Strategies of Defining QPPs

I’ve recently seen some posts in defense of queerplatonic and alterous again (sorry, didn’t save the urls), and it’s made me think some more about different strategies people use in queerplatonic apologetics — that is, in making the case for why words like queerplatonic are worthwhile to have.  I think of them as operating under two main modes.

(note that I dislike the choice of components for the word “queerplatonic” for various reasons, but that’s not the point of this post)

One of these modes, as I was saying, describes queerplatonic partnerships in terms of a romance without certain attributes associated with romance.  For example, lacking romantic feeling, or not based on romantic sentiment, or some other absence of something romantic.  In this mode, a qpp is not a friendship.  It may be a semi-romance, or not a romance, but the key element of this mode is that the emphasis on “NOT friendship.”

The other mode describes queerplatonic partnerships in terms of a friendship with certain attributes not associated with friendship.  For example, going on sensual dinner dates, sharing a bed, kissing, planning a day of celebration for the relationship, getting legally married, raising a child together, or the relationship otherwise being accorded more value, commitment, or importance than friendships are typically “allowed.”  A relationship doesn’t have to involve marriage or the like to be qp, but that’s a frequently cited example to demonstrate the depth of divergence from friendship norms.  To me, the concept of “queerplatonic” isn’t (or doesn’t need to be) bound to a specific relationship narrative or set of practices so much as a personal choice on behalf of the partnering individuals to demarcate their relationship as somehow distinct from their other friendships + from what they’ve been told a friendship should be.

The first mode stakes the relevance of “qpp” on the relationships it describes being “NOT friendship,” i.e. not “reducible” to “friends” or “best friends,” for which there are obviously preexisting terms.  In doing so, it typically involves a metric in which qpps, being mutually exclusive with friendship, are also ranked as “more” than friendship, necessitating that an upper limit boundary be placed on the intimacy/importance/commitment of friendship.

The second mode, on the other hand, would suggest that such an upper limit boundary is bullbutter.  If a qpp can be described — incompletely, but accurately — as friendship, then defining that exceptional friendship as queerplatonic proclaims a resistance to that arbitrary cap on what “friendship” can mean.  It says — that cap is fake, and here’s your living proof.  It says friendship is many-splendored and diverse, even in the face of relationship norms that would contest otherwise.

The first mode counters qpp-mockery by defining “friendship” as too inaccurate to contain qpps, which it accomplishes in turn by defining friendship as shallow.

The first mode counters qpp-mockery by highlighting a political/ideological difference between the labeling of “qp partners” and “best friends.”

A post brought to you by my impatience with what queerplatonic apologetics has become.


8 responses to “Strategies of Defining QPPs

  • Vesper

    …i immediately get tense and almost flinch whenever i see mention of alterous attraction now. how sad is that.

    interesting that you refer to the above as apologism. i’d be lying if i said that i have never done any of the above in the past, although i try to avoid doing that now. queerplatonic, as a word, does have issues that i’ve mentioned in the past. however, i still use it for lack of a better word…

  • epochryphal

    ah, zucchini….

    i feel like i want to toss tv tropes at this. Platonic Life Partner is a thing portrayed aaaaas a kind of friendship usually yeah?

    (oh god i just had the most horrid image of “but they are repressing and haven’t Realized that this isn’t meeeeeeeere friendship, this is media whitewashing” holy fuck brain too accurate)

    tangentially, while “fluctuatingly casual partners” sorta illustrates one of my relationships perfectly, it still is met with so much befuddlement. “you mean you… go weeks without, spending Quality TIME together?”

  • code16

    This is giving me thoughts on context-things and such.

    (Note, to me, “the case for why words like queerplatonic are worthwhile to have” = people want to/find it valuable/etc, and a main idea is a ‘I want to mark/differentiate this relationship in a way that isn’t covered by the words we tend to have/those words don’t feel right but I want something’. And to me that’s – entirely sufficient; even aside from personal investment I want to have things for feelings like that).

    But anyway, context things:. Where one is like – how distinguishing different types of relationships (specifically ‘friendship’ vs ‘gf/bf/those things’) is done to begin with. Because like – there’s a model where this is about *categories*, and they’re supposed to be basically a partition. For instance, in an amatonormative model, you have the one partner, and then ‘everyone else’ is your friends because well, you have the one partner slot and it’s taken.

    But you can also have models that seem to be more about *feelings* – like, see things like ‘my husband is my best friend’, ‘your partner should be your best friend’ (er, not endorsing shoulding, just noting things I’ve seen).

    And so among other things, in the first model having a different label can be a way of saying ‘no this partition system doesn’t work for me, and I want this clear breaking out of it’, while in the second model it can be a way of saying ‘I am having feelings that aren’t the ones I usually see people talking about here and want to have them word-that-is-not-quite-‘recognized’ here’.

    Also how repeatedly getting ‘haha, don’t you mean ‘friendship” responses can effect things.

    (sidenote, this also made me realize how *weird* this is for me because like – I have a best friend, and I have a qpp (though it might mean something different to me that to the people providing much of the description above?), and I would never say things about ‘not reducible’ or ‘more than’ or whatever but that feels weird to even think because in my head they’re so clearly *different things*. Like saying ‘oh, you’re ranking this apple as more than this water bottle’. Like, no, but also this isn’t a case of there being one axis and getting from one thing to another by sliding more along that axis. It’s a very multidimensional space where these things are in *different places*.) (er, none of this is criticism of this article, just – thoughts I ended up having from reading it).

  • Linkspam: July 1st, 2016 | The Asexual Agenda

    […] Coyote wrote about strategies for defining QPPs. […]

  • toafan

    I agree that the upper limit on friendship thing is bullbutter, but not for the reasons you articulate.

    I read the “more” in “more than friendship” as saying that there’s a dimension to [this relationship] that isn’t covered by “friendship”, without making any commentary on the strength of the friendship portion. To make a poor analogy, a cube is more than square even though it’s made of squares and readily embodies the idea of “square”.

    (I _think_ TVTropes uses “more” in the same sense when they talk about “more than mind control”, if that’s useful at all.)

    This is… not quite the same as what code16 is talking about with the apples and the water bottles, but it agrees with the “not-one-axis” and “multidimensional” stuff.

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