Meaning and Characteristics of Platonic love

Is there only one kind of love that people can feel? The answer is no. There are different types of love, and platonic love is one of them. How can one know if they have ever experienced this kind of love?

Platonic relationships get their name from the ancient era when Plato, an Athenian philosopher in ancient Greece, talked about it for the first time. He did not use the term but described this kind of love as a sort of victory of mind over bodies. In the philosophic understanding, platonic love is a feeling strong yet pure from any carnal attraction or desires. Such an emotion is able to unite a person with fundamental truth and wisdom.

In the modern world, people say that somebody loves another person platonically meaning that these two are close emotionally. How do we define platonic love nowadays?

Today, most sources would define this emotion as a kind of attraction and bond between two people that is free from any physical intercourse. This emotion can be observed between a teacher and a pupil; between an iconic figure or a role model and an admirer; between parents and their children. It can also be felt to one’s homeland or god. What does platonic mean? It means free from anything carnal. That is why the affection we feel for our parents or friends is always platonic. It does not mean that friendship and platonic love cannot turn into romantic feelings. It can.

What is the closest ‘to love platonically’ definition? In his work titled ‘Symposium’, Plato raised a question of an ideal emotion that requires no bodily contact for satisfaction. In this work, Plato spoke about searching for a way to express affection that would define humans from animals. Plato was sure that humans have a more developed brain than animals that live by their instincts. For this reason, humans should have a deep emotion that is available and peculiar to them only.

From the point of view of other Greek philosophers, there are several types of love. The carnal affection that belongs to the physical nature of a human being is called ‘eros’. It is earthly and usual. The platonic love definition, in this case, is a more spiritual emotion. Here comes another kind of love is known as ‘philia’ or ‘storge’, a sort of affectionate friendship, the first stage of platonic relationships. This emotion appears between parents and their children, friends who have spent their whole life together, travellers who have travelled together for a long time, and so on. Finally, the most spiritual type of love is known as ‘agape’. It is a sacrificial, kind and gentle emotion towards a divine entity and all humans. Eros is the power that attracts another person with the help of physical beauties and appeals. It brings a person physical satisfaction and allows reproduction. Lasting and durable, philia and storge create bonds between people, like the ones of a family. It has nothing to do with bodies and beauty. Finally, agape embraces the entire humanity and each of its members separately. What is a platonic relationship?

Unrequited affection is an example of such a relationship. If a person falls in love without response, there is no other choice rather than loving from a distance. In such a situation, physical attraction is present, but it cannot be satisfied. Fans often adore celebrities in this manner. The emotions that accumulate inside the one who is in love often find a way out through creativity: poetry, artworks, and so on. Children can experience this kind of love before they reach puberty and start to experience bodily desires.

The first love many people experience as children and the moment people get to know eachyoung teenagers is mostly platonic. Cultural peculiarities often make lovers undergo platonic relationships before a particular stage in their life. In different cultures, young people are not allowed to have physical contact with their sweethearts until they are officially married. In this case, platonic love is a temporary stage. The two will reach their physical phase once it becomes possible. Some people have no physical attraction to others by nature or as a result of certain events in their life. They are interested in tender, affectionate relationships that are free from any bodily desires. We can observe such emotions between two spouses who are no longer physical lovers due to age or diseases or other reasons. Still, they cherish each other and do not suffer from the lack of physical pleasures.

  • Some couples believe in the deliberate rejection of intimate contacts. They do feel the physical attraction to other people or their partners but tame their desires.
  • Psychological diseases or trauma can make people unable to have intimate contacts. Violence experienced some time ago, neuroses and other psychological issues can kill bodily desires entirely. Even though the sufferer will still be able to love and care for other people, sensual affections may be unavailable for this person.
  • In separate cases, couples deliberately keep their relationship at the stage of platonic love. They are sure that the physical side can spoil the emotions and relationship they already have and do not move to any next stage.

As a rule, platonic love appears the moment people get to know each other or when friendship grows into something more affectionate.

Who are platonic friends?

As we already know from the platonic meaning, the line between friendship and platonic love is very thin. Friendship is love that does not involve sensual thoughts. Still, if we try to equate platonic emotions with friendship, then, every type of love that does not include bodily attraction will be called friendship: patriotic feelings, the bonds between parents and children, and so on. There are different points of view on the friendship between men and women. One of them confirms that such friendship is possible if the two are in a platonic relationship. They either do not see each other as intimate partners or deliberately reject their desires. Two women can have this kind of friendship when they develop something deeper and more affectionate than just friendly feelings towards each other. They become more like sisters or a mother and her daughter. This emotion is purely spiritual, and while it is still friendship, it is love, too. The same is with two male friends who become like brothers due to their deep, trustful bond. What is the platonic relationship meaning in the modern world?

Plato saw this kind of emotion as the motivating force for a spiritual beauty search. In the world of today, it is a kind of love that involves more feelings than bodies. It may be essential for modern people because after all those revolutions of moral standards all over the globe, many people treat relationships too lightly. By showing a platonic kind of affection, a person lets another know that the intentions are much more serious than just a one-night stand. This was a short explanation of platonic love in the world of today. It is an essential and important stage of relationships between people. Involving rather minds than bodies, it suggests a stronger bond than just carnal attraction and promises a union of souls.

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