Is Romantic Love More Important than Platonic Love?

Boqueria Market, Barcelona. Photo Credit: Chiogor Ikokwu

By Chiogor Constance Ikokwu

Dateline: Rambla Del Raval, Barcelona, Spain

Matters of the heart are complicated. There are no easy answers and some people get pretty riled up discussing it.

Why the topic? I’ve been living in Barcelona for a couple of months studying for my PhD. In the past when I heard comments to the effect that a PhD can be a lonely and difficult journey, I brushed it off. Now I can’t. I’m in that voyage and gosh, that observation is not far from the truth! Aha!

It’s nothing like a first degree or masters program where one could potentially sneak in and out of big groups given the sheer number of students in a class. As I’ve realized, it will take a bit more imagination and creativity to have a lively existence while in this academic boat.

My knee-jerk solution is the worldwide web. I proceed to the internet to find events in Barcelona. What would we do without google? Thirty five years ago, it was a totally different world. Today, it feels as if our lives will end without the internet. Ok, I’m exaggerating but it’s quite essential to modern living.

While scouting the web, I stumble on a site called Meetup, which has what I would describe as a million events on anything you can think of, I kid you not! If you’re new in Barcelona and bored, you will find Meetup useful. Events range from hiking to dance such as Salsa, Bachata, language exchange, yoga, comedy, fitness, books, etc.

On Meetup website, I discover the Socrates Café Philosophy Meetup. The opening line goes thus: “Do you have a hunger for deeper understanding of yourself and the world? Do you value deep, honest and respectful dialogue? If yes, then this Meetup will be very interesting for you.”

Membership was immediate for me. I didn’t need anyone to convince me that it will be worth my time. I waited anxiously for the first meeting but didn’t attend because the 15-seat slot filled up quickly. As soon as the next gathering was announced, I dashed to the sign up page.

On the d-day, I arrived Placa Catalunya Train Station before 7pm, giving me a bit of time to walk to the venue. It’s cold. I pull out my bright red wool hat from my backpack and pull it over my head, forehead and ears, with my bright red coat to match. I must have been the only colourful creature in that environment as most were adorned in black, ash or brown. I also adjust my scarf (a medley of orange, yellow and black flowers) in layers to cover my neck nicely

La Rambla, the beautiful walkaway outside the station is crammed with hundreds, if not thousands of people at all times. It is one of the busiest roads in Barcelona. It’s the epicenter of tourist attraction lined with shops, restaurants, buildings and a market. It would interest you to know that the market is similar to our regular markets in Africa, ehe! It’s better organized though and pretty clean. You won’t find the chicken butcher hassling you with offers to behead your bird at the back of the market, where you’ll have to press your nose hard enough to fight the odour. Remember Wuse Market in Abuja or Isale Eko in Lagos? I can feel my Nigerian brothers and sisters nodding in accord. Apology to animal advocates – please stay with me.

I crossed over to the walkway on the right. It’s still tough to navigate with people walking leisurely, chatting, eating and bumping into one another. Finally, my guide – the google map on my phone, which I’m holding up in front of me in the freezing cold, guides me off the main road into a quieter, well-lit street. Again, what would I do without google map? It’s the love of my life in Barcelona. Well, not exactly, but you know what I mean.

I arrive Socrates Café, the venue of the meeting in good time. It’s welcoming and idyllic. There are a few people seating outside sipping coffee, drinking, smoking, eating and having a conversation. The door is full-length glass with wood frame. It’s nice to step into a warm space. A waiter with a broad smile takes my order (tea) and directs me to the back of the room with a wave of her hand.

Now the conversation starts. We introduce ourselves. A couple of people suggest about six topics, we vote and settle for “Is Romantic Love More Important than Platonic Love”?

According to the rules, this is not a debate. It is merely meant to stimulate critical thinking and sharing of perspectives. What strikes me is the considerable difference in viewpoints between participants from Asia, Africa (myself only) and the West (Europe and America). It is revealing. In a world where it is consciously or unconsciously thought that Western influence is near total, vast differences remain.

The author of the topic kicks off by posing pertinent questions. Why are we sometimes mean or even cruel to our romantic partners? Why do we tend to value and place more emphasis on romantic partnerships?

The contributions are swift. The first person warns of generalisations, notes that the fantasy of romantic love is a Western phenomenon developed during the enlightenment period. She points out that not every culture is lost in that Hollywood fantasy. The conversation goes on for at least two hours with some flash points

A summary of some of the reflections is outlined here: humans have a natural and biological need to mate and produce offspring, hence romantic love. Women probably invest more in romantic love because of the need for security. Western films have created a false sense of what love is with partners seeking to get everything from their lover, thereby causing immense friction.

There’s a tendency to take one’s partner for granted due to familiarity. What we demand of romantic partners, we do not demand of our friends. That’s probably why we have less squabbles with friends in addition to the fact that we may have several friends who meet different needs and one partner required to be everything. It’s better not to have too many expectations in a romantic partnership. Unrealistic and unmet expectations damage our relationship

It’s impossible for one person to meet all our needs. We require a vast network of support to fulfill our needs. That network of support is easier in Eastern and African cultures where some societies are still communal inclined. You can be in a relationship and be extremely lonely. Loneliness and being alone can be a factor that provokes people to commit suicide

At the end, some of those from Western countries felt communalism could lead to “chaos and disaster”. In fact, one person said she could not bear being around people all the time, and this speaks to introverts. She said that she might just commit suicide in that circumstance

Everybody did not agree on everything. In fact as we were wrapping up, I felt the tension. You could cut the air with a knife. It was an enlightening discussion, nevertheless. A Nigerian friend, in conclusion, says to me that African view of romantic love is more about commitment rather than butterflies in one’s stomach

Hmmmm, this forum is probably not enough for an exhaustive discussion. But I think no type of love is more important than the other.

I pass the conversation over to you. Do you think romantic love is more important than platonic love? Please share your views, experiences and comment.

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    1. The Dichotomy between Romantic &Platonic Love is unacceptably Artificial, Superflous, Superficial & Unholy. Love has no Anatomy to be disected. All Love is Divine, Sweet, with a Tender Presence. Those who try to dichotomize Love are those who cannot Love.

    2. An interesting topic. Love is beautiful. Depending on how you see it and the motive behind your actions towards loving. Platonic love if genuinely applied by friends goes a long way to keep them stronger despite the fact that they may be married to other persons or in a relationship with other persons, but the parties involved must be very careful not to allow same interfere with their existing relationships. Platonic relationship also may lead to marriage despite the fact that one friend may be ignorant of the feeling of the other at the onset. Although romantic love is very important but it depends on the circumstances of each case. If married, romantic love is very vital . If not married and you indulge in romantic love, you must prepare your mind for whatever comes with it including some social and moral questions thereat arising. For example, you may be in a relationship (if the girl gets pregnant, is the man willing to accept his responsibility or were both just having fun to satisfy an immediate canal desire?). Every action has it’s resultant effect(s). Platonic love and Romantic love are both important but all depends on the circumstances of each case. Platonic love can lead to romantic love but both parties should be sure of what they want without hurting each other’s feeling… To me Platonic love is unconditional as it is usually love that is attached to nothing, while romantic love most of the times is developed based on physical features such as phsical looks of parties involved or even favour done by one party to the other. To that extent, platonic love has potentials of surviving any adverse situation that may arise in the course of the relationship because it is attached to nothing. This is very unlike the romantic love that easily dies or fades away once the physical feature, favour or gratification upon which it was developed erodes. Accordingly, I would say without any fear of contradiction that platonic love is better and more reliable than romantic love. My thoughts ma.

  1. Those who have been in or are in a soulmate relationship may have difficulty choosing one or the other as such a relationship has so many emotional, spiritual and intellectual facets to it, much like Joseph”s multicoloured dream coat. Hence the word “chemistry” as a convenient abbreviation.

  2. Very interesting article! Amazing how meetup gets you connected and meeting all sorts globally as I’ve had my fair share of meet ups you don’t want to hear about.

    Relationships can be a tricky subject but I do believe being in one with a friend is definitely one hurdle crossed 🤞

  3. Congratulation first of all for your PHD study.
    Now to the question. Romantic and platonic love are the same in the real sense if only we can look at them from the spiritual and God’s perspective. Love is tolerant and accommodating no matter what and if we can only practice these attributes in both types of love in question here,life will be enjoyed to the fullest.
    First of all see your wife or husband as that your blood sister or brother you grew up together and love so much, and nothing on earth will make you file a divorce against him or her. Instead of separating, you will go all out to correct any anomalies through tolerance and prayers rather than condescend to hatred.
    In fact, if we can only love our partners whether in romantic or platonic love the way we love ourselves, the world will be a better place.

  4. None is more important if only we understand the true meaning of love.Love is about sacrifice to make your partner better and happier whether in platonic or romantic relationship. Anything less is not love but temporary emotional display.

  5. Very inspiring article!!!
    What is love? Is it a kind of self-reflection predicated upon the social relations and materiality? With the emerging technologies and industrialization, we can not so easy as before to truly express ourselves, although more conveniently. Then, we are in a form of, to a certain degree, self-alienation. At this situation, love is a process to define yourselves and interactions.

  6. Wao….this is a fantastic and interesting write up to start with by Constance (my phd colleague ). Her talent, creativity and natural instinct and motivation for doing what she knows best (journalism)
    will make her blog successful. Keep it up Consty!

  7. Hmmm…
    I cannot say that one is better than the other, but i simply believe that in order to experience a deeper and longer lasting romantic love, it is vital to have swam in the waters of platonic love. Love changes with time as we grow older and romantic love to me is somehow efimer. Platonic love is the one that determines how long we remain in romantic love because you always find that spiritual connection with your loved one. And once the romance dies (cause it does at some point)….chocolates and flowers are just trinkets. They are just things. But do they really kindle romantic love?…does buying chocolate mean you love me? what i prefer: Don’t put flowers on my bed, but hug me. Don’t buy me that gucci bag but cook me my favourite meal or play with me , be my friend

  8. You need both. And yes, Hollywood has messed up bigly. No one person can fulfill what friends, a lover, family and God should be able to help you do. Unrealistic and unfair. Thanks. Interesting topic.

  9. Interesting read, interesting perspective on love. However, in Igbo (in Nigeria) cosmology there can’t be a platonic relationship between a male and a female.

    1. Igbo Cosmology? That’s an interesting one Geoffrey! Maybe you can contribute a piece to this blog on that to enlighten us. Thanks to everyone else that has left a comment. Awesome to see the conversation already. And yes to your comment Stanley, there’ll be more stories on a weekly basis for now. Thanks everyone!! Your time is appreciated.

  10. Igbo Cosmology? That’s an interesting one Geoffrey! Maybe you can contribute a piece to this blog on that to enlighten us. Thanks to everyone else that has left a comment. I can’t mention all names but it’s awesome to see the conversation already. And yes to your comment Stanley, there’ll be more stories on a weekly basis for now. Thanks again everyone!! Your time is appreciated.

  11. Dear Cons, you are off to a great start. Captivating style of writing. You’ve got a captive audience in me. Plse keep it up.

  12. Insightful article, one that stimulates a healthy discussion of the minds. First, for me, I think the first question should be defining love before adding the context of platonic or romantic. Love is a selfless sacrifice and total commitment to someone’s interests and in giving and sharing the best of you. How you manifest it is subject to the descriptions you indicate. Platonic or romantic, the important thing is that you’re showing genuine love and that it’s being interpreted and received in a way that promotes good healthy living and relationships. I would add though that culture and experience has a way of influencing how we engage in and manifest these behaviors.

  13. Nice write up. Well, both relationships are important as the meet different needs in one’s life. Again. both relationship will suffer crisis if any of the partners is taken for granted and both relationship will blossom if the parties involved are genuine and appreciates each other.

  14. Hmmmmm Love is a kind of madness when infected. It should have no subscripts. But pure in its innocence. The joy of love is when it has no safety net and the vulnerability that cages the mind and numbs the brain gives that butterfly in the stomach feeling that gives you a high when you taste of its opium.
    The moment you try to define or cage it, it looses its elixir.

  15. I think love is important. We place to much emphasis on a certain type of love when our main focus should be loving each other and showing kindness period.

  16. Erich Fromm on love.. no butterflies there but empathy and compassion

    We were together at CentroEuroArica yesterday and it struck me how different the contributions were. The African participants were showing how change was possible, leading by example. With big hearts. The Catalan participants talked about general constraints to development mentioning terrorism, clean water and food hygiene as constraints to be tackled. Who will tackle these constraints? Individuals… this is love.

  17. First I want to make a distinction between romantic love and passionate love. Romantic love I guess is as dictionary defined as deepened relational connection which is culminates in intimacy. It is a mysteriously super exiting relationship that defines strong, deep and close love. On the other platform is passionate love involves intense feelings and sexual attraction. Here I come with a challenge “intense feelings” may not necessarily involve deep love. It may simply be infatuation, temporary & surface. In Africa, this is where many children are actually born. Let me cut it short romantic love is many outside the home! Passionate love makes the babies in environments of patience & tolerance not love. It doesn’t make sense… That’s the way it is!
    Platonic love is purely association not even friendship because feelings are not existent. If anyone introduces feelings into such a relationship, then some form of commitment must be made. This in turn breeds possessiveness associated with romantic mystery 😉

  18. Well done, Constance !You have done it again.You are constant as the Eastern star(lol).Let your creativity continue to shine .It is a delight reading you .Keep found what you know best and Godspeed on your project.

  19. LOVE”The most controversial word ever. Romantic or platonic love, the bottom line is what your heart can give towards another person! It’s all about sacrifice and selfless giving! Fabulous write up, can’t wait for your next write up!

  20. Well done Constance!
    The type of love shared by consenting adults will depend on their emotional and psychological needs. While some people will have satisfaction in platonic relationship others will prefer romantic type.

  21. Love is multi-faceted and comes in many forms: parental, filial, romantic, and platonic. while platonic love is different from romantic love, its still boils down to love. Platonic is good relationship with a closed/trusted friend, while romantic love has to do with emotional feelings, stong attraction, commitments and interest.

    Each one had its own peculiality. It depends on an individual to choose. None is more important than the other. As a matter of fact, everyone needs both at the samen time.

  22. I don’t really know the the basis for the comparison as the two have different appeals. So, it depends on the kind of relationship that is involved. A conjugal relationship will emphasize romantic love while non conjugal will naturally emphasize platonic. It is contextual and therefore difficult to call. Very interesting topic though.Well done!

  23. This makes for an interesting read. Every love parameter is sacrificial, though it appeals quite differently to different persons. Platonic love might assume trust and confidence in friends, whereas, romantic love requires emotional attachments and deep feelings. Humans have these two in them.

  24. Constance, wonderful article! My husband and I have been discussing it over the past few days. The philosophical question comes down to: would you rather have 100 platonic friends and no romantic partner or a romantic partner and no platonic friends? Ultimately, I would choose to have one romantic partner due to the way I view its role in spiritual growth although I do believe platonic relationships are important in having a supportive community. Well done and thank you for stimulating our conversation!

  25. Great article, Connie and look forward to more as you discover other aspects of our lives in beautiful Barcelona!
    Re love – for me all and any forms are welcome….

  26. Hi,
    First off, really nice write up! And the topic is good.

    Well on this note I would say that love is just love .. It is like a wave which moves in romantic and platonic region. We must not expect their partner to do everything but it would be great if a partner is romantic and platonic. That’s what the “connection ” and “balance” is all about.

    So to conclude I would say that love is important and like a coin with two faces platonic and romantic.

    P. S – thanks for the info on socrates club.

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