“Aromantic” means a person feels little or no romantic attraction to others or has little or no desire for romantic relationships. It is a spectrum that encompasses various orientations regarding romance. It is different from asexual, which refers to sexual attraction.
Medical News Today uses definitions of sexual, romantic, and gender identities that come from LGBTQIA+ and ally sources. However, it is important to note that these identities are personal, and people may define them differently. Always refer to a person’s sexual, romantic, or gender identity the same way the person describes it.
“Aromantic,” which people may shorten to “aro,” means that people experience little or no romantic attraction to others.
People who are aromantic may have no desire for romantic relationships or may choose to enter platonic relationships.
This article looks at what it means to be aromantic, signs a person may be aromantic, myths and misconceptions about aromanticism, and how to be an ally.
Aromantic is a romantic orientation, which describes a person’s patterns of romantic attraction.
According to The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), aromantic people do not experience romantic attraction to others, regardless of gender, or may not desire a romantic relationship.
Aces & Aros explains that aromanticism is a spectrum and that a person may use the following terms to describe how they feel toward romance:
- Romance-repulsed: People may feel disgusted by thinking of themselves in a romantic situation or by seeing romantic content, such as in a movie.
- Romance-averse: A person does not have any desire to enter a romantic relationship.
- Romance-indifferent: A person is not against entering a romantic relationship but is not seeking it out. People may want to enter a partnership but have no preference on whether it is romantic or platonic.
- Romance-favorable: A person enjoys being in a romantic relationship in specific circumstances.
Aromantic people may identify with one of these terms in the long term or fluctuate between them, or it may depend on the situation.
Aromanticism is a romantic orientation. “Asexual” refers to a sexual orientation.
According to AVEN, people may identify with the split attraction model, which separates romantic attraction from sexual attraction.
A person who is asexual experiences no sexual attraction or desire toward other people of any gender.
People who are asexual can still feel romantic attraction toward others and may want a romantic relationship with another person.
A romantic orientation is the way people feel about others romantically. Romantic attraction may or may not include a desire to engage in sexual activity with another person.
Aromanticism exists on a spectrum, which means that each aromantic person may have a unique definition of what it means for them.
Some aromantic people may feel some degree of romantic attraction toward other people, while others may feel romantic attraction in certain circumstances. Some people’s experiences may vary along the spectrum of romantic and aromantic.
People on the aromantic spectrum may use other terms to identify themselves, such as:
- Greyromantic: A person who is greyromantic may identify somewhere between aromantic and romantic. People may feel romantic attraction only sometimes or only under certain circumstances.
- Demiromantic: A person who is demiromantic may feel romantic attraction to a person only once they have developed a significant emotional bond.
- Recipromanticism: A person who is recipromantic may experience romantic attraction to someone only once they know the other person has romantic attraction to them.
- Akoiromantic: A person who is akoiromantic may experience romantic attraction to another person that fades if the other person reciprocates the attraction.
A person may identify as aroflux if their romantic orientation fluctuates between aromantic and romantic or is sometimes outside this spectrum.
Each term may mean something different for each person who identifies with it.
People may be aromantic if they experience little to no romantic attraction to people of any gender. They may have little or no desire to enter a romantic relationship with anyone.
Romantic expression can vary among individuals and cultures but may include:
- gestures of physical affection, such as cuddling or holding hands
- spending quality time together
- giving gifts that are meaningful to the other person
- complimenting or affirming the other person
- sharing responsibilities
A person may choose the term “aromantic” to describe themself if it feels like a good fit for who they are.
Some aromantic people may not want to be in a relationship at all, while others may want a non-romantic partnership or different types of relationships.
Aromantic people may choose to be in a committed non-romantic relationship. This may include making a lifelong commitment to each other, living together, or having children together.
Aromantic people may look for a partner who is also aromantic, or they may be in a partnership with a person who does not identify as aromantic.
Aromantic people may choose to enter monogamous relationships, with one person, or polyamorous relationships, with multiple people.
People may use the term “queerplatonic relationship” for a non-romantic relationship that does not fall into the category of either friendship or romance.
Aromanticism and sexual relationships
People will have different feelings about whether they would like to engage in sexual relationships.
The types of sexual relationships a person engages in are up to them. Some people may wish to have sex with someone they have developed a close relationship with. Others may prefer to engage in more casual sexual relationships.
There are many myths and misconceptions around being aromantic, such as:
Being aromantic means that a person does not experience love
Romantic attraction is not the same as love. People who do not want a romantic relationship can still experience love. People may love their partner, family, friends, children, and pets.
Being aromantic means that a person will not have a relationship
Aromantic people may choose to enter relationships, which may have similarities to romantic relationships or be platonic.
Aromantic people may enter queerplatonic relationships or partnerships. A queerplatonic partnership is platonic rather than romantic but is deeper than a friendship.
Aromantic people are against romance
Each aromantic person may have different feelings toward romance, which may involve how they feel about romantic situations in general or about entering a romantic relationship themself.
Aromantic people may use the following terms to describe how they view romance:
Aromantic people are afraid of commitment
Identifying as aromantic does not mean that a person is afraid of commitment. It means that they experience little or no romantic attraction to others.
People who are aromantic and in a relationship, or people who are in a queerplatonic relationship, may make the same level of commitment as people might in a romantic relationship.
Aromantic people may choose to live with, marry, have children, and make major life decisions with a partner.
Aromantic people do not enjoy physical contact, such as touching, hugging, or kissing
People who are aromantic may still desire and show affection.
Aromantic people may experience types of attraction other than romantic attraction, such as:
- Aesthetic: the appreciation for how a person appears
- Sensual: the desire to engage in sensual activities, such as hugging, cuddling, or kissing
- Sexual: the desire to engage in sexual activities
Ways that people can be allies to aromantic people include the following:
- Respect and believe any person who shares their aromantic identity, and thank them for sharing this information.
- Ask if they need any particular support.
- Research and learn more about aromantic experiences and what the aromantic identities mean.
- Correct any false assumptions about aromantic people, even when no aromantic people are there.
- Learn from and amplify aromantic voices.
People may find the following resources helpful:
Aromantic people may feel little to no romantic attraction toward others and may not have any desire to be in a romantic relationship with people of any gender.
Aromanticism is a spectrum, and people may use different terms to describe their experience of being aromantic. People may have a fixed identity, they may fluctuate between romantic and aromantic, or it may depend on particular situations.
A person can be an ally to aromantic people by learning more about aromantic identities, supporting any aromantic people in their life, and amplifying aromantic voices.