Your Guide To Queerplatonic Life Partnerships

“Oftentimes, it just happens.”

Queerplatonic life partners laughing

While some friendships can certainly develop into more, we most often think of platonic friends as lifelong members of a chosen family — relationships that exist outside the intimacy of our romantic partners. Typically, a lifetime is spent with one partner (or multiple, if you’re non-monogamous), and life decisions, responsibilities, and future plans are all shared with them. Committed romantic or sexual partners have historically stood above platonic friends on the hierarchy of relationships, but some millennials and Gen Zers are beginning to challenge that narrative and instead embracing the queerplatonic life partnership (QPLP).

In November 2021, TikTok creator April Lexi Lee played a role in starting the larger conversation around platonic life partnerships by sharing the story of her own QPLP. Having been friends for 11 years, Lee’s long-distance QPLP moved in with Lee to start their life partnership together in the same place, and the video of their reunion quickly went viral, gaining over 1.2 million views on TikTok.

After watching the video, it’s not difficult to see why Lee’s relationship was compelling to so many. “Queerplatonic relationships have no strict rules and are not dictated by societal norms in how we are allowed to interact with our partner(s),” licensed psychotherapist Samantha Zhu, LMHC, tells Bustle. “It offers a different framework for relationships because it doesn't try to make claims on romantic affection or sexual desire as a method of validating its existence.”

What Is A Queerplatonic Life Partnership?

Typically, a queerplatonic life partnership is a relationship between two intimately close friends, who choose to form a committed life-long partnership. This can look vastly different from partnership to partnership, and while it’s rare, some QPLPs do choose to have a sexual relationship. For some QPLPs, like Lee’s, both partners may choose to have romantic or sexual partnerships outside of the relationship, or not. The beauty of the QPLP, much like ethical non-monogamy, is that the boundaries of the partnership are completely up to the individuals’ shared wants and needs.

“A lot of people in QPLPs consider themselves to be relationship anarchists, says Leanne Yau, a creator of educational content about polyamory and sex positivity. “Relationship anarchy is a life philosophy that applies anarchist principles to interpersonal relationships — it encourages individuals to customize their commitments according to what the people in the relationship desire rather than following the heteronormative conventions, and to see each of their connections with others as equally valuable rather than prioritizing one monogamous romantic lover above all others.”

How Do I Know If A Queerplatonic Life Partnership Would Work For Me?

Queerplatonic relationships can be similar to “normal” ones, says licensed professional counselor and sexologist Carlos Cavazos, LPC. “You make the commitment to be with each other, set the rules of what that commitment looks like, rely on each other for support, build a strong emotional bond, and take on joint responsibilities like homeownership or raising a family,” Cavazos tells Bustle. “What sets queerplatonic relationships apart is that there may not be romantic or sexual elements.” QPLPs often cohabitate, co-parent children, and share other major financial or life decisions together.

According to Cavazos, a QPLP would be a great fit for people who identify as asexual or aromantic, as it offers them a chance to create a life with someone else without the pressures of sexual or romantic situations they might not want. Even if you don’t fall within the spectrum of those identities, the lifestyle might still be right for you. “QPLP can be more appealing over romantic ones because of the allure of independence and agency,” Zhu says. “It offers an ever-working commitment for all partners involved to share a life that is defined by community and affection.”

Ultimately, making the decision to enter into a QPLP doesn’t always have to be a formal process. As Cavazos says, “Oftentimes, it just happens.” The most important thing to keep in mind is what will make you and your prospective partner the happiest and what dynamic will be the healthiest for both.

QPLPs can be liberating, Zhu says. “It can be a choice for many that is freeing because it allows us to operate from a space of abundance, that we can have deep love for our friends and partners, and it doesn't mean you have less love for anyone else in your life.”

Experts & Sources

Samantha Zhu, LMHC, licensed psychotherapist

Leanne Yau, polyamorous and sex-positive educator/content creator

Carlos Cavazos, LPC, licensed professional counselor and sexologist/relationship coach