If there is one word that I have learned to value more and more, it's platonic. But before I get into some of the reasons why, I'm pretty sure I'm not alone when I say that, while growing up, I wasn't really taught to give the word much thought, respect or honor. When it came to my relationships with men, platonic is basically what I said when I didn't want anyone to have the impression that I was interested in someone in a romantic or even sexual kind of way. I would flippantly throw out, "Oh, we're just platonic" and keep it movin'.
But as I became more of a writer and I started to be more intentional about looking up the actual meaning of words (rather than going by how culture uses them. The word "monogamous" comes to mind; it doesn't mean exclusive, it means married to one person, preferably for a lifetime but people use it in dating scenarios all of the time), the more I came to accept that platonic is something that is very special. It's also a word that doesn't apply to a ton of people or situations either.
I'll give you an example of where I'm coming from. A few days ago, I checked out the trailer for the fifth season of Growing Up Hip Hop. We all know that reality television isn't the realest thing on the planet, but the ongoing roller coaster ride that is Angela Simmons and Romeo Miller does help to articulate a point that I am trying to make here. They've got history. There is a mutual attraction. But because they can never seem to get on the same page, at least for now, they are just friends. Or at least kinda-sorta friends. Still, I'm hoping that whenever someone asks them about their relationship, what they aren't saying is they are "just platonic". Why? Let's get into it (the word; not them).
What Platonic Is—and Isn’t
If someone were to ask you what platonic means, what would you say? I'm willing to bet a couple of bills that there is a particular word in the actual definition that you never thought would be there. Are you ready to see?
Platonic: purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of the opposite sex
OK, so when you're in a platonic relationship with someone, not only does it mean that there is no sensual desire at all, it also means that your relationship is purely spiritual. Did you catch that? If you are in a platonic relationship with someone, it has a spiritual component to it—a pure one, at that. Nice.
But before we explore that some more, let's hit on the lack of sensual desire a little bit.
While reading an article on platonic relationships, from what I've studied about the word, I must admit that I agree with the author when they said that a platonic relationship is 1) not a friends-with-benefits type of situation and 2) not unrequited love either. As far as unrequited love goes, what that means is, if you or your friend has feelings for each other, you are not in a "platonic relationship", simply because those feelings aren't being reciprocated. A platonic relationship consists of two people who are not romantically or sexually linked in any way. It also consists of two individuals who have no more-than-friends interest in each other whatsoever.
So now take a moment to think about who you are in a true platonic relationship with. Remember, this means that there are no "extras" going on. It also means that you aren't interested in them and they aren't interested in you. Chile, when I took out a moment to let all of that settle into my spirit, I was like, "I don't have nearly as many platonic relationships as I thought I did." Even my closest and, at this point longest male friend, had feelings for me at one point and is still on the, "I won't bring it up, but you can still get it" tip. Hmph. Perhaps this is the reason why a lot of people don't believe that men and women can be "just friends". Now that platonic has been unpacked, maybe what they are actually saying is men and women aren't able to be strictly platonic. And maybe, to a certain extent, they are correct. Because, think about it, how many men in your life are you friends with who don't have some sort of attraction to you (and/or vice versa)? How many are choosing to not take things to the next level, simply out of respect for the fact that you don't want to do so (also and/or vice versa)? Whoever those fellas are, they aren't really your platonic friends. Platonic friends don't think about these types of things because these types of feelings do not exist.
But remember, platonic isn't just about the physical (or lack thereof); it's also rooted in a very powerful word—spiritual. This word reminds us that it's not enough to be in a platonic relationship where there is no sexual activity or more-than-just-friends feelings. Platonic relationships are spiritual too. Purely spiritual, at that. And just what does that mean?
What Is a “Purely Spiritual” Relationship?
Something that's dope about being in a relationship that is purely spiritual is, not only does it speak to being connected to someone who touches your soul in a real and profound kind of way, it also speaks to someone who is "closely akin in interests, attitude, outlook, etc." When these two things are working hand in hand, it results in things like two individuals who—communicate easily with one another; affirm one another; enjoy each other's presence and company; contribute each other's influence to their growth and development, and are deeply committed to one another. In a solely spiritual relationship, there isn't a lot of pressure or tons of unrealistic expectations. Also, the bond is tight no matter what the distance is between both individuals. Spiritually-connected people are content simply talking or even sending love and light into the direction of the person they care about.
On the spiritual tip, the bond is so strong that physicality never really becomes a factor. Seeing each other is cool, but it's not super necessary; their spirits are in sync, so that's all that really matters at the end of the day. Plus, spiritual relationships benefit one another's spirit. It's the kind of soul connection that is truly incomparable.
OK, so keeping all of this in mind, who actually are your platonic friends? What guys are you close to and there's no sexual interest or energy (both ways) yet there is a profound spiritual connection (both ways)? Now do you see why I gave this article that title that I did? If you are in a relationship with someone, it's not romantic or sexual (nor do you desire for it to be) but it is very spiritual, it's not "just" or "only" platonic. It's one of the most sacred bonds that you have. It's something that you need to protect at all costs.
I'm gonna be real with myself, at this juncture in my life, I might have three platonic relationships. But now that I know this, I'm gonna hop off of here and show them some love. There's something very sweet and wonderful about platonic connections. I now know that more than ever. I hope you do too. Whoever yours are, give thanks, sis. Because truly, there is no such thing as "just platonic".
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