Q&A: “The term platonic attraction confuses me. Is it somehow different from what people usually think of as friendship?”
The term platonic attraction confuses me. Is it somehow different from what people usually think of as friendship? Does it mean someone you would want to be in a queerplatonic with?
you’re far from the only one who’s confused by the term “platonic attraction”, anon. imho, such confusion and misunderstanding is partially to blame for why some people are quick to make light of terms like “panplatonic”, “aplatonic”, etc. such confusion and misunderstanding is also part of the reason why some people prefer to use other terms instead.
the word “platonic” is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as referring to “a close relationship in which there is no romance or sex.” that said, historically the word and its usage used to be far more nuanced than it often is in modern society. there are literally an infinite number of ways in which a close relationship without romance (with or without sex) could manifest itself, but modern society often treats all platonic relationships as “just” friendships. as far as society is concerned, any close relationship that doesn’t involve sex (or romance, but society often assumes these two things to be a package deal) is automatically a friendship “and nothing more”, painting all relationships that aren’t familial or business-related as either friendship “status” or lover “status” instead of acknowledging the colorful spectrum of relationships that exist between people.
it’s due to platonic love being constantly equated with “just” friendship by society at large that friendship is all most people think of when they see or hear the word “platonic”… so when someone who is unfamiliar with the term “platonic attraction” or its usage within the aromantic community random comes across it, they read it as meaning who one is attracted to in terms of friendship even though that’s not what many aro people have used and still use the term to mean. many use “platonic attraction” to describe something that is different from what they feel towards their friends.
you asked if platonic attraction is something you feel towards someone you would want to be in a queerplatonic (relationship) with. it does seems like many people think of it that way, yes, but i really don’t like to define types of attraction based on a desire for a relationship. a person may be attracted to someone in a platonic way, but that does not necessarily mean they have a desire to pursue a specific type of relationship (or any type of relationship at all) with that person.
i hate trying to define types of attraction, so i’m just going to point you to an attempt at describing platonic attraction that i wrote in the past.
platonic attraction: feeling drawn to someone in a way that makes you desire familiarity with them. sometimes involving emotional intimacy, while at the same time not necessarily sexual or anything else.
this is but my personal attempt at describing what “platonic attraction” means to me. i’m sure there are people who would disagree with the above and that’s fine, of course. since this ask is likely in response to recent posts of mine about platonic attraction vs alterous attraction, you may also be interested in seeing my attempt at describing alterous (among other) attraction(s) here.
tl;dr: “platonic attraction”, as it is often used within the aromantic community, is often misunderstood as referring to attraction that one feels towards someone you want to be friends with, but many use the term to refer to attraction that is different from how they feel towards their friends. some people prefer to use different terms to refer to this attraction to avoid misunderstanding, but others still use platonic attraction to mean attraction towards someone that does not involve feelings associated with romance; attraction that is different from what is commonly thought of as friendship.