Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Platonic Love.
    Dear Madam--Will you please give me a full explanation
of platonic love?  I know this is a very deep subject, and
one which is discussed very often; but all of my friends
seem to have a different opinion of what they think it is.
For this reason I submit it to you.  What is platonic love?
                                                            WOMAN READER.
So Platonic love is a deep subject!  I beg leave
to differ with my questioner on this point.
   In truth, I hold Platonic love to be so shallow
that it can be seen through at a glance.
   It does not exist.
   There is no such thing.
   There is a friendship possible between a man and
woman.  It is a mental comradeship, or admiration,
which does not call for actual association.
   This man and woman are quite satisfied to hear
of each other's health, happiness and success.
Months, or even years, may intervene without their
meeting, and they feel no sense of loss or loneliness.
At times the thought may flash across either mind
that it would be pleasant to meet and exchange
greetings.  But there is no pain in separation.
   If either hears of the other's misfortune, loss or
failure in any project, there is genuine regret and
sympathetic sorrow.
   When they meet, there is mutual pleasure and
exchange of ideas and experiences, but no pain at
parting, and no necessity is felt by either for a fixed
date of meeting again.
   The moment that necessity is felt by either one,
friendship has crossed the danger line.
   A man or a woman may entertain a half dozen or
a score of such friendships, according to his or her
capabilities of human interest.  A woman may
enjoy meeting one man occasionally for his wit,
another for his wisdom, another for his knowledge
of the world, another for his agreeable social qual-
ities.  Not one is necessary to her life, yet all con-
tribute to its entertainment.  She would be glad of
the good fortune of any one, sorry for his mis-
   She would do any favor consistent with good taste
for any one of them.  She would be saddened by
the death of any one of them, yet the loss would
not shadow her life.
   This is my idea of wholesome, sincere friendship
between man and woman.
   It is in no sense Platonic love.
   The moment we use the word love, we speak of a
claim, a necessity.
   The element of love entering into our affection,
we find the object necessary to our happiness.
   When a man becomes in any way necessary to a
woman or a woman to a man, the tie is no longer
mere "friendship," nor can any trumped up make-
shift of "Platonism" disguise its real nature.
   When any human being becomes a part of your
plans for pleasure or happiness each day, or each
week, or each month, there is danger ahead for
you, if that being is of the opposite sex, and not
related to you by blood ties.
   Wreathe it over as you will with flowery talk of
Platonic love, nevertheless you are marching
straight to the chasm of dangerous experiment.
   You may as well carry a lighted match into a
dynamite factory and say you are safe.
   A man's cook, his laundress or stenographer may
be necessary to his comfort or to the successful
accomplishment of his business.  He may say, "I
could not get along without her."  But that is
another question.
   It is when the social and holiday side of the man's
nature feels the necessity of some one woman to
share his enjoyment that he needs to be on his
guard, if he wishes to avoid giving or receiving
pain or finding himself in some sort of trouble.
   However mental, spiritual or high-minded a man
and woman may be, there can be no continued
pleasure in repeated association which does not
contain an element of the senses.
   They may be unconscious of it, yet it is neverthe-
less there, a subtle, magnetic current, impossible to
define and as full of danger as the lightnings or the
"live wire."
   Selfish, self-indulgent men will tell you there is
not a word of truth in what I say, dear madam, but
they know every word of it is true.  And if you
allow any one of them to undertake to prove the
existence of "Platonic love" to you, you, too, will
find to your sorrow how correct my estimate is.

Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.

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