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What Does Aromantic Mean?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 27, 2021

Aromantic people have little or no romantic attraction to others. They may or may not feel sexual attraction. An aromantic person can fall into one of two groups: aromantic sexual people or aromantic asexual people. 

Other Names for Aromantic

Aromanticism, like other sexual orientations, exists across a spectrum. There are several terms that people may prefer to further specify how they identify:

  • Demiromantic people have romantic attraction only after forming an emotional bond with another person.
  • Lithromantic or akoiromantic people feel romantic attraction but don’t want to have it returned. The attraction may also go away when someone does have feelings for them.
  • Gray-aromantic people rarely experience romantic attraction or can do so only under very specific circumstances.
  • Quoiromantic people can’t tell the difference between romantic and platonic attractions.
  • Cupioromantic people are aromantics who want romantic relationships.

Aromantic people may also use the shorthand “aro” to describe their orientation. 

What’s the Difference Between Aromantic and Asexual?

More people are familiar with the term asexual than aromantic. They’re similar but not the same. Aromanticism has to do with romantic attraction, and asexuality has to do with sexual attraction.

Romantic orientation and sexual orientation are two different concepts. An aromantic person’s sexual orientation doesn’t make them less or more of a valid member of the aromantic community.

Both orientations can also change over time or even frequently. If someone’s position on the aromatic spectrum changes often, they may orient themselves as aroflux. For the asexual spectrum, the equivalent is aceflux.

Myths and Misconceptions About Aromanticism

Aromantic people have different preferences when it comes to physical intimacy. They aren’t necessarily standoffish or prudish because of their romantic orientation.

Some aromantic people prefer not to touch or be touched by other people. Others may enjoy things like holding hands, hugging, or cuddling, even though these actions can be seen as romantic by onlookers and recipients. Many have preferences that fall somewhere in between.

People who are aromantic can still have intense, loving feelings, they’re just not romantic in nature. They can form emotional and personal connections, and they can provide and benefit from empathetic support. Aromantic people can still love their friends, family, children, pets, and their partners.

A common myth is that aromantic people, especially aromantic asexual people, are cold and robotic. But aromantic people aren’t emotionless. Romantic attraction isn’t related to your personality traits. Aromantic people often find joy in their relationships or feel excitement and happiness about other people’s romantic pursuits.

How Aromanticism Works in Relationships

Aromanticism doesn’t mean you have no desire for long-term companions. Many aromantic people have lifelong partners.

They might look and feel far from traditional partnerships, but aromantic relationships are like other long-term relationships and often include things like:

  • Living with a partner (cohabitation)
  • Committing to exclusive relationships
  • Physical affection
  • Sexual activity

Aromantic people can also get married. They can take part in aspects of a traditional marriage like sharing property and finances or having and raising children.

Other aromantic people may be part of queerplatonic relationships. These connections are strong and emotionally intimate, but not romantic or ambiguously romantic in nature.

Helping Your Loved Ones Understand Aromanticism

You don’t have to come out to your loved ones as aromantic. Coming out is a personal decision and not a requirement for your romantic orientation to be valid.

If you decide to come out, your best approach may be to keep things simple. You could simply say you’ve realized that you aren’t a person who has romantic feelings toward other people. 

The concept of aromanticism may seem confusing to your loved ones at first. However, chances are they’ve known other people who fit the description.

Coming out to people as aromantic, asexual or not, can be as stressful and anxiety-inducing as coming out as gay or another orientation. Remember that you alone get to decide how and when to tell other people. Take your time and approach these discussions in the way that feels most comfortable to you.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

AVENwiki: “Aromantic.”

AVENwiki: “Queerplatonic.”

Insider: “7 things you should know about identifying as aromantic — or not being romantically attracted to others.”

Psychology Today: “That’s So Aromantic!”

The Ace Community Survey: “Cross-orientations among non-aces.”

them.: “7 Facts You Should Know About Aromantic People.”

University of Oxford LGBTQ+ Society: “Ace/Aro Mythbusting.”

Vice: “What It’s Like to Come Out as Asexual.”

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