I have a number of friends, both male and female who are looking for love and more importantly companionship. Some are divorced and hate their exes and some (I have to say increasingly), appreciate and care for the exes but just don’t want to be married to them.
When I stayed friends with my exes I was seen as an anomaly, that there was something really wrong with me, but who’s to say what a relationship should look like?
I used to sit at dinner tables and hear recently single slate their exes and everyone around the table lapped it up, but they couldn’t abide or understand me, who loved their ex. I stopped getting invited.
Luckily, I found a partner who accepted that I have a past and that the people in the past are still very much a part of the present. We have children we raised together and even on occasion work together. I think it’s healthier.
We’ve been taught all our lives that we need romantic love in our lives to be happy, but platonic love can be just as fulfilling. We push and prioritise finding and maintaining a long-term romantic partner. This is sometimes done at the expense of all else.
This concept is called amatonormativity.
I hadn’t heard the word either and I’m not really sure how it’s spelt. I don’t think that this drive for a romantic partner is always a good thing. It makes many of us unhappy.
Framing romance as being essential for a meaningful life can undermine the importance of platonic love.
We often make our platonic relationships and those relationships with family secondary and prioritise romantic connections, often damaging what we do have.
There is nothing wrong with wanting a romantic relationship, it just shouldn’t be associated with giving your life meaning. You can be happy without it. Platonic relationships can be just as meaningful and fulfilling.
Platonic relationships can benefit you in ways that romantic relationships may not be able to. With platonic relationships you can have fewer expectations and pressures. I do think that this depends on your personality.
I’ve been fired more than once for being a terrible friend for minor infringements, like not returning a call fast enough. I guess you still have to find your tribe.
Speaking of firing, in a platonic relationship breaking up is easier to do and comes with a lot less anxiety. My platonic relationships often last a season or a couple of years until we grow out of each other.
We stay friends but see less of each other. I find that these relationships come when you need them. They offer love and support in ways a romantic relationship can’t.
Platonic relationships often offer unique and memorable experiences for all your friends and family. I battle to remember a December holiday without my chum and her children.
Having a support system outside your romantic relationship s is important for your mental and physical health.
A study (one of the many) found that people with significant platonic relationships and social networks were more likely to live longer than those who didn’t. If a platonic relationship no longer works, we just drift apart, no anger or hurt necessary. Whereas a romantic relationship becomes a source of conflict.
Popular culture leads us to believe that long term monogamous relationships are a sign of maturity or completeness, so we stick it out regardless of the cost to our physical and mental wellbeing. It’s okay to leave.
One type of love and relationship is no better than the next. People who don’t experience a romantic desire or don’t want a committed relationship are just as valid as those who do.
Regardless of the type of love you’re looking for you don’t need another half to be a complete person.
As I age, I value my platonic friends so much more and regret not having cared enough for the ones I lost along the way. I see folk who have no significant friends and their lives can be lonely.
I see folk who have maintained friendships and continue to entertain, go to the movies, travel and sometimes just have tea. They seem a lot happier and more engaged than the former.
I reckon that’s what I’m looking for now.
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