The one common denominator among women is that they are born to bond, to nurture, to listen and to empathize. Women are touch-feely creatures with an acute sense of intuition. When a women's best male friend is not her lover, her level of interests reflects a friendship parity that is consistent with her female friends. Since sexual intimacy is not part of the platonic equation, men and woman have far less emotional complications. There is more honesty and possibly more self-reflection.
Just recently, one of my students told me that her best platonic friend expressed deeper feelings toward her. He was convinced they would end up married. My student had no previous warning that this was in his mind and she was mystified. A few weeks ago, I queried my 30-something facialist about her platonic relationship. She indicated that her platonic friend expressed the idea that maybe 10 years down the road they might get together. As my facialist talked about her platonic relationship with me, she decided they might be headed down a dangerous road.
Even though my friend and my facialist said there had been no expectations or romantic complications with each of their platonic friends, both women were unclear about how they were going to keep emotional distance with such disclosures. They realized that crossing the divide from friendship to lover would be a huge emotional leap.
What made these men think that there was a natural progression from platonic friendship to future romantic coupling? What happened to the mutual commitment to the values and benefits of a successful platonic relationship?
Here are 7 danger signs that indicate your platonic relationship might be compromised:
1. You flirt excessively. Excessive flirting and sexual familiarity can lead to unconsciously relinquishing sexual boundaries. It's crucial to be mindful of the kind of sexual energy you give out. It's more important to maintain respect for one another's personal dignity and space. Be mindful of making intimate remarks that may be construed in a sexual context.
2. You find yourself always wanting -- and needing -- more. Too much attachment coupled with too much neediness can alter the natural dynamic of a platonic relationship. If you find yourself calling too much, trying to get too much face time, you will surely cross the boundaries of restraint.
3. You fantasize about sex. Be careful about taking flights of sexual fantasy with your platonic friend. Daydreams may spill into your platonic relationship and cause emotional confusion. Too much daydreaming and fantasizing can become habitual and create unwarranted attachment. Be mindfully conscious of your boundaries.
4. Worse, you talk about sex. Just because you and your platonic partner are free to discuss any topic from politics, work, family, psychological or relationships problems with the opposite sex, you still need to be mindful about what you are saying. Filter your thoughts so that graphic sexual descriptions don't enter into the dialogue. It's not appropriate to talk to your platonic friend about sex with another man.
5. You talk too much to others about your "best buddy" relationship. Your platonic relationship is actually a very private matter. If you bring other people into your dyad, it might complicate or even compromise your relationship. Everyone has an opinion about the "best buddy" story, but the only opinion that's relevant comes from you and your "best buddy." Knowing about his/her friends is natural, but exposing too much of your relationship to others can be risky.
6. You confuse romantic love with friendship. Your platonic friend is not a romantic friend. Your feelings are not supposed to be of a passionate nature. The natural emotions you feel for your platonic friend -- unconditional support and chaste love -- are positive and inspirational aspects and bring their own rewards. Always remember to be mindful about how quickly and easily your emotions can go beyond the framework of your chaste friendship.
7. You've stopped being mindful about your relationship and often cross boundaries. Being mindful about how to nurture your platonic relationship with love and keep it emotionally balanced is crucial for lasting friendship. Understanding that your pheromones or the sexual scent of attraction may trigger unconscious social/sexual responses between genders can prevent crossing consensual boundaries. If you find yourself feeling or acting in a manner not befitting your platonic relationship, take a time out and exam some of your unconscious behavior. It is possible that neither may be aware of subtle shifts in the emotional context. Talking about noticable emotional shifts in language or context is a really positive way to sustain your friendship. Plato thought friendships were the highest level or relationship. But even a platonic relationship is not consistency a perfect relationship. There is always some danger and risk involved because, well, we're human. However, being mindful and respectful can go a long way in keeping your best supportive and loving friend by your side for a lifetime.
Joan Moran is a keynote speaker, commanding the stage with her delightful humor, raw energy, and wealth of life experiences. She is an expert on wellness and is passionate about addressing the problems of mental inertia. A yoga instructor, Moran is the author is "Sixty, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer." Visit her at www.joanfrancesmoran.com.