Having strong, unwavering love for another person is an amazing thing, but not knowing how to categorize those feelings can lead to lots of problems. Determining whether the wonderful person in your life is a platonic soulmate or romantic dream can be extremely difficult. Intimacy, emotional commitment, and affection are all major components of both these forms of relationships. Keeping an open mind about the spectrum of love you can feel will allow you to see the close connection between the two and help you understand more closely what it is you’re experiencing.
1. Determine Your Baseline Feelings
What does ‘normal’ look like to you in terms of platonic, sexual, and romantic relationships? How does each of the three categories compare and contrast with one another? Since everyone is unique, each person will have their own baseline feelings within predefined relationships. For example, some people may find it natural to hold their friends’ hand, cuddle, and even change clothes in front of them while others may refrain from even hugging. What about sexual and romantic feelings? Some people find these two go hand-in-hand, but many do not require romantic feelings to have sexual urges. Think about your previous relationships of all types, carefully considering what you consider to be your normal thoughts and feelings towards each group. Then imagine how the person in question makes you feel. You may find you identify yourself as close friends with loose boundaries, sexually but not romantically attracted partners, or many other unique combinations. Since every single human relationship is unique, don’t worry if what you feel doesn’t seem to be traditional. Communication between parties is key, but it is totally acceptable to try out different things until you find the relationship that works right for both of you.
2. List Your Favourite Qualities About Them
Are they largely attributes of a close friend, romantic interest, or a bit of both? Listing physical appearance and other signs of attraction is one easy way to identify your feelings of desire for more than a friendship. If you find yourself enjoying the time you spend with them and feeling satisfied when you leave, it is likely they are a platonic soulmate as opposed to a romantic partner who you might enjoy being with so much you decide to live together.
3. In Terms Of Their Happiness
Everyone wants those they care about to be happy, safe, and comfortable, with everything they ever wanted. With a friend or platonic soulmate, it is likely you will want to be there to hear about the experiences, to have someone with a different life to connect with, and even sometimes join for adventures. With a romantic partner, however, it is much more likely these feelings will be tied to your on state more heavily. For example, you may want to be the one to make them happy or at least consistently be there with them.
4. How Much Say You Want In Each Others Lives
Though it is not always healthy, there is a common trope among monogamous couples who share a short of possession of one another. This means that how one another’s time is spent, and who with, is of concern to both parties. Increasingly strong bonds with others are often responded to with jealousy and are seen as outside the confines of the relationship. Alternatively, with a platonic soulmate you may not try to impose any restrictions to monopolize their time and are likely to be fewer troubles by the prospect of them having other significant members of their life.
5. Consider The Future
Planning events like taking a trip together or moving into a shared apartment are not necessarily indicative of either type of relationship. Instead, look to the way you think about these events and how you would approach talking about them. If it is imperative that you agree and come to a joint compromise, you do not feel you can decide without them, or you fear they will stop being a part of your life if you want different things, it is likely a romantic situation. While some couples are extremely independent, most will choose to live in the same space and spend a good deal of time together. Decisions such as living arrangements, havings kids, and potential job changes become of much more importance if you want to plan a life together. A couple will likely discuss their future and make joint decisions and plans to lead them towards the agreed-upon goal. While you can still choose to spend much of your time with a platonic soulmate, decisions will feel largely like your own, with their opinion acting as support, not an equal vote. Since you are not dedicating yourself to one another in the same way, decisions and future planning should feel more self-oriented. Your relationship will feel more sturdy, like they will always be there for you to come back to for support, regardless of where you each find yourself in life.
6. Level of Information Sharing
There is an extreme amount of intimacy that comes from having a platonic soulmate. Most people are likely to share more information with them than they would with a romantic partner. With a romantic partner, there is often an air of needing to keep up a reputation or impress them, which may cause some people to hide certain details or present them more delicately. It is a common issue in relationships to try and handle problems on your own or sugar coat your struggles to keep from looking incapable. This doesn’t tend to be the case as often with platonic soulmates. Being friends who know each other so closely and intimately often renders you incapable of hiding anything, as they can often fish the truth out of you. This can be the case of romantic couples as well, though you will likely still tailor your statement to the type of relationship you share. You are likely to be more considerate of a romantic partner, shielding them from your problems and trying to protect the happiness and potential of the relationship. With a platonic friend, it is often easier to be honest, as the relationship is more durable and independent. That being said, evaluating the level of betrayal felt stemming from a lie is also a good indicator of your relationship, as the things that upset you will help determine your priorities in the relationship.
7. Think About What You Enjoy Doing Together
Try taking a look at both what you like to do together and how you feel while engaging in those activities. Playing video games isn’t necessarily platonic if, say, loser has to pay for date night or winner gets what they want in the bedroom. Similarly, cuddling isn’t always romantic. In fact, plenty of friends enjoy more ‘intimate’ moments like this to show compassion. Whether you largely engage in couple activities or friendly hang outside, considering your emotions during the time is the most important thing to determine if the other person is your platonic soulmate or something more!
8. Look At Your Fights
When you argue with one another, take into account the issue, how long the fight lasted, and how much conflict it caused. Most of the time, romantic conflict is viewed as higher stakes. You may make compromises you would not make with a non-romantic partner in order to avoid conflict and maintain the peace of a happy relationship. While arguing you may worry about breaking up and struggle with feelings of jealousy or inadequacy. With a platonic soulmate, fights will likely occur less often and generally resolve themselves without too much fear of going your separate ways.
9. Imagine Performing Sexual Acts With Them
One of the most evident ways to determine whether you should romantically pursue a partner is often through imaging them sexually. If you have a hard time picturing yourself performing sexual acts on them or vice versa, it is unlikely you should develop a further relationship at this time. Of course, not all romantic relationships are sexual and plenty of best friends hook up now and again, so this is only meant to be a guideline, not a definite decider for everyone!
10. Take A Step Back And Consider The Options
If you’ve contemplated it over and over again without coming to a decision, maybe it’s time to bring the person in question in on the discussion! Tell them you’d like to discuss the situation objectively. Lay out exactly how you feel about them as clearly as possible. Include details such as what your favorite things about them, what you enjoy doing together, and how they make you feel when you’re around them. It is best to let the other person state their own emotions towards you before discussing how you would like the relationship to change or stay the same. It isn’t necessary to put a label on anything, especially not right away, so don’t worry about social conventions! Simply find a solution that works well for the two of you. With the stigma around friends with benefits, open relationships, and polyamory, the options are endless! Perhaps you’ve met your platonic soulmate and you’re looking for more, but you love them as a friend more than a romantic partner. That’s okay! Define yourself however you’d like, (or not at all!), and do whatever makes both of you comfortable and happy.