What Does It Mean To Be Aromantic?

Updated April 14, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

Aromantic is a romantic orientation and spectrum that refers to someone with little to no desire for romance. The opposite term would be alloromantic, which 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 of aromantic people. The aromantic spectrum encompasses multiple romantic identities, including demiromantic, cupioromantic, and grey-romantic. It also includes people of different sexual orientations, for example, bisexual aromantic heterosexual aromantic or homosexual aromantic people.

Aromanticism Is A Spectrum

If you are on the aromantic spectrum, you may not desire romance or 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. 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 “aromantic.” Being aromantic is different from being asexual, but they can sometimes coexist. 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, it doesn’t mean they want the other. Think about it: Have you ever found someone, such as a celebrity or a cute guy 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, 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 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 on the aromantic spectrum experiences limited or no romantic attraction, they can experience other forms of attraction, including sexual attraction, aesthetic attraction, attraction to one’s appearance, and emotional attraction.

Just as sex and romance are different, sexual and romantic orientations are different. For example, you may have met someone who is asexual but identifies as panromantic and asexual. This would mean they are romantically attracted to people regardless of gender identity but have little to no desire for sex. Similarly, an aromantic person might identify as bisexual aromantic, heterosexual aromantic, biromantic heterosexual, panromantic, or homoromantic. If someone identifies themselves using the term “aromantic heterosexual,” they experience little to no romantic attraction but are sexually attracted to people of the opposite gender. In contrast, if someone identifies as “aromantic bisexual,” 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 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 vocabulary to explain your romantic or sexual attraction is helpful when meeting potential partners and describing 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. Initially, the aromantic flag included an orange stripe instead of the current white and grey stripe. It was changed due to similarities and respect for the Jamaica flag and the desire to represent the aromantic community better. The black and grey stripes represent the sexuality spectrum 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 tough when the people you love the most, particularly friends and family, don’t understand what it means to be aromantic. They may say things to you like, “The right person will come along eventually.” Although this may have been the case for them, they must understand that while your experiences differ, both are valid. 

The best thing you can do 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 your experience as a person on the aromantic spectrum. If a friend or family 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.”

Aromanticism Is A Spectrum

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 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 offers 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 many 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 and 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 similarly. You can find online forums specific to people on the aromantic spectrum or those who are welcoming of the aromantic community. There are also social media and in-person groups related to aromanticism in some areas you can reach.

Celebrating Aromanticism

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. Other ways to celebrate include writing about your experiences as an aromantic person or information on your social media platforms.

You can find the official website for aromantic spectrum awareness week here.

Online Counseling

Counseling is an excellent place to seek support for life, relationship, or mental health concerns, and online therapy is a convenient and accessible way to get started. One of the most significant benefits of online counseling is seeing a licensed provider from your home or anywhere else with a reliable internet connection. Multiple studies show that online treatment is just as effective as in-person therapy. Ready to get started? Sign up with Regain to take the next step.

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