Platonic attraction vs. actual friendship: February 2016 Carnival of Aces submission (part 1!)

I’ve been struggling to put together a coherent post for this month’s Carnival of Aces on platonic attraction, but thankfully I realized that the source of my struggle would make for an interesting post in itself.

I find it very hard to define platonic attraction in a way that is coherent with my experience of life, attraction generally, and friendships particularly. The best I can do is to say that it is something like a distinct feeling that me and another person would make good friends (i.e. that I desire a friendship with them).

The thing that messes with this definition for me is the difference between instances of me having that feeling about people, and who I actually wind up befriending. Many of people I feel this way about are people I just never become close to, and a fairly significant proportion of my friendships didn’t start out with any strong attraction driving them, (or at least not on my side, I guess.)

But the thing is, this actually makes sense and is fine, for some deeply interrelated reasons.

Friendships, or strong ones anyway in my experience, are based on a history of established trust and compassion and supportiveness, all things that come into play long after the initial attraction stage. The establishment of these things has little to no reason to be related to whether or not I initially felt platonically attracted to a person, and so there isn’t necessarily a high correlation between the two, beyond the fact that I will have been more likely to invest energy into the early stages of potential friendship with those to whom I already felt a platonic attraction.

And this makes even more sense when you consider how platonic attraction, in this sense, compares to literally every other kind of attraction I can think of. Being romantically attracted to someone doesn’t mean you will have a romantic relationship with them, and it definitely doesn’t mean it’s inherently a good idea to do so. This probably goes even moreso for the allo version of sexual attraction. And while aesthetic attraction is the one that I have experienced most clearly and consistently throughout my life, not all instances of aesthetic attraction are equal for me, and I don’t necessarily pursue more exposure to every (for instance) actor I find aesthetically pleasing.

Attraction is inherently weird and fuzzy, I think. Because it isn’t the be-all and end-all of how any actual relationship comes to be, it is easy to discredit or ignore or doubt that the feelings existed in the first place. But platonic attraction is definitely a real thing for me. And I’m going to be talking a bunch more about what it feels like, and what seems to cause it for me, in my next post, so stay tuned!

11 comments

  1. I love your new yellow theme! :P I have been thinking I need to change my blog’s theme for a little while now, mainly because I only recently saw just how awful my site looks on mobile. Okay I… just changed my WordPress blog’s theme. Ah. Let me know what you think lol. I think it’s better!

  2. Oh my god this post. Yes. I’ve been struggling to write something for this carnival too for largely the same reasons, and have kind of the exact same feelings about what friendship is. Thank you for writing this. I’m looking forward to writing my post(s) for this month’s carnival, for sure.

  3. This was really well put! I agree that platonic attraction doesn’t always result in a meaningful friendship, and that romantic attraction doesn’t equate to a healthy relationship but on the other hand in my experience not feeling romantic attraction made my relationships doomed to fail (had I known I was aro and wasn’t attracted to them at the time, I certainly wouldn’t have bothered but it’s good to know for sure that I’m not interested in those kinds of relationships).

    1. Oh whoa, that is a really interesting point that I hadn’t thought about (regarding the idea that friendships can form without platonic attraction, but romantic relationships may require the corresponding attraction to flourish). I suspect I will have more complicated thoughts about this coming up, though I’m not feeling terribly coherent at the moment :P

      1. I love that you knew exactly what I meant and articulated it perfectly (I’m a poor communicator so this rarely happens to me). I rarely feel coherent but this is just such an interesting topic that I could go on about for hours!

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