Platonic Vs. Romantic Love: How To Spot The Difference & Why They're Both Important To Have

When many of us think of platonic love compared to romantic love, we think it means all of our friendships that aren't specifically romantic ... but it's more than that. Not all friendships are created equal, and just because you're friends with someone doesn't mean you're in a platonic relationship with them. Your platonic friends are those you have a deep connection with. It's almost like you're in a romantic relationship with them, but there isn't any romance. If that still doesn't make sense, we'll explain it in more detail in a moment.


You may have one platonic friend or more than one — there's no limit. They can be any gender, women don't have to only be platonic with other women. The thing is, they're an important part of your life, and just like with a happy romantic relationship, your platonic relationships bring lots of health benefits into your life. But how can you really tell if it's platonic or just a friendship leaning toward being more?

What is a platonic relationship?

Do you have a friend that feels like more than a friend, but you aren't romantically interested in them? They make your days brighter, always know what to say when you need a lift, and you couldn't imagine life without them. That bestie of yours is your platonic friend or a platonic crush. They mean more to you than other folks in your friend circle and they do more for you on many levels, as well.


You love this person. While you don't spend every waking hour with them, as you might a significant other, they are someone who stays on your mind. You check in with them regularly. And, even if you are separated by thousands of miles, you still feel that love and closeness to them. They are still your number-one go-to when you need someone to talk to when your partner is busy. And, while this may sound like it takes some work, you'll soon learn that platonic love is a bit easier than romantic love.

Why do you need platonic love?

But first, let's talk about why we need platonic love. First of all, platonic friendships teach us many things, including how to interact with people we feel deeply about. Most of us have platonic friendships as kids before we start getting those romantic feelings — these close friendships teach us how to share ourselves, and our belongings, with others. We learn how to communicate with others through these deep friendships.


Aside from the learning experience of platonic relationships, these friendships tend to last longer than romantic ones. This friend being with you through your ups and downs gives you someone you can talk to outside a romantic relationship — a confidant, so to speak, who knows where you've been and what you've been through. Your platonic friend makes it so you don't have to unload all of your baggage on a significant other, and ensures you have other people in your corner when your partner can't always offer you everything you need like a shoulder to cry on or a sounding board to vent to. Sometimes our partners need a break from this stuff, but your bestie is there.

There's no sex in platonic love

Just like there's no crying in baseball, there is no sex or romance in platonic love. That's one of the biggest things that sets this type of relationship apart from a romantic one. While you may not be spending time making out with your bestie, you still have a deep connection to this person, and you are loyal to them. When it comes to choosing between your ride-or-die friend and anyone else, your platonic love is number one because they are the one that is always there with no ultimatums and no expectations.


Of course, to an outsider, your sleepovers spent in the same bed, your inside jokes that are borderline dirty, and your affinity for holding hands in public may look like more than it is, but for the two of you, this feels like a sibling you actually like and chose to share your life with.

But there is plenty of love

While there may be no romance in your platonic love affair, there is plenty of love and care. Platonic friends, those pals that are the closest to you, are the ones who will be there to wipe away the tears when no one else is around, and that's probably one of the most important reasons why close friendships are a must. People who do not have platonic love require all of their relationship needs to be met by familial love and romantic love, and that isn't always a possibility. 


Family bonds can break, and since the people we are raised by aren't chosen by us, sometimes we find that we get more love outside of the home. While you and your platonic pal can break up or have a falling out, there are fewer things that get in the way of your bond than some other types of bonds. They're more likely to love you unconditionally than family or a significant other. And they know you on a deeper level than most other people in your life because you share a lot more with them.

Well-known types of platonic relationships

When it comes to the closeness of platonic friendships, there are some terms we've come to know well to describe these bonds. While we've already mentioned besties and ride-or-die, there's more. Bromance is a term that has been around for some time now and is used to describe a couple of really close guy friends who absolutely love each other in a completely platonic way. The opposite of that is a womance. If you've ever shouted out your bestie on a "woman crush Wednesday" or a "man crush Monday" post, you were definitely showing off your platonic love for them. Of course, it's important to know that you can have a platonic friendship that can't be described as a womance or bromance because your bestie is a different gender than you.


One more common type of platonic relationship that has been around since the late '80s but is more talked about now is the work spouse relationship. This is another platonic relationship where two people have a deep bond — this one revolving mostly around work. Your work spouse may be the one thing that helps you keep your sanity when you're at work, so that definitely makes them important in your life. Your deep bond may begin with work matters, but they are also someone you can share matters with that have nothing to do with work.

Both relationships require boundaries

No matter what kind of relationship you find yourself in, boundaries are important. Even when it comes to platonic friendships, you should set forth boundaries for each other, which can help keep your friendship running smoothly. One of the most important boundaries to put in place when you start a platonic relationship is the one that says you're just friends and this isn't going to ever be more than that. You both want to be on the same page about what this relationship is if you want it to stay platonic.


It's also important to determine how much time you'll be spending together and what happens when one or both of you is in a relationship. You don't want your platonic bestie to feel left out when you find yourself in the honeymoon phases of a new love, but you also want that time to grow romantic love. You can always have a "while we're single" plan and a "when we're taken" plan set in place — whatever works best for your friendship dynamic. Of course, you can also spend time with each other while with your partners, too.

There's no passion in platonic relationships (not toward each other, anyway)

Save the passion for your love interest. Your platonic friend and you may be passionate about the same things, but you shouldn't be passionate about each other. With passion comes feelings of intimacy and romance, and those are things that turn your platonic relationship into a romantic relationship, or, at the least, friends with benefits. If you and your friend have an intimate relationship, you've crossed the line out of platonic and into something completely different.


Having passions you share together could be the catalyst of your platonic relationship. Perhaps you met at a skate park or loitering at the mall — this is a passion you share that keeps you and your platonic pal connected. You hang out together singing karaoke because your spouse isn't a fan. Or, perhaps your bestie takes painting classes with you because you both love creativity, but your significant other prefers to paint rooms rather than scenes. There's passion there, and it drives you both, but it's not "that" kind of passion.

There are fewer expectations in a platonic relationship

There's a lot of give and take that goes into a romantic relationship, and while you have some of that in platonic love as well, you don't have all of the added expectations behind closed doors. You don't have to have a certain amount of intimacy to keep things flowing smoothly as you do in romance.


When you're not focused on moving in together or hoping to find someone to split the bills with or spend the rest of your life with, you open yourself up to more fun with your platonic friends. And, while you definitely want to spend some time with your bestie, unlike in a romantic partnership, you don't have to worry about expectations to show up at your pal's family functions and holiday get-togethers, which, if we're being honest, can be extremely stressful, especially early in a relationship.

Platonic love is less complicated

Speaking of less stress and obligation, your platonic relationship also comes with fewer complications. Your bestie isn't likely to get jealous or overbearing when you want to give a little of your time to another friend. And they're especially unlikely to get mad if you look like you might be flirting with someone. There can be jealousy in platonic relationships, but this is one of those areas where setting boundaries is important.


In a platonic relationship, you're not feeling like you always have to prove yourself. But in some newly formed romances, your significant other may need tons of reassurance that they're important to you. Your bestie just knows it. There's less worry about miscommunications as well. It's easier to communicate with someone you don't have a romantic tie to. So when something seems off, you can sit your platonic pal down and get right to the nitty-gritty of things and there's less likely to be issues with them feeling called out or like you're trying to break up with them.

There's less pressure in platonic love

You don't feel like you're always working to keep the romance alive when it comes to platonic love, because there is none. You care just as much about your friend's well-being as you own, so you're usually there when they need you, but they're also more likely to be understanding of your other obligations than someone you're romantically linked with. You also may have the type of friendship where it's easy to quickly vent, then push that all aside for you to just have some crazy fun together.


When it comes to platonic relationships, you're also not looking as much for equal gratification as one would in a romantic partnership. If your friend monopolized an entire conversation with you to vent about something that happened to them recently and you don't get a chance to talk about yourself, you're less likely to feel as though you've been let down. You're friends, so you expect less, really. We expect more from our romantic partners because they've made a different kind of commitment to us that feels like we deserve more equality (and we do).

There are even health benefits to platonic relationships

While there are plenty of health benefits to falling in love and finding yourself a partner in love, there are also some negative ones. Sure, cortisol levels can drop, but they can also rise — because, let's face it, there's stress when it comes to romantic love. You're busy worrying about whether they'll stay, if you're doing things right, if they're happy, why they don't communicate, etc. There are a million thoughts that go through our heads when it comes to partnering up, and those thoughts can be unhealthy to our bodies, not just our minds or our relationships.


Your platonic partner, on the other hand, isn't as much of an investment as a romantic one, so you feel far less stress over this type of relationship. Plus, while we don't always have the same things in common with people we romantically partner up with, we usually have some common interests with our friends, because that's usually how friendships start. This means, with your platonic partner, you're more likely to be doing healthy things you enjoy, whether you're into using your creative mind, getting physical fitness, or practicing some simple self-care like getting massages or manicures together.

There are times when platonic friendships may cross the boundaries of romance

Boundaries: They keep things from getting weird. And no matter how innocent your intentions are in a platonic relationship, that closeness and deep bond can make some folks feel like they're falling in love and as though there is more to it than just friendship. It happens to the best of us. Of course, even boundaries can't always keep feelings from growing. So, what if one of you falls in love with the other?


This could mean the end of your friendship depending on how the one who caught feelings acts on those feelings. If you both sit down and talk before any "moves" are made, things could work out — as in you continue your platonic love journey as besties. Of course, the one confessing their feelings could find out their pal has them, too. Or, it could ruin the entire thing. So, before you do anything about feelings that cross the boundaries of platonic relationships, be sure you really truly need more from this relationship, or spend some time figuring out how to let go of that desire because there's a chance you're about to lose your best friend.

Both relationships are about forming deep bonds

Just like you may have a deep bond with whichever parent you are closer with or a deep connection with one of your siblings or cousins, there is a strong bond between platonic friends that sits somewhere between those familial feelings and romantic love. It's stronger than what you feel for your larger group of friends, but it's not as sweeping as romance.


Having a deep bond is important in any love relationship, and it is a connection that allows two people to lift each other up and be there for one another in times of sadness and joy. Your platonic friend is likely the one who would drop everything to be at your side when no one else has the time, because they truly love you, as you are, with no expectations for you to change into something that pleases others around them. Your platonic love is someone whose shoulder you can cry on without it becoming weird or sexual. And, on the same note, they're someone you can laugh with, even if you're laughing at yourself or them — and you both get the joke and neither of you is offended.