What It Means to Be Aromantic
The world has never had a more robust vocabulary to describe a person's gender, sexual orientation or romantic attractions. Despite this, not all of these terms are well-understood, and many people continue to feel misrepresented and unseen.
If you're confused about what it means to be aromantic, let's take a deeper dive into this little-understood label.
Aromanticism is a spectrum—that is, the term refers to a number of different and specific definitions—and that makes it particularly hard to characterize. Aromantic-Spectrum Union for Recognition, Education and Advocacy (AUREA) defines an aromantic as "someone who experiences little to no romantic attraction" or "someone whose experience of romance is disconnected from normative societal expectations."
Someone who identifies as aromantic will not feel a romantic attraction toward another person. However, they could also have an idea of romantic attraction that differs greatly from the standard view of romantic attraction.
And why not? We all view romantic attraction in different ways. Some tie romantic attraction to sexual attraction, while others experience romantic attraction as separate from sex. However, if you do experience romantic attraction of any kind (beyond just companionship with another person), you're considered to be alloromantic.
So aromantic is similar to asexual?
Well, not quite. While some of us link romance and sex, there are many who do not. Asexual refers to someone who experiences little to no sexual attraction to any other person. You can be an aromantic asexual if you experience neither romantic or sexual attraction.
You could also be asexual and yet still experience romantic attraction. This might mean you want to be a person's companion and feel romantic love toward them, but do not experience sexual attraction. This would make you an alloromantic asexual. Likewise, you could feel sexual attraction, but not experience romantic attraction, which might make you an aromantic allosexual.
There are many places to fall on the aromantic spectrum. For instance, you might consider yourself an aromantic asexual but still enjoy making out and having relationships. Your romantic and sexual attraction might simply stop at a certain point before falling deeply in love or taking your physical relationship to the point of having intercourse.
5 signs you might be on the aromantic spectrum
1. You've never been romantically attracted to anyone
You might have had a boyfriend or girlfriend before and may have loved them, but if you're being honest, you never felt the kind of romantic love your friends and family describe. Butterflies in your stomach? You can't relate.
2. You don't remember having crushes
Sure, you may have said you liked the hot guy everyone else was crushing on, but did you really? If you've never found yourself developing a crush on anyone, it could be because you're on the aromantic spectrum.
3. You don't relate to romantic books, TV shows or movies
Have you ever wondered how in the world someone can fall in love with two people at the same time? Or did you question how someone can devote themselves to someone who treats them badly? If you can't relate to characters who do crazy things in the name of love, you may be aromantic.
4. You don't dream of getting married
There are plenty of people who don't want to get married but still feel deep romantic attraction. However, since aromantic individuals are not prone to fantasizing about romances in their future, dreaming of getting married is probably low on your list, if it's there at all.
5. You've never been in or enjoyed relationships
If you've never dated or been in a relationship, and you think you'd feel uncomfortable doing either, don't panic. First of all, there's nothing wrong with you. (Even alloromantics who experience bad relationships can be turned off from them.) But if you feel as though, deep down, you'll never be in a relationship, it might be because you're aromantic.
So you're aromantic, now what?
It can be freeing to finally understand yourself better and especially to realize you're not the only one who feels a certain way. But what are the next steps?
You can tell your friends and family when you're ready or simply keep it to yourself if you're more of a private person. If you still want to pursue a partnership with someone, that's OK, too. Many aromantics enjoy the stability and companionship of relationships. Just be open and honest with your partner about your feelings to avoid any hard conversations later on.
Don't want a relationship? That's fine, too.
A final note: If you're struggling to identify as aromantic or you're still feeling pressure to develop romantic feelings, it can be helpful to talk to a professional therapist. In particular, it might be revealing to discuss your experiences and feelings with a fellow aromantic. AUREA has some resources to help you discover more about aromantics and connect with like-minded individuals.