Platonic Marriage - Your Questions Answered | Dr. Kathy Nickerson


Janine and Krystle Guerico made waves recently by announcing their platonic marriage on TikTok. Unlike a more conventional marriage, Janine & Krystle got married "because we wanted to raise kids together, we wanted to live our lives by each other’s side. We act as a married couple does, but we don’t have the romantic or physical stuff.” Their video went viral and prompted over 10,000 comments! Their video also prompted several of you to reach out and ask me about platonic marriage.

Here are your top questions about platonic marriage answered...

What does platonic marriage mean?

A platonic marriage is simply defined as a marriage that is non-sexual. A popular media story recently featured two best friends who decided to enter into an intentionally sexless marriage - and they swear it's the best thing ever. I am not so sure.

Can a marriage be platonic?

Yes, a marriage can be platonic by choice - both partners enter into the marriage or decide at some point that they no longer want to have sex. More commonly, marriages become platonic over time, for a variety of reasons - changes in hormones, injury, illness, trauma, or emotional disconnection.

How common are these friendship marriages?

Friendship marriages, those that are platonic and not sexual, are very uncommon. The US National Health and Social Life Survey in 1992 found that 2% of the married respondents reported no sexual intimacy in the past year. All great relationships are based on true friendship, but a friendship marriage is complicated. At some point in most marriages, sex becomes less important. Usually this coincides with hormonal changes in one or both partners. However, a marriage or any romantic relationship is unique because it includes a physical intimacy component. If this component were to disappear, it changes the game for many people.

Why would two people who aren't romantically involved want to get married?

Marriage comes with a lot of benefits, including enhanced insurance and medical benefits, so many people want to marry for this reason. People also enjoy a slight bump in social status when they're married, so this is a reason people choose to marry. Life is also easier to afford when there are two of you living together and sharing expenses. Some people also want to raise children together, even if they have a mostly platonic relationship. And some prefer not to live alone and want the emotional benefits of being in a marriage.

Do platonic marriages work if both people understand from the beginning that this will be platonic?

It's very important for couples to talk about their expectations before getting married. The challenge is... we change over time! So what we may want and agree to when we're in our 20's is not what we want when we're in our 50's. Could a platonic marriage work? Yes, if both parties agree and continue to agree to the rules of engagement as time goes on. Is it likely to be successful? I would doubt it.

Can a marriage survive without intimacy?

It really depends on two things: (1) how happy is each person in the marriage with the way things are going, and (2) is there enough "good stuff" in the marriage that makes the intimacy not that important. Since intimacy includes other things besides sex -  like hugging, talking fondly, and taking care of the other - a couple that no longer has sex may still have intimacy. But if there's no intimacy and no closeness, I would not expect the marriage to last long. We really crave intimacy and closeness; it's hard for most people to do without it.

Would you recommend platonic marriages? Why or why not?

I probably would not. Of course it is not my or any therapist's role to tell someone how to live their lives, but if someone asked whether I thought they should do it... I'd caution against it. Unless both partners have no interest in sex, which is very rare, then I'd wonder how they'd handle it when one of them did want to have a physical encounter. If they have a plan for that and they've discussed it, then I'd tell them to give it a try... but honestly, I'd be nervous about it.

How long do sexless marriages last?

Some couples stay in sexless marriages for years, others find it intolerable after just a couple of weeks. Most couples resist talking about their sex lives openly with other couples because they're embarrassed. They also assume that everyone else is having sex all the time, so they assume they are odd. The only thing that really matters is how you and your partner feel about your sexual connection and if it's not working for one of you, you have to talk and find a way to make it better.



Your turn... what do YOU think? Are platonic marriages ever the right choice? How happy do you think most people would be in a sexless marriage? I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments.



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