Aromantic asexuality means that a person does not experience romantic or sexual attraction. People who identify with these orientations may call themselves “aro,” for aromantic, and “ace,” for asexual.
Both orientations exist on a spectrum. Some people experience minimal romantic or sexual feelings. They
Many aromantic asexual people may have no sexual or romantic relationships, instead, prioritizing friendship. Others have romantic relationships, but these relationships may look different from the stereotypical romantic relationship.
Roughly 1% of the population identifies as asexual.
This article explains what it means to be an aromantic asexual, including the definition of both terms. It will also detail examples in practice and support from different organizations.
An aromantic asexual is a person who experiences limited or no romantic and sexual feelings. Both identities exist along a spectrum of sexual and romantic feelings. A person’s behavior, emotions, and outward manifestations of their identity
Aromantic means a person has limited or no romantic feelings. Aromantic individuals may still experience sexual attraction but are not typically interested in close romantic relationships.
A wide range of sexual identities exist, and people may develop new terminology to more adequately capture their own sexual and romantic experiences. Some other sexual identities
- bisexual, which means a person is sexually attracted to men and women
- pansexual, which means a person has an attraction to all or many gender identities
- homosexual, which means a person has an attraction to the same gender as themselves
- heterosexual, which means a person has an attraction to a different gender from their own
- queer, which refers to a wide range of less common sexual identities, such as bisexual, homosexual, and pansexual, as well as asexual
Sexual identities are descriptors of a person’s sexual and romantic preferences. They are distinct from gender identity, which is a manifestation of how a person experiences and expresses their gender.
A person can hold multiple identities. For example, a person can be homosexual, meaning they have attractions to the same gender, and asexual, which means these attractions either are not sexual or are only rarely sexual.
A 2022 study compared the behaviors and attitudes of romantic and aromantic asexuals and found that people who identify as aromantic had more avoidant attachment styles, identified more with the asexuality label, and expressed more concerns about relationship commitment.
Every individual, though, is different. Here are some examples of how aromantic asexuality might manifest:
- A person might choose to have neither romantic nor sexual relationships. Instead, they might prioritize friendships, forming close attachments to friends.
- A person might have romantic or sexual relationships only in certain circumstances. For example, a person might be gray asexual and aromantic, indicating they are only rarely interested in sexual relationships.
- A person might be demisexual or demiromantic. This means they develop sexual and romantic feelings only when they have a strong emotional bond with a person.
No single test or checklist can determine a person’s identity, as it is deeply personal. One person might identify as gray asexual in a scenario that would cause another person to not identify as asexual.
Some questions a person can ask to determine their identity include:
- How do my relationships feel?
- Do I desire romantic relationships?
- Do I experience sexual attraction?
- Do I experience a desire to have sex?
- Do certain conditions have to occur for me to experience romantic or sexual attraction?
- Does my sexuality seem very different, or more limited, than that of my peers?
- Am I significantly less interested in romantic relationships than my peers seem to be?
It may be helpful to test out the identity by considering how it feels to use the label. A person might also find additional guidance by participating in online asexuality communities.
A person can learn more and seek support from a variety of organizations:
- The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) can provide referrals to therapists and other experts with knowledge of asexuality and aromanticism.
- The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project offers activism and education.
- The Asexual Visibility and Education Network hosts an online community and a large library of resources.
- The Human Rights Campaign advocates for all people with less common sexual identities, including asexuals. It lobbies governments, plans activist events, and offers access to additional support and resources.
Aromantic asexuality is a broad term that can mean different things to different people. For some people, these identities are integral to who they are. For others, they are less important.
People who identify as aromantic asexuals can and do have romantic and sexual relationships for a wide range of reasons. These relationships may replicate dominant relationship themes, or they may look different, with different rules.
It is important to listen to an individual about what their identity means to them. A person does not need to prove that they are asexual enough or proceed through a checklist to affirm their identity.