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Importance of Platonic Relationships

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So, one thing I've noticed with aros is that overall we tend to place more importance on platonic relationships. This isn't everyone; I've certainly talked to aroaces who are heavily independent and don't place a ton of importance on friendships/qprs, and my qpp is allo but places her friendships as incredibly important, equals to her romantic relationship. However, it is a distinct trend. People often comment on the importance I place on my friends: people I've known and talked to for years can still be "acquaintances" to me, and I desire very close and intimate friendships.

 

This is frequently demeaned by society due to amanormativity: People publish articles calling close friendships "emotional affairs" (yes, this is a real thing) because friendship is seen by society as something that should always be minor, unimportant, and inferior to romantic relationships. Long-distance relationships usually involve saving up to visit each other, whereas long-distance friendships rarely do. People who I make small talk with a few times a year think of me as their friend! Nonromantic partnerships are seen as incredibly bizarre, almost unthinkable. However, serious platonic relationships are something I strongly desire in life, something that I have found to be common among fellow aros and uncommon among allos.

 

Without friends to connect with on various levels, I feel desperately lonely. I strongly desire and even need intimate friendships and qp relationships. The majority of allos do not take friendship seriously or put major importance in it, let alone prioritize it; on the other hand, the prevalence of companionate relationships and the emphasis on friendship has been something I've noticed in this forum, as well as something I notice with other aros in general. This topic was actually inspired by my confession on this forum of having been in an incredibly damaging abusive friendship--something that was ignored and not talked about (unless I brought it up) for years of my life, because it was "just friendship" and therefore not important, and something that I rarely heard acknowledged as an experience... Until my first week on here, a forum for other aros! Not only that, but we talk about marrying friends, having strong "squishes", having serious nonromantic partnerships, etc.

 

I'm very curious to see the perspectives of other aros on the role of platonic relationships in their lives!

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Ah, amanormativity. I've read an article or two about "emotional affairs" before, and find the concept baffling. Why does society want to actively discourage creating a supportive network of friends? Why does society not understand that the name of the game of human existence is connection? There must be room for true, deep friendships in a romantic person's life. But I digress, as that was not the point of the post. But sometimes you just have to vent about these things.

 

The role platonic relationships play in my life is basicaaalllyyy... my entire social life! Every relationship I have is platonic, with varying levels of closeness. I only have a few friends, though. However, I have noticed, like you, that my idea of a "friend" and an allo's idea of a "friend" tend to differ wildly. In fact, I once said to a classmate of mine that we were not friends, because we had only spoken to each other alone all of one time. She was offended by this. Even still, I do not consider someone my friend until we are sufficiently close, so even if we have known each other for our entire lives, that wouldn't automatically make me consider someone my friend. I consider friendship to be the most important relationship type, even though I do desire some sort of primary partner. But as you can probably guess, that primary partner would be my closest friend. I would not consider that specific relationship to be platonic, however, because I would want there to be a sexual component. I'm not really sure what that is called? A sexual friendship?

 

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I treasure my friends a lot, and it pisses me off because a lot of people I meet don't take friendship seriously. I don't know if it's just a problem with me, but whenever I try to make friends with someone, the other person tends to use me as a venting machine, where they expect me to be mentally available to help them work through their problems every time, and then don't try to contact me unless they have a problem they want me to help them with. It really hurts when you want to get to know someone better, but they're not interested in doing the same.

 

I miss building friendships with people. I miss the shy and awkward beginnings where we attempt to talk to each other about nothing, because we want to talk to each other about something, but we don't know what "something" is. I miss that rush of joy you get, when you make a deep emotional connection with someone, and then they keep coming back for more, and more, until bit by bit we chip down the walls we always set up around other people, and we are ourselves, briefly, for however long that connection lasts. I miss being able to trust people to say what they mean, and follow through with what they say, because too many times I've seen people say they care, but then drop me from their lives like trash because I'm not giving them sex or romance or therapy or whatever. Whatever happened to linear friendship building? Why don't people do this anymore?

 

 

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However, I have noticed, like you, that my idea of a "friend" and an allo's idea of a "friend" tend to differ wildly. In fact, I once said to a classmate of mine that we were not friends, because we had only spoken to each other alone all of one time. She was offended by this. Even still, I do not consider someone my friend until we are sufficiently close, so even if we have known each other for our entire lives, that wouldn't automatically make me consider someone my friend.

I know that one... :-) 

 

Me, too, I value friendships a lot and often suffered (and suffer) when my friends are not as close to me as I wish it or when they tend to shunt me aside when they start a romantic relationship. And I really hate when people assume that close friends - especially when of different genders, stupid heteronormativity, or when sharing a bedroom, stupid sex normativity - will unfailingsly start a romantic relationship sooner or later. However, I am also a loner quite a lot and do not see my friends very often, never have. That's okay for me. 

 

That being said, I have sometimes the impression that qpr sometimes acts as the amatonormative substitute when talking about aromantic persons. Not that aros themselves do that, some do, some don't. And not that qprs can be really cool and important and stuff. But I am annoyed at this "Okay, so, aros don't have romantic relationships, but they have queerplatonic relationships, which is the same except for not romantic and not sexual." That's somewhat normative, as if every aro person had qpr or wanted to be in one. And it misses the variety of platonic relationships. For instance, I have a close connection with my parents. These are "platonic relationships" as well, but somehow no one talks about that. I think this is a pity, and it's very widespred in our amatonormative society. 

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I have one close friend who is very important to me, but besides her... I don't value my friendships that much, to be honest. I'm kind of a loner. Not because I don't think it's important to have friends, but because I'm just not very good at dealing with people. I've been 'dumped' by high school friends, uni friends... At some point those people just stopped talking to me and stopped inviting me to hang out. I guess I'm a bit wary now. 

 

I really love platonic relationships in fiction though. Somehow strong friendships feel way more special to me than romantic relationships.

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I don't know if it is connected to my orientation in any way, but I tend to place a lot of emotional weight on my friendships.  The way I feel about friendships almost bears the same amount of emotion that most people would put into a romantic relationship.  I've had people comment on how I'm a really good friend, and will go out of my way to help people who are "just friends", but to me there's nothing "just" about being a friend to someone.

 

I do know some allo people would put similar weigh on their friendships though, and other aro/ace people who don't care too much about forming friendships.  I think it might depend more on the individual, but I do wonder if orientation can influence it.

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I think aros putting a high importance on friendships makes sense, and it does seem like most aros here at least feel that way.  But I have to admit that I can't relate to that; I don't find friendships to be overly important in my life at all.  I just don't need emotional intimacy in the way most people seem to, I guess.  In different stages of my life, I've had lots of close friends, a few close friends, or none. I don't usually make much of an effort to make friends, honestly.  If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn't, it doesn't. While I can enjoy having close friends, I'm usually fine with just having acquaintances or casual friends to do things with.  

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I feel like I always raised friendship on a pedestal tbh

I remember a few years ago and I said that I don't really consider someone a friend until I've talked to them regularly for a few months and I still stand by that. Friends are more than just people I know.

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On 4/19/2016 at 7:17 PM, PerformativeSurprise said:

I think aros putting a high importance on friendships makes sense, and it does seem like most aros here at least feel that way.  But I have to admit that I can't relate to that; I don't find friendships to be overly important in my life at all.  I just don't need emotional intimacy in the way most people seem to, I guess.  In different stages of my life, I've had lots of close friends, a few close friends, or none. I don't usually make much of an effort to make friends, honestly.  If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn't, it doesn't. While I can enjoy having close friends, I'm usually fine with just having acquaintances or casual friends to do things with.  

Hey, that sounds almost exactly like my experience (aside from the time of having lots of close friends). Maybe we should refrain from hanging out some time :P

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I get the feeling that the OP is in reference to this article by The Thinking Aro, which I also recently came across. Because if it's important enough to be a major relationship in your life, it just *has* to be described in romantic terms even when it's clearly not, because amatonormativity. *rolls eyes*

 

 

On 4/18/2016 at 7:24 PM, omitef said:

I miss building friendships with people. I miss the shy and awkward beginnings where we attempt to talk to each other about nothing, because we want to talk to each other about something, but we don't know what "something" is. I miss that rush of joy you get, when you make a deep emotional connection with someone, and then they keep coming back for more, and more, until bit by bit we chip down the walls we always set up around other people, and we are ourselves, briefly, for however long that connection lasts. I miss being able to trust people to say what they mean, and follow through with what they say, because too many times I've seen people say they care, but then drop me from their lives like trash because I'm not giving them sex or romance or therapy or whatever. Whatever happened to linear friendship building? Why don't people do this anymore?

 

Wow. This is just so beautifully put, omitef. I couldn't have said it better myself.

 

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@Dodecahedron314 That article was a lifesaver for me. Back when I still thought I was romantic, I kept worrying that I'd eventually have to put my friendship with my squish in second-place to any romantic relationship I take up in the future.

 

And thanks, hehe.

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18 hours ago, Dodecahedron314 said:

I get the feeling that the OP is in reference to this article by The Thinking Aro

 

That article was really well written. I even read the article it referred to so I could understand it. It kind of helps to open my eyes on romantic people and their friendships. I don't believe the points made were universally true though. It's easy to get carried away and take one piece of anecdotal testimony and blow it out of proportion to support your argument.

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Actually, my entire family places a pretty big value on friendship and platonic bonds. I have some aunts/uncles/cousins who are actually not related to me by blood, but are lifelong friends of my parents. My sister has never made me once feel like a third wheel when I hang out with her and her romantic partner, and my family absolutely loves that I share such an incredible bond with my best friend.

 

My family finds human bonds really important, but doesn't discriminate much about what those bonds are. My parents know that marriage/kids is very unlikely for me, but they're comfortable with that because my future career as a professor will allow me to have meaningful interaction with my students as well as my colleagues. I know that most people don't see the world the same way my family does, but I'm glad that there are people out there who genuinely find friendship important.

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On 22.4.2016 at 11:59 PM, Dodecahedron314 said:

I get the feeling that the OP is in reference to this article by The Thinking Aro

 

That article was really well written. I even read the article it referred to so I could understand it. It kind of helps to open my eyes on romantic people and their friendships. I don't believe the points made were universally true though. It's easy to get carried away and take one piece of anecdotal testimony and blow it out of proportion to support your argument.

 

I read the "original" article by Brooks as well. While it made me angry a great deal with it's ignorant attitude and misplaced comparisons, I felt also sad. The insecurity that shines through her words, the lack of proper terms outside the romantic/sexual vocabulary - a "friendship affair"! - really showed me how empoverished our relationship culture really is. I mean, she found this woman with whom she makes a bond immediately, and feels guilty for it to the point that her romantic relationship - with her husband - is almost ruined. Then, this psychiatrist of hers is just so abusive, grrrr! And when we think about heteronormativity, or that example she gives of that friend of hers and her lesbian friend, one could imagine that this friendship would have had disastrous effects if her friend had be male and therefore a potential romantic/sexual partner

The sad thing is not at all what happened, but that Brooks, her husband and her psychiatrist, and maybe a lot of other persons, too, had no words, no concept at all to integrate that platonic, but very emotional and obviously very satisfying relationship into Brooks' emotional landscape. The only solution was the near-break-up of the relationship and the deprivation of all of its comforting aspects. That is a very sad story, and the fact that many people arguably can relate to this makes it even more sad.

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On 4/25/2016 at 0:25 PM, Lume said:

The sad thing is not at all what happened, but that Brooks, her husband and her psychiatrist, and maybe a lot of other persons, too, had no words, no concept at all to integrate that platonic, but very emotional and obviously very satisfying relationship into Brooks' emotional landscape. The only solution was the near-break-up of the relationship and the deprivation of all of its comforting aspects. That is a very sad story, and the fact that many people arguably can relate to this makes it even more sad.

 

Exactly.  Reading the original article, it was upsetting that everyone basically dismissed her relationship solely due to the fact that this sort of intimate platonic relationship wasn't supposed to exist.  She was supposed to be fulfilled entirely by her romantic relationship.  Well, at least if she wanted to be a real adult. 9_9  

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I'm not sure where this notion of a romantic partner being your everything even came from. Is it a recent invention or has it been around a while? How do we unprogram people from thinking this way?

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I'm not sure where this notion of a romantic partner being your everything even came from. Is it a recent invention or has it been around a while? 

 

I am not even sure whether this is a universally shared notion, or just one which is fuelled by certain social conceptions. For instance, I have never heard before that friendships are "immature" and that your partner should be your only friend. That is just so isolated and so... obsessive. And I said, I find that therapist that enforces this toxic idea is, in my opinion, totally abusive. 

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On 18 April 2016 at 2:20 AM, Jade said:

People publish articles calling close friendships "emotional affairs" (yes, this is a real thing) because friendship is seen by society as something that should always be minor, unimportant, and inferior to romantic relationships.

This reminds me of a conversation I had yesterday. I talked about it in the aro moments thread but basically there was a couple that didn't work out because he wasn't affectionate. I suggested she have an affectionate friendship in addition to the relationship and my sister said that most people consider that cheating. (!?!?)

 

---

 

I definitely think platonic relationships need to be approached differently because of the way monogamous culture forces people to get all of their emotional needs met from a single person. Friendships can be such a wonderful thing but no one else seems willing to dive in and actually rely on their friends in more than a very basic way.

 

I had to overcome a lot of internalised bias to let myself be emotionally dependant on my friends, and it turns out only one of them was willing to have a friendship like that (ily @brsajo). The other two I have known for over 6 years and they still only have very meaningless chit chat.

~

TW suicide mention and other things in vague detail

 

It took my mum attempting suicide recently (for the 3rd time in five years) to realise that I can't get all of my needs met from one (and such an emotionally unstable) person. That's how badly I'd convinced myself that friends don't like being emotionally depended on, no matter how much you need them.

 

Five years ago when my mum had a breakdown I didn't talk to anyone about it. I went to school everyday and pretended that everything was fine. I even got so called "friends" pull me aside and tell me to stop complaining so much. They didn't even ask me why I was so depressed. They knew it too because there were a lot of occasions where me and my mum fought in the car on the way to school and I'd come into class crying.

~

Those were very surface friendships and needless to say I dropped them all when school ended. I'd rather have 3 real friends than be surrounded by dozens of people who pretend to like you (and do a crappy job of it).

 

Sorry this got so long, I have a lot of feelings haha

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I'm not going to lie and say treasure my friendships. Not right now, at least, because most of the close friends I have now were friends of friends. Literally only two of them really get me and even then only one of the two knows how to handle me. It's... tough? I guess? But even then I'm protective over my platonic relationships-- no matter how superficial they seem to me. It's hard to describe, but okay here.

 

My family is full of largely independent women (mostly on my mom's side but both sides as a whole don't force amatonormativity). Romance? A nuisance. Platonic relationships? A bit meh, but they're okay. I think that pretty much sums it up. While platonic relationships aren't as important to me, that doesn't change the fact that I still find happiness in comfort in them. Platonic relationships don't involve quite as many compromises as romantic relationships do.

 

I've had experience with getting kicked to the curb for romance, so whenever some of my friends talk about their crushes or boyfriends, I literally start indirectly fighting said S.O.'s by convincing my friends that I'm better (or by roasting their S.O.'s). Yikes.

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This thread is reminding me a lot of this article on Wait But Why. I think most alloro people would call pretty much anyone on the mountain a friend, but aros tend to reserve that for people near the top.

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I've been accused of being 'too intense' as a friend, which is not a fun label :( I just like to have a fer very close best friends in my life, though in practice that doesn't really happen.

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2 hours ago, Saaaro said:

This thread is reminding me a lot of this article on Wait But Why. I think most alloro people would call pretty much anyone on the mountain a friend, but aros tend to reserve that for people near the top.

This! This explains it, and also I'm glad to finally meet another Wait But Why reader. (Of course, because I'm the paranoid kind of person I am, I have to wonder how many of those awkward friend types I fulfill for other people...but it's also encouraging to see this difference in the many different meanings that people throw under the extremely broad category of friendship. And we wonder why it's so hard to convince people that meaningful platonic relationships are a thing...)

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For me, I define a friend as someone of whom we have a mutual liking of each other and would be happy to talk to again (so about from the top part of tier 3 up). The tier 1 people I talk to regularly and can talk to about personal things are who I call my best friends. I classify an acquaintance as someone I know and they know me (may or may not have ever talked to each other personally) and usually my feelings about them talking to me would be anxious, surprised or neutral.

 

I like to have a lot of friends, however I hang onto those tier 1 friends very tightly and give them priority, whereas the lower tiers of friends can be easily dropped if I sense any signs of untameable toxicity. Being an introvert, I can only handle talking to a few people regularly at a time, so I must admit that quite a few of my former tier 2 friends dropped down a few levels due to lack of interaction. I don't mind too much because I believe most friends lost that way can be picked back up pretty easily should the need arise, as opposed to ending a friendship on a bad note, where you have to really work to get them back.

Unfortunately, one of my tier 1 friends has slipped into Quadrant 3 since about the beginning of this year, but I can't just drop them because we've done so much for each other and I've told her some pretty personal stuff that I've never told anyone else.

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Has anyone ever felt like other people are sometimes embarrassed to spend a lot of time with their close friends? Like, instead of going to parties or meeting in bigger groups where you don't know people that well. I've noticed that one of my best friends keeps commenting how lame she is for being so antisocial. And that's after spending a lot of time with me or even another good friend. Like being social with good friends doesn't count and it's not cool or something? I dunno, it makes me feel really weird :eyebrow:

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I'm lucky to have a few very close friends that value friendship in pretty much the same way that I do. The ones that don't feel that way drop a tier or two pretty much immediately. If people choose to value their romantic relationships more than me (purely on principle and not because we just aren't close), they don't deserve a place in my top tier.

 

This is depressing and maybe a little bit of a digression from the topic, but does it ever make anyone else feel like the older you get, the more your friends are all going to leave you for romantic partnerships and marriage and traditional domestic life and leave you behind?

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