If lovey-dovey stuff like Valentine’s Day or other declarations of love don’t turn you into a human heart-eyes emoji, it may make you wonder, Am I aromantic? The romantic and sexuality spectrums are wide-ranging, and aromanticism is only one small piece of it. It’s not necessarily simple to understand aromanticism, though it seems like it could be. Simply put, aromantics don’t experience romantic love. Even so, it can be tricky to pinpoint whether or not you’re aromantic. Not wanting to date people or being an independent person can make you think you’re perhaps aromantic (and this could be accurate!), but those aren’t the only markers of being aromantic.
If you’ve been burned in past relationships and have little to no desire to jump into another, it could cause you to examine your romantic orientation. Maybe you’re a single mom questioning if you ever need a romantic partner. You might even be in a relationship but are starting to realize that you don’t feel the same way about romance as other people do (including the person in the relationship with you).
To help you better understand aromanticism, whether for yourself or someone in your life, here’s what you should know.
What does it mean to be aromantic?
People who are aromantic generally don’t experience romantic love. According to the Aromantic-spectrum Union for Recognition, Education, and Advocacy, aromanticism is a romantic orientation where people not only do not fall in love but tend not to like any romantic gestures, such as kissing or hugging. People who are aromantic are often single by choice but may also have multiple casual partners they do not feel romantically connected to. Aromanticism can look different in all people, thanks to the aromantic spectrum that spans different qualities, but generally speaking, people who are aromantic do not feel romantic connections. They can, however, still feel love, just not of the romantic variety.
What are the characteristics of aromanticism?
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Am I aromantic?” then perhaps you’ve already experienced some of the characteristics of aromanticism. Maybe you have no desire to have a romantic relationship, or maybe you think you want a romantic relationship but find yourself making excuses for why it never works out. If you feel uncomfortable in a romantic relationship and can tell it’s because you don’t like the romantic gestures or don’t feel like you’re in love, it could be aromanticism. Granted, this could also just be a lack of chemistry between you and a partner, making aromanticism tricky to decipher.
Some people who are aromantic simply do not understand romance because it’s not something they feel or want. You may also not interpret romantic advances or flirting because you have no desire for them and don’t want to return these actions (or you do return them unknowingly). You may feel anxious when it comes to romantic feelings, especially if someone shares their romantic intentions toward you, because it makes you uncomfortable if you’re aromantic.
Other signs you might be aromantic include:
- You don’t get romantic crushes.
- You don’t relate to romantic stories, movies, or books.
- Your vision of happiness doesn’t include you in a romantic relationship.
- You don’t consider sexual attraction and romance linked.
- The idea of PDA makes you squirm.
How does aromanticism affect relationships?
Some aromantic people still choose to have relationships even if there aren’t romantic feelings. These can be platonic partnerships you’ve decided to enter into for companionship or create a family. Plenty of aromantic people choose to be single, though, and are content in that lifestyle. Aromantic people also enjoy casual partnerships sometimes. As long as you’re open with a partner about where your head and heart stand, you can easily have this lifestyle and be content.
It’s also important to remember that you — and only you — get to decide how you feel and how you choose to live your life. Don’t let others stigmatize you or pressure you into romantic or sexual situations that make you feel uncomfortable. There are many, many forms of love, and romantic love isn’t superior to all of the others.
Aromanticism vs. Asexuality
While aromanticism is a romantic orientation, asexuality is a sexual orientation. Those who identify as asexual don’t feel sexual attraction and may even be repulsed by it in a similar way that aromantics feel about romantic love. Aromantics can also be asexual, but that’s not always the case. People can easily be one or the other, as they aren’t technically related. It’s unknown exactly how many people are asexual versus aromantic. However, one study posited that around 1 percent of people identify as asexual, with about 25 percent identifying as aromantic.
Aromantic people can have quite healthy sex lives since that allows them to feel connected to people. On the flip side, asexual people can find romantic partners to spend their lives with in a nonsexual manner. And while aromantic asexual people could have a more challenging time finding a partner (if they want one), they could still have a platonic partnership with someone for life that doesn’t include sex or romantic attraction.
What is the asexual pride flag?
Those who identify as asexual may also find pride in the asexual pride flag. This flag has grey, white, black, and purple horizontal stripes, in that order, from top to bottom. The black stripe represents asexuality, while the grey stripe expresses the grey area between sexuality and asexuality. The white stripe represents sexuality, and the purple stripe means community.
What is on the aromantic spectrum?
Sexuality is complicated and often not black and white. It's a spectrum, so here are a few variances in the aromatic range you should know.
Quoiromantic: This is someone who has feelings between a romantic and platonic attraction.
Gray aromantic: This is someone who doesn't feel or experience romantic attraction.
Demiromantic: This is someone who only experiences romantic attraction when they develop an emotional bond with someone.
Cupioromantic: People who are aromatic but still desire a romantic relationship/partnership.
Antonsen AN, Zdaniuk B, Yule M, Brotto LA. Ace and aro: understanding differences in romantic attractions among persons identifying as asexual. Arch Sex Behav. 2020;49(5):1615-1630. doi:10.1007/s10508-019-01600-1
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