Platonic Love – How You Can Cultivate and Maintain It
Despite all the literature about relationships, it seems that more people feel clueless about how to cultivate and build meaningful relationships. As a life coach, it is my opinion that the highest and most important relationship to build is a non-romantic, platonic relationship.
In this article, we will discuss how to cultivate and maintain platonic relationships that will last for years, if not decades.
First, lets talk about the many different types of love.
The different types of love
English is pretty limited in its description of love. We commonly think of love only in a romantic context. However, in Greek, there are many different types of love.
Below is a table that explains the different types of love in Greek.
|Philia||Affectionate love, also known as “brotherly love,” is “Philia”. It is a type of love that does not involve romantic attraction and exists between friends or family members.|
|Pragma||Enduring Love. “Pragma” is a love that is seen in many long-term marriages and friendships. It is built on commitment, endurance, companionship, and sharing similar hopes for the future, which includes building a family and putting down roots.|
|Storge||“Storge” is love that refers to an affectionate and loving relationship that is characteristic of the bond between family members, particularly between a husband and wife.|
|Eros||“Eros” is a kind of love that involves passion, lust, and/or romance. An example of eros would be the love that is felt between lovers. Eros is sensual love shared by individuals who are sexually attracted to each other.|
|Ludus||“Ludus” represents a playful and lighthearted kind of love. It encompasses the art of flirtation, seduction, and embracing casual encounters. Derived from the Latin word for “play” or “game,” ludus perfectly captures the essence of love as a captivating game.|
|Mania||“Mania” is an obsessive love. This occurs when one or both lovers are emotionally dependent and need constant reassurance in the relationship. There is constant emotional turbulence with this type of love.|
|Philautia||“Philautia” is a form of self-love where one is able to accept themselves as they are, flaws and all.|
|Agape||“Agape” is the highest form of love. It is sacrificial love where one voluntarily suffers inconvenience, discomfort, and even death for the benefit of another without expecting anything in return.|
In the next section, we will discuss the reasons why you will benefit from a platonic relationship.
Why do you need platonic love?
Having Philia love or platonic friendship is a type of love that is based on mutual respect, trust, and a deep connection without any romantic or sexual feelings. Some people struggle to understand and appreciate this type of love because they only focus on various types of romantic love.
However, when you see someone as a whole person, without any romantic or sexual feelings at first, you can avoid communication errors and make sure you’re investing in a healthy relationship. Also, platonic love can help you gain clarity and objectivity when deciding how much to invest in the relationship.
Next, we will discuss some obstacles to building a platonic relationship.
Obstacles to building a platonic relationship
There are some people who hate their own gender. Women who hate other women, and men who hate other men. Some individuals have also never learned how to get along with their respective gender.
The reasons are simple yet require nuance to understand. Individuals who grew up with an ultra-demanding, critical, and controlling same-sex parent may not have learned how to properly relate to their own gender. These boys and girls, unless taught otherwise, may continue to compete with their same-sex peers as adults.
Critical and condemning parent or parent-figures
For example, let’s consider an aggressive and competitive woman. Most likely, she was raised by an extremely critical and condemning mother. During her childhood, she learned to use those same intimidation tactics she learned from her mother against her peers. It should not be a surprise that, as an adult, she finds herself competing with other women.
Or think about a boy raised by an aggressive father who was always quick to belittle his son. The father, through his behavior, taught his son that manhood represents cruelty towards other men. In work and in play, this man wants to outcompete and outshine other men.
The common theme is that people who were raised by a controlling and demeaning parent of the same sex had an intense and brutal competition for attention from the opposite gender during childhood, which continues with others throughout their adulthood.
Healing from critical and condemning same-sex parent relationships
A lot of people don’t want to talk about it or admit it, and I can’t blame them. Who wants to admit that? It takes time to work through the hurt and pain of dealing with how a same-sex parent distorted one’s view of their gender and how to relate to others.
Don’t get mad at yourself if you feel this way now. You were scripted to be an antagonist. In the next section, we will discuss how you can cultivate and maintain platonic love.
How to cultivate and maintain platonic love
Here are some tips on how to cultivate and maintain platonic friendships:
1. Be clear about your intentions:
Unclear expectations can lead to arguments and misunderstandings.
When forming a new friendship, make it clear from the beginning what you are seeking from this platonic relationship. For example, are you interested in finding someone to play sports with or perhaps to wax poetic on philosophical or religious ideas? Be resolute about your interests and desired social activities.
2. Find common interests:
Shared interests provide a solid foundation for building a friendship and give you something to bond over. Look for activities, hobbies, or interests that you enjoy.
However, be selective about where you go to find new friends. For example, trying to find a soccer buddy at a wine-tasting event is possible, but not easy or recommended.
3. Be a good listener:
Once you find a potential new friend, actively listen to them and show genuine interest in their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Also, use time to discern of any signs that may signal they have poor emotional regulation or boundaries.
Being a good listener will also help you to practice empathy and validate their emotions. This is important as being supportive and understanding will strengthen your budding friendship.
4. Respect boundaries:
If you suffer from loneliness and depression, it is super tempting to want to be around someone constantly and rely on them for your emotional needs. However, it’s essential to respect each other’s personal boundaries and honor their need for personal space, privacy, and autonomy.
Avoid crossing boundaries or making assumptions about what they may or may not want. Practicing the art of asking considerate questions will help ensure that you don’t inadvertently offend your new friend.
5. Spend quality time together:
Being considerate of one another’s boundaries, make sure to regularly take time for your friends and engage in activities that you both enjoy. It could be anything from going for a walk, grabbing coffee, watching movies, or participating in a shared hobby.
Quality time strengthens the bond and allows you to create lasting memories.
6. Support each other:
Be supportive of your friend’s goals, dreams, and aspirations.
Celebrate their accomplishments and offer a helping hand when they need it. Most importantly, be genuine about it, as people can detect insincerity from afar. As a supportive friend, you can make a significant positive impact on someone’s life.
7. Be reliable and trustworthy:
Trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship, and your new platonic relationship must be built on honesty and reliability. This also includes following through on commitments, keeping their secrets (which don’t have legal or moral implications), and being there for them emotionally during challenging times.”
Also, no more frenemies. Now is the time for you to eliminate competition and envy in your interactions with friends.
8. Embrace diversity:
Be open to making friends with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. This includes those with contrasting cultural, political, and religious beliefs. Embracing diversity enriches your own life and broadens your understanding of the world.
I hope these tips will help you as you cultivate and build new friendships. Finally, I will share with you my final thoughts regarding platonic love.
Final thoughts about platonic love
Forming and nurturing platonic friendships takes time and effort from both parties involved. It’s about building a connection based on mutual respect, shared interests, and genuine care for each other’s well-being.
If you want to grow deep and meaningful relationships, it starts with understanding yourself, your background, and your needs from others.
Do not hesitate to work with me if you need assistance finding and cultivating platonic love.