Darnell says the idea of a platonic relationship being “weird” or “strange” has to do with our discomfort at the fact that relationships are living things that can change and have various meanings for different people.
April Lexi Lee and Renee Wong have been best friends since they were 12. After supporting each other through the highs and lows of life, school and boyfriends, they took their relationship to the next level by becoming platonic life partners.
When Lee, 24, moved from Singapore to Los Angeles for college, the best friends became long-distance but remained emotionally strong. And as the pandemic hit and they both graduated, they felt this “gravitation” towards each other.
“We work so well together. We’re such great partners and support each other and love each other so much. We never see each other leaving each other,” Lee explains, recounting their train-of-thought. “So why is this not a stable foundation to start life and start a family and all those things? Why is that not as stable, even more stable, than a traditional, romantic marriage?”
“I wasn’t even interested in marriage to begin with, neither of us were,” Lee says. “But then with each other, we suddenly saw the future and we were like, ‘This fits. I would do this with you.’ ”
She describes the partnership as “a deep platonic love and also a commitment to each other, like marriage, where we are trying to build the next step for our lives together.” This includes things that “typically married couples would do” like starting a family and having a joint bank account to achieve their goals of buying a house and more.
Why People Choose Platonic Life Partnerships
For Jay Guercio, 24, a platonic life partnership “just made sense” after realizing how much her life goals aligned with her best friend Krystle, who she first met in 2012 and had filled her life with “companionship, love, laughter and adventure.”
“We want to raise kids the same way. We have the same ideas as what finances should look like. We are already symbiotic in how we work,” she said. “There’s no reason to keep on waiting to hopefully find a partner who is going to align with all those things that also happens to be romantic and/or sexual in nature when it just made sense to start building the life that we wanted to live together.”
Fast forward and now they raise their adopted son together after getting platonically married in November 2020.
Guercio describes a platonic partnership as “a committed relationship to someone that doesn’t involve romance or sex.”
Cyndi Darnell, a certified clinical sexologist, therapist and couple’s counselor, says platonic partnerships can “absolutely” be as successful as a traditional marriage, because “partnership is based on shared values.”
“If you want to create a partnership based on values that are meaningful to you as individuals… I actually think that that’s a better model than the notion of romance, which we know is fickle,” she adds. “To rely on something as unreliable as romance for a contract as heavy as co-parenting and marriage seems to be why these things seem to be diametrically opposed on some level.”
Historically, marriage also hasn’t been about love, she points out.
“When we think about the origins of marriage, it was never about love. And it was certainly never about romance. It was about asset management.”
Guercio agrees partnerships like her own are centered around “mutual benefit.”
“It’s about purposefully deciding to live the life that you want to live together because those things align. It’s not just getting into a committed relationship with someone because you have sexual feelings.”
Darnell doesn’t view this as a bad route.