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The Art of Maintaining Platonic Friendships as an Older Woman

By Joan Frances Moran March 10, 2016 Lifestyle

No matter how old we get, women have a need to bond, nurture, listen and empathize.

We understand other women on a gender level. You “get it” immediately when you connect with other women. Last night, I met 3 new ladies at a tango festival in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. We hit it off like we knew each other all our lives. It was magical.

Is it different for women when close male friendships develop? If so, how do you handle platonic relationships?

I have platonic male best friends. I want to hold on to these relationships with a vengeance because I derive so much pleasure from their friendships. And for the record, my male friends are not just gay friends. My male friends are also full on heterosexual.

When a male best friend is not a lover, a woman will sense that the relationship reflects a 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 when they are not lovers. There is more honesty and self-reflection.

But the question comes up time and again in platonic relationships about how to keep it, well, platonic.

Exploring the Art of Maintaining Platonic Friendships

I see it frequently in the Argentine dance community. There are a significant number of male/female platonic relationships that have developed over the years among dancers.

Most of the female and male dancers cherish these relationships. They are not lovers. They are friends who may share secrets and passions and unfulfilled desires.

I’ve also seen the line crossed from friendship to a particular possessiveness. I’ve witnessed a woman jealousy guard her male friendship when a man is asked to dance by another woman. It happens to men, too. Getting territorial will certainly not bode well for the lasting endurance of a platonic relationship.

Just recently, one of my friends told me that her best platonic friend expressed deeper feelings toward her. He was convinced they would end up married. My young friend had no previous warning that this was in his mind and she was mystified.

A few weeks ago, I queried my 30-something friend 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 friend talked about her platonic relationship with me, she decided they might be headed down a dangerous road.

Neither woman had expectations that their friendship would turn romantic. 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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Always remember to be mindful about how quickly and easily your emotions can go beyond the framework of your chaste friendship.

Take a time out and examine some of your unconscious behaviors. It is possible that neither may be aware of subtle shifts in the emotional context.

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.

Plato thought friendships were the highest level of 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.

Do you agree that platonic relationships are important for women of all ages? Do you have any good male friends? What do you think are the secrets to maintaining strong platonic friendships with men? Please join the conversation.

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The Author

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, Joan is the author of her wise and funny memoir, "60, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer" and "I'm the Boss of Me! Stay Sexy, Smart & Strong At Any Age". Her latest book, a thriller titled “An Accidental Cuban” is now available on Amazon. Check out Joan's website and follow on Twitter @joanfmoran.

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