Last weekend, I felt like getting out of New York and enjoying the last few days of vacation before the January rush. My friend Kevin was also itching out of town, so we rented a ZipCar and headed up to Concord, Massachusetts.
We took turns driving and navigating, had discussions both trivial and weighty, drank wine with dinner and whiskey by the fire, and shared a room in a picturesque old Inn that was still decorated for Christmas.
I’m sure people thought we were a couple (we made jokes about it when a waitress at a diner brought us a milkshake with two straws), but we’re strictly platonic. Our relationship had all the ease of a couple who has been together for a long time and is perfectly comfortable with each other, minus any of the bickering, boredom, and, of course, sexual tension. It was great, and thoroughly relaxing.
In the New Yorker profile of Portlandia’s creators Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, the two discuss their unique working relationship.
“Armisen and Brownstein text each other every night before bed. Brownstein says of their friendship, ‘Sometimes I think it’s the most successful love affair either of us will ever have.’ Both claim that it wouldn’t work if they were romantically involved. ‘It would be colder, because we’ve both treated our romantic relationships in a cold way,’ Armisen says. ‘Carrie and I are more romantic than any other romantic relationship I’ve ever had—that sense of anticipation about seeing the other person, the secret bond. But things don’t become obligatory. I’m not thinking, I’m doing this because you’re my girlfriend; I’m thinking, I love Carrie.’”
In reblogging this same quote, the Today Show tumblr quipped: “Platonic is the new Romantic.”
“Ha!”, I thought.
Except for sex, and maybe frequency of seeing each other, I get from Kevin everything I could ever want from a boyfriend: someone to see movies with on Tuesday nights, someone with whom I can discuss things, someone who will take me on romantic mini-breaks — minus, of course, the romance.
It’s a pretty damn satisfying relationship, and I could see myself easily getting lulled into thinking this was just as good as the real thing. (It’s happened before.)
But this is where it’s very important not to confuse the trappings of familiarity and comfort with romance.
I’m thrilled to have a nice comfortable friend like Kevin, but not at the expense of having a heart-quickening, passionate relationship with someone else.
Don’t let platonic be your new romantic in 2012 — you have plenty of room for both.
Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, models of the perfect platonic friendship.