Make a Platonic Relationship Work

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies. ~ Aristotle

Deep friendships between friends of the opposite gender are possible and are evidenced every day. While there may be times that both of you have feelings that go beyond the platonic nature of your relationship, what matters is that neither of you act on them and that you maintain respect for one another. Platonic relationships are incredible when they work well – a non-judgmental friend of the opposite sex can offer you much in the way of advice, support, conversation, and differing perspectives.


  1. Be open to the possibilities of tension. Unless you and your platonic friend are not romantically or sexually attracted to people of their gender and your gender, there is always a possibility that one of you could develop a crush on the other. It's not unusual, but it can make the platonic relationship a difficult one to maintain.
  2. Create clear ground rules. Avoid getting into the "friends first" difficulty. If you both agreed that having a relationship was off the cards for such reasons as married status, work or study pressures, distance, religion, etc., the "potential" for a romantic affiliation hangs there unspoken. It is much better to make it clear that you have a friendship that matters, in which both of you care for one another in a sibling-like manner by watching out for one another and spending time together but that friendship is all it remains.
  3. Trust yourselves. All the "possibilities" aside, have trust in your decision. Nature and societal pressures are not determinants of you, your friend, or your choices. You are responsible for your own choices and the decision to make the relationship platonic is your clear-cut choice. Believe in it for what it is and trust both of you to fulfill the platonic compact.
  4. Consider all the benefits of a platonic relationship. It helps to remember what is gained by remaining platonic rather than ever being tempted to throw that away in a moment of romantic weakness. The benefits of platonic friendships include:
    • They endure because you trust one another and share a lot together at a spiritual, emotional and shared experiences level
    • You aren't plagued by the intimacy of romantic love and sexual relations, with all the accompanying doubts, jealousies, complications, etc.
    • Neither of you need to perform in front of one another; you are who you are
    • You can learn about another gender from one another in a safe and uncompromising way, if you two are of different genders
    • Both of you benefit from each other's perspectives on challenges facing you in relations with other people
    • There is always someone you can go to for genuine, fearless, and forthright advice - platonic friendships tend to have a quality that transcends the often unspoken competitive and conforming needs of same gender friendships
  5. Reassure others who might be impacted by your platonic relationship. Where there are partners, spouses, lovers, etc., involved, it can be helpful to clear the air with them early on about the nature of your platonic friendship. Do likewise for your platonic friend's other half where politic. Stay out of potentially compromising situations, such as being at their apartment late at night without your spouse's knowledge/agreement. Acknowledge that sometimes the partner's concerns about your platonic relationship can be the hardest part of maintaining a platonic friendship. Your spouse needs to know that (a) you aren't talking or complaining about them, (b) you will be open with your spouse about what you say and do with your platonic friend, (c) there will be no secretive actions, and (d) you will not let the platonic friend supplant the relationship you have with your spouse.
  6. Be realistic. It just may well be that some of the deliberately suppressed tension in your relationship is what provides both of you with the spark to make it work so well. This never-fulfilled but potential reality can be the source of incredible creativity, discovery, and problem-solving when the two of you work together on something. While you should never act on it, it is sometimes worth acknowledging to yourself that this does form part of what makes the platonic friendship work so well.


  • Research great platonic relationships in history; this will help to convince you that they have worked and do work. For example, George Washington and Betsy Ross, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway, etc. Also some famous fictional depictions include: Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, Maxwell Smart and 99, and Harry Potter and Hermione Granger.
  • The modern idea of "Platonic love" isn't quite what it started out as; originally Platonic love was passionate, non-erotic love. Modern times have turned it into a meaning of a solid friendship between a man and a woman that doesn't cross the sexual boundaries.


  • If you do feel romantically entangled with your platonic friend and it is not reciprocated, you can end up feeling deeply hurt and betrayed and it can be very hard to mend the friendship again. Even if it is reciprocated, things won't be the same again if the friendship-turned-love doesn't work out.
  • If marriage between you is forbidden, do not allow yourself to discuss marital or romance problems. Kindly redirect the topic or recommend to the other person to discuss it with a friend of the same sex.

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