From Best Friends to Platonic Spouses

Historically, marriage was an economic proposition, but it has shifted over time to a choice representing an all-consuming relationship, said Indigo Stray Conger, a sex and relationship therapist in Denver. Under this framework, couples expect each other to fulfill all their needs: social, psychological and economic.

“Platonic marriages raise an interesting question related to what elements are most important in a marriage, and what needs partners theoretically must meet for marriages to be successful,” said Jess Carbino, a relationship expert who lives in Los Angeles and is a former sociologist for the dating apps Tinder and Bumble.

Kim Reiter, 40, never considered marrying a best friend, though she considers herself to be nonbinary, aromantic and bisexual. Ms. Reiter, who lives in Dortmund, Germany, and is unemployed, tried OkCupid in 2013 and found her husband, who is aromantic and asexual.

They quickly became platonic best friends and married in 2018.

“Our daily life is that of best friends: We talk and laugh a lot, watch movies, but there is almost no physical element in it,” Ms. Reiter said. “Sometimes we hug or give massages to each other, and every night we have our good-night kiss, but we have separate bedrooms. We are the most important people in each other’s lives.”

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Kema Barton and Dene Brown, of Columbus, Ohio, are both pansexual and have a similar platonic marriage. (Pansexual is defined as sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction toward people regardless of their sex or gender identity.) They have been best friends for seven years, and each has two children from previous relationships. In October 2020, just before Ms. Brown had her second child, the friends decided to get married and make all their life decisions together.

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