If you experience no, or little, desire for romance, you might be aromantic. Read on to learn more about the meaning of aromanticism, how aromanticism differs from asexuality, and how to recognize some signs that a person may be aromantic.
A person who is on the aromantic spectrum (also known as “arospec”) doesn't feel romantic attraction and/or doesn't desire romantic relationships. As the aromantic experience exists on a spectrum, some aromantic people may feel no romantic attraction at all, while others may experience it sometimes. This is known as greyromantic. Some may experience romantic attraction toward strangers, but find it fades after they get to know the person. This is known as frayromantic. Some aromantic people are in romantic relationships while others feel uncomfortable with romance, romantic gestures, and romantic relationships of any kind.
Aromanticism is different than asexuality
Asexuality refers to experiencing no sexual attraction while aromanticism refers to experiencing no romantic attraction. Cyril, a volunteer with the Aromantic-spectrum Union for Recognition, Education, and Advocacy (AUREA) explains the difference between sexual and romantic attraction. Cyril tells O.school, “Think of it this way: you can be sexually attracted to someone and/or have sex with someone without feeling romantic attractions or the desire to be in a romantic relationship with them — for example, having casual sex/hookups or one-night-stands.” And you can also “feel romantic attraction to someone without wanting the sexual side of things.”
While aromanticism and asexuality are different, they can overlap. Some people who are aromantic may also be asexual. Some people may only identify with one of the two labels at certain points in their life, and then shift to identify with both at other points.
4 signs you might be aromantic
There are few signs that may indicate a person is aromantic. That said, there is no set criteria needed for a person to claim the label. As Cyril says, “If you want to use any arospec label, you can.” On the flip side, if the label doesn’t feel right for you, leave it behind.
- You don’t have crushes. Many aromantic people describe not having, or rarely experiencing, crushes. A “common experience that I’ve come across is that when asked, a lot of aromantic people would ‘pick’ their crushes instead of actually having a romantic interest,” Ian, a volunteer with AUREA, tells O.school.
- You don’t desire a romantic relationship. Some aromantic people may feel as though they need to make up excuses as to why they do not want a romantic relationship or feel as though they’re being forced into a romantic partnership. Some people may also find that they want a romantic partner in theory, but never feel the desire to actually pursue a relationship with anyone they meet.
- You don’t experience romantic attraction, or only in certain circumstances. Cyril tells O.school that for certain people, a sign of aromanticism can be “experiencing romantic attraction atypically, for example a pattern where it goes away as soon as it's reciprocated, or where it regularly fades very quickly.” You may rarely experience romantic attraction (greyromantic) or only experience romantic attraction after you have an emotional connection with someone (demiromantic), or never feel romantic attraction.
- You feel uncomfortable when people are romantically interested in you. For some aromantic people, it is very uncomfortable when a person tells them they are in love with them or romantically interested in them. “This may include feeling anxiety, dread, guilt, panic, or as though a responsibility has been put upon them,” according to AURA.
What it’s like to date as an aromantic person
When it comes to dating as an aromantic person, there is a wide variety of experiences. Here are just a few perspectives from people who identify as aromantic on what it’s like to date.
- “As someone who is aromantic and allosexual [a person who experiences sexual attraction], I find it hard to find a sexual relationship, since a lot of people view aroallo people [people who experience sexual attraction, but not romantic attraction] as predators or uncaring. Lacking the capacity to romantically love someone doesn’t mean you don’t care for them, but a lot of people misunderstand this,” Ian tells O.school.
- “Some, like me, may choose to date other arospec people exclusively because they feel that those relationships work best for them. [...] Personally, I view dating as a way to meet new people and see what develops, and I've had dates turn into everything from very casual friendships/acquaintanceships to a full-blown queerplatonic relationships (QPRs),” says Cyril.
- “I'm greyromantic, but I'm in a married romantic relationship,” says Siggy, admin of the Asexual Agenda and a leader of The Ace Community Survey. Siggy also tells O.school: “Some people are interested in relationship structures that are ambiguously romantic. For example, a committed platonic relationship with cohabitation.”
The bottom line
There are a range of experiences when it comes to being on the aromantic spectrum. Whatever your experience may be, you are the one who gets to choose if the aromantic label feels good to you.