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Queerplatonic relationships (QPR) and queerplatonic partnerships (QPP) are committed intimate relationships which are not romantic in nature. They may differ from usual close friendships by having more explicit commitment, validation, status, structure, and norms, similar to a conventional romantic relationship. The concept originates in aromantic and asexual spaces in the LGBT community. Like romantic relationships, queerplatonic relationships are sometimes said to involve a deeper and more profound emotional connection than typical friendship.
C. J. DeLuzio Chasin defines QPRs as "non-romantic significant-other relationships of 'partner status'". Julie Sondra Decker writes that QPR often "looks indistinguishable from romance when outside the equation", but should not be "assigned a romantic status if participants say it is not romantic". She also notes that observers can misread it as a typical close friendship in circumstances where overtly romantic gestures are socially expected. For Decker, the essence of queerplatonic attraction is its ambiguous position in relation to normative categories: she writes that QPR "is a platonic relationship, but it is 'queered' in some way—not friends, not romantic partners, but something else".
Some definitions put less stress on the partner-status structure of QPR and focus more on the idea that it represents a stronger emotional connection than usual friendship. For instance, the College of William & Mary's neologism dictionary defines QPR as an "extremely close" relationship that is "beyond friendship" without being romantic, and sex therapist Stephanie Goerlich in Psychology Today similarly describes QPRs as a "deeper commitment than friendship but often are not romantic in nature".
In asexual and aromantic online spaces, queerplatonic partners are sometimes nicknamed "zucchinis". LGBT news website PinkNews describes this as "a joke which refers to the lack of terminology to describe meaningful relationships outside of romantic or sexual partnerships." A platonic crush is called a "squish", and this term might also be applied to QPR. QPR attraction is also sometimes referred to as a plush.
The term originates in the aromantic and asexual communities, and it was largely restricted to these spaces in the 2010s. The Huffington Post described it in 2014 as a "new label" coming from the same place as "aromantic" and "demisexual", the College of William & Mary's neologism dictionary observed in 2016 that it was only used in aromantic and asexual spaces, and Zach Schudson and Sari van Anders characterised it in 2019 as one of several "emergent gender and sexual identity discourses" appearing on LGBT social networking sites.
However, from 2021, some popular websites aimed at general audiences began to discuss the concept, and the concept has been used (rather than merely discussed as a neologism) in some academic art and literature criticism.
Some authors observed in the 2020s that QPR is associated with polyamory. A 2021 qualitative analysis of the language used by people involved in polyamory gave the word "queerplatonic" as a typical example of the "complex" vocabulary often used by individuals involved in consensual non-monogamous relationships. Y. Gavriel Ansara, writing for an audience of relationship counsellors, also observes that the term is common among polyamorous people. A 2022 article in the women's magazine Bustle drew parallels between "queerplatonic life partnerships" and consensual non-monogamy, relating both to relationship anarchy and the shared principle that the participants "customize their commitments according to what the people in the relationship desire".
Schudson and van Anders (2019) and the 2022 Bustle article also assert that use of the term is driven by "young people", or millennials and Generation Z.
Sex therapist Stefani Goerlich claimed in 2021 that the concept was inspired by Boston marriages—formalized romantic friendships between wealthy women in late nineteenth century New England. She also characterized QPRs as "an ancient practice made popular again", and suggests that Ruth and Naomi in the Hebrew Bible might have had "one of the earliest recorded QPRs".
Savie Luce challenges the conventional queer reading of Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman's Two Friends, a story depicting a Boston marriage, which casts it in a "sexualized queer light" as depicting a sapphic relationship. She argues that through the lens of QPR and Ela Przybylo's concept of "asexual erotics", Freeman's protagonists can be read as erotic lesbian partners without the need to mischaracterise their relationship as sexual or romantic, which Luce regards as "erotonormative". She also presents QPR as a radical counter-narrative to the lesbian bed death trope, with asexuality "an additive quality rather than a deficit" in a queerplatonic partnership between women.
Some authors have seen the concept of QPR as a reaction against an amatonormative hierarchy in which romantic relationships are regarded as more important than friendships. The author of the William & Mary neologism dictionary's entry on QPR opines that the desire to designate a close platonic attachment as a significant other rather than a best friend only exists because of the normative expectation that an individual should prioritize their partner over their friends—for them, QPR is only distinguished from friendship because the latter is not "considered a valid replacement for romantic love".
Similarly, Roma De las Heras Gómez connects relationship anarchy's critique of the idea that a romantic relationship is necessary to "create a family that includes long-term partnership, cohabitation, joint economic responsibility, and potential child raising" to the folk categories used in "asexual communities and aromantic communities online", and though she does not directly mention QPR, she does use the phrase "queerplatonic relationships" as a keyword for the paper, suggesting that she sees QPR as similar to relationship-anarchist non-sexual cohabitation and co-parenting.