Platonic Polyamory: Exploring a Unique Relationship Style

mtmoore448

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Platonic polyamory, a form of non-monogamy that prioritizes deep emotional connections over physical or romantic intimacy, offers a different approach to relationships. While the concept may seem unfamiliar to some, it holds great appeal for individuals seeking emotional satisfaction and diverse connections. In this article, we will delve into the world of platonic polyamory, exploring its definition, characteristics, benefits, drawbacks, and tips for building successful polyplatonic relationships.

To grasp the essence of platonic polyamory, it is helpful to understand queerplatonic relationships, which are defined by their deeper emotional connections lacking romantic or sexual intimacy. It is important to note that anyone can engage in a queerplatonic relationship, regardless of sexual identity or romantic orientation. According to LGBTQIA+ Wiki, platonic polyamory involves having multiple relationships simultaneously, including queerplatonic connections.

Platonic polyamory resembles open or polyamorous relationships, but usually has a distinct lack of romance or sexual involvement. Partners in platonic polyamorous relationships can even live together, raise children jointly, and express devotion, similar to conventional polyamorous couples. However, they choose not to act on feelings of romantic love or sexual desire with one other.

Alterous attraction is the best way to describe the feeling of wanting to be in a polyplatonic relationship with someone. Alterous attraction is a yearning for emotional connection that falls outside of the platonic or romantic spectrum. This ambiguous attraction often makes people unable to distinguish whether they want to date someone or be best friends with them.

It is not uncommon to develop intense attachments that are not explicitly romantic or sexual. Sometimes, one may be drawn to a person's intellect or character and desire to maintain them in their life without engaging in a sexual relationship. In other cases, individuals consciously choose to refrain from acting on sexual desires that would breach established boundaries. Polyplatonic relationships demand self-control, honest communication, and serious discussions to maintain personal boundaries and ensure the relationship's significance.

Just like any relationship, platonic polyamory can trigger feelings of jealousy. When individuals have a strong fondness for someone and desire a loving relationship, it is natural for other partners to fear being replaced or favored less. Jealousy is a common experience in platonic polyamorous relationships, akin to conventional romantic couples or traditional friendships. The commitment and shared responsibility in these relationships require individuals to navigate these emotions with open communication, understanding, and compassion.

In essence, platonic polyamory centers around love rather than sex, offering a relationship style that balances personal lives, friendships, and emotional needs. While partners enjoy each other's company and value the connection, they do not need to have sex with one another or be “in love” with one another. This non-sexual version of polyamory allows for friend dates, one-on-one hangouts, and flirtation without romantic or sexual entanglement.

Despite these differences, a platonic polyamorous relationship may resemble a typical friendship or a traditional throuple from an outsider’s perspective. However, the distinction lies in the subjective, internal experience of those involved. These relationships prioritize a sense of shared responsibility, consistent stability, and a commitment to each partner on a day-to-day basis. Though technically labeled as "friend-zoned," the connections in platonic polyamory extend beyond friendship, fostering deep devotion and support without the need for sexual intimacy.

Platonic polyamorous relationships come in different forms, with three common types: primary/secondary relationships, hierarchical relationships, and non-hierarchical relationships. In primary/secondary relationships, one partner holds primary importance, wielding more authority than the secondary partner(s). Hierarchical relationships assign a rank or status to each partner, creating a ladder-like structure where higher-ranking individuals possess more power. Non-hierarchical relationships prioritize egalitarianism, ensuring that all partners have an equal say and no one holds more control than the others.

The benefits of platonic polyamory are manifold. It provides a platform to explore one's needs without committing to long-term relationships and allows for building close, intimate connections with multiple individuals without feeling as overwhelmed. However, maintaining multiple relationships simultaneously requires significant effort and communication to ensure the happiness and support of all involved parties.

On the downside, explaining platonic polyamory to those unfamiliar with the concept can be challenging. Many people perceive polyamory as synonymous with sexual relationships, making it difficult to convey the unique nature of polyplatonic connections. Some individuals within the polyamorous community may consider polyplatonic relationships ordinary friendship, while those adhering to monogamy may view such close relationships as inappropriate. Navigating societal judgment becomes an additional hurdle for those pursuing platonic polyamorous relationships.

Although challenging, platonic polyamory offers a relationship style that encompasses the benefits of polyamory without the complexities of romance or sex. Partners in platonic polyamory form a web of platonic friendships, resulting in reduced jealousy and competition. Additionally, individuals have the freedom to explore connections with others beyond an existing relationship. Successful platonic polyamorous relationships require extensive communication, trust, and the establishment of ground rules and boundaries to avoid misunderstandings. Embracing experimentation allows partners to navigate their personal boundaries and discover what works best for them.

While it may be difficult at times to maintain platonic boundaries, practicing physical self-control and engaging in open discussions about boundaries are essential. It is necessary to acknowledge that crossing boundaries is a choice and to address any struggles or intense feelings through conversations with partners. Connecting with individuals who genuinely understand and respect these boundaries ensures the relationship's integrity and importance.

If you have decided to embrace a platonic polyamorous relationship, the next step involves finding like-minded individuals interested in this type of arrangement. Joining polyamory groups, online forums, or friend/date matching sites or apps can provide opportunities to meet people who share similar ideals and build connections based on mutual understanding. Openness and upfront communication about desires and expectations are key to fostering successful relationships. Chemistry and a mutual attraction are important factors to consider when pursuing a platonic polyamorous connection.

In conclusion, platonic polyamory represents a distinctive relationship style that transcends traditional friendship but does not focus on romance and sexual involvement. It offers a valuable alternative for individuals seeking emotional satisfaction and diverse connections. By prioritizing love over sex, platonic polyamory fosters deep commitments, shared responsibility, and consistent stability. Building successful platonic polyamorous relationships requires effective communication, trust, and the willingness to deeply explore personal boundaries. Embracing this unique relationship style allows individuals to design their own meaningful connections beyond traditional monogamy or polyamory.
 
Hello mtmoore448,

Wow, what an interesting idea! It is known that regular polyamory does not require sex, just romance, but you have made me realize that it doesn't even require romance! or at least that it doesn't if it is this special kind of polyamory, namely, platonic polyamory.

It is so freeing to know that polyamory doesn't require romantic intimacy, it allows one to have multiple loving relationships without having to force oneself to abide by the romantic model. This is especially useful for someone feeling alterous attraction and a desire for a deep, intense relationship without wanting to act on feelings of romantic love or sexual desire for the other.

Thanks for sharing.
Kevin T.
 
I don't see where you differentiate between regular close friendships and this new idea of "platonic polyamory." I've been in lots of close relationships that resembled that of which you speak, but had no need for a new term to define that closeness, trust and day-to-day communication and support.

You also seem to be suggesting that people in these relationships have to make a conscious (perhaps difficult) decision to refrain from romance or sex with each other. So are you implying that these relationships are between people who would naturally desire each other, rather than between people who would not naturally desire each other?

I.e., people who might desire each other:
A straight man and a straight woman
A bi person and another bi person
A gay man and another gay man
A gay woman and another gay woman
A pansexual man/woman/non-binary person with another pansexual man/woman/non-binary person

In other words, is fighting off sexual desire an aspect of this idea, rather than a natural non-desire for someone, whether because they aren't the gender you desire, or they are, but something about them makes them just not sexually attractive?

Could I have a polyplatonic relationship with my mom or sister or cousin, even though I am attracted to women?

I've had what might be considered "romantic dates" with people to whom I am not attracted. A nice dinner, candles, incense, music, watch a movie we both like. We might even share a bed. But I didn't have to fight off desire (or as you say, practice physical self control) to avoid attacking them sexually.

Would you define romance, or romantic behavior?

By the way, what is a "traditional throuple"? lol
 
Platonic polyamory, a form of non-monogamy that prioritizes deep emotional connections over physical or romantic intimacy,

OK, I've read the post 3 times and I still have questions.

Platonic = no sexual intimacy. But where, really, is the line between physical and sexual intimacy?

While it may be difficult at times to maintain platonic boundaries, practicing physical self-control and engaging in open discussions about boundaries are essential.

The above statement implies that "non-platonic" activities are desired on the part of at least one participant, which would make it seem to me that the relationship is NOT "purely platonic" on each side... None of this is an issue for me personally, I think that arguing that a relationship is "platonic" is only ever an exercise for reassuring OTHER partners that no sex is involved - which is a moot point if other phisical or emotional intimacy IS. People IN a relationship don't need to define it as such - they KNOW if they are sexually attracted or not.

Which brings us to the second point...
Polyamory WITHOUT love (i.e. romantic intimacy?) means what exactly?
So either non-romantic love = friendship, in which case you don't need polyamory to be involved...
or romanatic love without sex = something else (from the description, queerplatonic would go here) - but OP says no?)
But NO romance and NO sex = platonic polyamory? Where does the love (i.e. amory) come into play?
(this may have to do with the whole "love vs in love" distinction that makes no sense to me...

For me...I would argue that "romantic love" is what I feel for my closest friends, some of my lovers and my husband and is different than the "love" I feel for family and other friends. This doesn't require sexual attraction or lust... adding that, in my book, would be "passionate love" - which fades, in my opinion...(I could be wrong, but if the lust is the only thing that remains after the NRE wears off, then it may just be sex...just saying...)
 
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Great to see this here, as it is exactly what has been going on in my life - where I am finding myself at. As it seems buffling to some, maybe an example will help: So my partner D and I are both demisexual and we have a deep connection on all levels between us. Both of us also have another partner, with whom we have had children in the past. He lives with his wife and their kids. My "best friend aka the father of my kiddo" lives next door to my house and we share many things in our day to day. My partner D and I do not share a home for the time being.

Our relationships with our long time friends and former lovers (polyplatonic partners) are deep as they have lasted over a decade and are still meaningful to us. There is love of many kinds, but the sexual and romantic entaglement in these relationships creates tension in those relationships, since there are certain issues around not being such a good fit in terms of romantic connection, communication styles etc. There are however some sort of romantic feelings, deep caring and maybe even attraction on occasion. We are close with our other partners, but keep boundaries that feel natural. Those relationships have gone through a transition, where the sexual aspects have felt unnecessary and even burdening the relationship rather than elevating it. Our partners are more than friends but not really lovers to us. Polyplatonic partner is a great wording for this. Thank you for coining that @mtmoore448.

This kind of polyamory has been my style of relating long before this current situation. I have always struggled with being able to differentiate between friendship and romantic love, as these seem to feel quite similar to me. In my younger years I used to have many relationship anarchy - style friendships/romantic partners with little commitments but a deep felt sense of belonging and tribe. As I have grown I have noticed that sex often creates entaglement. When having a sexual relationship with somenone, it seems that no matter how much it is talked through, sex often tends to bring up all the attachment issues and conflicts that arise from the mononorm and our needs as social animals. So, I don't take sex lightly anymore as I have seen how people get hurt and how difficult it can be to recognize boundaries and needs beforehand. I have found a way to understand this in the way that sex touches such primal parts of us. Parts, that if not entirely ( and usually are not) connected to our cortex, may be difficult to reason with.

I see it in this way that when interacting sexually, I am letting that person fully into me and coming fully into them. To do this requires clear commitment to the relationship and to helping each other integrate what arises as part of the process. This is the conclusion to which I have landed after over a decade observing and sensing into my relationships. Feeling safe and connected in my relationships is adamant for me. I will only engage in sex with people and in situations where I feel it is safe for myself and others involved, not only if I feel attraction. This is not a strech, but a deep desire and boundary of mine. However, I love being close, I love to cuddle and share intimacy with many people, even some ropes and bondage. :) I can share deeply but keep boundaries that are natural to me. Sex is not always a definitive "no", but unlikely, due to the fabric of my being and my understanding of the world and other beings. <3
 
Etherealbeing, thanks for sharing your view. So your and your current partner's "polyplatonic" relationships are with your exes/co-parents, with whom, for some reason, sexual relationships became uncomfortable or impossible? I wonder what your reason was for no longer wanting to have sex with the father of your kid? (I won't ask you to answer why your partner stopped having sex with his wife/co-parent. That's his business.)

Do you practice polyamory as well, in the sense of more than one partner whom you love and have sex with? Or are you only able to commit to a sexual r'ship with one person at a time? Does being demisexual mean mono-sexuality for you?
 
Hi Magdlyn! Appreciate your interest. 🌺

Yes, I have a polyplatonic relationship with my ex/co-parent/best friend. I do also have a polyplatonic relationship with my metamour, my partners' wife. And I have other friends with whom I share the kind of intimacy, commitment and connection, that would seem inappropriate for most monogamous folks.

The reason I no longer wan't sex with my best friend is due to some severe boundary issues that we have tried to figure out but haven't been able to find solution to. I still love him (as a friend, brother, longtimelove) and wan't to be as close as possible as long as it feels good for both of us. Sex with him no longer feels right. We were in a mono-poly relationship for 10+ years. After coming out of our 20's and having a kid this was becoming increasingly uncomfortable for him. So I keep the distance necessary not to hurt him and allow him the space to find another (monogamous) partner if he so desires. This is another reason to quit sex. I saw that even after speaking about all these things a thousand times we were not able to create in our relationship the space necessary for him to rebuild his life, and for me to be who I am without quilt or shame. So I decided to take a step back and refrain from that kind of intimacy. It feels like it's working. We are becoming "friends". Since in the monogamous mindset maybe sex is just the thing that differentiates friendship from romance. Allthough I don't agree, I must respect also other peoples' believes. This is what I have learned in this relationship. It is also a big reason for why I am so cautious about getting too close physically, before knowing the other persons' belief systems or my own feelings and the commitments expected.

I do practice polyamory. But currently my life is full. I have been wondering what it is really that I wan't. I do think it is still some form of polyamory, even if I only had one sexual partner. 🤔

So good to write this! I am becoming aware of just how full my life is with kids, my current partnerships (romantic or otherwise), studies etc. At one point I started doubting whether I am polyamorous still if I feel atm one romantic and sexual partner is more than enough. But polyamory for me is not a lifestyle choice, it's an identity. I've been this way since I was a teen and it won't change even if for some years I am closing in a little bit to preserve energy. Thank you for the inspiration!

PS. Also I wan't to say that even when my partnerships with my best friend or my metamour are not romantic or sexual, we share a lot. When sharing parenting the way we do, we are connecting every day. We do radars, we laugh and cry together, we hold each other close, even sleep together. Maybe someone would call that friendship. For me it's great to have another name for it. Since they feel like partners, even though someone might argue they are not, depending on the definition of the word.
 
OK, I've read the post 3 times and I still have questions.

Platonic = no sexual intimacy. But where, really, is the line between physical and sexual intimacy?



The above statement implies that "non-platonic" activities are desired on the part of at least one participant, which would make it seem to me that the relationship is NOT "purely platonic" on each side... None of this is an issue for me personally, I think that arguing that a relationship is "platonic" is only ever an exercise for reassuring OTHER partners that no sex is involved - which is a moot point if other phisical or emotional intimacy IS. People IN a relationship don't need to define it as such - they KNOW if they are sexually attracted or not.

Which brings us to the second point...
Polyamory WITHOUT love (i.e. romantic intimacy?) means what exactly?
So either non-romantic love = friendship, in which case you don't need polyamory to be involved...
or romanatic love without sex = something else (from the description, queerplatonic would go here) - but OP says no?)
But NO romance and NO sex = platonic polyamory? Where does the love (i.e. amory) come into play?
(this may have to do with the whole "love vs in love" distinction that makes no sense to me...

For me...I would argue that "romantic love" is what I feel for my closest friends, some of my lovers and my husband and is different than the "love" I feel for family and other friends. This doesn't require sexual attraction or lust... adding that, in my book, would be "passionate love" - which fades, in my opinion...(I could be wrong, but if the lust is the only thing that remains after the NRE wears off, then it may just be sex...just saying...)
Does the term “squish” apply here? Over the years I have had a couple really great never physical relationships with people I love deeply. There was no sexually charged physical contact. Ever. But there was genuine love and affection and deep bonds. I think this concept is entirely probable for most people if they can truly be honest and open.
Sex is not needed for a relationship to be significant.
 
There’s a great essay called “Fragments for my metamour” in Entwined: Essays on Polyamory and Creating Home that describes the development of this type of relationship, and how it differs from traditional conceptions of friendship or romance (and questions that binary).
 
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