Relationships are constantly evolving — and so are the ways in which we define them. We're no longer limited to the designations of "platonic," "friendly," or "romantic" — there's an ever-expanding glossary of words that can describe the connection between two or more people, which sometimes makes it even more difficult to DTR.
Take queerplatonic relationships, for instance. They're rarely discussed but probably more common than you think. The hashtag has more than 11 million views on TikTok, with content creators describing what the relationship style entails. Just think about a friendship you've had with someone that felt like more than just a friendship but stopped just short of being romantic. If someone came to mind, chances are you were either in a queerplatonic relationship with them or wanted to be.
POPSUGAR chatted with couples and relationship therapist Yana Tallon-Hicks, LMFT, author of "Hot and Unbothered:," to get a better understanding of the term. Keep reading to learn about what a queerplatonic relationship really is and whether or not it's the right option for you.
What Is a Queerplatonic Relationship?
"A queerplatonic relationship, contrary to what its name might imply, is a relationship between people of any gender and sexual identity who have a relationship built on their own intentional terms," Tallon-Hicks says. In terms of commitment, she says, a QPR is more committed than a typical friendship and less committed than a traditional romantic or sexual relationship. Queerplatonic relationships bend the rules of heteronormativity by creating a dynamic between people rooted in deep emotional intimacy and closeness but without the traditional sexual or romantic aspects of a heteronormative relationship. People in a queerplatonic relationship may live together, raise kids together, go on dates, and make major life decisions together, just like you would in a heteronormative relationship — all without being involved romantically or sexually.
What's the Difference between Romantic and Queerplatonic Relationships?
A queerplatonic relationship is typically absent of romance, at least in the heteronormative sense. "Though you might love the person you're in a queerplatonic relationship with, you aren't looking to pursue a romantic-relationship escalator path with them, create romantic exclusivity with that person, or have otherwise heteronormative expectations of yourself or the person you're in a queerplatonic relationship with," Tallon-Hicks says. Instead, expectations vary from person to person and relationship to relationship. For example, in one queerplatonic relationship, bringing your partner flowers before going out to dinner may be too romantic. For others, it may be "on brand for how we treat each other in our queerplatonic dynamics," Tallon-Hicks says. Those in queerplatonic relationships may also have romantic relationships outside of their QPR but still prioritize their QPR partner(s).
How Do You Know If a Queerplatonic Relationship Is Right For You?
Oftentimes, those who identify as asexual or aromantic "may be interested in creating a relational dynamic that is queerplatonic," Tallon-Hicks says. But those aren't the only types of people who might see queerplatonic relationships as a good fit. Anyone interested in an "intentionally created relationship dynamic that balances nonsexual and nonromantic values with commitments, care, and follow-through," could find queerplatonic relationships to be very beneficial to their lives, Tallon-Hicks says.
How to Approach Someone About Starting a Queerplatonic Relationship?
You might already have identified queerplatonic-relationship qualities in some of your existing friendships. If you want to make it "official," Tallon-Hicks suggests sharing an article with the person you have mind. Start a conversation about bringing "more intent or purpose into your relational dynamic," she says. It's helpful to provide examples of what this might look like for you in terms of expectations and hopes. If they seem open to the idea, ask them to share what they would want out of this kind of relationship.
What Boundaries Should Be Set in Queerplatonic Relationships?
"Because this relationship style doesn't come with a lot of pop culture examples or commonly held understandings of structure like a monogamous romantic relationship does, this is going to be very DIY," Tallon-Hicks says. Sit down and discuss what the relationship means to you and what you expect from one another in the relationship. Here are a few questions you'll want to consider, according to Tallon-Hicks:
- Is there a certain amount of time per week you want to spend together? How might that time look?
- Are you the go-to date to a wedding?
- Do you plan to share resources such as child care, finances, and housing?
- How does each partner feel about the other forming romantic relationships outside of the queerplatonic partnership?
- What would a relationship violation look like, and how might you repair it?
- How do you know when it's time for this relationship to shift or end?
The great thing about queerplatonic relationship is that "what constitutes commitment in itself is 'queered' or 'bent,' questioned, and re-created to suit the people in the unique dynamic, which is reflected in their expectations and goals for the relationship," Tallon-Hicks says. In other words, it's just you and your partner(s) making the rules — so do what's best for you.