4 Things to Know About Aromantic Identities

Did you know that the week after Valentine’s Day is Aromantic Spectrum Awareness week? And how much do you know about aromantic identities? This post aims to be a basic 101 to aromanticism, written by an aromantic spectrum author.

Image via Aromantics Wiki

Here are some basic terms to get you started:

Romantic attraction: desiring a romantic relationship with a specific person (e.g. crushes)

Aromantic (aro): someone who does not experience romantic attraction

Alloromantic: someone who does experience romantic attraction

Grey-romantic: someone who rarely experiences romantic attraction; sort of in-between aromantic and alloromantic

Demiromantic: someone who experiences romantic attraction after a deep connection has been established

Asexual (ace): someone who does not experience sexual attraction

Allosexual: someone who does experience sexual attraction

 

1. Aromantic =/= Asexual

If you’re going to understand the aromantic spectrum, you first need to realize that sexual attraction and romantic attraction are different things. Someone can experience sexual attraction and not romantic attraction (allosexual and aromantic, for instance). Someone cannot experience sexual attraction but may still experience romantic attraction (asexual and alloromantic). While there is a lot of overlap between the aromantic and asexual communities, the identities are not the same thing.

 

2. Orientation =/= Behavior

I've often seen “aromantic” equated to “someone who doesn’t date,” which isn’t true. I know aromantic people who do date, although they aren’t romantically attracted to their partners. And while I’m grey-romantic and have occasionally experienced romantic attraction, I don’t date. Behavior is not determined by romantic identity, and there’s a wide range of diversity within the aromantic community. Basically, this comes down to not making assumptions about people!

 

3. Romance =/= Humanity

Aromantic people are no less human than anyone else, but I see this sentiment all the time. “Love is what makes us human,” usually with the implication being that it’s romantic love we’re talking about. Or in order to show how evil and cold a villain is, the author will have them not experience romantic love. Or aromantic people will be called robots, unfeeling, ect. None of this is true! Aromantic people can experience love just as deeply as alloromantic people, it just won’t be romantic in nature.

 

4. Romantic love is not more important than platonic love

"More than friends.” Do you know how many times I’ve seen this phrase? So many. I’ve even caught myself thinking it before. But this phrase and others like it imply that there is something greater and better about romantic love, when friendships can be equally deep, intense and important. While this misconception may have a unique effect on aro people, it hurts everyone to pin all importance on romantic relationships and undervalue the friends in our lives.

 

Other resources:

“5 Myths about Aromanticism”

“Aromantic 101 with Claudie Arsenault”

“Aromantic FAQ”

“Sexual Attraction vs. Romantic Attraction: Here’s the Subtle Difference Between Them”

“That’s So Aromantic

 

Thumbnail image via Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash