Main Differences Between Platonic and Romantic Relationships

Trying to define love is almost like trying to explain how clouds are formed – to your dog. After all, love isn’t something you can completely and totally define using only words.

But for some unfathomable reasons, people know deep in their core that platonic love and romantic love aren’t the same.

So, what really sets apart a platonic relationship from a romantic one?

Platonic Love & Relationships

Platonic love is a concept and term that dates as far back as the 1500s. But the idea of a platonic relationship has changed through the years. Plato himself was the first person who was able to identify this concept. In fact, the word platonic was inspired by his name.

Plato’s definition of platonic love is different from what modern people know today. He defined this type of love as something that wasn’t about lust. Instead, this love is something that can bring you much closer to the divine, bringing out the best traits in everyone involved. This applies to all kinds of relationships, romantic ones included.

Today, romantic love is a term used to refer to love that is sexual or romantic in nature. Likewise, a platonic relationship is a relationship that isn’t sexual or romantic in nature.

Romantic Love & Relationships

Even if there is no single clear-cut definition, most of the time, romantic love is usually thought of as the combination of idealization and attraction that can result from or in a bonded relationship. Artists have been inspired by romantic love since time immemorial and it has been a favorite subject of countless songs, books, plays, movies, and all other forms of creative endeavors.

As known to anyone who has already been in love, love is a complex thing with the ability to elicit strong emotions and feelings, from euphoria to heartbreak. All romantic relationships experience ups and downs, starting from that heady honeymoon stage to a sense of disappointment, and preferably to a state of acceptance and the desire for permanence. Moving through all these phases might not be easy but you will be rewarded with a long-term healthy relationship.

Platonic Life Partnerships

Platonic life partnerships, or simply PLPs, are the latest vocabulary for the age-old practice of picking platonic friends as one’s primary relationships. And as far as these relationships are concerned, the endgame is none other than friendship.

Most of the time, platonic life partnerships involve connections between asexual or aromantic individuals although people of different sexualities engage in them. Several PLPs end up in marriage as a way of legally cementing the connection.

A skepticism toward romance and monogamy is the core of most platonic life partnerships. You may feel love toward your romantic partner, but does that automatically make them a good co-parent or spouse?

Even though the data regarding these partnerships is quite limited, stories about spending life with best friends are always a favorite talk of the town.

A video went viral in 2019 that featured seven girlfriends who built a luxury home together in Guangzhou, China, with news outlets comparing this bucolic setup to none other than The Golden Girls.

Two straight single Canadian ladies also decided to move in together in 2020 to become co-parents to a baby abandoned on their doorstep, which is a platonic pact that felt like a no-brainer and revolutionary at the same time.

The hashtag #platoniclifepartner has also been viewed on TikTok over 11 million times, with fast-growing followings for accounts that chronicle PLP lifestyles. The perfect example of such an account is the one run by the 24-year-old Los Angeles resident creative producer and film student, April Lee, who lives with Renee, her platonic life partner.

The two ladies grew up in Singapore together and plan to live together for the rest of their lives. Thousands of views have been acquired by their series of PLP Academy videos that include lessons on the importance of normalizing not cuddling and interdependency.

As for those people who romanticize what seems to be an idyllic partnership with a best friend – you can also find some videos online that discuss the challenges of these arrangements as well as the emotional effect of the end of a platonic life relationship.

Taking sex out of the equation doesn’t always mitigate the daily conflicts associated with intimate relationships. Similar to how hard it is to expect your romantic partner to satisfy and cater to all of your needs, including emotional, intellectual, sexual, and spiritual, it is also equally troublesome to do all of these with your platonic life partner.

Romantic Marriage

The moment two people commit to each other through marriage, contentment might be their downfall if they don’t pay close attention. You can never overstate and overemphasize how important romance is in any marriage. However, only a few are lucky enough to prevent such a phenomenon because it is by human nature that romance will ebb and flow and usually decreases over time.

Most couples, at one point or another, will start questioning if they can revitalize their love life. Some may even feel as if their relationship lacks passion, intimacy, or romance. Even if these aspects are separate, these three items are mandatory interdependent conditions that should be nurtured regularly for a marriage to work out well.

Romantic marriage is like a house made up of a rooftop, walls, and foundation. If these structures are not connected, the house will be unstable and incomplete. The passion in your relationship serves as the foundation of this house.

Now, think of the walls as the romance that holds the roof and foundation together. The roof represents intimacy that involves togetherness, affection, and sexuality.

The house will be incomplete with only some romance and passion without intimacy. Something is missing here even if you have been too busy to take notice.

Say there is a leak in the roof, for example, and for some time now, the ceiling has been suffering from a serious case of rot. This is exactly what can happen to intimacy in your marriage (if it hasn’t already). The only way for a roof to rot out is negligence.

Similarly, if you remove a particular wall, which is romance, in this case, the roof will end up caving in on top of the home’s foundation. As a result, it can corrode passion, hidden under all the rubble to the point that you miss the issue until you find yourself tripping over it.

You might think that this metaphor is cliché but there is a good reason behind it. Successful relationships and marriages, whether you like it or not, depend a lot on passion, intimacy, and romance, which makes these three things the most important aspects of any marriage.

What Happens When We Choose to Love?

The moment you fall for someone, you cannot help yourself. Finally, you met someone who makes you believe in something much bigger than yourself. You found what you needed and wanted in another person. So, whatever their story, past, or connections might be, you still choose to love that person.

And you need to continue doing that, no matter how tricky it may get.

When you truly choose to love someone, this isn’t about only believing the convenient things or spending time with the person just because that person serves you.

This isn’t about turning your back when the going gets tough or looking the other way because you find it too much to deal with something in the other person’s life.

 This isn’t about leaving when you get hurt or the exact opposite, which is to lose yourself just so the other person can be happy.

When you choose to love someone, you take chances, make compromises, and love that person with your heart completely open – because you know that the person is doing exactly the same thing right there beside you.

The world is temporary with everything accessible, convenient, and smart. However, love doesn’t belong to this category. Love is not everywhere, nor is it easy or something under your full control. However, love is the very thing that makes things more appealing.

When you choose to love someone, you learn their flaws and shortcomings but still find reasons to stay. This is about engaging in difficult conversations rather than hiding your feelings. It is also striving to make things work no matter how challenging it gets.

Choosing to love someone also means staying up late just to pack lunches because you want your partner to have one less thing to worry about before they head off in the morning to work. It is also about washing the dishes because it takes the stress off the entire week.

Sometimes, it is also about setting aside your needs when serving the person that you love because even if you feel exhausted, you never regret that you chose them, and you never will.

The Bottom Line

Platonic and romantic relationships may be different in more ways than one but at the end of the day, both are a form of love, which is exactly one of the best feelings in the world. 

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