You’ve probably muttered a word or two when you see a man and a woman together—assuming they’re in a relationship. The truth is, they’re just friends. As Robin of ‘Stranger Things’ says, platonic with a capital ‘P.’
Interpersonal relationships between the opposite sexes have always been a thing. Though, from the outsiders’ perspective, there’s an expectation that it’ll lead to something romantic and/or sexual.
Even family members or relatives contribute their own assumptions to the point it has become an unspoken norm.
Platonic friendship: redefined
Do you have friends of the opposite sex? Have others pointed out that both of you could make a “good couple” if you take things to the next level? Chances are you’ve been also in the latter situation, wishing for the two to be more than what they are.
People can choose to remain emotionally, mentally, or spiritually bonded with one another, without the expectation of moving to the next phase. Some relationships do flourish because of a long-term friendship, but some prefer to just be friends—there’s nothing wrong with that.
The relationship is intimate with hints of attraction but neither sexual nor romantic.
The sciences behind friendships
“No man is an island,” is an accurate sentence to emphasize the importance of social relationships. Even psychologist Abraham Maslow and his infamous hierarchy included “love and belongingness” as one of the conative needs.
It’s a basic, human need. We live to love and to be loved.
Natural selection taught us that biological differences are components of choosing a mate. Women used to rely on men for resources and security, but adaptation strategies have evolved as times pass by.
Having a great support system is proven to help one’s well-being. They’re our vessels when things get tough. Their presence gives us a consolation that we’re not going through it alone—even alleviates stressors and manifestations of mental health conditions.
Society always has a say
The friends-to-lovers trope romanticizes the idea that men and women cannot just remain friends. It’s a heteronormative notion that our society upholds. It’s always connected to a hidden desire or infatuation.
The media emphasizes that when there are opposite-sex friends, one of them has to fall in love with their best friend. The outcome is in the spectrum of (a) friend-zoned or (b) secretly head over heels.
Why can’t we just treasure that for once? The dynamic between the two is just as unique as same-sex friendships. Why are the normative pursuits overvalued and platonic ones overlooked?
Women are even called names when they’re seen with the opposite sex but when men do it, it’s a passage to manliness—a slowly diminishing mindset, but still being unconsciously practiced by some people.
We are tactile human beings who do get touchy sometimes. Due to cultural differences, others see it in a different way even though there’s no implication of something else.
When they’re affectionate to one another, it seems to be gatekept because it’s what lovers do to express themselves.
Why can’t we be friends?
There should be boundaries established when one of you is in a relationship because of emotional manipulation.
There could be an instance where your platonic friendship is used against you.
“Don’t be too close or else, one might fall in love.” If you’re told by your partner that you can’t be friends with them anymore, maybe it’s time for a self-reflection.
An honest, thoughtful conversation with them is a way to do it. You don’t have to compromise one over the other. After all, in any type of relationship, good communication is the secret recipe for longevity and respect.
You know it all, you’re my best friend
Whether you have a platonic soulmate or friend, treasure him/her/them in the best way possible. There’s a balance of mutual love, care, vulnerability, and acceptance without sex and romance.
An abstract concept like love manifests in different, beautiful ways with one being friendship. There’s the entrustment of one’s identity to another, without losing oneself in the process.
It’s time to normalize opposite-sex friendships without overanalyzing what they could’ve been other than the relationship they currently have.
Maybe our opposite-sex friends are the ones connected to our red string of fate. That we’re destined to be a part of their lives as much as they do to ours.