Love has evolved. Where, decades ago, everyone assumed that there was only one kind of love aka heterosexual romantic love, these days, love doesn’t stop at heterosexual romantic love. Love has different meanings now. Where, years ago, having no desire for romantic relationships may have been considered weird and abnormal, these days, you might just identify as aromantic and be done with the uncomfortable conversation.
Dating and relationships have changed with time and we are happy as not everyone wants or desires a romantic relationship. This term is coined as aromantic. Aromantic people do not desire to experience romantic attraction toward others.
Romantic attraction is the desire to connect and interact with others emotionally. Even then, the definition of romantic may depend on an individual’s choice.
When we talk about romantic relationships or love, it often conjures up images of passion, intimacy, and closeness in our minds. During the pre-relationship period, romantic love can be overwhelming but as the relationship progresses, it can turn into something akin to compassion.
Aromantic individuals do not feel any of what I’ve just described nor have any desire to feel that way. The term aromantic or romanticism can be abbreviated to “Aro” just as the term asexual can be abbreviated to “Ace”. These identities are considered to be a part of the “A” in the LGBTQIA+ acronym. The “A” in the acronym represents aromantic, asexual, and agender.
Below, let’s explore what it means to be aromantic, how to tell if you’re aromantic, how this identity may affect relationships, and how to support your friend (and care for yourself, if you’re an aromantic).
What Does It Mean To Be Aromantic?
An aromantic individual is someone who has little to no romantic attraction toward other people. These individuals often lack the desire to be in romantic relationships or be romantically involved with others including activities such as holding hands, kissing, cuddling, or anything that has a romantic intent behind them.
Aromantic people don’t feel the need for a romantic relationship to feel satisfied or content. These people may also enjoy being single. This lack of wanting romantic relationships may also make others think they are cold and unfeeling but it’s not always the same. Aromantic individuals enjoy other relationships/love with others such as Platonic love, Philia love, or Agape love.
How To Tell If You’re Aromantic?
Everyone’s experiences when it comes to love and relationships may differ and more so when one identifies as aromantic. There is almost no definition of romance and love so each individual’s experiences may vary.
If you’ve been wondering about your romantic preferences and want to understand if you’re aromantic or not, here are some signs of being aromantic that you can refer to:
You don’t have romantic crushes. Carving initials into a heart? You don’t get the point.
You are not looking for “The One” or have any desire to be in a romantic relationship.
For you, sexual attraction has nothing to do with romantic attraction.
You like to date and may enter a relationship but the nature of the relationship is not romantic. Love and affection are there but with no romantic affliction.
Others often accuse you of sending mixed signals.
Romantic gestures are often a turn-off or red flags for you. “You complete me” What’s that?
You often face a hard time connecting with romantic stories or romance plots. Butterflies in the stomach? Doesn’t make sense to you.
Aromantic Vs. Asexual
While aromantic and asexual identities are often used interchangeably and are often confused with one another, they are not synonymous. An aromantic person is not interested in forming romantic relationships and if they have a partner, it’s not for romance but companionship. An aromantic individual may engage in casual sexual relationships without expecting a romantic bond.
An asexual person, on the other hand, is someone who has little to no sexual desire. In some cases, they may feel sexually attracted only after forming a strong emotional connection with their partner. These individuals may prefer romantic relationships over sexual relationships.
Asexuality and romanticism may be intertwined but not always. For example, an individual may identify as are ace if they are asexual and aromantic but these identities can be separate as well.
Types Of Aromantic Identities
Aromantic falls under the Asexual spectrum in the LGBTQIA+. While aromantic people may also identify as asexual, people of other gender and sexual identities may also identify as aromantic. For example, you can identify as aromantic cisgender, aromantic lesbian, aromantic transgender, and more.
Other types of aromantic identities that fall under the aromantic spectrum can include:
1. Gray-romantic: Individuals who fall somewhere in the middle of aromantic and romantic identifies as gray-romantic. They may experience some romantic feelings but only in specific situations.
2. Demiromantic: People who only experience romantic feelings with another person after forming an emotional bond identify as demiromantic.
3. Lithromantic or Akoiromantic: People who may have romantic feelings toward other people but don’t want those feelings to be returned may identify as Lithoromantic or Akoiromantic. If the romantic feelings are returned, the attraction may fade.
4. Recipromantic: Individuals who only experience a romantic attraction if they know that the other person also feels the same way identify as recipromantic.
How Being Aromantic May Affect Relationships?
Aromantic people may still enter relationships either intimate or sexual. However, those relationships may not look like traditional romantic relationships. Aromantic people may get married and raise children as well. However, the motivation behind such relationships should not be ignored. They may choose to enter such relationships because they want to have a family or raise children.
Other motivations to enter aromantic relationships may include wanting care and affection with emotional or financial support. Entering a relationship based on mutual interests or mutual gain.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that people identifying as aromatic do not face certain challenges. Societal pressure to find a partner, get married, and have children may be a challenge for aromantic people. People who don’t have the same inclination towards relationships may feel that there is something wrong with them.
Media influences may also present challenges for aromatic individuals. While some aromantic individuals may enjoy romance-centered content for entertainment purposes, others may feel repulsed.
Amatonormativity or the “traditional idea of romance” can also create certain social stigmas surrounding single individuals. This idea can pressure aromantic and asexual individuals to enter an unhealthy and unwanted relationship just for the sake of it.
How To Support An Aro Loved One?
If you have a loved one who identifies as aromantic then there are ways you can be a supportive ally to them. You can:
1. Respect their orientation: While you may not grasp the whole aspects of romanticism or be aromantic, you can still choose to respect their orientation and listen to what they have to say. You can ask them how you can better support them.
2. Don’t invalidate them: People know what they are talking about especially when it comes to their identity and orientation. Instead of dismissing their identity as a phase, listen and try to validate them. Don’t push them into something they are not interested in.
3. Avoid assuming things: There are misconceptions about aromantic and asexual people such as “they haven’t met the right person”. It’s not about that. It’s never about that. If you’re not sure, then respect your loved one’s words and ask questions but not intrusively.
How To Care For Your Aro Self?
Aromantic people are often faced with social stigma and pressure from others about their romantic (or lack of romantic) afflictions. Dealing with such misconceptions can take an unhealthy toll on your mental health and emotional wellness as it can make you feel pressured and isolated.
While romantic relationships may not be the right type of relationship for you, it’s important to have social support and other social relationships. Try to build strong social relationships and platonic relationships. Remember that there is not only one kind of love in the world.
Aromantics may be viewed as unfeeling and cold but it’s not like that. There are unique individuals with unique experiences and identities that should be respected. Some may enjoy romantic relationships, some may not.
If you identify as aromantic (Aro), remember that you’re not alone.
Here are some resources to help you if you’re yet coming to terms with your identity and need more information:
A Handbook for Coming Out: By The Trevor Project for LGBTQIA+ youth
I hope this blog helped you understand what it means to be aromantic, the signs of being aromantic, and how to support your loved one and yourself.
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