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Platonic ideal


October 30th, 2023

There’s a lot of different ways to connect, and even more ways to be close with people you meet. Feeld members discuss the limitless possibilities for romance in all forms.

Last year, our columnist Sophie Mackintosh wrote about the concept of platonic intimacy, calling attention to the way friendships and other forms of not-explicitly-romantic relationships occupy an odd place in our culture: “prized, but quickly devalued,” is how she described it. “We understand friendships are important and necessary, while also often holding the engrained belief that romantic intimacy is the one true, ‘real’ intimacy, and all else is a substitute.” 

Perhaps the issue is semantics. After all, there are many kinds of romance and it’s only an easy assumption to strictly associate them with romantic love. We heard anecdotes from members about meeting new friends and finding community through Feeld, and were often struck by how sweet—downright wholesome, sometimes—their encounters were. They also described sexy, silly, supportive relationships, drawing a portrait of all the different emotional registers that are possible in any encounter. As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to highlight those stories and show how much friendship matters, now and always. Loneliness is a crisis, and alienation comes for us fast. Staying open to all forms of intimacy can be a powerful way to take care of ourselves, and in taking care of others we can unlock all kinds of surprisingly complicated, even contradictory, ways of giving and receiving love. Also, as Briana or Jenny found, it could involve pinball and vegan macaroni. 

“I was immediately comfortable around Al. We fell into a cozy rhythm…cooking, movie nights, hammock cuddles. While there was a great physical attraction and chemistry, I feel like we were building a friendship from the start. We realized that we didn’t have that specific spark to pursue a romantic relationship, but that foundation was there. We had a quick conversation about it, and simply moved forward. 

Our time together now is much the same, but topics of romance involve advice and commiseration on our separate dating lives. We talk most days: catching up in person when we can, texting and sending memes in between. We’ve also enjoyed playing pinball together, which is a favorite pastime of Al’s that he re-introduced me to. There isn’t a topic off-limits between us, and I cherish the trust we share.” 

  • Briana, Los Angeles  

“I was going through autistic burnout and learning to live as a more authentic version of myself after my wife and I decided to open our marriage. As the pandemic was ending I was really looking to make new friends, and I often used Feeld for that because I find the users to be more genuine, open, and interested in self growth. Still, I struggled with that for a few months. It was hard to progress the friendships, and in particular it was hard for me to imagine how I would get all the interesting people I was meeting to form something of a community.

I wanted to read books about non-monogamy so I could keep learning about relationships, and the types of people I clicked with were reading the same books too. I thought: why not form a book club, and create a built-in excuse to get interesting people together once a month?  I created an account on Feeld just for the book club (alias: ENMbookclub) and started chatting with people who swiped on the account. 

We had our first meeting in June of 2022. The book club is about to have its twelfth meeting this month, and we're still finding new members to fold them into our quirky crew. The membership has changed and people have rotated in and out of the book club. But it's achieved exactly what I wanted: I've made so many great friendships out of it, and I have so many people that I met through Feeld that I can lean on, grow with, and expand through.”

  • Eric, Sacramento 

“I met someone on Feeld in 2021—we dated briefly but quickly realized we were friends. Through them, I was invited to a flat in central London, where we spent a couple hours making vegan macaroni and eating it together, getting to know one another and telling stories of how we'd come to be in the same room. Almost everyone had, at some stage, met through Feeld. 

I had no idea that these people would become some of my closest friends, lovers, and partners, but that's how I discovered a whole community of friends who are now like family. Since then, we see each other several times a month. We formed a book club discussing sexuality and polyamory; we go on holiday together as a group (approximately thirty of us!) every year; we've been to burlesque nights, sex parties, theater shows, and protests. There's always a birthday or housewarming to celebrate together, and many of us have lived together too. 

Our community is constantly growing as people keep meeting more wonderful, like-minded individuals and invite them along. They’re the community I had always hoped for, and I owe my connection with them to Feeld.”

  • Jenny, London 

“My anchor partner and I joined Feeld during lockdown, so we really got to know people before meeting in person. 

One day he matched with a couple and mentioned the guy was an ultra-marathon runner, so I was immediately interested. We met for a hike as soon as the first restrictions were lifted, and have since had several outdoors adventures. When I decided to sign up for my first trail marathon, I immediately thought about asking him to join me (he was a few pints into the evening and immediately agreed). It’s a cliché, but I really don’t think I could have done this race without him: from planning, packing, and doing gear check, to helping me pace myself on the day, to waiting with a pizza at the finish’s been one incredible adventure we got to share.

Many people assume that non-monogamy is all about sex, but I made so many amazing connections of all kinds with people I met on dating apps like Feeld! We often joke that ENM dating is just how you make friends in your 30s.”

  • Tiina, Essex 
  • Celibacy
  • Aftercare
  • BDSM