Q Dear Miss Abigail:
I have a fantastic friendship with a woman, which has been going on for a over five years now. Though I have dated other women, and she other men, we remain strictly platonic, much to the surprise of our friends and respective families. We love each other, but only as friends. Is that so wrong? Are we fooling ourselves?
Just Might Be Crazy
A Dear Just:
I don’t necessarily believe you are crazy, but there may be more complicated issues regarding your so-called platonic relationship. Author Elinor Glyn seems to agree with your friends and relatives…
1923: Platonic Friendship
The general notion of platonic friendship is an intimacy between a man and a woman which has no element of sex in it, but which is nearly as warm as love!
They are supposed to be together constantly, and enjoy each other’s conversation and mental tastes, but they are not supposed to give each other thrills! and each is free to love someone else.
The whole thing is a fallacy of course! except under certain conditions which I shall come to presently. If young people are sufficiently interested in one another to desire to spend all the time they can together, the element of love, or physical attraction is holding one of them, if not both ~ although it may be unconsciously.
If girls or young men have several pals whom they dance with, and spend the moments of their mutual amusements with ~ and never single out one specially, that is the nearest to platonic friendship that very probably they will ever attain! But if a pair spend their time continually together, you may be certain there are some thrills between them! . . . .
I must reiterate: The moment either a girl or a man shows sufficient interest in a particular one of the opposite sex to prefer his or her society to all others, then nature has begun to stir one of them, or both ~ and an incipient love emotion is the result ~ and an affair starts which the French call an “amitié amoureuse,” which translated means actually, “an in-love friendship,” and this is the gradual prelude to passion, and never lasts as it is.
Platonic friendship may be possible between a girl and an elderly, or old, man, because in that case the girl feels no sex emotion towards the man, and the man is no longer under the dominion of physical things, so their minds are free to find companionship ~ but even so, if the affair is very close, the man will probably continue it because, subconsciously, physical attraction has entered into it.
You can see cases of apparently perfect platonic affection and friendship which are the most glaring fallacies of all! ~ almost every woman has one in her life which may run all through it ~ but she knows in her heart that the man would wish for something more, only that she feels nothing for him, and so his hunting instinct, being constantly stimulated, he accepts from her any terms of intimacy she may accord to him.
Then there are some “good fellow” women who never seem to arouse the slightest physical desire or sex interest in any man, and yet are pals with them all, but men do not scheme to spend their time with these, unless they are very amusing companions. For next to the sex instinct, with all its ramifications in man, the desire to be amused is the strongest one!
If I saw Walter and Claire continually dancing at every party, and talking walks and rides together, in what was supposed to be purely a platonic way ~ and they told me they had merely a friendship, I should say “Fiddlesticks! You are both deceiving yourselves! I shall not believe you unless I can see you just as you are in a year’s time, as devoted ~ as fused in companionship ~ but without thrills!”
Of course it would either die down and each grow indifferent, or it would turn into love. . . .
But if you are determined to know the sweets of platonic friendship, then be sensible, and get the love business (which is the only foundation for the possibility of the thing) over as quickly as you can, and then settle down into the companionship of the mind, or a strong mutual interest in games.
[This last part is for the “Claire” in your life ~ Miss A.]
When you are dressing to dine along and dance with Walter, and you find you are tingling with pleasurable excitement as you dab the unnecessary powder on your fresh young face ~ don’t be a goose and tell yourself that the emotion you are feeling is only platonic! ~ own frankly that it is the natural manifestation of youth and love, and will require your best wits to guide
Source: Glyn, Elinor. The Philosophy of Love. Auburn, N.Y.: The Authors’ Press, 1923.
~ pp. 70-73, 76-77 ~