Families take many forms.
Grandparents rear grandchildren. Never-married siblings share the ancestral homeplace until death. High school sweethearts get married in a fever but gradually drift apart. BFFs move in together for emotional/financial support after spouses die. But such situations develop organically, one at a time. No one tries to make a “thang” of them.
Not so with the trendy lifestyle choice glamorized in a recent “USA Today” story. Whether you call it “platonic marriages” or “platonic life partnerships,” this family configuration is merrily chipping away at societal norms. (“Hi-ho, hi-ho, dating apps have got to go!”)
Basically, participants – either after years of disappointment or just because their quirky personality doesn’t kowtow to society’s expectations – decide upfront that romantic love and sexual relations are not the be all and end all of relationships. Instead, they seek an unshakeable lifelong bond with someone who can provide deep friendship, companionship, shared values, adventure, laughter and stability.
(True, some platonic couples agree to an “open” relationship, but that’s a topic for another day. Traditionalists daydream about “friends with benefits,” while apparently freethinkers risk trusting “friends with pink slips.”)
Couples in platonic relationships take out joint bank accounts, adopt children, buy homes and engage in other activities traditionally reserved for those who have gone through all the mandatory hormonally charged mating rituals.
More power to you if you can find true happiness without flirtation and physical intimacy, but I wonder how the bare-bones, no-nonsense approach will carry over into other aspects of life, such as purchasing a car together. (“Forget the SiriusXM – finding the right station is too much work. And windshield wipers are just the last vestiges of patriarchal tyranny. And don’t get too attached to the cup holder, because they’re notoriously fickle.”)
Bless their hearts, platonic couples can be conspicuously defensive about their lifestyle, insisting, “We’re not simply settling.” Respect them and try not to read between the lines. (“Valentine’s Day is vastly overrated. The Kama Sutra is vastly overrated. Baby bumps are vastly overrated. Sour grapes are…mmm, put more sour grapes on the shopping list, Awkwardly Inadequate Term of Affection.”)
I’m fine with platonic life partnerships unless they dominate the mainstream. That would be way too disruptive.
Schoolyard chants would need major reconfiguration: “Johnny and Suzie sittin’ in a tree/A-N-T-I-Q-U-I-N-G.”
The musical “Annie, Get Your Gun” would have to replace “Doin’ What Comes Naturally” with “Doin’ What Comes About Only Via Coercion by Hallmark Marketing Gurus.”
Cries of “Blasphemy!” would greet Rod Stewart’s line, “You’re my lover, you’re my best friend.”
Domestic disputes would skyrocket. (“Love handles? Not in my dictionary. Those are rolls of fat… Ouch!”)
Will shoppers really grab an issue of “Cosmopolitan” that promises “75 sizzling secrets for spicing up your spackling and grouting”?
I’ll have to sell my Tylenol stock before “Not tonight, I’ve got a headache” becomes as obscure as “let’s cut a rug at the malt shop.”
Frankly, I worry for the future of the species. If we reach a tipping point of people rejecting hearts and flowers and procreation, where will platonic couples’ future adoptees come from?
“The Hendersons next door finally made it to the top of the list and landed a 75-year-old to adopt. Maybe with a bribe, we can adopt his imaginary friend. But I can’t see to drive to the adoption agency today; it’s raining,”
Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate, welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org