We all want to find a person with whom we can share our truest self. Someone who gets the ins and outs of how we operate without us needing to say anything. Finding someone who accepts you for exactly who you are and never asks more of you than you can give. Often, people seek that connection in a romantic partner, but platonic intimacy can deliver the same powerful bond.
Platonic intimacy is exactly what it sounds like. You have an incredibly close relationship with someone, but there is no sexual or romantic interest involved. There will be a deep, often unconditional, love between you and that person. Without a doubt, that is your person — the person who knows you better than anyone else in the world, including your family or significant other.
Diana Raab Ph.D. says, “Platonic love is a special emotional and spiritual relationship between two people who love and admire one another because of common interests, a spiritual connection, and similar worldviews.”
Your relationship may start off simply, of course, as a regular friendship. Over a period of time, you realize that you have a connection beyond just things you have in common. Sometimes you quickly realize that you have a deeper connection to this person beyond regular friendship. Other times, it may take years of casual friendship to develop a strong bond. But the bond is so incredibly strong that you can’t imagine a point where you weren’t in sync with that person.
My best friend and I have known each other for about 10 years. We have always had things in common. For instance, we both love to read and write. We have a similar sense of style and share a lot of music preferences. Romantically, we are interested in very different kinds of people, but our differences are what keep our friendship interesting. Our platonic intimacy is the type that grew over time — we’ve only been really close for the last few years. But now, it’s hard to remember life when we weren’t this close.
“The ability to love goes beyond having an emotional response to or understanding another person. It requires a capacity for contact, and this contact does not necessarily have to be physical. It can include how you speak to them, the emotions you display to them, and the awareness you have about them. It’s about being in tune with another person,” says author Judith Blackstone.
My BFF and I have become attuned to each other in a way that I have never felt with a friend before. I know what she will love, and vice versa, and we’re never wrong. We know when something is wrong with the other — and we can figure out whether that means we need space or a sympathetic ear. She is like a book I’ve read a million times and can recite by memory.
Platonic intimacy goes beyond being someone’s best friend. A best friend requires a commitment and connection, but this is so much more. Someone can be your best friend for a season in your life. You could be best friends with someone at school or have a work bestie. But as soon as you lose that commonality (i.e., you get a new job or finish school), the relationship doesn’t have anything to stand on. Platonically intimate relationships, on the other hand, can withstand a change in something like location or a shift in circumstances.
My best friend lives on the other side of the country. We’ve seen each other once in nearly two years. But you would never know that if you talk to us. Not a day goes by where we don’t speak, whether by text, email, DM, or whatever. If we could figure out how to use a carrier pigeon, we would. She is the only person I genuinely enjoy talking to on the phone, which is probably why our phone calls sometimes last for three hours. There isn’t anything about our lives the other doesn’t know. I can be 100 percent myself with her and not fear rejection.
We place so much importance on romantic relationships. Finding a person who will love us unconditionally is a concept we’re often fed, but there is almost always an undercurrent of romance. But intimacy and romance don’t need to go hand in hand. And in some cases, platonic intimacy might be even better than putting your entire self into a romantic relationship. Because you’re taking sex out of the equation, you may be able to create a stronger bond. Sometimes in romantic relationships, we can carry our insecurities and past traumas along with us. Deep platonic relationships create space to really dig into — and heal — those parts of ourselves.
You can have tough conversations with that friend. Because you know your relationship can withstand it. One fight isn’t going to be the end of your friendship — it will be a stepping stone to bring you closer. You can lay bare the worst parts of yourself and know that this person will still be there for you. Usually nothing but death will end this kind of relationship because you are so profoundly tied to each other.
I can say with 100% certainty that my best friend is my soulmate. We have already decided that when we’re old and it’s just the two of us, we will live together, Golden Girls style. I can’t imagine any part of my life without her in it. She is the person I want by my side when all the bad shit happens, and I know she will be there.
It’s time to celebrate platonic intimacy more. After all, it’s hard to find someone you can be truly vulnerable with. Someone who won’t see your vulnerability as weakness, but as strength. Someone who will love you unconditionally and not fall out of love with you when the newness wears off.
Platonic soulmates are soulmates for life. And lord knows, we could all use a forever friend.