How Your Platonic Relationships Can Prepare You For Love When You're Single

When Plato first talked about the different types of love that existed between humans, he probably wasn't referencing the same kind of platonic relationships we see in the world today. In fact, back when it was initially used, the term "platonic" (which originated from the ancient Greek philosopher's name) was wielded as something negative on unions that didn't involve sex because people thought love and sex couldn't be separated. Perhaps they also thought there was little difference between platonic vs. romantic relationships.

But, as psychology educator Kendra Cherry shared in Verywell Mind, "A platonic relationship is one in which two people share a close bond but do not have a sexual relationship. They may even feel love for each other, referred to as platonic love."

For single people and couples alike, platonic friendships often offer familiarity, compassion, and a safe space to be their authentic selves. If you're single and your life is rich with a diverse list of friendships, you probably already know how much that means to you emotionally, mentally, and even physically. Science journalist Lydia Denworth has discussed the important role close friendships play in lowering hypertension and promoting sleep. She told BBC, "Friends deserve more respect, and they shouldn't always be the last on our list in terms of priorities." Turns out, platonic relationships can do more than just keep you healthy and happy when you're single. They can also prepare you for romantic love when and if it enters your life again.   

Platonic relationships can teach you about boundaries

Relationship influencer Sahar Khorram shared on TikTok that there are some tips you can learn (when single) from friendships that can help you prepare for an intimate relationship setting. According to Khorram, waiting till you find your ideal partner to know if you're ready or healed doesn't always work. "The way that you perform in your other relationships, the characteristics that you exhibit in your platonic relationships, [and] in your work relationships, are naturally going to transfer over to your intimate relationships," she explained. 

Setting healthy boundaries is one lesson you can learn from nonsexual relationships, per Khorram. "If you can't establish boundaries, if you can't say no, if you're a people pleaser, if you're always giving in to what other people want in a platonic relationship where the stakes are extremely low, you're not going to be able to do it in an intimate relationship when your heart is intertwined and you got these chemicals going on, and [there's] just so much more on the line," she added. 

When in a relationship, do you find it difficult to give your partner space when they need it? Think about the time your friend didn't respond to a text or couldn't make it to a party. Sure, you were disappointed, but didn't you understand and let it go eventually? Did you respect their need for space? This could be a tip on how to operate within a romantic setting. 

You can learn the value of being yourself

It can be hard to heal from hurt, especially if an old breakup has left you riddled in self-doubt. Nonsexual relationships often remove the burden of being anyone other than yourselves, and this leads to greater levels of confidence. As Cherry noted in Verywell Mind, "These [platonic] relationships tend to feel easy and comfortable. Both people feel that they are safe and free to be themselves." If looked at as a teaching moment for when we're in love, the lesson is to find someone who makes you feel safe enough to be your authentic self. 

If you struggle in areas of vulnerability or showing up for your partner, turn to your inner circle of friends to practice those habits. You might even uncover why you're resistant to being vulnerable in a relationship to begin with. Do you struggle to plan dates or keep a track of important days when you're in love with someone? Use your platonic relationships to exercise those muscles as well. Cherry explained, "Don't rely on the other person to make all the plans or initiate all the contact. Reach out to them regularly to invite them to participate in activities."

At the end of the day, it's about knowing what areas you struggle in when in a romantic union and working on them when you're single. "The better you get in this [platonic] environment, the better you'll be in your intimate relationships ultimately," concluded Khorram.