Aromantic: Meaning, Signs and Your Questions Answered
These days, more and more exploration and research is dedicated to human sexuality as we learn about the many ways that people identify and label themselves. People’s understanding of sexuality is evolving beyond concepts of straight and gay and we are learning more about the spectrum of sexuality and sexual identity. When we think about sexuality, we often think of it in terms of who people are attracted to, but it’s important to remember that there are many people that are not sexually or romantically attracted to others at all.
Sexuality is a spectrum, and one end of the spectrum is the absence of sexual or romantic attraction to others. When thinking about this end of the spectrum, there are two important identities to understand. Aromantic is an identity label for people that are not romantically attracted to others in any way. Asexual is how people identify if they are not sexually attracted to others.
This article will help define what aromantic means, explain what aromantic relationships might look like and answer some frequently asked questions about aromanticism.
What are some signs of being aromantic?
So what does it feel like or look like to be aromantic? If you are aromantic, you might never have a romantic crush on someone. And you might not be able to relate to people talking about romantic crushes. You also might not be able to relate to romantic movies or books. A lot of aromantic people understand what it looks like when others feel romantic love, but personally are not interested in romantic attraction or do not feel like they have those same feelings.
A lot of people tend to conflate love with romance and romantic attraction, but it is possible to have love for people (think of platonic love and family love here) without feeling romantic attraction towards them. In order to understand aromanticism, it’s important to untangle love from attraction. Many aromantic people have close friendships, family relationships and even partnered relationships (more on this below) because while they do not feel romantic attraction, they still have a lot of love for other people.
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What does an aromantic relationship look like?
Being aromantic doesn’t mean you can’t experience other types of love or develop strong connections to others. Like we mentioned above, lots of aromantic people have close friendships and close relationships to family members. People that are aromantic don’t experience romantic attraction but can feel and express love to others. Some aromantic people are in partnered relationships with people that are romantic, and these relationships look like most other romantic relationships. It is possible for aromantic people to love a partner even if they do not feel romantic attraction to them. There are plenty of reasons that aromantic people pursue romantic relationships aside from romantic attraction. Aromantic people may want to feel bonded with a partner, start/have a family and/or provide their partner with emotional support.
While aromantic people can be involved in happy, healthy and fulfilling romantic relationships, they don’t have to be! Lots of aromantic people do not find satisfaction in romantic relationships at all and so do not pursue them. This often means that aromantic people have lots of platonic friendships and strong relationships with their family members and find that these relationships are perfectly fulfilling. Social support is super important for a healthy and connected life, but there are many different ways that people can find social support aside from romantic relationships.
What is the relationship between aromanticism and sex?
If someone identifies as aromantic they are not necessarily asexual, which means that they do experience sexual attraction to others. This means that people that are in aromantic relationships or people that are aromantic do have sex with others. It is importnat to note that though aromantic and asexual are different identities, it is possible for people to identify as both aromantic and aseuxal. If someone does identiy as asexual and aromantic, sex may not be completely off the table. It’s important to remember that even some asexual people have sexual relationships. Just because people that identify as asexual aren’t sexually attracted to people, it doesn’t mean that they never have sex. There are plenty of reasons unrelated to sexual attraction that drive people to have sex. For example, many asexual people are interested in having children so they have sex.
Other asexual people are in relationships with nonasexual people and so they have sex because they want to give their partner pleasure. Other asexual people do not have sex with others and instead prefer to masturbate. It’s important to understand that even within these identities there is a huge amount of variation in preferences. Within the spectrum of asexuality there are terms like sex-averse, sex-indifferent and sex-favorable to describe more precisely how people that identify as asexual feel about sex with another person.
Though the idea of aromanticism may be new to you, just know that there are plenty of people who identify as aromantic. Just like everything else, aromanticism is on a spectrum so if you identify with some of the things we talked about and not others, it is still totally possible that you fall somewhere on the aromantic scale. Sexuality is very personal and so while there are general characteristics for certain identities, you do not have to fit perfectly in the definition to identify this way. Because sexuality and sexual identity are a spectrum and because there is not only one way to be aromantic, it can be confusing and difficult for people to identify aromanticism in themselves.
If you are feeling aromantic, it can also also be difficult to navigate partnered relationships in an authentic way. If this is the case for you, know that there are plenty of online forums you can join to help you understand the spectrum of aromanticism and to get connected with other people who identify somewhere on the aromantic spectrum. Hearing from other aromantic people about how they navigate love, partnered relationships and sex can help you feel more confident in your identity.
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