platonic life partners tiktok, alternative relationships

April Lexi Lee and her PLP on TikTok

Most of us want to share our life with a partner who is our best friend. But what if that best friend isn't a romantic partner? Why should that stand in that way of having what most people long for? The truth is: Finding an enduring kind of love is special, and something worth investing in, even if it's not romantic love. And for April Lexi Lee (aka @psychottie on Tikok), it's the kind of love shared between her and her best friend of 11 years.

"This is for everyone who believes that their soulmate is their best friend," Lee said in her video urging viewers to "normalize platonic life partners."


@psychottie On some @cultclare & @jazmelodyy type shit. #platoniclifepartner ♬ original sound - April Lexi Lee

She continued: "My best friend is my soulmate. She's the platonic love of my life. She's who I choose to do life with. After 5 years of long distance, we finally manifested a way for her to move to LA [from Singapore] to be with me."

Lee posted another video of the two reuniting, and it feels like something out of a Nicholas Sparks novel. The two run into each other's arms for a long embrace, with the caption "what a long term, stable, healthy partnership can look like in 2021."

@psychottie Don’t mind me just romanticising my #platoniclifepartnership 🥰 @hotmilkwong #platoniclifepartner #bostonmarriage #tiktoksg🇸🇬 #tiktoksg ♬ Home - Edith Whiskers

Lee noted that her friends and family called them both "crazy," to make such a big move, to which Lee responded, "we would not be questioned as much about this if we were lovers."

It's a valid point. We swoon over movies where the leading man makes it to the airport just in time to profess his forever feelings to a woman he's known for like three days, but somehow this 11-year relationship doesn't warrant such a gesture?

Lee argued that their friendship of more than a decade had lasted longer than most couples her age. And more importantly, they were committed to each other and shared a vision for the future. "We see a life together," she explained. "We wanna buy a house together, we wanna start a retirement fund together, we might even adopt a child together and raise it as friends."

Even though this dynamic is not seen as a traditional in our society, many have done it (and done it well). People were even inspired to share their own "PLP" success stories in the comments:

"I was raised by my mom and her best friend (mom #2). They love each other in a platonic way and do everything together."

"Me and my bestie are buying a house together this year. We have already lived together for 15 years."

"My boss did that with her friend. They even bought a house together. They're still going strong after 35 years. It can be done."


Not only does Lee normalize this relationship, she romanticizes it. Just look at the beautiful love book she created when their relationship status was still long distance. It's filled with cutesy cartoon images and funny heartfelt messages like:

"I can't wait for the day you finally come.
I'll share my space with you, and your many alarms.
To learn how to adult and how to survive.
To go on road trips with you.
I even look forward to you pushing my limits, because we know to be sick of each other is a privilege."

Seriously, find yourself a person who looks at you the way Lee does her bestie, platonic or otherwise.

@psychottie Reply to @psychottie we so cute and we out here 🤩 @hotmilkwong #platoniclifepartner #longdistancerelationship #ldr @LoveBook ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys - Kevin MacLeod

"My mind is blown right now. It just never occurred to me this was an option, and I love it and I want it!" wrote one person in the comments (um, yeah, same here!). This is why normalizing all kinds of healthy relationships is vital. We're better able to see what's possible.

The bottom line is: Romantic love is not king. As Lee put it, "If marriage is not for you and you want to start a life with your best friend, then do it!" What really matters is finding someone who excites and challenges you, who promotes a sense of health and safety, and who you're happy to "do life" with.

Excuse me while I go make a love book for my bestie.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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