Audience Challenge: What’s your preferred one-sentence definition of “Queerplatonic”?

Several years ago, when working on updating a printed piece for a group I was involved with, I got stuck on figuring out how to define “queerplatonic” in a way that is both clear, and fairly accurate, while also being very concise – the limitations of the specific project required very brief definitions no longer than a sentence or two, and ideally not more than 2-3 lines on a printed pages.

Now, you might be thinking “Silly Sennkestra, you’re never going to be able to explain the full complexity and context of queerplatonic in one sentence”, and yes, that’s true to some extent – but I think it’s still worth trying to get as close as possible, even if the end result is imperfect.

As a result of that project, I ended up polling people on tumblr (click “show more notes” to see the actual responses) – and of course, got several dozen different and sometimes contradictory definitions with varying levels of seriousness, as one does when defining any complex term.

Based on that conversation, and several others over the years, my current most common attempt is something like:

Queerplatonic: A significant non-romantic partnered relationship that complicates the concept of being “just” platonic friends.

Although I think this still has room for improvement, I’m trying to get across a few main points:

  1. That queerplatonic relationships tend to generally be characterized as non-romantic (though even that isn’t always necessarily a hard boundary).
  2. That the history of “queerplatonic” as a term is that it was intended to “queer” or “complicate” the idea that the only two relationship options are “romantic” or “[just] friends”, neither of which are really accurate to what “queerplatonic” is trying to describe
  3. That queerplatonic relationships tend to have a certain level of significance to the people involved above that of some of their other relationships (like aquaintances, coworkers, or casual friends), often perceiving each other as “partners”, “significant others”, etc.

However, since it’s been a few years since I asked around more broadly, and since I’ve been seeing a lot of conversations about definitions again recently,  I’m curious to see again what other definitions people like to use, and how each of us choose to confront the problem of summarizing a complex concept into an overly-simple definition. I’m also curious to see what other people consider the most salient parts of the concept that they want to highlight in any definition.

So, I’d love to hear from anyone reading this – what one-sentence definitions of “Queerplatonic” do you prefer? What do you see as the key points that should be included in any definition?

(Or alternatively – what’s a definition you’ve seen before that you find insufficient, and what don’t you like about it? How would you change it to make it better?)


9 thoughts on “Audience Challenge: What’s your preferred one-sentence definition of “Queerplatonic”?

  1. Queerplatonic: A significant non-romantic partnered relationship that complicates the concept of being “just” platonic friends.

    huh. I think that’s actually pretty good. Way better than a lot I’ve seen, honestly.

    Slightly different phrasing, same general idea: the way I’ve been thinking about how best to approach this concept is… 1) there are normative societal rules surrounding a “romance vs just friendship” distinction, and 2) queerplatonic is an umbrella term for relationships that break those rules.

    It’s not necessarily a particular relationship type, style, or structure in and of itself, because it can be applied to different relationships that don’t necessarily need to all look the same or break all the same rules in the same way. That’s something secondarily important to me about it because I’ve seen so many people treat it like a very narrow box to fit into, which seems so vastly counter to the intention. And not that original intentions are inherently good, just…. that does seem like a more worthy goal than reifying the arbitrarily narrower interpretation, if that makes sense.

  2. An important, committed relationship between people that does not fit in any established relationship category, coming closest to friendship and/or a romantic relationship.

    • Or:
      A relationship with someone else; if pressed to describe them it would be easiest to pick “significant other” or “great friend”, but neither are the full truth.

    • So, I actually specifically removed the word “committed” from my precious definitions a couple years ago, because someone pointed out that for many people (including many early adopters of the word), the relationships described don’t necessarily have to involve any kind of material or behavioral commitments… that while some people do look for commitment in their QPs, others may have more casual relationships (especially for young folks or new relationships! Commitment isn’t something to jump into). I do agree that importance (I use significance to refer to the same thing, in order to evoke the sense of “significant other”) is indeed a very key part though.

  3. A relationship with a life partner that excludes sex or romance but may include (but isn’t limited to) dating, living together, marriage or civil partnership, sharing a household, raising children, having each other’s power of attorney, caring for each other’s relatives, sharing a bed.

  4. “A relationship that challenges/works outside the the typical structure or level of importance placed on a platonic relationship in some way, often perceived as a form of partnership between those involved.” This is how I generally think of queerplatonic relationships, since the point was,as far as I understand, mainly to break away from the tight societal boxes of ‘friendship’ vs ‘romance’ in structure and to emphasize the diversity of shape platonic relationships can take.

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