Harry was Wrong. Men and Women Can, And Should, Love Each Other Platonically.
It is single-minded thinking, an insulting assumption- though especially to men, and a significant loss to both sexes, our cultural perception that anytime a man and woman have a significant connection, that it must be sexual and romantic. That nary a possibility exists otherwise.
This paints the idea that men are of a one-track mind, only capable of sexual interest toward women, that they are unable to control themselves regarding feelings of desire, nor able to feel anything substantial for a woman beyond romantic or sexual inclination.
Speaking from personal experience, I have a dear male friend whom I befriended in Germany, around six years ago. On our initially befriending one another, he had a girlfriend (now his wife) and I had a boyfriend. I made it clear to him on my initiating our potentially spending time together that there was no romantic or sexual incentive. That to me, he seemed like a nice person with whom I felt a click, and would he like to hang out?
He gave an enthusiastic “yes” in return.
Six plus years later, here we are. He is one of my closest friends. I was invited to speak at his and his wife’s wedding. The two of us have spent countless hours together, one on one, over brunch, exploring museums, walking through the city, over tea and cake, and talking about all sorts of things. We have attended one another’s birthday parties and other life celebrations. We have met many of each other's close friends and even a few family members. We find joy, meaning, alternate life viewpoints (both, for our differing genders, as well as, merely because we are different people) and emotional support in our friendship with one another.
I can say that I feel a sense of love for this man. And I sense that his feelings for me, in however way he might articulate them, are of similar depth of caring.
There is no romantic or sexual undertone in our relationship.
Both of us are very much infatuated with our respective loves.
Boy, would I have missed out on a lot, had the two of us not formed this significant friendship and connection.
I have no doubt that innumerable other people have similar relationship experiences with the opposite sex.
Not every meaningful relationship between a man and a woman must involve sex.
Gosh, are the ones missing out who do not understand or believe this to be true. Platonic connections between men and women are just as valuable, meaningful, worthwhile, and beautiful, as a romantic connection can be. In some ways, they can be even more so. Why as a culture do we not understand or speak about this?
Benefits of platonic opposite-sex friendship can include (though are not limited to) offering one a unique lens of more nuanced understanding toward the opposite sex, help to build greater trust for the opposite sex in general, teaching each other about boundaries, strengthen communication skills, and offering more varied, diverse, rich friendship possibilities.
It is largely the influence of evangelicalism for why we are so disbelieving and doubtful as to the capability for men and women to be able to build a quality, healthy friendship between the two of them without a sexual component. This though, like many of our faulty cultural beliefs, is inaccurate.
Men and women can love one another, and not be interested in dating or having sex with each other. Even more nuanced, a man and woman can feel flickers of desire and attraction for one another, they can find one another attractive, and yet still remain friends without the sexual component, without acting on these fleeting feelings. Their finding greater worth in the platonic connection and friendship.
Love between men and women need not be synonymous with romance or sexual intercourse.
Often times, platonic love results in even greater worth, joy, and meaning over the long term and big picture than a sexual encounter or romance may have.
When we make it out that worthwhile connection between a man and a woman can only be found in the sexual or romantic realm, this is misleading, it short changes the potential between men and women, and it makes for far less rich relationship possibilities during our lifetime.
Memorable, significant, and even beautiful love in our lives need not be relegated to either romance, family, or same-sex friendship. There are far more nuanced possibilities than we tend to give notice or acknowledgment to between people. One of these realms is with regard to platonic love and meaningful non-sexual connections between men and women.