Romance Is Dead, Long Live The Platonic Life Partnership
Our society is couple-friendly. Everything (or almost everything) is designed for two. The idea of “happily ever after” has long been conflated with a monogamous – and often heteronormative – romantic relationship, and so one’s decision to remain single is often frowned upon because it is out of the norm.
There are many reasons why some people choose to stay single and not commit to a sexual, romantic relationship. It's not a bad thing to not want to have someone in the most traditional way, and you don't need to give any explanations as to why you may not want a relationship. At the end of the day, who said that a couple must be formed by romantically and sexually linked partners? Theoretically no one.
It is precisely because of this newly found understanding of relationships that we are increasingly talking about platonic life partnership, that is s a type of relationship that’s as strong and enduring as a romantic coupling – just without the romance part. The hashtag #platoniclifepartner has been used more than 14 million times on TikTok alone, with people sharing their stories of deep friendships that contain many of the same traits as love stories. This new concept actually gained traction on TikTok when @psychottie detailed what her dream relationship would be, without mentioning the traditional romance as maybe many expected. April had in fact confided to her followers the desire to spend the future with her female best friend. She then introduced the idea of a platonic life partner, asking her audience if we really need to have a romantic (or sexual) relationship with someone in order to want to spend the rest of your life with them.
The popularity of their story elicited a string of coverage on this type of committed friendship, also among men. Now platonic life partnerships are gradually becoming more mainstream. Professor Elizabeth Brake, a feminist philosopher, welcoming the increased interest in platonic life partnerships, said to Dazed: “Not everyone thrives in sexual, romantic relationships. Some people are asexual or aromantic, some people have had bad experiences or political reasons for opting out, some people are polyamorous or want to date around. But being in a committed relationship – having someone to have your back – is good for our mental health and self-esteem. A platonic life partnership is a way to have that companionship and commitment without a romantic sexual relationship, or without building your life around one if you're poly.”
In the same Dazed article, data scientist Vincent Harinam points out how a number of conditions have created “pronounced imbalances” in the dating pool. “Put plainly, an increasing cohort of successful women are chasing a shrinking number of high-value, commitment-averse men,” he writes. The fact, for example, that more and more young people have never been in a relationship, have less sex and embrace the single positivity movement highlights how the dating world, especially for those who identify themselves as women, is going through a particular historical moment.
Monogamous marriage and the traditional (and heterosexual) idea of a couple are not necessarily the best solution for everyone, despite the fact that modern society wants us to believe otherwise.
These conceptions, in fact, are based on a very common and imperfect assumption: that romantic love is the best type of love that exists. But why should friendship be worth less than traditional love? A platonic life partnership could then be a valid alternative to loneliness and the stigma of "single" life. Romance is dead, long live platonic partnerships!
Written by Paige Trimbly
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