The “romantic-sexual/platonic” love dichotomy leaves no room for the real emotional nuances people experience in their attachments, and I think that it often causes us to live with simplified relationships not because we want to or because we have simple desires and feelings but because we have no experience, cultural context, or language to accommodate a complex social life or set of relationships. This is why language is so important. This is why words and labels matter. How can you have the kind of relationships you want with anyone, if you don’t even have the words to accurately express how you feel? Hell, half the time, people don’t even understand their own feelings and relationship desires because what they feel is not simple at all, but the only relationship framework they know makes everything seem simple and clear cut: romance and sex go together, friendship is separate from both of those things, couplehood/primary partnership is exclusive to romance and sex, etc.
But if we are to accept the possibilities and realities of asexual romance, primary nonsexual/nonromantic love, nonromantic sex and sexual friendship, romantic (nonsexual) friendship, queerplatonic nonsexual relationships and sexual relationships, etc…. we have to drop this way of thinking and speaking about relationships and love in a romantic-sexual/platonic dichotomous way. None of those “complex” relationships fit into that model
This can be used by anyone I suppose, but is made specifically for people with a queerplatonic/platonic/non-romantic partner. You could use this with friends, too!
Kissing (forehead, cheek, etc): Kissing (mouth): Hand holding: Cuddling: Hugging: Other affectionate touching: Hugging in public: Cuddling in public: Kissing (forehead, cheek, etc) in public: Kissing (mouth) in public: Hand holding in public: Other affectionate touch in public: Eye gazing: Crying on: Being cried on: Massage (giving): Massage (receiving): Hair brushing (giving): Hair brushing (receiving): Nail painting (giving): Nail painting (receiving): Shaving (giving): Shaving (receiving): Bathing together (with bathing suits): Bathing together (naked): Seeing my partner naked: My partner seeing me naked: Feeding my partner: Being fed by my partner: Tickling (being tickled): Tickling (doing the tickling): Terms of endearment: Being called “best friend”: Being called “partner”: Being called romantically-coded words (boyfriend, girlfriend, etc): Me having other platonic partners: My partner having other platonic partners: Me having other romantic partners: My partner having other romantic partners: My partner doing romantic-coded things with someone else: Me doing romantic-coded things with someone else: My partner doing sexual things with someone else: Me doing sexual things with someone else: Touching my partner sexually: Being touched by my partner sexually: Having sex of any kind with my partner [specify if yes]: Sexual kink with my partner [specify if yes]: Non-sexual kink with my partner [specify if yes]: “Romantically coded” gifts (flowers, chocolates, etc): Dancing: Bed sharing (non-affectionate): Bed sharing (cuddling): Tucking my partner in: Being tucked in: Living together: [Platonic] marriage: Raising children together: Having pets together: Other stipulations/concerns:
I think that covers everything. If it doesn’t, please let me know and I’ll add it!
And the categories could probably be “yes”, “yes, but ask first”, “yes, but with certain restrictions”, “no”, “maybe; ask first”.
The fact that romantic-sexual people equate “primary/cohabiting life partner” with “romantic-sexual partner” is so baffling to me, that every time I think about it, it feels like my mind goes completely blank and the only thing there is a big question mark. This makes even less sense to me than linear algebra. It is so beyond my ability to understand, that I can hardly get over the “HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE” bit long enough to attempt analyzing the logic behind it.
If you need sex, fine.
If you need romantic relationships, fine.
If you need sex and romantic relationships and you need them to always come in one package, fine.
But how and why would anyone believe that your primary life partner—the person you live with and share your practical responsibilities with and have a home with, etc—must also be your romantic-sexual partner, as if that’s universal law and absolutely impossible to choose your way out of?
This is completely and totally irrational. There’s a logic to it, sure, but there’s zero rationality. (FYI, logic and rationality are two different things.)
Once in a while, I’ll see or hear about a friendship between two sexual people that actually has emotional weight. (Almost always, the two friends are teenagers or young adults, because the vast majority of sexual adults can’t do friendship worth a damn.) It’s so obvious that the two friends love each other, they get along so well, their relationship is effortless and 99% positive and stable and affectionate, etc. They have an enthusiasm for each other. They can be themselves together. All the ingredients for a secure, healthy, positive, happy life partnership are right there in their friendship.
But they’re going to spend their whole lives searching for a romantic-sexual partner to fill in that “Life Partner” role instead.
Even though romantic-sexual relationships are the most volatile kind of human connection. Even though the American divorce rate is 50%. Even though building nuclear families on a foundation of romantic-sexual monogamous relationships has created a society full of broken homes and kids that have little, if any, stability. Even though most romantic-sexual people who claim to believe in sexual monogamy—because our culture says monogamy is good and nonmonogamy is bad—royally suck at it in practice. Even though cohabiting with a string of lovers takes highly uncomfortable emotional and practical tolls when the couple breaks up and someone has to suddenly move out. Even though you’re fifty million times more like to be physically, mentally, sexually, and emotionally abused by a romantic-sexual partner that you live with, than you are by your best friend. Even though the frequency of conflict in a romantic-sexual relationship is usually exponentially higher than it is in a best friendship.
I could go on.
It’s just totally nuts to me, that anyone could have a real best friend who is compatible enough with them that the friendship lasts a long time—without even any formal commitment!—and choose to live a lifestyle where having a home and a family and a life partner all rides on their romantic-sexual relationships. It’s nuts to me that anyone could have a best friend, an honest to God best friend, who provides EVERY SINGLE THING THEY’RE LOOKING FOR IN A LIFE PARTNERSHIP EXCEPT SEX, and choose to put not just one, but a whole series of sexual partners above that best friend, in the pursuit of the magical Romantic-Sexual Monogamous Life Partner Who Makes You Happy Forevermore.
And this is not about having sex or not having sex. This isn’t a matter of rejecting romantic love for friendship. This isn’t a choice between one or the other.
This is just about relationship organization.
You could have a nonsexual, nonromantic primary life partner who you live with, who is there for you emotionally and physically and financially, who’s there to take care of you if medical issues come up, who’s there to help you raise a kid if you want one, who’s there to keep you company at home and go on vacation with you and help keep house, etc—and still have a sex life and romantic relationships!
And my God, would that make so much more sense on every single level! I could paper the walls of my bedroom with all the benefits of making your best friend your nonromantic/nonsexual life partner, instead of a lover who may or may not stick with you for the long haul.
How many sexual people in the United States alone are wasting their lives on a never ending roller coaster of serial romantic-sexual relationships, looking for the perfect one, getting married and getting divorced, moving in and moving out, scattering children all over the place, living in shit-tastic marriages or cohabiting romantic-sexual relationships, cheating on their lovers, fighting every other night, on and on and on? For what? For a home? For love? For joyful companionship? For happy family?
You could have all of that with your best friend—if you’re lucky enough to have a best friend—without even trying.
But instead, you subordinate that best friend to all of these sex partners/lovers, to spouses you end up hating, to romantic-sexual relationships that last three months or six or a measly year, to romantic-sexual relationships that steal 10-20 crappy years of your life before finally imploding. How many people actually find what they’re looking for in romantic sexuality?
If you want a stable, warm, low-maintenance, loving, caring home life; if you want someone there for you who accepts you and likes you exactly as you are; if you want someone to share your life with who will take care of you and be loyal to you and still give you the freedom to be who you are and connect with other people—then be life partners with a best friend, if you’re lucky enough to get one. And you can still have sex and you can still have romantic relationships, and if those romantic-sexual relationships prove to be consistently short-term or troublesome, at the very least, you still have a home and a steady companion and a source of love and support that doesn’t break down, when your sexual relationship of the moment does.
This is pure rationality, to me. It’s about maximizing your chances for a stable, happy, loving home life and reducing the negative impact of romantic-sexual relationships on yourself and your children, if you have any. Instead of asking one romantic-sexual partner to be your Everything, let them just be your romantic-sexual partner, and make someone else your living partner, your financial partner, your live-in co-parent, your best friend.
If I had any reason to believe a romantic-sexual person capable of committing to a nonsexual/nonromantic life partnership and if I had a sexual best friend and if that best friend wanted to be life partners with me, I would commit and be nonmonogamous life partners with them. And I wouldn’t give a shit about their sex life or their romantic relationships with other people, as long as I could trust my partner was committed to our home and our friendship. It probably helps a lot that I’m a radical relationship anarchist and not looking for any kind of strict monogamy (the sexual kind is irrelevant; the emotional kind isn’t doable for me), but even if that partnership were missing certain elements I wanted in my life—like physical affection, let’s say—I still wouldn’t have a problem with being my friend’s partner for good, as long as I could pursue other relationships, too.
I just don’t understand how anyone could pass up the opportunity to make a best friendship a cohabiting life partnership, for the sake of romantic sexuality. I can’t understand. It’s incomprehensible.
Romantic Relationships vs. Queerplatonic Relationships
(Please note that for the purpose of this post I’m using “queerplatonic” to mean “committed platonic relationship” as I know not everyone is comfortable with this term. I am talking about my own experiences, and for my own experiences queerplatonic is the word I enjoy using, although I know this isn’t the case for everyone.)
A very close friend of mine recently was questioning their romantic orientation, and asked me what the difference between a committed platonic relationship and a romantic relationship was. This gave me pause, and it’s also a question I get here at Aromantic Aardvark quite often. Usually I answer with “it’s self-defined, no one knows how you feel but you”. I still agree with this sentiment, but while talking to another friend of mine - also an aro in a committed platonic relationship - I think I came up with a definition, or at least one that works for me personally. Please note that I am not saying this definition works for everyone, however.
My idea was that queerplatonic relationships were sort of the ‘mix and match’ of relationships, which is why it’s so hard to define and articulate. If you ask twenty aro spectrum people who experience these feelings what this word means, you will get about twenty different answers. With romance, even though some of the things may vary within specific relationships and everyone has a different experience with it, there is still a narrative that is generally followed and things that are expected in a romantic relationship. For example, bed sharing, hand holding, cuddling, kissing, etc. One or two of these things might not be present in the specific relationship, of course, but there tends to be certain things that are expected in a romantic relationship before it is simply considered platonic. Likewise, there are certain things expected in strictly platonic friendships - in most friendships, if you kiss or share a bed with them, it would generally be considered unusual.
Queerplatonic to me means the breaking down of narratives. It means no rules. It means doing, essentially, whatever you are comfortable with. If you want to be best friends for all intents and purposes but also get married, that’s okay. If you want to kiss sometimes but don’t want to feel obligated, that’s okay too. This is why every person in a relationship like this has a different definition of it, because there are no rules. Queerplatonic means forging your own definition, saying “neither platonic or romantic is right”, and just doing whatever feels comfortable in the moment. It means making your own structure, mix and matching what you and your partner feel comfortable with. And I think trying to strictly define a queerplatonic narrative defeats the whole purpose of it. The purpose of it is to forge your own definition, to say “none of these words fit, so I’m going to make my own”. Queerplatonic is the breaking down of boundaries, or at least, that’s been my experience. It’s uncharted territory that has no societal bounds, that has no one making a strange face at what you do or don’t do in your relationship (or at least, not from people who understand the concept). Queerplatonic means mixing and matching, saying “I want to do this platonic thing, and this romantic thing, but not this romantic thing”.
That is, fundamentally, the most important part of a queerplatonic relationship. Breaking down boundaries, blurring the lines between platonic and romantic. The specifics may be different depending on the specific relationship, but that’s one thing I’ve found that all have in common.
I’m planning to put together a document that will feature a thorough examination of aromantic identity and queerplatonic relationships. I need input of personal stories from real aromantic and aro-spectrum people to include so that the maximum people contribute to defining things without me monopolizing it.
Are you with an educational facility?
No, I’m not associated with a university or anything. This isn’t very formal - it’s not going to get published, per se. But it will be posted on qpadvice eventually to be used as an open public resource for others to read and share.
What can I contribute?
Coming out stories, stories of realization that you were aro, stories of relationships, stories of how you deal with media onslaught of romantically heavy movies and shows, etc. Pretty much anything that you feel is defining for you and that you want to share.
How long are we taking here?
I’m looking for your personal experience in three asks or less. I can’t include a novel of your life story - I want to keep this concentrated on the aromantic experience in a world that is heavily romantically inclined. You can send me an ask, or a fan mail.
Is this anonymous?
It’s completely your choice. If you say anonymous, it can be. If you want me to publish info, that’s cool too. The amount is up to you. You can hide your name but reveal your location, age, ethnicity, etc. Or you can include everything. Literally you are in full control of what you want shown and what you think should be displayed.
Can I contribute if I’m not aro?
If you are on the spectrum, feel free! (Gray aro, aro flux, akoiromantic, etc…) If you are romantic, please help out by reblogging.
Where do I send it?
Please send it to Chekhovandowl’s askbox or fan mail. You can also email me at email@example.com (please keep it concise. If you cannot, please understand that I might trim it down a little to make it more digestible.
The deadline is April 10th, 2015! Please try to get your submissions in by then.
What is a queerplatonic (sometimes called ‘quasiplatonic’) relationship? A relationship between people that consists of a close emotional bond considered deeper than that of a friendship, although not romantic in nature. They may or may not plan to spend the rest of their lives together (living together, getting married, etc.). These relationship also may or may not involve sexual aspects.
Zucchini? Partners in QP (queerplatonic) relationships may refer to each other as zucchinis. This is just an endearing term created and used by the QP community. And quite endearing it is!
Who can be in one? Anyone of any romantic orientation, sexual orientation, or gender identity can be in a QP relationship.
Non-romantic relationships aren't immune to violence
As Aromantic Awareness Week comes to an end, I’d like to take a moment to say that all the celebration of non-romantic relationships and intimacy is wonderful. ( Educational queerplatonic primer anyone? )
And aslo: queerplatonic and other non-romantic, non-normative relationship can be unhealthy, abusive and / or violent. ( Just like all other kinds of relationships. )
Shout-out to people in queerplatonic or otherwise non-romantic significant relationships that are unhealthy / abusive / violent. ( I know what it’s like to struggle with that and wonder if I’m the only one. )
Because of things like amatonormativity, violence in QP and other non-normative relationships can play out differently than ( romantic and / or sexual ) partner violence usually does. And differently from abuse / violence between “friends”. It really hard to explain and risky to acknowledge if it gives people and excuse to *not* value non-romantic relationships.
If anyone wants to share their experiences, I’d like the conversation to start happening in a safe format (i.e, either as a zine if people are interested or just in backchannel conversations ).
These are meant for aromantic people, but you can use them for your platonic relationships even if you aren’t aro. The only exception is the “Let’s have a Star Wars marathon” one, because it has the queerplatonic/quasiplatonic flag on it, so please respect that and only use it for qpps.
Feel free to use these for friends, either online or printed out, just keep the watermark please.
I just discovered that Plato originally attributed the concept of “platonic love” to a priestess named Diotima. Granted, she may have been fictional, but it still makes me happy. If I had a queerplatonic partner, I think I’d call them my diotima in honor of her. (And it sounds less silly than “zucchini.”)
Thaaat is certainly one way to do it, but also… no.
See, society puts romantic relationships on a pedestal. We are taught from a very early age that romantic relationships are the One True Ideal, they are the Goal, they are SO important that a lot of people don’t even clarify that they’re romantic relationships, they simply call them Relationships.
And in that system, friendships are devalued, are placed as lesser than romantic relationships. They can be important! But not as important as your One True Ideal Relationship Which Is Of Course Romantic. And that’s kind of what you’re doing here with your tier system. You’ve got friends, best friends, and QPRs all placed as less than partners, which you label as girlfriends and boyfriends, etc, and THEN you have marriage.
But queerplatonic relationships, as a word, as something they decided that yes, we are going to label these things and talk about them because they are Important. “Queerplatonic,” the word, was born in aromantic spaces. And to aromantics especially but also to pretty much anyone, this societal structure that labels romantic relationships as Most Important™ is actually pretty harmful.
It places aro-spec folks as lesser, our relationships as less important, and tells us that we will never be prioritized in the lives of the non-arospec people we care about. And that’s wrong. It doesn’t have to be that way. We are important too and we deserve equal importance in peoples’ lives.
Queerplatonic relationships are DESIGNED to challenge this ranking system that you’ve described. Queerplatonic relationships take this tiered system and go “actually, no.” Queerplatonic relationships are absolutely about friendships being AS important and AS strong and AS committed as any romantic relationship. Including married ones. Heck, I know of married QPPs. They love each other. They are not in romantic love. But they are cute as fuck.
Hell, pretty good odds I’ll marry my QPP someday. We’ve already lived together five years, been friends and/or QPPs for like eleven, and we plan to grow old trapped in this house together. We, too, are cute as fuck. We challenge what people think friendship means every day. It’s awesome. Romantic partners are NOT more important than platonic partners. Platonic partners ROCK.