What Is A Queerplatonic Relationship? 3 Most Common Misconceptions

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What Is A Queerplatonic Relationship? 3 Most Common Misconceptions

A queerplatonic relationship can be described loosely as an intense, close relationship that falls outside the bounds of romantic attraction. 

It’s no secret that we, as a society, are obsessed with the idea of sex and romance. How often have you lost a good friend because they decided to spend all their time with their partner? We are taught at a young age that a monogamous, romantic, and heterosexual relationship is the end goal

This is reinforced by just about everything: in movies, in magazines, in TV shows. We are brought up on the idea of soulmates, that there is only one person that should ever complete you. And that when you meet that person, you two are to build your entire lives around each other.

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We live in what Arizona State University Professor Elizabeth Brake calls an “amatonormative” society. Brake coins the term to describe the pressure she and others felt to make monogamous marriage a life goal.

When society is romance-driven, it pushes people to isolate themselves, and according to Brake, feeds into a lot of capitalistic desires because it forces people to limit their support systems solely to the nuclear family model: mom, dad, and children. 

A romance and sex-driven society excludes not only single people, but makes asexuals, aromatics, and nonmonogamous couples social oddities. 

What is a queerplatonic relationship?

Queerplatonic as a term originated from the asexual and aromantic community to describe a close relationship that falls outside the bounds of romantic attraction.

While the relationship itself doesn’t necessarily have to be with a same-sex partner, the term “queer” is used to show that the bond falls outside the realm of what an amatonormative society would usually deem as “acceptable.”

The relationship can be something different from different couples or groups of people, which is why it is often ridiculed and questioned by outsiders. 

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding queerplatonic relationships, and how they exist in our romance-driven society.

Here are some common misunderstandings people fall into, according to people who are or have been in queerplatonic relationships. 

1. The relationship itself is somehow incomplete

According to S.E.Smith, who originally coined the term with a friend in 2011, the term came from a frustration with the binaries that came with solely defining relationships around romance.

In a post, Smith writes that the confusion around this relationship stems from the fact that: “friendship and queerplatonic connections are considered the training wheels for the real relationship.” 

How does Smith define a queerplatonic relationship? Simply that the relationship shares “an intense connection that is complicated and rich and fascinating … what’s going on in their lives is intimately familiar to me.” 

Sometimes, a queerplatonic partner(s) can also have romantic and sexual relationships outside of the queerplatonic relationship. This doesn’t mean the connection itself is inherently inferior, but that it simply fulfills a different need. 

It also doesn’t mean that the queerplatonic partner is not loyal, or as devoted to the relationship; it is just that the relationship itself is not predicated on monogamy as society imagines it. 

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2. The relationship is actually just a close friendship

Siobhan Crosslin, who wrote her own post on her past queerplatonic relationship, states that she hesitates to call a queerplatonic relationship a bond that is “beyond friendship,” because it once again devalues friendship for a different kind of partnership. 

However, there is no denying that when people call a queerplatonic relationship a “friendship” it is, in a way, an attempt to dismiss the partnership. When friendship is used in that sense, Crosslin gets defensive. 

Crosslin states a queerplatonic relationship is a commitment to the other person or people. “To me, a queerplatonic relationship isn’t a better form of friendship, it isn’t a leveled up form of friendship anything like that. Because in my opinion that just reinforces amatonormative structures, which defeats the point.” 

The binary of platonic and romantic relationships is, as Crosslin states, deeply ingrained in our society. Consciously or not, this binary rules a lot of the bonds we build, and this binary encourages us to push relationships we cannot clearly define into two strict boxes. 

“What would happen is that I would have what I thought was a great platonic relationship with somebody,” she said. “Then they would reveal that they had romantic feelings and I freaked out. I never understood what it was, I just knew that it happened every single time. And in a way, it felt like a betrayal.” 

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3. People in queerplatonic relationships are inherently cold or immature 

Sherronda J. Brown writes that there are “intimacies, commitments, and partnerships practiced and valued in ways that are socially considered to only be appropriate for and deserved by people in romantic relationships.” 

There is a stigma that romantic relationships are the height of passion, and to feel romance is the goal of emotional maturity. However, there are many times in which passion, lust, and monogamy pressure romantic relationships into stages they are not mature enough to handle. 

While it is not to say that any relationship is inherently better than the other, it is just to say that queerplatonic relationships are not passionless, or are only for people who cannot handle romantic relationships.

Queerplatonic relationships should simply be seen as equally important as romantic relationships. 

The understanding of romance as a sign of emotional maturity ignores the work that goes into maintaining good relationships outside of one’s partner. It severely limits your emotional support system and puts undue stress on a good commitment.

Instead, relationships should be reevaluated not on a strict ranking of platonic and romantic, but by the devotion and intimacy between the people in them. 

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Jessica is a writer who covers LGBT issues, culture, and media.