The concept of 'Platonic love' comes from ancient Greek philosopher Plato and his work Symposium. Although the words 'platonic love' are never mentioned, his series of essays leaves the reader with an understanding of an intellectual and spiritual love that supersedes romantic attraction. In Symposium, Plato wrote of love that was so genuine, it was not centered in lust or rooted in exchange. Instead, it was love so pure that it brought out the best in both people, and made each closer to ‘the divine.'
I truly believe my soulmate in this life is my best friend, who I associate with the purest, most unconditional platonic love I have ever known. One day, years back, him and I were having dinner at a restaurant outside, and it started pouring rain. We had literally just gotten our food. I remember sitting there watching him laugh hysterically as he bit into a cheeseburger, and I thought to myself, ‘I love this person more than I could ever explain or put into words; I hope everyone gets to experience love like this at least once in their lifetime.’ (Just for the record, I would have been vehemently annoyed if I was eating with literally anyone else.)
As children, most of the examples we are given of love starts and ends with romantic heterosexual relationships. Furthermore, we are represented with this idea that we must spend our lives searching for some great romantic love to complete us, our ‘other half’ because we apparently are not whole on our own. These ideas have especially harmed men.
According to studies by the National Center for Health Statistics, the suicide rate for cis men was 3.5 times higher than that of women, and was highest among those aged 65 and older. Factors showed that men were often more isolated after their romantic relationships ended, had suppressed showing emotion due to cultural standards of masculinity, had undiagnosed depression, and were more likely to use alcohol or drugs to self-treat their depression.
Even more dehumanizing is the concept of ‘friendzoning.’ The idea that all a man and woman could possibly offer to each other is sexual intimacy. This reduces women especially to objects of sexual nature, as means to a man’s end. The amount of intelligent conversations and wholesome friendships between males and females lost to ego is unfortunate and actually rather dangerous. Toxic masculinity and sexism are literally killing us.
Toxic masculinity and sexism are literally killing us.
This becomes especially apparent in terms of sexual harassment and abuse. According to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five women have experienced sexual violence or rape in their lifetimes. Sexual assault is also vastly underreported due to the shame, victim-blaming and gaslighting of our patriarchal society.
However, we as a society are clearly hurt by these constructs— it doesn’t have to be this way. Men do not have to deny themselves access to their emotional beings; it’s proven to legitimately hurt women. Women do not have to be seen as sexual beings; they quite literally should not be perceived like this. We all can work to embrace and value platonic love.
So today, hug your friends. Tell them you love them. As often as possible.