sex and relationships

What does it mean to be aromantic?

Understanding what it means to be aromantic.
Antler Wilding
May 1, 2023

An aromatic (aro) person has no interest or desire for romantic relationships. These feelings exist on a spectrum with people feeling anything from zero interest to only very mild interest in romance.

Origins of the word aromantic

The term comes from the Greek prefix ‘a’ - meaning ‘without’ or ‘not’ together with the term ‘romantic’ in the same way that we form the word ‘asexual’.

What being aromantic means

Being aro isn’t the same as being asexual (ace) and having no interest in sexual relationships, although some people are both. It’s perfectly possible for an aro person to have a high interest in sexual connections, just as it is possible for an asexual person to be romantic.

In Western culture, romantic love is often held up above all other types as some kind of ideal. Other types of love, such as platonic love, such as that people might feel for friends, or familial love aren’t always given as much value. For an aro person, expressions of romance can seem anything from bafflingly pointless to sweet but unnecessary.

If you are aro, you may have a range of relationships that you value, from family and friends to the classic QPR (queerplatonic relationship). All of these connections will meet different needs and will have various depth of feeling attached to them, without any of them ever involving ‘falling in love’ in the romantic sense.

When someone tells you they are aromantic

So what should you do if a person with whom you are close tells you that they think they are aromantic? Firstly, as with any expression of identity, BELIEVE them! Ask respectful questions by all means, but don’t make judgemental or belittling statements. Comments such as “You’ll change your mind if you meet the ‘right’ person,” only serve to invalidate their identity. Be frank with yourself and with your aromantic partner/s about whether everyone’s needs will be met by the ways that you each show appreciation. It’s totally possible to have wholly fulfilling dedicated relationships without romance! NEVER pressure yourself or a partner to behave in ways that don’t feel natural.

If you’re wondering about being aromantic yourself

You might wonder if you are aro yourself. Perhaps you feel like you just don’t ‘get’ crushes or the whole appeal of sentimental love. Being dependable or trustworthy may be far more important qualities to you. So should you ‘out’ yourself as aro, to a partner? If you feel that you are ‘faking’ behaviours to meet their needs, then an honest discussion is likely needed. You may well be able to come up with other ways to communicate your commitment to each other that don’t feel uncomfortable. Whilst it may be really important for some people to believe their own feelings are being mirrored back by a partner, ultimately no one can ever be sure that what they experience as ‘romance’ is the same as another person’s definition.

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