What is a Platonic Love?

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THE NATURE OF PLATONIC LOVE

Platonic love (often lower-cased as platonic) is a term used for a type of love that is non-sexual. It is named after Plato,  although this philosopher never actually used it himself. Instead, it comes from Plato’s dialogue, the “Symposium,” which discusses the different types of Eros (love).

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Platonic love is a bond between a couple that involves no lust or carnality; often a deep pure love. Its symbol is usually the white rose. A simple example of platonic relationships is a deep, non-sexual friendship between two heterosexual people of the opposite sexes. A platonic relationship is one without romantic or sexual intentions. It can be considered as a “romantic friendship” i.e.,  a close, physically intimate but not sexually intimate – friendship.

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Platonic love in its modern sense is an affectionate relationship into which the sexual element does not enter, especially in cases where one might easily assume otherwise. It is a deep, non-sexual friendship between two heterosexual people of the opposite sex. Platonic love is ‘close affection between two persons, attracted to each other, but without sexual intimacy’ [1].

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It is a purely spiritual and emotional and presumably free from physical desire. St. Claire and St. Francis of Assisi  who are known as two great Catholic saints in the Catholic Church were said to be close friends spiritually as followers of Christ without sexual intimacy. Their type of intimacy and friendship were based on a common love for God; thus, they can be considered Platonic and not romantic. “The love between friends is platonic love. Platonic describes a relationship that is purely spiritual and not physical. So, if a guy and a girl hang out all the time but aren’t boyfriend and girlfriend, they’d describe their friendship as platonic” [2].

FROM PLATONIC LOVE AND ROMANTIC LOVE: IS THIS POSSIBLE?

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Yes, but once platonic becomes romantic, it’s difficult to return to its original platonic state. Best friends can fall in love romantically depending on the situations and personal goals of the partners. However, platonic love has no intention of entering into an exclusive erotic relationship nor entering into marriage, while romantic love aims to achieve an exclusive relationship, with lovers “going steady” and  to “tie the know” in the altar of matrimony.

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Despite these differences, platonic and romantic love also have similarities. Attraction, intimacy, respect, support and pleasure are just as important in platonic relationships as they are in romantic relationships. Closeness matters in romantic as well as in platonic relationships.

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

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References

[1] Gooch, 1989, p.360 cited in Karandeshev, 2015, p.4.

[2] https://www.wikihow.com/Understand-Platonic-Love-and-Friendship.