This is truly a time to pause and be grateful for platonic intimacy. Dating was hard enough before there was a global pandemic, and now it’s even more polarizing and complicated.
On one hand, many of us are really wishing we had a romantic partner during these trying and lonely times. On the other hand, dating is difficult to do while social distancing, and in many areas, we don’t have the luxury of our once typical date spots, like restaurants.
While Facetime dates and texting banter is better than nothing, it’s difficult to truly connect with someone from behind a screen and go from casual messaging to having a Netflix and chill partner.
While we don’t want to jump into a relationship that might not be right for us, we also have natural, human needs for affection and intimacy that can’t be ignored. That’s where platonic intimacy comes in, and why these strange times can actually be the perfect time to nurture your closest friendships.
There is no “right” way to practice platonic intimacy in your relationships, but the bottom line is that a romantic relationship isn’t the only type of relationship that should make you feel loved, appreciated, and giddy on the regular.
Likewise, you shouldn’t reserve gifts, words of affirmation, and other cutesy behavior for romantic partners—your friends deserve that love too! Platonic intimacy can mean sending a long paragraph to your bestie and telling her why she’s amazing, cuddling while watching a movie, or bringing your friend his favorite Thai takeout just because.
Here’s why deep friendship is so important, especially now.
Why Platonic Intimacy is So Fricken Great
Most friendships will likely last longer than your romantic relationships
This may sound negative, but it’s the truth. Think about the longest relationship you’ve had, then think about the longest friendship you’ve had. It shouldn’t be surprising if you’ve had friendships that span the length of multiple dating partners you’ve had.
If our friends have been with us through the thick and thin, why do we prioritize our romantic partners that may only be around for a few months? Why do we go above and beyond to do special things for our boyfriend or girlfriend, when our friends have always been there after every breakup? Most people do this, so there’s no shame if you’ve fallen victim to this behavior, but it’s definitely something to think about and potentially work on changing!
Even if you don’t have super long-lasting friendships due to location changes or personal growth, you probably have more friends than romantic partners if you’re monogamous. This means that even if your friendships don’t last super long, one of your friends will be around when you need them. Think of it as not putting all your eggs in one basket.
Practicing intimacy (and boundaries) in your friendships will help you have healthier romantic relationships
Even the best romantic relationships are always complicated. When non-platonic intimacy gets involved (re: sex), many of us tend to wrestle with qualities we don’t love within ourselves. Think: jealousy, anxiety, or obsessive behaviors.
Chances are, you don’t deal with these types of negative emotions in your friendships, and can freely give love the way you want to without worrying so much about scaring someone away, being taken advantage of, etc.
This is why practicing platonic intimacy in your friendships can ultimately help you to be a better partner. Because at the end of the day, the person you choose to be in a romantic relationship with should treat you like a great friend, and you should treat them with the same respect and love that you would give a great friend as well.
Likewise, you should give your romantic partner similar boundaries you would give your best friend and practicing this in your friendships will make it easier for you to do so in your romantic relationships as well.
Nurturing friendships can help protect you from jumping into another romantic relationship too soon
Like I mentioned in the intro, lots of us are feeling a bit lonely right now. We want someone to bake bread with, take care of our plant children with, and watch HULU with. We want someone to cuddle with at the end of the day after a particularly grueling Zoom meeting with our boss.
But our culture is so focused on finding a romantic partner for these activities, that you may have never asked yourself, why can’t I do these things with my friends? Of course, you can, and building a close circle of friends that you can do these types of activities with will ensure that you don’t cling on to a romantic partner that doesn’t meet your standards just because you’re afraid of being lonely.
As a bonus, you’ll likely realize that it’s better to have multiple friends for all the activities you want company for. Because the person that enjoys ordering extravagant, three-course takeout meals with you may not be the same person who wants to play Wii Tennis with you, and that’s totally normal! This brings me to my next point…
A deep, multitude of friendships will ultimately make you feel more fulfilled—whether you’re single or not
Our culture has placed unrealistic expectations on romantic relationships. We want a romantic partner who understands us, has the same hobbies, likes the same music and movies, has the same sexual preferences, and the same values that we do. It’s exhausting, and it’s a one-way ticket to never finding someone that meets your standards or your “checklist.”
By having a great support system of friends who can tag in, you alleviate your future partner from bearing the burden of having to fill a multitude of roles within your life, which will ultimately make for a healthier relationship. You probably don’t have one single friend that you rely on for everything, right? So why would you place those expectations on a romantic partner?
Instead, having a great circle of friends will make you appreciate your current or future partner more because it’ll give you time to miss them, and allow your partner to spend time with you in the capacity that they thrive in.
Your future partner may be a great cuddle buddy and Netflix-binge watcher, but might not be great at giving you work advice. That’s why you’ll have your old colleague, Brandy, to call when you need work advice, rather than getting frustrated at your partner who works in a totally different industry and can only help so much.
So, go practice platonic intimacy!
If you’ve never practiced platonic intimacy, no worries! Now is the perfect time to start. Chances are your friends will appreciate the extra love and support from you, and will reciprocate by showing their appreciation too!
There’s also a very good chance that practicing this type of behavior will help alleviate the feelings of loneliness you might be dealing with. Go out and appreciate your friends, the good ones really can be forever!