What We Can Learn From Queerplatonic Relationships

By Krista White

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What Are Queerplatonic Relationships?

First coined by asexual and aromantic people, queerplatonic is an umbrella term for relationships that are not romantic, but more emotionally intimate than those we typically associate with friendships. People in queerplatonic relationships may raise children together, share finances or a household, or even get legally married. While the term is relatively new, this relationship structure is not.

To truly understand queerplatonic relationships, we first must take a step back and look at what “queering” means as a political act. In chapter three of Mia Birdsong’s wonderful 2020 book How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community, she writes about what it means to “queer” a friendship. While Birdsong is straight and cisgender, she shares what she has learned from her queer friends about being in relationship with other people. She writes, “Queering relationships is rejecting the restraints of convention, but it’s also liberatory truth-finding.” It requires us to interrogate relationship norms and ask the question “What do I desire in my relationships? What works best for me and the people I love?”

Even if a queerplatonic relationship per se is not for you, there’s a lot we can learn from this relationship structure.

Friendship Is Sacred

There are friendships that have saved my life. Simply being seen for who I am has brought me back from the brink more than once. For me and for many of us, close, intimate friendships aren’t a “nice-to-have” but rather an integral part of the fabric of our lives. I get choked up thinking about my kind, funny, joyful, loving friends. I get gobsmacked about how lucky I am, like when we spent five hours together after boozy brunch — sometimes we just can’t get enough of each other. I challenge you to take a look at your friendships and see if you’re getting what you want out of them. If not, how can you work with your friends to foster a mutually satisfying relationship?

Dropping Hierarchies

I love my girlfriend. I adore her. And I adore my friends and my family. There’s no relationship type that needs to be seen as lesser. The cis-heteropatriarchy teaches us that a romantic relationship between a cis man and a cis woman is the highest form of relationship and that all others are further down on the pyramid. We take that idea into queer relationships sometimes too. Just go to a lesbian bar and you’ll see people — often surrounded by friends — wondering where their future wife is. There’s nothing wrong with longing for romantic love. I longed for it for 27 years before meeting my person. But it’s important that we don’t take for granted the other types of relationships in our lives.

The Bottom Line

Community is something we are often lacking in our 21st century, go-go-go world. I desire a world where we can ask our neighbors for a cup of sugar, where we can call our friends at 4am when we’re sad, where we can sit in comfortable silence reading with our loved ones. I could write so much more about what we can learn from queerplatonic relationships, and maybe I will, but for now I’ll leave you with this: what if pleasure is the purpose of being alive? What if we are here on this planet to experience the divine joy of love and connection? Why would we limit the types of love we can experience?

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