What Is a Platonic Friendship and Is It Possible?

Published February 7, 2020
Friends Walking in the Park

A platonic relationship is a friendship between two people without any sexual engagement. This means that the friendship is purely based on a mutual respect for each other without the romantic component.

Do Platonic Relationships Work?

Platonic friendships work best with two individuals who don't or no longer have any feelings of attraction for one another. If one or both parties begin to develop feelings, the odds of a platonic relationship working out are slim.

Purely Platonic Friends

It is totally possible for two people to simply begin a relationship as friends and continue to maintain that relationship throughout the years. In some cases, attraction can develop for one or both parties, but for other relationships, both friends can remain just that. They can go through ups and downs together, genuinely care about each other, and never develop a sexual attraction for one another. Platonic friends can provide each other with consistent support and love if the relationship is nurtured and healthy boundaries are maintained.

From Exes to Platonic Friends

Some exes may be able to develop a platonic friendship if they ended the relationship on good terms, but discovered that they weren't compatible romantically. This may open up the idea of a friendship solely based on appreciating one another's personalities without engaging in any sexual activities. Although you may feel comfortable with the notion of a platonic friendship, keep in mind your ex may not be. To begin having a discussion with your ex regarding a platonic friendship you can talk about:

  • Whether your ex is comfortable with the idea of a platonic relationship
  • What a platonic friendship looks like to each of you
  • How you will handle a situation where one or both of you develop romantic feelings
  • How you will tell each other if the platonic friendship no longer feels comfortable
  • Any concerns either of you may feel about engaging in this type of relationship after a breakup

It's also a good idea to schedule a check in once you've decided to give a platonic friendship a try. Checking in can happen a few weeks to months after you've transitioned to this type of relationship and ensures that both parties still feel comfortable moving forward.

Attraction in Platonic Relationships

In some cases attraction can be ignited by one or both parties. If both parties feel an attraction, you may want to discuss a different type of relationship that better suits both of your needs. If only one party feels an attraction, it's important to be honest with yourself about how you'd like to move forward. If you decide not to say anything, you may harbor resentment or feel sad if they begin dating someone else. If you do say something, you risk pushing them away and potentially losing your friendship altogether. If you feel like you would regret not being honest with them, go with your gut and tell them how you feel. They may be open to dating or continuing on with your friendship. Having some closure, whether it's news you want to hear or not, can help you move on no matter what the outcome was.

Young couple on rooftop

Deciding if a Platonic Friendship Is Right for You

If you are considering transitioning to a platonic relationship with your ex or someone who you are attracted to, but isn't into you, it's important to think about:

  • Whether this type of relationship is the healthiest choice for you
  • How seeing them date other people will impact you
  • How this type of relationship with this specific person will make you feel emotionally
  • If you are emotionally ready to take this step with this person

If the thought of this person rejecting you or dating someone else causes an emotional reaction, it's best to re-evaluate whether this type of relationship is the best choice for you right now. Take some time to process your feelings and know that you can always re-evaluate moving forward with this type of relationship. Keep in mind that jumping into a platonic relationship with someone who you know doesn't want to be with you but you are attracted to may be painful and result in you feeling rejected and hurt. You'll know you're ready for a platonic friendship when you no longer feel triggered by these circumstances and can fully embrace being just friends.

Understanding Platonic Friendships

While platonic friendships may not work best for everyone, there are certainly circumstances where it is possible to have a successful, non-sexual platonic relationship. When considering a platonic friendship, think about whether there is any attraction on your end or your friend's before moving forward with building this type of relationship.

What Is a Platonic Friendship and Is It Possible?