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Rhaina Cohen
Unaffiliated independent scholar
More Than Friends: What Platonic Partnerships Reveal About Family, Care, and Intimacy

Research and writing of a book on the changing role of platonic relationships and non-traditional family structures in the modern world.

This book will uncover the stories of people who have made an unconventional choice: to center their lives around friendship instead of marriage. Though friendships like these were condoned for centuries, today they defy standard categories and hierarchies for relationships. Despite the intensity and prevalence of this type of relationship, it has no widely agreed-upon name, nor social or legal recognition. Through vivid stories of platonic partnerships past and present, the book will demonstrate that these overlooked relationships can help us fundamentally reframe and expand our concepts of intimacy, partnership, caregiving, and family. This is an especially relevant endeavor at a time when marriage and the nuclear family are losing their force as the organizing frameworks for Americans’ lives. These friendships bring to the surface unquestioned assumptions that most people have—and that are enshrined in the law—about what types of relationships matter most.

Project fields:
Gender Studies; Social Sciences, General; U.S. History

Public Scholars

Research Programs

$45,000 (approved)
$45,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
12/1/2021 – 10/31/2022