Platonic Polyamory Vs. Having Friends: What's The Actual Difference?

As the world has come a long way in accepting lifestyles that used to be considered avant-garde, the art of sorting out relationships has evolved and so has the language surrounding it. If you don't want to feel lost navigating the tricky waters of modern-day relationship trends, it's wise to keep up-to-date with the latest terminology.

You might be familiar with the definition of a platonic relationship, which is characterized by the absence of sex and romance between people in a close relationship. And you might know a thing or two about polyamory, a form of ethical non-monogamy where people consensually have more than one romantic or sexual partner at once. But have you heard of "platonic polyamory?" 

Friendships that border on courtship are not unusual these days, but it's still out of the ordinary to mention "platonic" and "polyamory" in the same breath, as the two seem to be mutually exclusive. The term describes a type of relationship where people have other relationships simultaneously (which can be sexual or romantic), and within their primary relationship, they don't have sex or feel romantically attracted to their partner (via Kitsch Mix). Though that sounds a lot like friendship, the primary relationship is usually closer and more committed than it is with regular platonic friendships.

How does platonic polyamory relate to queerplatonic relationships?

To truly understand platonic polyamory, it's helpful to become familiar with the concept of queerplatonic relationships. These are those unions where two people do not share any romantic attraction or physical intimacy, such as kissing or having sex, but share a deeper emotional connection than in a typical friendship. It's worth pointing out that anyone can be in a queerplatonic relationship, no matter their sexual identity or romantic orientation, per Kent University.

Now, LGBTQIA+ Wiki defines platonic polyamory, or polyplatonic, as "a form of non-monogamous relationship were one is capable of having queerplatonic [relationships] or other close platonic relationships with multiple people at once."  

Platonic polyamory can be thought of as a polyamorous relationship or open relationship, but without the romantic or sexual elements. You can live under the same roof, raise kids together, and express devotions for one another like a conventional poly couple, but you are not in love in a romantic sense or sexually attracted to each other. Some people choose platonic polyamory because they want diversity or a different kind of emotional satisfaction. This type of relationship requires consent from all sides and lots of communication to run smoothly.  

What's the difference between a platonic polyamory and having friends?

It's safe to say that everyone involved in platonic polyamory is friend-zoned, but what they share is beyond friendship. Most friendships do not require any real-life commitment or prioritization, while platonic polyamorous couples may get married or live together. In these relationships, there is a sense of shared responsibility and a consistent stability that keeps everyone devoted to the connection. It's technically a committed partnership where everyone cherishes one another's company without wanting sexual intimacy. 

A platonic polyamorous relationship can look similar to a typical friendship or a traditional throuple to an outsider, but only those involved know the difference because it's an internal, subjective experience. If you don't have romantic feelings for someone, you don't. It's not uncommon to develop an intense attachment with someone that's not romantic. Maybe you're enchanted by the person's intellect or character and you want to keep them in your life, but you don't necessarily want to date them. 

Platonic polyamory can trigger jealousy, just like a romantic polyamorous relationship. When you're fond of someone enough to want to be in a loving relationship with them, it's normal to feel fearful of being favored less or replaced. Those who are in a platonic polyamorous relationship will find themselves in the clutches of jealousy at some points, however, this is no different from a conventional romantic couple or platonic friends.