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I was thinking one day, and was trying to describe some of the latest events in my life. To my dismay, I could not think of any word to describe becoming better friends with someone (in a platonic way, not a romantic one). Is there such a word?

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the next level is by definition not platonic. There's only 2 levels. –  Oldcat Jun 25 at 22:13
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To quote Jay and Silent Bob, you could have become "Heterosexual life partners" if you remain platonic but much closer. –  PixPrefect Jun 25 at 22:21
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@Oldcat, actually Plato lists some half a dozen levels, in a progression that actually leads away from singular attachment to any one individual. Anyhow, my suggested verb would be "deepen." –  Brian Donovan Jun 25 at 22:46
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@Oldcat: So in modern English, "Platonic love" cannot mean what Plato's actual dialogues teach about love? One might as well insist that because in popular parlance "quantum leap" means a big jump, the meaning given the term by actual quantum physicists should be ignored and despised. –  Brian Donovan Jun 25 at 23:53
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And I suppose that because most people most of the time use myth to mean popular misconception, it is impermissible (as elitist or something) to use it to mean sacred story? I am reminded of the craft vintner in New York state who found himself forbidden to put his own surname on his bottles, because members of an earlier generation had turned it into an industrial wine brand which was then sold out of the family. As it happens I am so far from being an uncritical admirer of Plato that I tend to roll my eyes a bit at such Platonic idealizations as "the" dictionary and "the" definition. –  Brian Donovan Jun 26 at 13:10

7 Answers 7

Relationships that become stronger are said to deepen.

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I think 'becoming/getting closer' [to each other] could describe it sufficiently, without any implications about whether it's platonic or not.

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As in "Alice and I became closer" and "I got closer to Alice". But to my mind these expressions imply greater intimacy. Instead, "we became close friends" does not, and sounds perfectly platonic. –  Mari-Lou A Jun 26 at 2:15
    
@Mari-LouA - Why do you say that "we became close friends" doesn't imply greater intimacy? It surely implies greater emotional intimacy, whether or not there is also sexual intimacy. –  Erik Kowal Jun 26 at 2:38
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@ErikKowal you're right, I did of course mean greater sexual/romantic intimacy with the phrase "Alice and I became closer". Adding "friends" removes the ambiguity. –  Mari-Lou A Jun 26 at 2:50

Escalate is often used to characterize the act of increasing the intensity of something.

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But isn't "escalate" in a sense of "getting worse quickly" or a behavior of "rapid worsening"? I wouldn't use that word in a relationship though. –  Annjawn Jun 25 at 23:52
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@Annjawn Escalating only means getting worse if the thing being escalated is a Bad Thing; Tensions, fighting, and threats are the examples you're probably familiar with. However, you can also escalate efforts, feelings, and countless other things that lack the negative connotation. –  user867 Jun 26 at 1:17
    
@user867 Is it natural/idiomatic to say: "Our friendship escalated"? Or "My friendship with X escalated"? –  Mari-Lou A Jun 26 at 2:10
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@user867 and my comment was to add weight to Anjawn's misgivings :) Although I agree that "escalate" has positive connotations as well. –  Mari-Lou A Jun 26 at 2:47
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Escalate means exactly what you say but it's almost always used in negative senses. Disputes escalate but friendships intensify, even though both "escalate" and "intensify" mean essentially the same thing in isolation. –  David Richerby Jun 26 at 10:15

Bonding comes to mind, usually used in a familial context, but sometimes for friendships as well. It would seem odd to apply it to a romantic relationship, unless that relationship is being planned out ahead of time.

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You can say Things got Real:

When a situation changes from the tame and quotidian to the unfamiliar and hazardous, things got real. Things getting real can lead to unexpected and potentially life-threatening consequences. If you believe things may soon become real, the best thing to do is to get real yourself by staying calm and maintaining an awareness of your surroundings.

In a sense, imagine a platonic relationship where one of the parties constantly wished it was more. In a sense, that person would be living somewhat of a lie, pretending to be happy with the friendship as is. Once it goes to the next level though, then it just got real.

Yeah, technically this is more than a single word, but when you say 'Our relationship just got real', it flows.

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The thought is interesting because everyone recognizes that "friend" covers an immense spectrum yet we have few explicit demarcations. "To grow closer to someone" is commonly used and the closest match to your concept I can think of. Another very common way of expressing this experience is something like "we've been spending a lot of time together"/"I've been hanging out with X more"/"I've been getting to know X better" especially followed by a positive statement about the person or relationship ("and I can talk to him about stuff I actually care about"/"and we get along really well"/"and she's pretty cool").

But it is sort of roundabout. Honestly your description, "becoming better friends", sounds good as is and I'm sorry to say I don't think we have anything fancier.

Referring to time ("old friend"/"family friend"/"childhood friend") can be used to imply the closest kind of friend because a friendship that has withstood time has presumably lasted for a reason, plus you've had the time to get to know each other and strengthen the relationship.

Relationships can be "strengthened", although almost always in past tense, rather than describing an ongoing, gradual change (one rarely hears "our friendship is growing stronger"). It's most often used when overcoming some difficulty raised the relationship up a level. Perhaps your mom was sick and X "was there for you", helping you during that time; or someone spread a mean rumor and X didn't join in the gossip; or you hadn't spoken to X in a while but when you reunited, it didn't feel as if time had distanced you. When this happened "it strengthened our friendship". (To quote J K Rowling: "There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.")

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You are rounding the corner/bag. The 3rd base coach is waving you in.

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