Since the beginning of humanity, people have tried to figure out the mechanics of love and relationships. Often, the lines of separation become blurry, especially in the case of platonic relationships.
The Greeks used many words to describe types of love because they felt it fell into many categories.
Platonic love is named for the ancient Greek philosopher Plato as this type of emotion transcends sexuality, and it’s more like a divine closeness. For Plato, the ideal love would be unselfish and kind, which would make an intimate relationship even better. Plato believed that men and women could be just friends if they so choose.
Fifteen Rules for Keeping Your Platonic Relationship Free of Drama
Do you have a close friend of the opposite sex who is more like a buddy or sibling than a lover? How can you maintain a platonic relationship without compromising each other’s values? Can you be married or in a committed relationship and keep close friends of the opposite sex?
It is possible, but nobody said it would be easy. It’s up to you and your friend to have honest and open communication to decide what is acceptable and what isn’t. If you want a healthy unromantic relationship, here are 15 tips to keep in mind.
1. Pay Attention to What You’re Saying and Doing
Remember what it was like when you had your first major crush in junior high school? Every time you saw the object of your attraction, you got butterflies in your stomach, and your body turned to gelatin. You were giddy, clumsy, and everything you said made you feel as if you were sticking your foot in your mouth.
These are not the conversations and actions you want to keep in a strictly friendly relationship. Watch how you act in front of your pal. If you are giggly, flirty, and turn beet red as soon as you see him or her, then you may give off the wrong signals.
2. Establish Healthy Boundaries
There must be healthy boundaries in any relationship, be it romantic, friendly, or family. Never assume that your long-time buddy of the opposite sex knows where to draw the line. If you both agree to remain friends, you must also discuss boundaries and relationship rules initially.
Are you both comfortable with a hug when you greet? Lay down the rules about texting, phone calls, and gifts. Also, be sure you’re both on the same page about what conversations and actions are acceptable and which ones aren’t.
Some people have friendships that come with “benefits.” However, both parties must agree that it isn’t a situation that is going any further than casual intimacy.
3. Don’t Disrespect Your Partner or Spouse
Just because you begin a romantic relationship or get married doesn’t mean you must discard all your long-time friends of the opposite sex. It just means that the boundaries of these relationships will change. You owe it to your committed partner or spouse to be loyal, honest, and respectful.
Ideally, your old buddies should become your friends as a couple. In a Platonic friendship, always talk and act as if your romantic partner is seated next to you. It’s not okay to divulge personal information about your partner to your friend, especially if it is negative.
4. Keep Your Hands to Yourself
It turns out that you did learn a lot about life from your days in kindergarten, especially when it comes to personal space. Generally, women are more nurturing and touchy-feely when they relate to others, especially men. When you agree just to be friends with a guy or girl, remember what your kindergarten teacher said and keep your hands to yourself.
Some touching is innocent, such as a little side hug or shaking hands during a greeting. Be aware that too much touching assumes that you are attracted to him and may cause more sexual tension than usual. If you can’t keep your hands off each other, then there’s more to the equation than just being friends.
5. Don’t Go on Romantic Dates
Sure, maybe the two of you hung out together in high school or college, and nothing romantic became of it. However, having dinner, going to the movies, or late-night cruises is just going to confuse your emotions. Plus, you don’t want to give others something to talk about.
If you do go for dinner or to an event together, why not make it a group date? If that’s not possible, get a large table that doesn’t suggest or encourage intimacy. It’s fine to spend time with your buddy, but make sure you save date nights for your partner or spouse.
6. Don’t Try to Manipulate Feelings
It’s only human to wonder if the other person has feelings that are more than friendship? If you aren’t in a committed relationship already, perhaps you’ve always wanted to be with him and need to settle the questions in your mind. Watching and listening to him and use your intuition may suggest that he feels the same way.
However, if those signs aren’t there, don’t manipulate him or her into having feelings that they don’t. Not only will you make yourself look foolish and needy, but you could jeopardize a valuable relationship. If you must resort to manipulation, then you are wasting your time.
7. Treat Each Other Like Friends of the Same Gender
Of course, you’re probably not going to take your male buddy to the beauty salon for manicures and pedicures, unless he is in touch with his feminine side. When you are with a platonic friend, try to treat him the same way you would one of your girlfriends. Make sure there are no agendas, no googly eyes, and you are just having fun and enjoying their company.
8. Don’t Act on a Crush
Do you sometimes find yourself daydreaming about being with your male or female friend intimately? Even if you are married or in a committed relationship, it’s perfectly normal to have a little crush on someone of the opposite sex. The key is to make sure that it doesn’t go any further.
Let’s assume that you two meet up in the shopping mall, and she’s wearing an attractive shirt that brings out the striking blue in her eyes. It’s okay to think she’s beautiful, and you may feel a few butterflies in your stomach. It’s essential to let the moment pass so that it doesn’t turn into something you both will regret later.
9. Sexual Tension Might Be Inevitable
One of the things that separate you from the animal kingdom is that you know how to control your primal urges, or at least you try. If it weren’t for sexual attraction, humanity would have died out early on. The call to merge is as natural a need as food, shelter, water, and acceptance.
You might as well accept the fact that sexual tension will exist in any platonic relationship. It’s up to you both not to put yourselves in a compromising situation that would cross mutual boundaries. If you can’t do that, then it’s time to rethink the relationship. Some people can’t be “just friends.”
10. Keep the Conversation Clean
The occasional naughty joke can be humorous if it’s in the right company. However, X-rated conversations can get out of hand and create inappropriate sexual urges. When discussing boundaries, be sure to agree that your communications will be appropriate, including texts and emails.
If you feel that the conversation is going south, speak up, and change the subject. There are plenty of things to discuss besides intimate issues.
11. Give Each Other Some Space
If you have someone who is just your friend, it’s probably not suitable to be cozied up on the couch or at the dinner table. Keep touching to an acceptable distance, and make sure to give your friend some space. Being too close is going to cause problems, and if you want to stay committed to your current partner, distance is a good thing.
12. Avoid Going on Trips Together
Unless you are also with your committed partner or spouse, avoid vacationing with your buddy. It’s too easy to fall into the roles of a couple, which can lead to trouble. Also, if you usually feel giddy and lovey-dovey after a few drinks, steer clear of the bars with your friend.
13. Talk About Your Feelings
Any healthy relationship requires genuineness and honesty. Do you want more from the Platonic relationship, or do you feel like a boundary has been crossed? Don’t be afraid to express your feelings and communicate effectively.
14. Be Open with Your Partner About Your Friend
You shouldn’t keep secrets from your partner. If you go out with a friend of the opposite sex, make sure your spouse knows about it. Also, don’t be secretly texting or phoning him all the time because it looks suspicious.
15. Know When It’s Time to Part
Sometimes, even the best relationships expire, and it makes things uncomfortable for both parties to continue with the charade. If you both aren’t on the same page in this platonic relationship, don’t keep frustrating each other or lose your partner over it. Wish each other luck, smile, and walk the other way.
In a perfect world, Plato’s design for human relationships may work effortlessly. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and human love and attachment are complicated. Only you can decide what relationships are best for you and when to call it quits.