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Explainer

What is a quasiplatonic aka queerplatonic relationship?

Lydia Smith April 18, 2018

Companionship is an important part of our lives. Many of us have one friend we are particularly close to – a best friend – but some people take this a step further by entering into a quasiplatonic relationship, otherwise known as a queerplatonic relationship.

A quasiplatonic relationship is much more intense than a close friendship.

Partners have a strong bond or emotional connection with someone that goes beyond being romantic or sexual – in fact, quasiplatonic relationships aren’t typically sexual at all, but the bond is similar to that of a romantic partnership.

Ellie*, 28, says she is in a relationship with someone that could be considered quasiplatonic, although they tend to use the term “significant relationship” instead.

“A quasiplatonic relationship is, in my understanding, a significant relationship that is neither romantic or sexual in nature,” she says.

“They vary between people, of course, but generally the commitment you feel is greater than the one you feel to most friends. This is a person you want to spend most of your time with, think about with a smile on your face.”

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Ellie explains that being in a quasiplatonic relationship is different to being in a romantic relationship with someone because the expectations differ.

“In a QPR there is no expectation for traditional romantic signifiers, although that doesn’t mean you can’t have them if you want them,” she explains.

“I’d never want to kiss my partner – I mean, ew – and that’s perfectly OK because they don’t want to be kissed!”

People in a queerplatonic relationship may be of any romantic or sexual orientation.

Quasiplatonic partners are sometimes called zucchini, a joke which refers to the lack of terminology to describe meaningful relationships outside of romantic or sexual partnerships.

Why do people use the term quasiplatonic?

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Ellie says she has been aware of the term for around a year or so, but awareness and understanding of what quasiplatonic relationships are is on the rise.

“It think it came from a desire for people in nonsexual, nonromantic relationships to have a way of defining that this was something different to friendship,” she says.

At a basic level, quasiplatonic relationships break away from what are considered to be “standard” or “expected” sexual or romantic norms.

Contemporary philosopher Elizabeth Brake, an associate professor at Arizona State University, coined the term “amatonormativity” to describe the emphasis we place on monogamous, romantic love – and the harmful assumption that people are better off in exclusive, long-term romantic relationships.

(Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels)

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In her book Minimizing Marriage: Marriage, Morality and the Law, Brake explains that the word refers to the assumption that “a central, exclusive, amorous relationship is normal for humans.

“That [an exclusive relationship] is a universally shared goal, and that such a relationship is normative, in that it should be aimed at in preference to other relationship types.”

She also explains why amatonormativity can be damaging as it encourages us to prioritise romantic relationships over other types of partnerships, such as quasiplatonic relationships.

By doing so, she explains, we “relegate friendship” to “cultural invisibility” and run the risk of rejecting other people’s lifestyle choices – whether they are single, polyamorous, aromantic or asexual.

Brake writes: “The belief that marriage and companionate romantic love have special value leads to overlooking the value of other caring relationships.

“Amatonormativity is a kind of harmful stereotyping. It also encourages structuring law and society on the assumption that amorous relationships are the norm.

“This discriminates against, and at worst creates barriers to making other kinds of relationships – friendships, asexual romances, some kinds of polyamory – central to one’s life.”

*Names have been changed.

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