June is “pride month” in the US, and it is usually filled with corporations trying to show how forward thinking they are in appealing to the LGBT community. For a while now, I have been thinking that I am part of that community myself. The thing is I am not L, G, B. or T.
The current extended acronym is LGBTQIA+ or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Queer, Intersex, Aro/Ace Spectrum, and + for others. I’m in the A group. Took me a while to figure out where, but I finally solved the mystery:
What is Aromanticism?
Aromanticism is probably the least popular (less than 1% identify), and least understood sexual orientation, even by the people that are aromantic.
So what is it? Here’s the definition from the AVEN Wiki:
An aromantic is a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others. Where romantic people have an emotional need to be with another person in a romantic relationship, aromantics are often satisfied with friendships and other non-romantic relationships.
It is important to note that aromantics do not lack emotional/personal connection, but simply have no instinctual need to develop connections of a romantic nature. Aromantics can have needs for just as much empathetic support as romantics, but these needs can be fulfilled in a platonic way.
It is possible for an aromantic individual to be involved in, and enjoy, a devoted relationship with another person, but these relations are often closer friendships, naturally reflecting the closeness of the two individuals and not a purposely initiated monogamous separation as is often found in romantic couples.
Aromantics may experience squishes which are the aromantic or platonic equivalent of a romantic crush. When an aromantic gets into a relationship that’s more than friends – but less than romantic – that is known as a queerplatonic relationship.
Like all romantic identities aromantics can be of any sexual orientation.
That last sentence is really important. There is a false impression that all aromantics are also asexual, but the truth is most aromantics, are very sexual, and come in all the flavors: Hetero, homo, bi, pan, and poly. And yes, also asexuals.
Here are some of the symptoms of aromanticism. This list is incomplete and just because you have felt some of these does not mean you are aromantic:
- You don’t have any desire to be in a relationship.
- You experience outside pressure to be in a relationship, but ignore it, or even fear it. The phrase “You just haven’t met the right person yet” gets repeated to you a lot.
- If you are in a relationship, you get accused of not loving or caring for that person, because you have no idea how to express it. Most of your relationships end because of it.
- Romantic gestures, both giving and receiving, feel awkward and unimportant.
- Kissing, cuddling, and other non-sexual touching feel awkward and unimportant.
- When you “have a crush” on someone, your instinct is to desire to hang out with them and be their friend (We aromantics call this a “squish” or a platonic crush), rather than a desire to make out, have sex, or be their significant other.
- In fact “crushes” involving thoughts of physical contact or long term plans never occur. (aromantic) or very rarely occur (gray romantic).
- You have to get to know a person really well before you even start to think about a romance with them (the term is “demiromantic”)
- Shyness about asking someone out on a date are not about fears of “What if they say NO?”, but rather “What if they say YES?”
- Thoughts of being alone the rest of your life do not really bother you that much.
For more information, I found this great article. Here’s a quote:
Aromanticism means you cannot feel romantic attraction. Like any romantic or sexual orientation, it is a part of a person’s nature, and while attraction patterns can be fluid, no one can force their romantic/sexual orientation(s) to change, not even by behaving contrary to those orientations. Dating someone won’t make an aromantic person feel romantic attraction or love. Great sex won’t do it. Even loving someone strongly as a friend won’t suddenly flip the switch in an aro’s brain and lead them to feel romantic attraction. Either you feel attracted to someone in a particular way or you don’t.
There’s a built in contradiction with this orientation. How do you know that you’ve never experienced romantic attraction if you don’t know what romantic attraction feels like? It is a thought that many of us aromantic types try to deal with.
I consider myself aromantic. I have never been head over heels in love or any of that other mushy feelings described by authors and poets. I do feel friendly “squishes” occasionally and I have a normal sexual libido. Is romantic attraction just some combination of the two? Because I have felt that, does that mean I am not aromantic? This is part of the self doubt.
Based on what people say “falling in love” feels like, I can say confidently that no I have never felt this.
Now the romantics will say, “That’s so sad, that is so tragic, to never feel what romantic love is like.”
To me, never feeling romantic love, feels natural and normal, it’s the 99% who are romantics that are the tragic freaks.