I'm writing a story, however I just can't seem to form a platonic relationship between my characters.

Whenever I am writing my characters (Eric and Abigail), it feels they should just kiss and make out on the spot. The thing is I do not want their relationship to go too fast but let a few events pass before I make them committed to each other.

I (and they) know that it's love, but don't want to commit because of the situation they are both stuck in. What are the qualities of a platonic relationship and how do I apply this to my characters in my writing?

6 Answers 6


A few things to consider:

  • If you're eager to write the "good stuff" where your characters are kissing, go ahead and write it out of sequence. Get it out of your system. Now you can go back and create the "building up to it" part.
  • Your characters can acknowledge that they are attracted to one another but that it's not the right time, for whatever your obstacle reasons are. That's not platonic, but it's not full-on snogging either.
  • Think about your own platonic (non-romantic) friendships. Practice writing those scenes. Describe the last time you hung out with one or more of your friends to whom you are not attracted. Write about how it feels and what you did. Use that as a template to write about Eric and Abigail not being attracted to one another.

It rather sounds like what you are writing is not a platonic relationship but a frustrated romantic relationship. There are, of course, millions of stories of frustrated romantic relationships. And the key to them always is, what is it that is causing the frustration.

The basic shape of story is desire meeting with frustration. This is followed by an attempt to overcome the obstacles that cause the frustration, followed by either success or failure.

If it feels like the characters should just fall into each other's arms, that suggests that it is not clear what is preventing them from doing so.

Readers expect stories to be shaped like stories. They look for the story shape in the work as they read. If there is a guy and a girl, story shape says they must fall in love, be kept apart by various forces, struggle against those forces, and either be joined or separated forever. If it feels like they should be joined now, that is probably because the story does not contain anything that would keep them apart. If so, the solution is to provide a sufficiently cogent obstacle so that the reader recognizes at once that they can't possibly kiss.


This is a bit late, but I disagree with Duncan McKenzie's answer. Great platonic relationships come out of wanting to stay friends and not start anything romantic. Obstacles aren't everything, either; unless it's supposed to be a love story (and even sometimes if it is), one good external or internal obstacle is the most you'll ever need.

On the note of how to write a platonic relationship, there are a ton of really good examples out there. My favourite of all that I've seen would have to be Roy Mustang and Maes Hughes in Fullmetal Alchemist. They definitely share deep love for each other, but it's not romantic at all. They care for each other like brothers and lovers and best friends and so much more that can't be categorized or neatly put in a box. They each understand what the other is thinking and feeling, and they watch out for one another. They bring out the best in each other, and they're the only ones who can really bring out the worst (the angriest they ever get is when someone hurts the other).

Now, maybe you're not looking for something quite that deep. That's fine. In that case, I'd follow Lauren Ipsum's advice: Look at your own friendships and build off of them. That way will almost invariably give you a fantastically realistic platonic relationship that your readers can usually relate to with ease.

This part applies to any level of friendly relationship, and it's mostly just my personal preference. When reading and writing stories with characters who have known each other for some time, I find that some of the best material comes from the banter between them. You know, the little inside jokes, the running gags, the spurious insults, and stuff like that. For example, I recently read a story where the two main characters had a running game where they would scream and rage at each other over the smallest things ("How DARE you borrow my pen, you soulless son of a bitch!") or dramatically declare their undying love for one another in "raunchy, hyperbolic detail", with the point of the game being that they had to remain completely serious no matter how far it escalated or how ridiculous it got. This little game turned two otherwise serious characters into children for a paragraph or two and added some much-needed comedy to an otherwise dark and horrific story. Point is, it's the little things like that that really give a relationship dimension and intimacy. Think of the things that you and your friends do that annoy others and/or that others wouldn't understand.

Additionally, having these little things develop over the course of a story is a great way to show the growth of a relationship between some characters.

Honestly, having them interact a lot in general in a realistic and intimate fashion (no, not necessarily in that sense, just in the sense of making sure that the reader can tell that they have a deep connection) can go a long way. Showing that they can usually tell what the other is thinking or feeling is a great way to show that they're "more than friends" in the literal sense of the phrase.

The beauty of a strong platonic relationship that becomes romantic is that you don't even have to lose the platonic aspect of it at all. Sure, things are different between them, but they're not any less friends because of it. In fact, it can even deepen their bond, just adding another layer to what makes their relationship so special. The banter continues, their friendship still shines, and the romantic aspect of their love never completely takes over (unless you're turning the book into a romance, of course). Think of Chandler and Monica from Friends, or Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Even after admitting their feelings for one another, they don't just suddenly turn all lovey-dovey. They keep cracking jokes and teasing one another, just as couples as well as close friends.

Hope this helped and wasn't just a wall of text.


It's great that you want your characters to kiss on the spot. If you write it well, the reader will want that too. If you want to turn it into a great story, you should now throw everything possible in their path to stop it from happening. There are countless ways to do this.

  • Her father, the boxer, doesn't want him coming near his daughter.

  • She's about to go off to do missionary work in India, and can't get entangled.

  • She's engaged to a soldier posted overseas.

  • His jealous ex-girlfriend connives to make her think he hates her.

The things that get in their way are what will make it a good romance. If they are platonic, it should be because they have to be, not because they want to be.

  • 1
    I'd like to add "obstacles within reason." If you just keep throwing crap in their way, it becomes harder to suspend disbelief. You can only keep the reader aching in suspense for so long before the obstacles start to feel arbitrary and ridiculous. Feb 11, 2016 at 19:09
  • It must seem reasonable, yes. Romantic tension can go a long time, though. You see this a lot on TV. Sam and Diane from Cheers. Mulder and Scully from X-Files. Once the obstacles are removed, you have a happy ending and the story is over. Pride and Prejudice could have been over at the start if Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy had just talked openly. The whole novel is just a series of obstacles and miscommunications. Feb 12, 2016 at 18:03
  • "Once the obstacles are removed, you have a happy ending and the story is over." The pursuit of romance story is over, but the entire story doesn't have to be. In the book The Wizard in Spite of Himself, the protagonist marries and the next five books are about the married couple and their kids. David & Leigh Eddings have two series about married couples and their continuing adventures. I don't watch Bones, but Bones & Booth get together in S6 and marry in S9, and the show is now in S11. Feb 12, 2016 at 19:30

Well, if your character types are supposing a slow building to their romantic relationship then what I guess is that you have answered all the questions for their personalities in your mind but you have not put it into paper. Ask the questions why are they so passionate about each other and why they love each other. What makes them fit to each other and what connects them. What do they give to each other that the other can't live without. After getting these answers then think of the best ways to present it to the reader - by situations, relations, conversations and obstacles. Sometimes we as writers have the whole story in our head and it seems it is great but we forget that the reader knows only what is written and can guess only based on this. By the way if you have this feeling that they should kiss, the reader will feel it too and if you delay that kiss then you will raise the excitement and pleasantly irritate the readers mind. So try to delay that kiss if you think the story can benefit from this. There is also this option that the characters are so passionate that the kiss should really happen early and this is ok if this sis natural for them.


It rather sounds like what you are writing is not a platonic relationship but a frustrated romantic relationship.

It does, does it not? If your characters want to make out, there is nothing platonic about that (neither there is anything wrong with that, of course, it is only a matter of your choice of how to develop your story).

The question to ask yourself is why am I not letting them go at it, and does it work for the story?

If it does, invent a believable cause, explaining why the cannot be together, like they are separated by space or time (or both), if it doesn't, have mercy on them and let them behave in a natural for them way, whatever it might be, and concentrate on moving the story forward.

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