Ever since its origins as the Roman festival of Lupercalia, a celebration of the coming of spring and fertility, Valentine’s Day has been widely popularized as a day for romantic love between two people. This has traditionally been heterosexual love, though that has changed in recent years.
But exclusive romantic relationships are not all there is, especially within the LGBTQIA+ community. Polyamory and queerplatonic relationships exist, as well as relationships that defy labels or categories altogether.
Polyamory is similar to polygamy, except it refers to relationships rather than marriage. Contrary to popular belief, stable and loving polyamorous relationships can exist, they just require intentional and open communication and effort on the parts of all involved.
Healthy polyamorous relationships are also almost never the stereotype of one man with several women only attached to him, a lá TLC’s Sister Wives. Instead, they are more like a web of relationships within the polycule — the term for all individuals involved in a polyamorous relationship — with everyone on an even playing field, so to speak.
On the other hand, not all relationships are romantic at all. Queerplatonic relationships, or QPRs, refer to non-romantic, committed relationships. The word actually doesn’t come from the same “queer” used in the LGBTQIA+ community, but rather the one meaning different.
So queerplatonic is really just a way of saying a platonic relationship that’s different from the social norm, and the term is sometimes used by cisgender heterosexual individuals who are in this type of relationship. Although they can also use quasiplatonic, which means the same thing, to avoid confusion.
This doesn’t mean a QP (queerplatonic partner) is just a friend, as people in QPRs will often describe their significant other as their life partner, move in, or even marry and/or raise children with them.
QPRs often involve one or more asexual and/or aromantic individuals, as they are essentially romantic relationships with the sexual and romantic aspects removed. Every relationship is different, but QPs will often cuddle, kiss each other on the cheek, and/or sleep together (the literal way).
Even so, not all relationships need or even want to be defined. Sometimes, someone is special to you and you’re special to them, and that’s all that matters.
For example, I’m asexual and I’m not sure if or how I feel romantic attraction. So when my partner and I got together, we decided that knowing how we feel about each other is enough, and so fitting our relationship into a labeled box was unnecessary.
However, I have also been in relationships we defined as queerplatonic because it was what seemed most accurate, and we wanted a concise way to explain our relationship to others.
With Valentine’s Day so intensely focused toward romantic couples, it’s important to remember that every relationship is different, no matter the label or lack thereof the people involved choose to describe it with. What’s important is the love and affection we feel for those around us, and making sure they know it.
Whether you’re celebrating with that special someone or someones, chilling with friends and/or family, or content alone, Valentine’s Day is for letting the people you love know you love them, no matter how you define it.
Reach writer Anna Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @lesakuraciel
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