How Platonic Intimacy & Connection Can Help You?
Apr 1, 2023
Imagine it’s a weekday night and you and a friend are sitting together on the couch watching TV. You know each other well and spend a lot of time together, and tonight your friend leans into you and rests their head on your shoulder as the show continues on. Is this something that’s comfortable for you? Are you used to initiating or partaking in acts of intimacy with someone other than a romantic partner? If not, you might be missing out on something you didn’t know you needed.
What is “platonic intimacy”?
Though the phrase might sound new to many of us, platonic intimacy has existed since humans have formed relationships with one another. We just might not have known what we were looking at or practicing. Let’s start with intimacy, since it’s common to equate it with being intimate, or having sex. Though that’s a euphemistic definition of the word, intimacy can also be characterized as a closeness or familiarity.
There are several forms of intimacy, including emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual, all of which are key components to a healthy relationship. However, this expands even further when we consider intimacy in terms of sexual, romantic, and platonic. Just because it’s emotional doesn’t mean it’s romantic. We create emotional bonds with friends, family, even coworkers, and we may have forms of particular intimacy in each relationship. The same is true of physical intimacy. While sex is a physical act, so is brushing the hair out of a friend’s face.
Intimacy is everywhere. We see it in sports when players touch each other’s bodies in what would be private areas if not for being in that setting. We practice it when we gossip with our friends, sharing personal details of our lives and our minds. Platonic intimacy is simply engaging in intimate acts, whether emotional, physical, or otherwise, with those one has a platonic relationship with.
Why is platonic intimacy important? Why should I practice it?
The importance of platonic intimacy is totally underrated. There are countless studies that attest to the fact that having strong relationships with peers benefits one’s physical and mental health, and engaging in intimate behaviors with others is a direct method of strengthening bonds between people.
To be intimate with someone on any level requires a foundation of trust, a shared bond based on the understanding of boundaries and expectations. When a person feels comfortable enough around a friend to tell them a secret or cuddle with them, the message being sent says, “I feel secure in our connection,” “I trust that you have no ill-intentions or ulterior motives,” and “we understand one another.” We benefit from forming these connections. They can make us feel even more secure in our sexual and romantic relationships by allowing us more comfort and confidence in different areas of our lives. They can even provide us with forms of fulfillment that may not exist in other bonds.
How do I practice platonic intimacy?
Perhaps you were raised in a home where affection was deemed less important than other facets of growing up, or you have been socialized out of intimacy due to peers prescribing you roles and expectations due to ideas surrounding gender and sexuality. Or maybe you just feel as though there’s something missing in your friendships, and you seek deeper, more meaningful connections. No matter the reason, it’s never too late to open yourself up to the possibilities that can exist within friendship. Here are some tips:
Start slowly! Rushing into any unfamiliar practice can lead to discomfort, which can be daunting and result in discarding the idea altogether.
Listen to your gut! Taking steps in accordance with your own comfort level assures that you stay true to your own desires.
Know what you want! Establishing intentions from the beginning creates a clear understanding of purpose that will allow you to check in with yourself along the way.
Set boundaries! Communicating with friends and partners about what type of intimacy you share ensures that no one feels confused, blindsided, or uncomfortable.
Have fun! Being open to unfamiliar feelings and experiences should be exciting, so remember to enjoy yourself.