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Totally platonic: More than ‘just friends’ but less than lovers

by Joyce Remo

Recently updated on February 13, 2023 10:44 am

Elise and Carlo, both 23 years old fresh graduates, live together, raise a cat together, and share a close emotional bond. But there’s nothing romantic going on between them. 

The two have been friends since their sophomore year in college. 

Although they were both from different circles, they were close enough to borrow each other’s notes or have coffee together somewhere in Maginhawa and Katipunan.

When the Philippine government imposed a lockdown due to the upsurge in COVID-19 cases, the pair grew closer as they spent most of their time bonding virtually over video games and Japanese animated series.

Elise also became Carlo’s major support system when he lost his mother to coronavirus. Carlo, on the other hand, has always been there for Elise, especially during unholy hours when she would suddenly experience emotional spirals due to her bipolar disorder.

As expected, the two developed a deep emotional connection with each other. But what it was, according to Elise and Carlo, is definitely not a budding romance or anything close to falling romantically in love with each other.

They just simply enjoy each other’s company and share the same interests and have developed a very close friendship because of these.

Living together 

The two of them decided to cohabitate after graduating from college. They even attempted to find jobs that are near each other’s workplace so they can go home together after their respective shifts.

After months of living under the same roof, Elise and Carlo, who are both fond of furry creatures, agreed to co-parent their half-Siamese half-Persian cat named Toby.

When asked about what their relationship is called, Elise told republicasia that they are involved in a platonic relationship — something that is deeper than friendships but which lacks a romantic connection.

According to experts, a platonic relationship involves two people who share a close bond with each other but do not have a sexual relationship. 

Platonic vs romantic relationship

One notable difference between a platonic and romantic relationship is the physical intimacy or sexual connection that two individuals share.

In romantic relationships, couples are often free to touch each other intimately as long as it is consensual or agreed upon.

Meanwhile, platonic relationships do not involve any of these, especially sexual activities, and the people involved are more often bonded by their emotional connections.

“We do love each other but not romantically,” Elise said. “Parang friends with benefits pero hindi yung usual na related to sex. More like emotional benefits, we tend to depend on each other emotionally.”

The moment one feels passionate towards each other, the platonic relationship ends, as per Carlo.

What platonic relationships are not

Platonic relationships are proof that two people who have a deep emotional connection with each other can remain friends without feeling romantically attracted to one another.

While platonic relationships are often misunderstood as simple friendships, it is beyond the realms of just being friends. This type of connection, as per experts, is one without feelings of passion but is “still loving, loyal, respectful, and honest.”

According to Emily Guarnotta, a licensed clinical psychologist, platonic relationships are often founded on the following values:

  • Love
  • Admiration
  • Respect
  • Honesty
  • Loyalty
  • Bonding over shared interests and beliefs

“It may sound complicated to many since kamukha lang talaga siya ng typical friendship. Pero what sets it apart from romantic relationships ay yung communicated boundaries namin with each other,” said Carlo when asked about his platonic relationship with Elise.

“Hindi kami friends with benefits na driven by sex, or friends with ulterior motives,” he continued. “We connect emotionally and that’s what drives our relationship.”

Elise and Carlo also highlighted that they are not considering any romantic connection between each other, or those that are outside their relationship. According to the pair, they are content with whatever they share and don’t feel the need to step up their relationship.

“Platonic relationships, like ours, involve a deeper commitment than friendship kasi our friends cannot really be there for us palagi kasi they have their own lives to live,” said Elise.

“Sa amin ni Carlo, andito kami to respond to each other’s needs pero itong needs na ito ay not romantic in nature,” she added. 

Setting up a platonic relationship

Republicasia asked Elise and Carlo how the two of them established this kind of relationship set-up. According to them, it was difficult at first because they are clueless how these kinds of connections work.

Carlo said “boundaries and communication” are key. 

“You just have to have a clear agreement kung ano yung mga limits ninyo, ano yung pwede at ano yung bawal tapos you have to follow that religiously out of respect sa partner mo,” he said. 

Since honesty is one of the key foundations of a platonic relationship, Elise and Carlo also said that it is crucial for partners to remain honest with each other, especially when problems arise.

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