How and who we show physical affection to is often dictated by society’s norms and rules, which are apparently guarded more than the Chamber of secrets itself! Conditioning is tricky business, it can take normal things and concepts, and make them seem absolutely abnormal and out of the ordinary. For instance, we’ve been conditioned to believe certain things about platonic relationships and how they’re supposed to be.
It’s high-time we break away from these rules because, believe it or not, saying “Girl-crush” and “No-homo” after showing even a hint of affection towards someone of the same-sex is pretty homo-phobic. Think about it, the phrase ‘girl crush’ is a reminder that the ‘normal’ way for a woman to have a crush is on a man. And a man’s need to clarify his heterosexuality after paying so much as a compliment to another man, doesn’t seem right now, does it?
Alright but what exactly is a platonic relationship anyway? In simple terms, a platonic relationship is one that is based on a strong bond and mutual growth without a sexual or romantic element attached to it. Sounds completely innocent right? Because it is, it’s just that society expects us to behave in a certain way that changes the narrative. Everything from your Bollywood movies constantly telling you that a girl and a guy can’t just be friends to neighbourhood aunties frowning upon the hug between Rohit and Raman that lasted longer than the “normal” amount. It’s the 21st Century, and yet sincere displays of platonic physical affection raise more eyebrows than non-consensual sexual advances.
Platonic physical affection needs to be normalised for more than one reason, so let me tell you a few if you still haven’t changed your mind.
- The more the merrier!
All our lives, we have been trained to find ‘the one’, our one true love. But I can surely say that friendships and sisterhoods have defined me as much as my ‘love life’. We all need a support system that extends beyond our romantic partners (if any) and showing physical affection without judgements is an important aspect of those bonds. And the more bonds you form, the more affection you share platonically, the more fulfilling your life is. So go share your love with some hugs and kisses for your friends without feeling awkward!
- Spread the love!
Everyone has different ways of expressing themselves, hence categorising physical affection as something you only share with a romantic partner can hinder the opportunity to express affection and love through lasting platonic touch. Physical affection is a form of expressing emotions, a tight hug from a friend is often all we need to feel better after a bad day. Reserving physical affection also contributes to the culture of hypersexualization where platonic relationships are often given less importance. Touch is a language in itself, an important one at that, and depriving people of it by creating a stigma around it is where we’ve surely gone wrong. Platonic physical affection allows us to communicate better with our near and dear ones, hence, it’s essential that it’s normalised.
- Hugs equal Happiness, literally!
Don’t believe me? Well, you must believe science because science totally backs my claim. Hugging or embracing closed ones increases the level of Oxytocin, a chemical associated with less stress and happiness, in our body. Who says hugs don’t help now! Not just happiness, but physical affection can be a stress-reliever in itself. Trust me, there have been so many times when I’ve hugged away my worries and everyone should be able to do that (sometimes) without being judged.
If these didn’t convince you, I don’t know what will! Honestly, to me the notion that the only socially-acceptable options for grown-up touch are hugging or kissing my parents or having a sexual partner, is pretty bizarre. Physical affection in platonic relationships is as important as emotional support.
I understand how this is even harder to navigate in the COVID world, but learning to be okay with showing platonic physical affection is crucial for an enriched life.
It doesn’t just improve our relationships with others but also our own selves in a variety of ways. So, take this as a cue to go cuddle with your homies right away!