All of us throughout our lives, at least once, we have fallen in love with someone impossible. A person with whom we have minimal possibilities, but we can not help but feel an overwhelming lump of emotions when we are close.

“Platonist” is an adjective originating from the name of the philosopher and mathematician of Ancient Greece, Plato. It is given this name becausePlato considered in his writings that love is not maintained in something physical, but goes from a contemplation where a magnificent effort has been constituted to be able to know the spiritual plane.

To highlight: In 1936 the term became popular with Sir William Davenant’s publication entitledThe Platonic Lovers, where he shared his vision with that of Plato. From what is considered a normalization of what love is, the concept is transformed into what we know today as a love that is so impossible, that it is not going to materialize.

Here we present what platonic love really is, its characteristics and the phases that usually constitute this feeling. Without leaving aside the psychological vision of this type of love.

What is platonic love?

Platonic love for Jonathan Rúa in his Psychology and Social Sciences article entitled “What is platonic love? The passage from the chemistry of love to philosophical eros” is characterized by completely disagreeing with the correspondence of this name(1).

He infers that the nature of what Plato considers love has nothing to do with the meaning the term has for us.

Platonic love in our daily livesrefers to an unattainable love that due to external circumstances cannot materialize. It is idealistic, imaginary and where no real relationship is established.

Also, this type of love is usually perceived in a noble, disinterested and artistic way, taking care that the idealization we have of someone does not become an obsession and does not compromise our social interaction.

Characteristics of platonic love

To better recognize and understand what a platonic love really means, we will now present the most important characteristics of this feeling.

It refers to a love that transcends

By transcending, we refer to the ability to love a person from what points to the soul, since there is no physical contact that generates links, but rather a conception that sometimes even transcends borders of beauty and clings to the most ineffable.

Philosophically they use the same term to refer then to the willingness to make the impossible possibleby getting closer above our differences. He is capable of circumventing the boundaries of matter and overcoming banal conceptualizations.

It constitutes the purest form of love

Plato in his work The Banquet exposes how pure and devoid of passions is the love that he conceives. The passions are considered by him: blind, material, ephemeral and false (2)

Note: Platonic love does not materialize any kind of physical bond or passions, so the whole concept is linked to this nature. It is based on virtues and is based on that external recognition.

It is based on idealization and fantasy

This characteristic is born from the absence of recognizing or, however, the ability to ignore the errors that the person in question may make or the defects that he may have.

To highlight: We let ourselves be carried away by a perfectionist idea full of expectations that moves away from reality and keeps us floating within that bubble.

It is one of the elements that is consistent with Plato’s vision and leads to a conceptualization that elevates us in enchanting sensations that we sometimes refuse to abandon.

The object of love is the perfect being

It is precisely through the idealization, which we previously described, that we absolve the person almost of being an ordinary human being.

Thanks to the romanticism that characterizes people who tend to develop platonic love, the ability to create fantasies and build totally idealized personifications rises, even at their own convenience.

Does not involve sexual desire

The historian of Science from the University of Manchester, Jay Kennedy, defended in an article where he spoke about Plato’s codes, the position that the Greek philosopher never expressed with total certainty the absence of sexual desire and that it was exclusively a spiritual love ( 3)

We understand that philosophy always has many paths open to interpretation and there are hundreds of variations and disputes. In fact,we cannot ensure that a platonic love does not have sexual fantasies included in the individual’s repertoire of expectations.

can never be reached

Through the characterization of platonic love an impossible love is conceptualized. Even when you only want to say improbable, but it should be noted that platonic love also encompasses the spaces of loving fantasies with famous and unattainable people.

Drive to improve to try to have it

There may be a motivating and stimulating factor in platonic love for the pursuit of goals.

Note: Many times loves of this type are usually considered unattainable by economic, social, temporal, etc. factors and the opportunities for rapprochement will always be in adaptation and overcoming of oneself.

It manifests itself intellectually and spiritually

It remains on a spiritual plane. With the passage of time and the expansion of the concept of platonic love, the essence of its spiritual and soul conceptualization should not be forgotten.

It is precisely this manifestation that makes it look impossible and identifies with the way of seeing platonic and unattainable loves. Normally it is bet only on the physical and sexual.

It goes beyond the material and physical

It is understood then that from his spirituality and his non-existence of nexus or link, he is exonerated from physical contact and detaches himself from interests. It is an ephemeral love that is fostered even from detachment.

It usually appears in youth

In childhood and adolescence is when there is greater vulnerability due to the need for affection.

Dr. Vanessa Nahoul in her research entitled “Falling in love and platonic love in adolescence” , exposes with her analysis the intensity with which this type of love is witnessed in youth, helps emotional development and allows them to recognize its existence and not dismiss the present (4)

phases of platonic love

For the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) love is defined as an intense feeling of the human being, who needs and seeks the encounter with another being.

Platonic love is no less complex at all, and also conforms to certain phases or stages that are presented below.

body love

Initially , physical attraction is awakened, where it develops from the interest in external beauty and its characteristics. It is initially based on an image that we create of the person and many times it can stay there, just considering it attractive.

soul love

The word soul, is sometimes made from the imperative and romantic need to get a half. Subsequent to the physical compatibility that exists in the initial attraction,an understanding of their thoughts and aspirations develops.

Love of wisdom

It could be understood even for Plato, as the need to know more. It is from curiosity, from knowledge. It has already been distinguished that both external and internal beauty is identified, andnow it aspires to know the beauty that is essential.

Supreme Love

It is considered a supreme love for the circumstances in which it unfolds. It is loving a person even when you are not in constant contact with them, itis something quite pure and selfless. It is born of the kind, while it does not become obsessive.

To highlight: Plato explains his perspective in the following way: “The love of beauty itself, which is the supreme level of love and which is revealed to us suddenly, when we have correctly traveled the previous paths in all their stages.”

Platonic love in psychology

Platonic love can develop certain types of frustrations that delve into the psychological part, since it is also a love based on the idealization of a person and does not correspond to the reality that we must establish in our lives.

Then we mention what are the risk factors that comprise this type of love.

Originates from introversion and insecurity

In the Blog of Maria Rosa Sifuentes, journalist and Mental Health researcher, she explains that behind a platonic love there is always low self-esteem and fear of rejection.

We understand that there is a high level of exposure and sensitivity, but it is usually characteristic of introverted people since a secure relationship is maintained within the imagination.

Important: These types of relationships do not fail, they do not argue, they do not disappoint, and that is why the limit between the healthy and the obsessive must always be taken care of.

Causes the release of dopamine

In general , love is a trigger for happiness,That, biochemically, is produced by reactions in our body.Dopamine is released causing high energy levels and euphoria when we are in love.

To highlight: It happens that, with platonic love, the release of dopamine is preserved since disappointments and triggers that influence the psychological effect that the person’s thought has on us are minimized.

In an article published in Blue Healthcare , they expose how dopamine is precisely that chemical component that is released strictly related to pleasure and desire (5)

It can become an obsession

Here is the delicate margin. It is such a thin border that there is a risk of easily crossing it towards, as Plato would expose the haunting delusion.

Neurochemically, the disorder exists from the frustration of not consolidating it,not materializing it. It is healthy as long as it strengthens our tastes and allows us to move forward with the various circumstances of our lives, butwhen it causes insomnia, worry and limits us, we must study reasons and sometimes let it go.

It can cause frustration and sadness.

As we previously mentioned, authentic platonic love and the frustration that it can trigger depending on the intensity with which it is lived, has the possibility of installing us in a depression or anxiety that further distances us from our reality.

The indefinite prolongation of this fixation can cause a slowdown in emotional maturity ,even when at first it seems like a healthy escape from reality. Perpetuating it can bring us psychological consequences, impacting our physical and mental health.

Key takeaways

  • Platonic love refers to an unattainable love that due to external circumstances cannot materialize. It is idealistic, imaginary and where no real relationship is established. It is usually perceived as noble, disinterested and artistic.
  • It is characterized by being a love that transcends, considers the willingness to make the impossible possible; as well as their passions are considered blind, material, ephemeral and false. We let ourselves be carried away by a perfectionist idea full of expectations. It also covers the spaces of loving fantasies with famous and unattainable people.
  • In its phases is the love of physical attraction, then the love of the soul that refers to the knowledge of their thoughts and aspirations; followed by the love of wisdom, he aspires to know what distinguishes him, after that internal and external beauty already known. Finally the supreme love, which is pure and disinterested.
  • Platonic love can generate obsessions, frustrations and sadness if it is not channeled well. To avoid this we must bear in mind that when it produces insomnia, worry and limits us, we must study reasons and sometimes let it go.

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