Before I get started, I want you to name one platonic relationship in a YA novel. Just one. Not ten, not five, just one. And you can’t Google it, either. It has to be off the top of your head.
It’s hard, isn’t it?
Now try to think of two. Then three. Then four. Keep going higher. You don’t go all that high before you get stuck, right? Now do that again, but with a boy-girl relationship that isn’t romantic or doesn’t turn out romantic. This is even harder.
I’m sure that everyone has a platonic relationship, right? If you don’t have a non-romantic relationship with someone whom you still love, I would be extremely surprised.
YA is getting good about writing about more diverse romances than the supposedly-ugly-girl-falls-in-love-with-the-seemingly-shallow-jock-only-to-find-out-that-she’s-pretty-and-the-jock-is-actually-pretty-deep. BUT. I feels like almost every boy-girl relationship you will find will be a romance. There are plenty of Platonic Male-Male or Female-Female romances, but not enough Male-Female.
It sometimes seems like an author assumes that the only male-female relationships have something romantic at the core. Even a boy and a girl who have been best friends for years will have a secret attraction to each other. Here are some examples of that.
- Megan and Puck from the Iron Fey series- Megan and Puck have been friends for as long as Megan can remember; long enough that she can’t help but feel a bit betrayed that he’s actually Fey. But naturally, Puck has been in love with her for all those years, and Megan has had enough of a crush (however small it may be) to kiss him without feeling disgusted when Ash leaves.
- Katniss and Gale from the Hunger Games- Katniss and Gale’s friendship was forged out of their illegal attempt to keep from starving, and they just hit it off and they’ve been best friends ever since. Now, I’ve always had the opinion that Katniss confused best friend love for romantic love, so this one is a bit more one-sided, but still, when Gale announces his long-felt romantic attachment to Katniss, I can’t help but feel a little disgusted at the author.
- Blue and Gansey from The Raven Boys- Once it became clear that she and Adam weren’t really going to be doing anything other than going on a couple of “dates”, I had hope. Maybe Blue will give Gansey mouth-to-mouth if he gets stung by a bee and her curse will see that as kissing him and ta da, no romantic relationship. But it’s leaning more and more toward Blue and Gansey falling in love, and I find that frustrating. She would have had such a great relationship with him without any romance.
- Alyssa and Jeb from Splintered- Alyssa and Jeb were so close they were almost brother and sister, but guess what, they’ve been harboring a secret romantic attachment to each other
Now, I still love all these books. They are great, amazing books, but made slightly less amazing and great because they included romantic relationships that didn’t need to happen. There are many more, but these are from popular series.
Here’s the thing. I am friends with boys. I have not fallen in love with any of them, but I love them because they’re my friends. That’s a platonic relationship. And that is what YA is lacking.
What do you think about platonic relationships in YA? Do you think it needs more, or do you like the romance?