, the term has adopted slightly different meanings since Ancient Greece but the key traits can still be applied to any relationship. Today, platonic love or a platonic relationship is typically between two people that are just friends and their love for each other does not feature any physical lust or romantic involvement.

It is not uncommon for lines to become blurred in platonic relationships, especially between the opposite sex. This becomes especially difficult if one person in the relationship becomes attracted to the other.

To avoid any awkwardness of stepping over any boundaries of your platonic relationship, I’ve listed seven typical characteristics of a platonic relationship. This should help you identify whether you love is platonic or it means something more.

Are platonic relationships possible?

are platonic relationships possible

Yes, platonic relationships are possible and are very common, just so long as both people’s intentions and understanding of the relationship are the same. Of course, there may be instances where one person’s feelings may develop and therefore interfere with the relationship. And it is not uncommon for one or even both people to flirt, but these, let’s call them speed-bumps, should not derail the path of a platonic relationship. I’m not saying that it is easy, but it is certainly achievable.

Are platonic relationships healthy

There are no platonic relationship ‘rules’ per se, but for a platonic relationship to be healthy, the following themes have to be present:

  1. You are honest and open in the platonic relationship

trust in a platonic relationship
For a platonic relationship to remain healthy, you have to be open and honest with the person you’re sharing this relationship with. The key difference is that unlike a romantic relationship, you are never threatened by the concept that this person will end or leave the relationship because they were never ‘with you’ to begin with.

2. Know your boundaries and respect theirs

honesty platonic relationship
While platonic relationships don’t necessarily hold as big a threat as emotional, romantic relationships, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t boundaries. Even if these boundaries are never openly discussed, they are there, they are always there and they must remain present.

The more you develop the relationship, the more you will learn what boundaries you can and cannot break, for example if you were to ever share a room, knowing whether you would share a bed is an important point to raise to ensure no boundaries are unintentionally crossed.

3. There should never be any pressure or expectations

trust expectations in platonic relationship
This comes as a sort of bolt-on to my second point, it’s important not to expect or demand more from the person than you would a typical friendship. The main difference between a platonic and romantic relationship is the idea of ‘expectation’. With a romantic relationship, you harbour hope that the initial stages of the relationship will develop into something more than ‘just friends’. However, with a platonic relationship (or platonic love), your expectations are considerably lower.

Essentially, we are far more forgiving to our platonic partners than we are to our romantic partners. The emotional involvement and responsibility is much, much lower which makes the relationship far easier.

4. Platonic love has to be selfless in order to work

selfless platonic relationshipWith platonic love, you want what is best for your friend, no matter what the circumstances or the path they choose to go down. You have their best interests at heart and you encourage them to pursue what they want and how that may or may not affect the relationship comes second. There is far less emotional risk doing this in a platonic relationship as there is no romantic sentiment attached. For example, people who are married or in a relationship, will, on some level have selfish tendencies, and this is completely normal.

When we love someone, we want to retain that harmony. This may lead us to act in ways that strengthen or maintain the relationship, even if what we’re doing isn’t in our best our best interests, it’s in both our interests. A romantic relationship comes first and your individual needs or desires will often come second.

Do platonic relationships work? Yes, as long as you both understand the meaning!

do platonic relationships workPlatonic sexual relationships do not exist because by definition a platonic relationship involves no sexual intimacy. Yes, you can have a sexual partnership with someone and not be ‘together’ but that is not what a platonic relationship is.

We love each other in many different ways, some platonic, some romantic, some somewhere in between. Being able to identify these types of relationships and understand how to attribute them to people will help alleviate any blurred lines and keep the relationship moving in the right direction.

Platonic relationships teach us how to develop long-lasting and genuine friendships without the risk of losing them in a romantic sense. There is less ‘baggage’ with platonic relationships and you will find it easier to confide in your platonic partner, especially regarding any issues or concerns in your romantic relationship.

Learn more about the many different relationship types

There are several different types of relationships to understand, from toxic relationships to tackling long distance relationships, our team at Maclynn International are always offering our insights on love, dating and relationships. For more information, explore our blog.