What Does It Mean To Be Aromantic?
Updated September 22, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Robin Brock
“Aromantic” is a romantic orientation and spectrum that refers to someone who has little to no desire for romance. The opposite term would be alloromantic, a word that describes people who experience romantic attraction and desire romantic acts. While the alloromantic orientation might be what you’re used to seeing represented, there’s a growing representation for aromantic people. The aromantic spectrum encompasses multiple romantic identities, including demiromantic, cupioromantic, and grey-romantic. It also includes people of different sexual orientations, bisexual aromantic heterosexual aromantic or homosexual aromantic people, for example.
If you are on the aromantic spectrum, you may not desire romance at all, or you might experience very little romantic attraction. Being on the aromantic spectrum does not mean that you cannot get close to people or that you don’t have extremely close relationships that are just as meaningful as anyone else’s. We have an abundance of interpersonal relationships in our lives, and those relationships are not always romantic. For example, familial relationships and friendships can be extremely important to us. If you are on the aromantic spectrum, you may be fully satisfied with a life full of loved ones and platonic relationships but have no consistent desire for romance.
Is Aromantic The Same As Asexual?
You may have heard the term “asexual” and wonder how or if it differs from the term “aromantic.” Asexual and aromantic are two very different terms, but they can coexist in some cases. Asexuality refers to a spectrum that describes people who have little to no desire for sex. In contrast, aromanticism refers to a spectrum that describes people who have little or no desire for romance. Although sex can be a part of a romantic relationship, romance and sex are not the same things, and if someone desires one of those things, it doesn’t mean they desire the other. Think about it: Have you ever found someone, such as a celebrity or a cute guy that you came across on the beach, physically or sexually attractive without being romantically attracted to them or wanting a romantic relationship with them? That is where sex and romance differ. Someone could be aromantic and desire sexual activity, making them aromantic and allosexual, or they may be both asexual and aromantic and desire neither. If the latter is the case, this person might identify as both aromantic and asexual. Aromantic asexual people experience both little to no desire for sex and little to no desire for romance. If someone is aromantic but not asexual, however, their sexuality will correspond with their sexual attraction.
Sexual Orientation Vs. Romantic Orientation
Although someone who is on the aromantic spectrum experiences limited romantic attraction or no romantic attraction, they can experience other forms of attraction, including sexual attraction, aesthetic attraction or attraction to one’s appearance, and emotional attraction.
Just as sex and romance are different, sexual orientation and romantic orientation are two different things. For example, you may have met someone who is asexual but identifies as panromantic and asexual. This would mean that they are romantically attracted to people regardless of gender identity, but they have little to no desire for sex. Similarly, an aromantic person might identify as bisexual aromantic, heterosexual aromantic, biromantic, panromantic, or homoromantic. If someone identifies themselves using the term “aromantic heterosexual,” it means that they experience little to no romantic attraction but are sexually attracted to people of the opposite gender, whereas if someone identifies as “aromantic bisexual,” it means that they experience little to no romantic attraction but can be sexually attracted to people of any gender.
Romantic and sexual orientations such as aromantic asexual, homosexual aromantic, aromantic bisexual aromantic heterosexual, can all be used to describe a person’s desires as they pertain to romance and sex. Being able to identify in a way that feels adequately descriptive of your experience is your right. Additionally, having the verbiage to explain your romantic or sexual attraction is useful when meeting potential partners and explaining how you feel and what you want from a relationship.
What Does The Aromantic Flag Look Like?
The aromantic flag consists of five horizontal stripes of two shades of green (one darker and one lighter), white, grey, and black. Originally, the aromantic flag included an orange stripe in place of the current white and grey stripe. It was changed due to similarities and respect for the Jamaica flag, as well as the desire to better represent the aromantic community. The black and grey stripes represent the sexuality spectrum that exists for aromantic identities, whereas the white stripe represents platonic relationships, and the green stripes represent the aromantic spectrum. The aromantic flag is inclusive of the entirety of the aromantic spectrum regardless of a person’s sexual orientation.
What Should I Do If The People Around Me Don’t Understand Aromanticism?
First, know that there is nothing wrong with being aromantic. It is extremely hard when the people that you love the most, particularly friends and family, don’t understand what it means to be aromantic or actively speak against it. They may say things to you like, “the right person will come along eventually.” Although this may have been the case for them, they are not aromantic and must understand that while your experiences are different, both of them are valid. The best thing that you can to help the people around you understand being aromantic is to educate loved ones if you feel safe doing so. You can use some of the resources mentioned below, or you can share your own experience as a person on the aromantic spectrum. If a friend or family member isn’t familiar with the term “aromantic,” you can point them to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of the term, which defines “aromantic” as “having little or no romantic feeling toward others: experiencing little or no romantic desire or attraction.”
Knowing that the people around you don’t understand or aren’t accepting of your romantic orientation can be incredibly difficult, and it can become a heavy emotional weight to carry. If you’re struggling with people around you that don’t understand or aren’t accepting of your romantic orientation, talking to an LGBTQIA affirming mental health provider can help. You deserve to have a safe space to express your struggles and be who you are open to. If the first counselor or therapist that you see isn’t a good match, don’t be afraid to switch.
Resources For The Aromantic Spectrum And Allies
While some people don’t have the experience of being aromantic, they can become allies by learning about aromanticism from aromantic resources online, listening to the experiences of those on the aromantic spectrum, standing up for people who identify as aromantic, and amplifying the voices of those who are aromantic. The AUREA (Aromantic Spectrum Union For Recognition, Education, and Advocacy) website is one of the many websites that offer aromantic resources for allies and people on the aromantic spectrum, including a beginner’s guide to allyship and a printable introduction to aromanticism. AUREA provides an abundance of other resources, including a breakdown of the meaning of the aromantic flag, links to online resources, and information about in-person events when appropriate. Other websites with aromantic resources include The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project, aromantic.lgbt, and the aromantics wiki page. These resources are available to people on the aromantic spectrum as well as allies.
How To Meet Other Aromantic People
Community is a vital part of the human experience. If you’ve recently realized that you’re aromantic or have recently come out as aromantic, it’s natural to want to meet other people who identify in the same way. You can find online forums specific to people on the aromantic spectrum or those that are welcoming of the aromantic community. There are also social media groups and in-person groups related to aromanticism in some areas that you can access.
Aromantic spectrum awareness week or ASAW starts on the first Sunday after Valentine’s day every year. It’s recognized internationally as a way to spread awareness about what it means to be aromantic, shed light on unique issues that aromantic people face, elevate the voices of aromantic people, and celebrate identities on the aromantic spectrum. The first official aromantic spectrum awareness week took place in 2014. To participate in aromantic spectrum awareness week, you can advocate for aromantic spectrum awareness online and in person. There are other ways to celebrate aromanticism regularly, such as writing about your experiences as an aromantic person or sharing information on your social media platforms.
You can find the official website for a romantic spectrum awareness week here.
Counseling is an excellent place to seek confidential support for any life, relationship, or mental health concerns. Whether you see a therapist online or in your local area, you deserve a therapeutic relationship that you trust and feel safe in. One of the biggest benefits of online counseling is that you can see a licensed provider from the privacy of your own home or anywhere else with a reliable internet connection. The therapists and counselors at ReGain provide one-on-one counseling as well as couple’s counseling online, and they’re adept at helping you work through any interpersonal or life issues that arise. Search the network of online counselors at ReGain and find
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