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!