Non-romantic relationships

3 minutes

Learning objectives

After completing this unit, you will be able to:

  • Define terms used to describe non-romantic relationship structures.
  • Explain the basics of committed platonic relationships and the reasons why people might desire them.
  • Challenge the assumption that all people are interested in committed relationships.

Not everyone wants a romantic partner

In our society, there is an underlying assumption that everyone is searching for “the one” — a single romantic partner to spend the rest of their lives with. This, however, is not always the case. Many people aren’t interested in traditional lifelong romantic partnership, and aro people are often among them. Some seek different forms of partnership, while others remain permanently single.

Platonic relationships

Sometimes, an aro person may choose to be in a committed relationship that is entirely platonic in nature. For aro people in these relationships, commitment might include raising children together, sharing living expenses, or living together long term. An aro person might specifically seek out an aro partner who will have similar expectations for the relationship; however, aro people may also form platonic partnerships with people who do not identify as aro themselves.

Often, these kinds of committed relationships are called queerplatonic relationships, or QPRs. Having this dedicated word is helpful because it disrupts the belief that friendships are always lesser than romantic relationships. A committed platonic relationship may look vastly different from what most people think of when the word “friendship” is used. The word queerplatonic was created in order to describe relationships that don’t easily fit into either the “friendship” or “romance” categories.

Many people experience something called platonic attraction — the desire to get to know someone or befriend them in an emotionally intimate way. Whether or not platonic attraction is present may be an important factor in who an aro person wants to form a platonic relationship with.

Ace and aro communities tend to use the word platonic to specifically mean non-romantic, instead of also meaning non-sexual. As such, an aro person might have sex with someone they call their platonic partner.

Benefits of QPRs and other platonic partnerships

For some aro people, the idea of being alone for the rest of their life can be daunting. They may want someone to take care of them when they are sick or may want a person that they can rely on as an emergency contact. All in all, a platonic partnership can give a greater sense of stability to an aro person’s life and can provide them with a form of partnership that feels more natural to them.

These relationships can also be a solution to practical concerns. Aro people may still have life goals such as living without roommates, buying a house, or raising kids; for some, these goals might not be feasible without a partner. Some aro people seek out a platonic partner who has similar plans in order to help them build the life that they want.

Nonamory

While some people desire partnership, others are entirely uninterested. Nonamory is when a person does not seek any form of committed relationship. A person who is nonamorous may be content with their existing familial relationships and friendships, or they may enjoy the independence that comes with being single.

Further reading