I met a pirate who once said, "My theory is that there is no such thing as being a real [platonic] friend between a man and a woman. ... Because the only reason a man would want to go out with a woman is because he has a certain attraction."
I flat out told him he's wrong. In real life, I've met a large percentage of my friends at work, and I work in a male-dominated industry. So, most of my RL friends are male. With a few of them, yes, there was that initial attraction. But, when you know a relationship is not going to work out for one reason or another, you keep the friendship. And the attraction turns into platonic affection that holds the friendship together, enhances it, and deepens it.
The same goes in SL. The potential for intense friendship is here, even between a man and a woman. And I have been very fortunate this past month to have discovered more of those friendships. Men, whom I cannot take on as lovers because of their RL relationships or their SL partnerships, are coming into my life to take their place in my circle of friends. And these are not casual friendships either. These are caring and affectionate relationships that are as tender and as deep as those with my female friends.
So what's the difference between my romantic relationships and my platonic relationships with men? If I'm lucky, not much. One of them involves sex; the other doesn't. That's it, ideally. With both types of relationships, we still hang out, chat, dance, hug.
In fact, platonic friendships may even have an advantage. As the sage Jaime Mandelbrot puts it, "I think I'm getting a little bit more [as a friend]. ... We do without the pleasure and sidestep the pain, leaving us free to soar in other areas."
I agree. Because we don't waste time mucking with sex balls, we have more time to explore each other's souls.