For me, a platonic encounter would be one where we don't have (or even talk about having) sex with each other—and we don't feel all mushy about one another.
You know: "We were made for one another," "We're like one soul in two bodies," "I want to spend the rest of my life with you," "I think you're the most wonderful person I've ever met," "No two people could ever understand each other as well as we two do," "We just have this connection," etc. No. None of that romantic nonsense.
No sex, no romance—platonic. That's how I define it.
Must a platonic relationship therefore be effectively "promiscuous" ? The modern term for a partner is "Significant Other", suggesting that a platonic friend isn't significant compared to other friends.
I did find an interesting definition of "promiscuous":
...demonstrating or implying an undiscriminating or unselective approach; indiscriminate or casual.
I think our cultural conditioning says THE one sexual/romantic relationship is our salvation, our dream come true, and therefore is the only real or valuable relationship. In my experience, that's crap. I have some friendships that have endured much longer than any of the sexual/romantic ones. I'd like to turn that sucker on its head. It makes many folks miserable to keep flogging the dead horse of perfect bliss by way of soulmate and puts a ton of pressure on a single relationship to fulfill more than any human possibly can. How about self development and deep friendship, and if the soulmates come, great, but ha, don't bet your bliss on them.
Are we asking the right questions?
Cuddling is a relationship that is unique in that you are sharing a level of physical intimacy that is very near to what is commonly associated with people who are dating or married. It can also include emotional intimacy, and I believe that adds to the cuddling experience. The only thing it specifically excludes is sexual intimacy.
I think the problem we are facing is that the word platonic is perhaps the wrong word to describe what is going on in this form of relationship. To me, a platonic relationship is identical to a friendship - a commonly understood concept. I feel cuddling goes beyond that.
Cuddling fits in between dating/marriage and friendship. It mostly takes place between people who would potentially be attracted to each other as dating partners, rather than just friends. It takes beneficial elements from both platonic friendship and non-platonic relationships and puts them in a new category for which we have not yet coined a word, as far as I know.
I think the very existence of cuddling outside the bounds of dating and marriage - as a new form of human interaction - is a truly positive thing for our evolution as sentient beings. It represents a new frontier whereby we can free ourselves of the conventional constructs of dating and marriage that often fail us. I see it as a breakthrough that allows each of us to develop stronger bonds with others.
I think it can peacefully coexist with dating, marriage, friendship, or whatever else we can create. One of the greatest aspects is the inherent non-exclusivity of cuddle buddies - that’s like having more friends and nobody gets upset.
Our social norms can and do change over time. I’m thankful that this community exists and we can support each other in this new way of thinking.
@MrPaul That's exactly the kind of conversation we need on this forum. That kind of open minded thinking outside of the box of rigid social norms.
And you are so right. Societal norms have indeed changed around what constitutes a relationship, friendship even institutional ones such as marriage. The existence of sites such as this one is testimony to that change.
And I would love if you could build on this concept of cuddling as that activity or experience that offers emotional intimacy outside of the usual constructs of dating, marriage, sex and sexuality and friendship. It would be interesting to coin a term that accurately captures what cuddling truly means in practice and idea to the many who embrace it as an integral part of their lives.
"..outside the bounds of dating and marriage...as a new form of human interaction ... it takes beneficial elements from both platonic friendships and non platonic relationships puts them in a new category for which we have not yet coined a word..".
I will search my thoughts myself to find a term or phrase that captures more of what you express above. And as I'm doing so I'm also asking myself if we are indeed asking the right questions about cuddling as an experience and an activity. How do you classify it? What criteria do you use to categorize it as one thing or another.
Thank you for your insight. I hope it can be expanded on in the ongoing discussion.
Simple definition could be that nothing you do is for the purpose of sexual arousal....
@MrPaul: Saying that cuddling "fits in between dating/marriage and friendship" squicks me out, because it seems to imply that your cuddle buddy is a step closer to sex with you than a friend is—and for me that's nowhere near true. It bothers me to think somebody might feel like they're more than a friend to me because we've cuddled.
I don't have to be friends with someone—I don't even have to like them as a person—to cuddle up next to them. They're not a step up from friendship. They might even be a step down, because whether I cuddle you has nothing (I repeat, NOTHING) to do with how socially close to you I feel.
Cuddling someone doesn't even make them your friend; much less does it fit them in between friendship and dating/marriage. Can we get off this physical touch escalator already?
I cuddle friends. I cuddle family. I cuddle internet strangers. I've even been known to cuddle random hobos. These people are not in between dating/marriage partners and friends. They're cuddle buddies—some one-time-only, some long-term. Cuddling is not on that moving-towards-sex spectrum from "friends: no sex" to date/spouse: sex!" It's off that spectrum entirely, thank you very much.
It's plain and simple non-sexual touch. You can do it with anyone who knows how it's done, no matter what they are to you.
I think you know that, really. You just phrased it... non-ideally.
Edited to swap this link for a shorter, easier to read one.
Thank you for your response to my post.
“It's plain and simple non-sexual touch. You can do it with anyone who knows how it's done, no matter what they are to you.
I think you know that, really. You just phrased it... non-ideally.“
I agree, you are correct. I phrased my opinion based on my own life experiences and not the experiences or beliefs of anyone but myself. The OP did ask what platonic means to you, so that is my opinion.
I viewed your profile and now have more of an understanding of why you said what you did, and why you needed to say it.
We are very much opposites. That’s what makes the world interesting.
@MrPaul: You're right—I did need to say it. I think it's really cool that you checked my profile to see where I was coming from! You seem like an okay guy. And yeah: cuddling's not just platonic, kind of like a Lotus Esprit's not just a vehicle....
Thanks for the memory jog of Julia Roberts driving Richard Gere in his borrowed Lotus Esprit. "It corners like it's on rails."
@geoff1000: [cracking up]
Thanks! I just read the physical touch escalator article you linked to and I agree with that. I think it is truly a great thing that we are opening our social norms to accept the possibility of alternative ways of interacting with each other. Though we are a minority, we can make a difference by expressing our thoughts, sharing our experiences, and living our truth as an example of what we as a species are capable of.
Thanks for your thoughtful response. I think we may need to coin more than one word to represent what cuddling can mean to us.
A nod to @DarrenWalker for opening my eyes to alternative perspectives.
Cuddling is like drinking tea.
There is no one reason to do it ; and doing it in a different place with a different person, is a different experience.
@geoff1000 I couldn't agree more. I think this sort of discussion is important, as even here there's way too many perspectives for there to be 1 simple answer. Indeed, I think the biggest problem is that we LET social pressure decide what friendship does and doesn't look like, or lay meaning over our actions, despite the intent and understanding between the individuals involved.
Life is never black and white. Let's discuss the spectrum of experience, not flatten it into a single definition, heuristic, or standard.
@hugonehugall Opinions are subjective Thank you for this reminder. Thank you for the thread!
@pmvines Absolutely it is ALL ABOUT INTENT. Choosing to not go into the initial meetup with unspoken expectations.
@littermate the willingness in action to refrain from expressing sexual energy through words or actions -- in other words, intent plus commitment through action. @2dogmom Thus, every cuddle, according to site rules, should be entered into with platonic intent only, meaning affectionate and intimate but not sexual.
@MrPaul @DarrenWalker Thank you so freaking much! as a new form of human interaction ... it takes beneficial elements from both platonic friendships and non platonic relationships puts them in a new category for which we have not yet coined a word You guys are amazing and I love the fact that you can see things from entirely different perspectives or use different verbiage and still speak your truth to each other with kindness. Thank you for that!!!
@littermate I think our cultural conditioning says THE one sexual/romantic relationship is our salvation, our dream come true, and therefore is the only real or valuable relationship. In my experience, that's crap. I have some friendships that have endured much longer than any of the sexual/romantic ones. I'd like to turn that sucker on its head. It makes many folks miserable to keep flogging the dead horse of perfect bliss by way of soulmate and puts a ton of pressure on a single relationship to fulfill more than any human possibly can. How about self development and deep friendship, and if the soulmates come, great, but ha, don't bet your bliss on them Omgosh.... I have so much to say but I think I am going to start it in a new thread called Traditional Love is Unsustainable.
@geoff1000 Cuddling is like drinking tea. Anywhere.... ANYTIME!!! Different with everyone.
@Simmon I think the biggest problem is that we LET social pressure decide what friendship does and doesn't look like, or lay meaning over our actions, despite the intent and understanding between the individuals involved. Life is never black and white. Let's discuss the spectrum of experience, not flatten it into a single definition, heuristic, or standard
heu·ris·tic /hyo͞oˈristik/ adjective
enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves. A heuristic technique, or a heuristic for short, is any approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method that is not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect or rational, but which is nevertheless sufficient for reaching an immediate, short-term goal
THANK YOU SO MUCH for this... I had to look it up because I love words. I couldn't agree more that we as a society and specifically here in the US have so many traditional notions that are a bit crazy and for the first time in my life I am trying to do what it is that feels right in my heart and in my being. It is extremely difficult to go against traditions and norms but it is so freeing when you finally realize no matter your thoughts and ideas someone will be.
What I have found is that no matter what MY definition is of Platonic it matters that I communicate that clearly to the person that I am messaging. If our ideas don't mesh then it might not create a good connection in person. As every single person before has said for the sake of clarity with the site rules it is about the intent upon first connecting or meeting. Too many people (MEN AS WELL AS WOMEN) are here and hopeful for others to have a platonic/non-sexual/non-romantic initial meeting/cuddling that get frustrated and leave because there are some who don't even bother to read the rules and guidelines. I have found in my communications that it is pretty clear with consistent swiftness that you find out if people have the same ideas and intentions as you (which in my mind makes for a good match)
WOW!!! That was lengthy!! I've been reading the thread and haven't had time to reply.... So much good stuff!!!
When doctors are treating patients in the ER, they do their very best to save the patient.
If that fails, another set of doctors try to see if they can save some of the organs for the benefit of several other patients. I think the key to this dilemma is having genuine and forceful intent for one outcome, and having no consideration of the other.
When I saw this thread, my first response was "here we go again"- but I've been surprised by everyone's responses in their emotional intelligence and compassion.
@DarrenWalker , thanks for demolishing the premise that that cuddling is a stepping stone to a relationship or sex. Cuddling is the intent and the outcome, not little white picket fences, not finding "the one" imperfect boyfriend or girlfriend, and not going for post-orgasmic bliss. Cuddling for cuddling's sake - that's it.
“What I have found is that no matter what MY definition is of platonic, it matters that I communicate it clearly to the person that I am messaging. If our ideas don't mesh then it might not create a good connection in person.”
👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻THIS. @sillysassy 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
“I don't have to be friends with someone—I don't even have to like them as a person—to cuddle up next to them.”
@DarrenWalker I feel you boo. And thank you for speaking your truth. I differ with you here (read my profile! lol) but that’s ok. We ain’t all gots to agree on the how just the why. 😊
Like has been mentioned, it's all about intent. But it's absent not just the intent for sex, but anything sexually intimate, sexually arousing, a romantic relationship, etc. The problem that I have seen is that many people have such an absence of true connection and acceptance in their life, unless they are in a relationship, that merely feeling connected to someone and accepted by them feels confusing and like there is a blossoming relationship. I feel truly connected with virtually everyone I cuddle with, but that doesn't mean I have romantic feelings towards the person or that I am available for a relationship :-/ Honestly, part of the benefit of this service is learning how to enjoy and appreciate these feelings separate from a romantic relationship. It's a human need and can help us so much emotionally, so why should anyone only experience it during the times they are in a romantic relationship? =(
What @ubergigglefritz said . You can have strong emotional bond and feel connected on different levels with someone . We are conditioned to associate this with sex or a significant other , which is a shame because when you think about it you are really stunting yourself emotionally by doing so
FOURTH! Quadrupled!! AGREED!! I align with that! What she @ubergigglefritz said!!!! 😁
@pmvines as always... succint.... It is a shame because when you think about it you are really stunting yourself emotionally by doing so
@ubergigglefritz "part of the benefit of this service is learning how to enjoy and appreciate these feelings separate from a romantic relationship".
I call it platonic intimacy / affection -- it's been a lovely discovery.
Human beings are naturally addicted to sex, it gives us the same hit of pleasure hormones that we get from some recreational drugs.
If I was with a friend fighting alcohol addiction, I wouldn't hand them an open can of beer, or a closed can of beer ; or lead them into a pub, or give them a money-off voucher from my local off-licence, or say how much I enjoyed home-brewing, or even mention alcohol at all.
I think platonic means avoiding anything which might reasonably lead to sex. It is like banning the export of ingredients for chemical weapons, or uranium enrichment beyond what is needed for nuclear power ; we need to recognise what might cause ourselves, or the other person, to go beyond the point of no return. That may often mean taking not even one step, along that "journey of a thousand miles".
I guess when I think of something platonic, it means there is no romantic or sexual desire/attraction there, and no romantic or sexual behaviour. Cuddling can be more complex as sometimes people feel romantic or sexual attraction, but simply choose not to act on it. Is that completely platonic? Well, it depends how you define platonic I guess. I would consider it to be a grey area myself.
I agree with most of the he posts here. As a asexual person (meaning someone who does not experience sexual attraction to others) and aromatic (someone who doesn't experience romantic attraction to others), the lines for me are pretty clear because I don't experience those attractions, so anything that a potential partner does or says that tries to engender those feelings (either sexual arousal or romantic interest) is pretty immediately rebuffed.
Platonic for me means not only that words and actions remain in the sphere of friendship but that the intent is friendly.
@geoff1000 I would disagree. Sexual attraction and needs are fluid from one person to the next. We aren't born addicted to sex. I would say we are naturally addicted to touch and connection. A baby is born needing these things and will grow quite upset and even have psychological damage if denied these things. I know if I'm in a state of connection deprivation, if I'm exposed to people, see other people connecting, etc, but don't feel the connection myself, I can feel very agitated. That's why, oftentimes, cities can feel lonelier than being in the middle of nowhere. If I'm in a room full of people having sex, I would feel agitated, but because I'm uncomfortable and want to leave, not because I'm jealous and want to partake 😉 ha. If someone can't be physically close to someone they are attracted to without being agitated and need sex, it could be because they have a high drive and are addicted to sex, but it could also be because they are so far removed from the ability to appreciate closeness in a platonic sense.
@ubergigglefritz I'm with you there.
And testosterone. Something few of us women can imagine having in the high doses that men have. Makes sex feel a little more vital to daily living I hear.