Committed Relationships Aren’t Reserved Solely for Romance—Here’s What To Know About Platonic Committed Relationships

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Have you ever asked yourself what the word "commitment" means to you in terms how it applies to relationships? Because of mainstream society's accepted hierarchy of different types of relationships, there's a good chance your accepted definition of the word revolves romantic relationships—and perhaps in the context of monogamy or sexual exclusivity. According to Merriam-Webster, though, the definition is "adherence to something to which one is bound by a pledge or duty." Crucially, there's no mention of monogamy or sex—and considering the value of platonic committed relationships, this makes sense. As a psychotherapist and sex and relationship expert, I urge you to embrace the concept of platonic committed relationships by applying the term to every relationship in your life.

Since the word "commitment" focuses on your promise to tend to any relationship, you can consider your parents and siblings and friends to be committed relationships as well. Committing to anyone means maintaining that relationship and letting it grow, evolve, and hopefully flourish.

The concept of platonic committed relationships simply reflects an investment in a relationship beyond the current moment.

This can, of course, apply to a romantic and sexual relationship in which you commit to not having any sexual relationships with other people. And it can also apply to a platonic relationship in which you’ve committed to talking once a week and being there for each other when you need it. Whatever the scope of the relationship agreement you agree, those are the terms for a committed relationship of any sort.

That's why I contend that the word commitment should be involved in all of our relationships. The concept of platonic committed relationships simply reflects an investment in a relationship beyond the current moment. Below, find six reasons why using the word "commitment" can benefit all relationships in your life.

5 reasons to embrace the concept of platonic committed relationships

1. All involved parties are on the same page about being in a committed relationship

Have you ever been in a relationship (friendships included) where you’re unsure if you’re giving more of yourself than the other person? Or maybe the other person is seemingly more committed than you are or feel? By identifying what a committed platonic relationship means to you and having a conversation with the other person, you can know that you’re on the same page.

To bring this up artfully, in any relationship context, start by asking for consent for the conversation with something like this: “Hey, I want to chat with you about our relationship—is now a good time? If not, can you let me know when a good time might be?” From there, you can tailor your script to match the scope of the relationship.

Romantic or sexual: “I am really enjoying dating you. I want you to know I’m committed to this relationship and seeing where this can go. What does the word commitment mean to you?”

Platonic: “I care so much about you—you’re such a good friend, and I want to be a good friend to you, too! I want you to know I’m committed to our platonic relationship, and I’d love to talk about what platonic commitment means to you, too."

Familial: “I know we’re family, and there are some assumptions societally about what our relationships are 'suspposed to' look like. I want to set those aside and let you know I’m committed to this relationship, and I’d love to know what that means to you, too.”

2. It provides a forum to talk about expectations and remove any worry of assupmtions

Once you have a conversation about whether or not there’s a commitment there and what it means to each of you, you can open up dialogue around what that commitment looks like, which usually comes in the form of relationship agreements and expectations.

For example, in a monogamous relationship, there is usually an agreement to not have sexual relations with other people. Another agreement could be that you return the other person’s phone call within 24 hours unless in special cases that are communicated. An agreement in a non-monogamous romantic relationship could be that you agree to use barriers during sexual encounters with anyone who isn’t in your primary relationship.

Relationship agreements can be about sex, communication, intimacy, emotions, logistics, support, and texting—the possibilities are endless—and they’re meant to keep you close, respectful, and honest. They also apply to platonic committed relationships because, unsurprisingly, unspoken expectations rarely get met. So if you want the other person in any type of relationship to show up in a certain way, you have an ask. And when the relationship in question is one with an understanding of commitment, being able to ask is that much easier. You don’t need to go by society’s relationship escalators or assume you’re on the same page. You can have conversations and set up agreements that work for both of you.

3. It helps keep you present in your relationships

When we feel safe in relationships, we may unknowingly and subconsciously take them for granted. When we’ve known someone for a long time, we take for granted that they know us. They know our quirks, strengths, and areas of opportunity, among other things.

If you are in a platonic committed relationship with someone, though, you'll be more likely to stay present while actively updating relationship agreements and talking about what it looks like to commit in different seasons of life.

4. All relationships can benefit from forward-thinking

Whether it’s a platonic, familial, romantic, or sexual relationship in question, there are benefits to be had from forward-thinking. A commitment is an investment, and when you know that someone else is investing in your relationship, you'll want to invest more, too—and then you both benefit.

5. It can improve your relationship with yourself, too

Committing to self-betterment is a commitment to be a better friend and a better partner. When you commit to being your best self—whether through eating a nutrition-rich diet, exercising to promote physical health, setting boundaries to protect mental health, going to therapy, or otherwise—all of your relationships benefit.

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