Platonic Relationship: Is Platonic Friendship Ever Possible or Merely a Myth
In the film When Harry Met Sally (1989), the male character Harry claims that men and women can never be truly Platonic Friends because “the sex part always gets in the way”.
Sally, however believes that it is possible and the film spans across the two lead characters forming a friendship and testing that theory, which eventually blossoms into something more.
The film has been constantly referred to as the classic pop culture example, of how a Platonic Relationship between members of the opposite tend to be impossible.
And, subsequent narrative arcs of on-screen couples such as Friends’ Monica and Chandler or Big Bang Theory’s Penny and Leonard, continue to support that school of thought.
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At the same time, research has also found that men, compared to women find it harder to remain “just friends”, primarily because of romantic and/or sexual attraction felt towards their female friend.
However, as an op-ed piece in the New York Times points out, the idea of Platonic Friendship is actually pretty recent, as it was only in the 1960s.
Owing to another wave of feminism and a demand for equal rights and opportunity – that men and women mixed regularly on the same terms at school, work and in social circles.
Therefore, it was only at that turning point, that Platonic Relationship could become a common feature in normal life.
And, even then it was still plagued with negative stigma.
Fast forward fifty years to present day, and while the debate still rages on, one could say that an increasing number of people believe in the possibility of platonic friendships.
Consider Harry and Hermione from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, or Meredith and Alex of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy.
Both serve as great (albeit fictional) examples of strong platonic friendships that work, even when both parties have a romantic partner.
In the real world, the popularity of mobile apps such as Patook and Meetup show the willingness.
And more evidently, the openness of both men and women to engage in congenial social activity, without the intention of hooking up or finding a romantic partner.
Furthermore, another study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama, found that both male and female participants were equally optimistic and open about the possibility of platonic friendships between men and women.
Granted, the participants on average also believed that secret romantic feelings by one party were usually involved.
However, that did not serve as a deal breaker or make the friendship impossible.
This not only suggests that the proverbial “Friend Zone” might not be as big a deal as before.
But, that members of both sexes are willing to look past the secret (or at this point not so secret) feelings, and keep the friendship platonic.
Another thing that perhaps becomes more obvious as we get older is that with age (and consequently maturity), the way we make decisions on relationships changes.
In getting older you also become better at recognizing what you truly value in people and relationships. And, you act and react correspondingly to support those things.
Therefore even if secret romantic feelings were to develop, you are both in a (hopefully) better position to decide how to act or react to them.
At the same time, when developing a new friendship with someone of the opposite sex, you are able to distinguish clearly whether that person is relationship material or not.
And, behave accordingly that respects the boundaries of a Platonic Relationship.
So what can we conclude about the notion of Platonic Relationships and Platonic Friendships?
First, rather than it being a binary concept, a Platonic Relationship can actually occur on a Kinsey-type scale.
Which falls from the truly platonic, to where romantic and/or sexual attraction can co-exist with the friendship (the latter, depending on how both parties decide to manage the relationship).
Second, they are proven to not only be beneficial, but even crucial in order for you to have a balanced and robust perspective of the world.
Having a healthy number (or even just one true friend) of opposite-sex friends, would only expand your understanding.
And, enhance your ability to interact with the other 50% of society, because men and women do see the world differently.
Therefore instead of questioning whether a Platonic Friendship is a possibility, shouldn’t we be actively busting its myth in order to enjoy its rewards?
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