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Origin of Platonic Friends

The Origin of Platonic Friendship

Platonic friends may be regular duos in pop culture, but they are a rarer breed in real life. Maybe it's because "platonic" as we know it was never meant to exist?

The history of platonic friendship begins with its namesake Plato. He marveled at his teacher Socrates's innocent love for his young, male students. Plato's initial idea of nonsexual love was more like admiration and respect, and later became known as amor Platonicus, or spiritual love in Latin.

Centuries of disambiguation led it through a series of meanings, none of which ever included sex. During the Renaissance, it joined forces with the old, courtly tradition of worshiping a virginal woman, so that the platonic male friend/lover venerated her soul not her body. By the 19th century, the "spiritual" aspect of platonic love simply meant "not physical," and was used to describe sexless, but passionate, relationships. It was about lust and star-crossed lovers that could never be. When people asked what was going on, they'd surely say "we're just friends." They, of course, never were.

And, really, keeping it platonic is the same today. Isn't there almost always something else there?

Join The Conversation
CiaoBella01 CiaoBella01 6 years
ha ha... funny how this is a story now. i did believe in platonic friendships until my best friend and i are now fighting like we're a couple over things that you do not fight about with friends.... story of my life. fml.
stellaRuby stellaRuby 6 years
I am with mondaymoos. I have friends that are guys and there is NOTHING but friendship there. I am very close to my brother and growing up I would often hang out w/ him and his friends. I would watch tv and play video games with them and I am still friends with a few of them today. It is very much a big brother/little sister relationship, but not more than friends.
zeze zeze 6 years
Doesn't work, nearly impossible - unless - you find the other person unattractive.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 6 years
UGHHHH. I hate this assumption! My best friend is male. We were roommates for quite some time. I convinced him to talk to the girl he is marrying next year. HOW is there "something more"? He's my brotha from anotha motha, and I find it insulting when people assume that we've had some sexual or romantic relationship just because we're hella close.
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