This is a guest post by a friend of mine of the opposite sex, Eddie Mnt. After reading my article on Do you believe in platonic relationship?, Eddie decided to share his perspective on the matter. Check it out, it’s a beautiful read (and totally worth the time).
Platonic relationships: The concept or idea that a male and a female can maintain a deep and meaningful relationship that is not consumed by intimacy or romance.
Many of us would like to think such a relationship exists. Many of us would like to think that we can be completely open to the opposite sex and not worry about them wanting to become more than what they have.
But in reality, there is usually one side of the party who wishes to become more than friends, somewhere down the road of the relationship. This cannot be helped, as men and women were created to be naturally attracted to each other, it is in our human nature.
It is very naive to believe from the start that a male and a female can go into a platonic friendship and maintain such a relationship on the same level. Both males and females are created to act and think differently, and hence miscommunication through these actions can send different signals to both parties.
Men in general are very proud and like to provide, so a simple coffee shout may be misinterpreted by a lady friend: “He keeps paying for everything, does he like me?” Ladies by nature give off a friendly aurora, being cheerful and bright in their expression, on which can easily give the wrong signs to a male friend: “She keeps smiling my way, does she like me”
These unintentional mixed signals from either party may lead the other into thinking their friend ‘has feelings’ for them. One feeling leads to another and for most people, this platonic relationship either goes one of two ways: becoming partners or becoming strangers.
From my observation, I do not see many of people in a platonic relationship of this kind. People are either in groups of all females, all males, a well balanced mix, or coupled. It is a relationship that is uncommon and rarely produced, hence the reason why many people are skeptical if such a relationship truly exists.
On saying this, anything is possible. Or to be more correct, anything is probable.
I am a believer in platonic relationship and from my experience and observation, they existence dependent on what both the male and female want and value (which I’ll cover in three points below).
1. True Initial Intent: A platonic relationship with a pure intent beginning
The reason why I am a believer in such a relationship is because most of my closest friends are female. It’s not that I do not have male friends, I do. With my male friends (in general), we hang out, chill, play games, watch movies and just relax. Rarely do we ever go into deep and meaning conversations, or if we do, our train of thought travels the same logical wavelength, confirming what I know (again in general).
With my female friends, whenever I open up, I get a different perception on the situation at hand, and I find it easier to openly talk to my female friends. Hence in my life I tend to hang out with more female friends in comparison to male friends.
This leads to my friends and family teasing me on having too many girl friends, which is humorous. Every time I go out to see a musical, a show, a movie, shop or to hang out, I would get one person asking, ‘Whose Eddie going out with?’, while another would answer, ‘I don’t know, one of his many girlfriends’. One of my friends that they would always tease me about was my best friend.
I met my best friend at my current work when I was 17, in a food court selling Chinese food. I don’t know how, but we hit it off straight away. Could be the fact that I made fun of her name, and she made fun of me. Work was always enjoyable where we talk about absolutely everything, from school, sports, TV, family and so forth.
I remember one time she pointed to a guy in the food court and told me she once had a crush on him. Recently, he told her that she was ‘HOT’. I laughed and walked away (note, that my best friend is drop dead beautiful). About an hour later when we were moving the food onto new trays, my best friend said to me ‘I’m Hot’.
Knowing exactly what she meant, I pick up a bundle of used trays, gave her a stare and walk right into the kitchen to wash the trays. A minute later she run into the kitchen and said, “No, I didn’t mean I’m ‘HOT’ hot. I mean I’m hot from changing trays”. I nodded my head and replied sarcastically, “Sure”. It was never work when she was around.
My best friend and I melded so well, everyone would ask, “Why don’t you ask her out?” Funny thing is, (and I can’t tell her) it never crossed my mind. I was completely content with our friendship – it was a marvelous thing.
I would call and bother her when I had nothing better to do. She would listen and tell me she was sick. I’d be over the next day with a get well card while accidentally meeting her dad (who scared the crap out of me). She would call me later telling me what her dad had to say, and we would both laugh at it. But from what I could recall, there was never a moment where we wanted more.
It could also be due to the fact when I was 17, I was chasing down my own Korean love story, giving roses to girls at highpoint, following a dream of regret leading me to an all girls school, whilst at school she was getting a lot of attention from many of the guys I knew who thought my best friend was, in their words, HOT.
When my best friend was asked by another guy to go out at the end of year 12, a lot of my friends and family questioned me, “Why didn’t you ask her out first?” and said “Eddie, you lost your chance”. I would laugh at them, because deep down I was happy that my best friend found someone she could always count on.The only down side was that I couldn’t always bother her as much as I use to.
A lot of the times I would call, ask what she was doing and say she’d answer she was on the phone with her boyfriend. I would laugh, tell her to tell him I love him and would talk to her another time. One time I called in between one of their call sessions and she answered the call with a “Hey Babe”, I replied in confusion “HEY BABE?”. She laughed her head off and hung up on me. I was on the floor laughing knowing that “Hey Babe” wasn’t for me.
But although things did change a little, as they do when friends find a partner, my best friend always did make time to listen to my crazy stories. And on the rare occasion she needed someone to talk to about her relationship, I’d always pick the call and talk, talk, talk to keep her mind off the matter. And frequently I would steal her boyfriend and take him out to see a movie or pizza and she would complain to her girlfriends that I took him on a date.
Without being too naive, what made our platonic friendship work from the very beginning is that we got to know each other so well, and we valued who each other were. She knew if I got her a rose from Valentine’s Day, it was out my friendship, or I was feeling rich that day. I knew if she got me a toy lightsaber, it because she felt bad about forgetting my birthday for the 1st time ever (plus, I was having a semi mid life crisis).
From the beginning, we both knew our gifts, laughs, calls, smiles, talks were all pure at heart with no misconception. Our relationship started with the pure intent of creating a platonic relationship. As we grew, so did our values in each other, what we both meant to one another.
It is a relationship that is one of a kind, a relationship that is one I will cherish forever.
2. Force of situation: A platonic relationship built from unforeseen circumstances
Of course you get your skeptics. Times where I tell people how my relationship with my best friend came to be, I get the odd one or two individuals who do not believe that my platonic relationship was founded from the beginning, but was produced due to the fact that she became someone else girlfriend before she could became mine.
Because of this result, these individuals insist that if she was never taken I would have asked her out, due to human nature of attraction or yearning to be or have more. But due to the situation at hand, the only outcome between my best friend and I was a relationship of the platonic nature. Which I agree is a valued point and very logical.
These individuals, though skeptics, do believe in platonic relationship. They believe it can only be developed in two different ways: a couple who have dated, broken up and have remained close friends or, as mentioned above, one of the pairs are taken and the couple can only resort in a platonic relationship.
Again it comes back to what these individuals value and what they want from such a relationship.
I would personally say a platonic relationship occurring after two people have dated, is just as rare as two people becoming platonic from the very beginning. Not saying it doesn’t happen, it is just I haven’t seen anyone I know maintain a friendship with someone they have dated with, mainly because it is HARD to start over.
The idea is that both men and women are attracted to each other, human nature. Only once you have past that attraction, through become a couple, the two of you can create a platonic relationship. It is because the two have reached that level of attraction and decide to lay it to rest, which allows the two to enter a platonic relationship with no worries of any other feelings arising.
Even with these skeptic individuals that question my relationship, I question them whether they still stay in contact with their past partners. Of course to win, they argument they say they do, but from what I see, the most contact they have with their past partner is having them as a contact on their phone.
Like any relationship, it ends due to people changing, not valuing the relationship they have or two people growing out of the relationship (that goes to for platonic as well). Once a relationship has ended, it is HARD to restart it (hard, not impossible).
The only couple I can think of who have maintained a platonic relationship after their romantic one ended is Ted and Robin from the TV show ‘How I Met Your Mother’. Even then, Ted still held deep feelings after they broke up in season two all the way up to the end so season eight, where Ted realized it better to have Robin as a friend than not have her in his life at all (which comes back to what he values).
It is a nice idea that two people can be so close after being so intermittent. I hope one day that, if this situation comes my way, I can maintain a relationship like theirs.
Although the skeptics could not win me over on the concept of a platonic relationship after dating (in reality), I will say it is a stronger argument, compared to the concept of entering a platonic relationship only due to one of the pair being in a romantic relationship.
Using my relationship with my best friend, I can tickle the thought that if she never was asked out, I may have asked her out. She is funny, quirky, and beautiful with a wonderful heart. But due to the fact I was to slow to pop the question, she became romantically involved with another. This either leaves me in one of two possible positions to choose to be in. I could stay and be a part of her life as a friend or leave and not have her in my life unless she was my partner.
The question here is, “What do I do?” Do I become distance and pull back from our friendship because I can’t stand the thought of her with someone else? Or should I remain friends and just continue to hide my feelings?
I have seen many males (or females) end their friendship with their female (or male) friend, for they find it too hard to stay friend when they do harbour feeling for them. Or they cannot stand not being the one who is not the partner. Which is perfectly fine, for it is hard to be around someone you care about and not have the same feelings returned.
I have seen others who stick around as a friend. Announcing that they are ‘only’ friends, to hide their feelings, hoping that one day that the friend they have harboured feelings for will eventually feel the same. Personally I think this is an unhealthy way of living and is not the same as a platonic relationship, and begs the question why be in any relationship if you both don’t value each other the same?
Again this concept can work dependent on what each individual values. If you either decide to end the relationship or hide in it within, I would ask, how much did you actually like this individual? I would assume very little from the result.
I admire people who go in and fight for what they want, even if they outcome is not favourable their way. Even then, if the outcome does not go your way, I would ask, how much do you like this individual? What is their value or importance to you?
A platonic relationship can be created here, it all depends on the individuals answer on ‘what do I do?’ Most people would end it, hide from it. Some people would fight for it. But rarely, people would ask themselves, “Do I stay as a friend with her (or him), because she (or he) matters to me?”
It comes down to: “Do I value this person enough, to keep them around, to stay in their life, because what we have matters, because they are important?” It is a simple question of do you want this person in your life, regardless of relationship status, for this is the major building block for not only platonic or romantic, but any relationship.
3. Growth from fall: A platonic relationship
During my university life, I was lucky enough to study for one semester in South Korea. It was fantastic experience, one I will never forget. I went to many places, ate so many different types of food, experience a wonderful culture and meet some unforgettable people, one in particular person whom I will always cherish and who taught me the value of an individual and our relationship.
This friend I met in Korea amazed me from the first moment we exchanged smiles to whenever we hung out eating or studying. In a short time frame before I knew it, we became really close friend talking about life at home, work studies, Korean stars, food, movies, everything.
And not long after that, I started to really crush on her. She was fun, entertaining, smart, cute and had a fantastic energy. Why wouldn’t anyone crush on her?
My crush got so bad I couldn’t think straight and would wake up in the middle of the night to run it off. I got to the point where I had to make the decision, to contain my feelings or let her know.
Knowing that telling her how I felt would end our fantastic friendship, I was caught in a major dilemma. It was a gamble of, do I want to sacrifice our friendship for a slim chance we might become more?
Ninety-nine per cent of me knew the odds were not in my favour and that it was better I hold my feelings back. But that one per cent of me had to take a chance, to get the feeling off my chest. My thoughts at this point were regardless of the come out, becoming a couple or ending our friendship, I want her to know that I care and where I stand, which I was content with.
So when I got finally got the chance to be with her only after mid terms, I gave her a gift she had been wanting and a note telling her I liked her and then disappeared (I needed to catch a train). About a week after, when we had time to again to ourselves away from our group of friends, she thanked me for the gift, but told me she felt bad, because I got her something so wonderful, and yet she had nothing to give back (sweetest rejection I have ever gotten). I smiled and told her, it was not about getting something in return, but about letting her know. She smiled and said thank you.
From that day on, I chose to keep my distance from her to give her space, or myself space. It was unintentional, but I pushed her ever so slowly away for I couldn’t see us being friends. Not that I didn’t want us to, I did, it was I just didn’t know how and I didn’t know if her still wanted to be. I took a gamble and I lost, but I was content and at peace.
But out of sheer randomness, for our group Secret Santa, out of all the people to have gotten me, she did. I was hoping she wouldn’t, but she did. And the gift that she got me was one of the best I had ever received. It was a photo collage of all our friends and outings in Korea and a short passage from her saying thank you for everything.
But what touched me the most was her card, it had a photo of her and I on the cover and inside a message, in short it read ‘I’m sorry if I hurt you, but I still want you as my friend’. Right after reading her card, I went up to her hugged her and I could feel her tears roll down her cheeks onto my shoulders.
From that moment, I realized that there was a third outcome. We didn’t enter a romantic relationship, we didn’t end our friendship, we built on it can created a better and stronger one. This happen because, even though she didn’t feel the same way about me, she still wanted me in her life.
And although she didn’t become my partner, I still wanted her in my life. It’s because for both of us, no matter the relationship, we wanted each other in our lives.
There is a part of me that values her so much and I am very grateful that the relationship between her and I has bloomed into a beyond fantastic friendship. Six months after that, I met her in New York city and we had an AWESOME two weeks hang out as great friends.
Do you believe in platonic relationship?
And that is what lies at the core of a true platonic relationship. The ability to value someone for who they are and the desire to maintain them in your life.
If both male and female can see why they value each other and want each other in their lives, regardless of post-dating, dating, confession or after break up, if both people mean enough to each other, they will find a way to make a true platonic friendship work.
Just like Ted Mosby and Robin, although they dated, broke up and Ted confess his feelings for Robin again and she turned him down, he realized it is better to have her in his life than without. Ted realized the importance and value of Robin in his world.
With my best friend, I know how important she is to me and I am grateful for how our relationship has fallen into place.
But in hind sight, if I look back on what could have been, I can see myself asking her out in high school and seeing us going down the aisle. I can see us going out, not working out and still remaining close friends. Because whatever the scenario, I know how important she is to me and I know I would do all I can to keep her in my life until.
With both of my best friend and my friend I met in Korea, I can picture a future with them, because they have qualities I look for in a partner, because at the end of it, your partner that you end up with, will be your best friend. And even thought they will never be my partner, they are both important to me and I value what they bring into my life.