What Is Aromantic And What Does It Mean For Relationships?

By: Joy Youell

Updated July 15, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers

"Romantic relationships are so stressful. Why do my partners feel like they need to be around me all the time?" Have you ever felt something like this as you navigate relationships with others? Feelings like this are commonly associated with aromantic people, which essentially means non-romantic.

As an aromantic person, exploring the world of relationships can be confusing. Many people and cultures put a heavy emphasis on romantic partnering, and when you're someone who doesn't necessarily feel that urge, it can feel like you're wrong or dysfunctional somehow.

However, healthy relationships don't necessarily require romance. If you think you may be aromantic, there are multiple ways you can find and sustain satisfying relationships.

Wondering What Aromantic Means For Intimate Relationships?
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Understanding an Aromantic Person

Aromantic people are not unfeeling or uncaring. Instead, they may feel overwhelmed by the pressure to express themselves romantically. They often describe their partners as clingy or needy, and they themselves may self-identify as someone who is independent or a loner or may even self-identify as aromantic. “Aromantic” is a spectrum including a wide range of romantic experience and expression.

Some people feel this way occasionally. Others feel this way frequently or all the time, which means they're likely to be aromantic.

Essentially, a person who is aromantic does not usually experience romantic attraction to other individuals. (Note that romantic attraction is different from sexual attraction. We’ll talk about aromantic bisexual, aromantic heterosexual, aromantic asexual, and the aromantic spectrum later on.) Someone who is aromantic typically does not feel the desire to pair up with another person in a romantic relationship.

Being aromantic is not a mental disorder. It is simply another way of being human with all of our various preferences.

Whereas many people experience an emotional need to be in a romantic relationship, aromantics are emotionally satisfied without this kind of partnership. It's certainly possible for an aromantic person to enjoy activities that are commonly considered romantic. However, these actions are unlikely to prompt romantic feelings in them.

Even though they don't seek out romantic partnerships, aromantic people can still experience love. Love and affection can appear in many different forms and in different types of relationships. All people, regardless of romantic attachment styles, have multiple types of relationships in their lives, including family, friends, colleagues, and sexual partners.

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What Aromantic Is Not

Being aromantic does not mean that a person is unfeeling or incapable of love. It also does not necessarily mean they are asocial or antisocial. Some aromantics are antisocial, just like some people who desire romantic relationships are antisocial.

Being aromantic does not mean that a person doesn't want to be around other people or has no social needs, nor does it mean that they're uncomfortable around others. All of these different social experiences are separate from the identity of being an aromantic person.

Various Styles of Romantic Experience and the Aromantic Spectrum

It's important to note that, like sexuality, romantic interest can be experienced on a spectrum. Because sexuality and romance are not the same thing, how they can be experienced together is part of the aromantic spectrum.

It is possible for a person who identifies as aromantic to experience some romantic attraction at some point in their life, just like a person who primarily identifies as homosexual can experience attraction to someone of the opposite sex without changing their overall sexual orientation. Because this basically means that any kind of romance can be paired with any kind of sexuality, we’ll stick to the most common combos.

Here, we’ll be talking about people who are aromantic but still experience sexual attraction – a concept which may seem off-putting to some readers. While most romantics are also asexual, this is not always the case.  While most of us like to and tend to think of sexual attraction as a strictly romantic endeavor, that’s not always the case. And that’s okay, as long as both partners understand and consent to their relationship.

  • If you only desire romantic relationships with people of the opposite gender, regardless of which genders you are sexually attracted to, you are probably heteroromantic.
  • Similar to being heteroromantic, if you are homoromantic you can be sexually attracted to multiple genders. Your romantic desire, however, is aimed at people of the same gender as yourself.
  • Biromantic people can feel romantic attachment to people of either sex, or both sexes.
  • Bisexual Aromantic. Bisexual aromantic people may not be interested in romantic relationships, but can experience sexual attraction to people of either gender.
  • A demiromantic is someone who only feels romantic attraction after they have formed a close emotional bond with someone else. This is different from someone with a romantic orientation because the romantic may experience attraction before creating a close bond. Romantic attraction without emotional closeness is basically what it means to have a "crush."
  • Aromantic Asexual. People of this description are interested in neither romance nor sex. Again, that doesn’t mean that they live their lives under rocks. Aromantic asexual people can – and do – form strong and lasting “platonic relationships.”

Wondering What Aromantic Means For Intimate Relationships?
Let's Talk. Connect With A Licensed Relationship Counselor Today!

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Aromantic Is Not One Size Fits All

What distinguishes romantic versus non-romantic feelings and behaviors can vary between individuals and cultures. The degree of physical intimacy, for instance, is often different in friendships and romantic relationships. Romantic partners are more likely to hold hands and cuddle.

Aromantics may not care for physical affection, or they may enjoy hugging their friends or holding someone's hand. Regardless of whether or not they intend to form a romantic bond with someone, most humans are wired to seek physical connection with others in some form. The amount of physical affection a person enjoys varies between individuals of all romantic orientations.

Be careful not to assume that an aromantic person does not require emotional support or community. They may simply fulfill those needs differently from people who acquire much of their support from a romantic partner.

Aromantics are more likely to seek emotional attachments and support from friends rather than partners, and they may even develop especially close relationships with specific friends.

How Being Aromantic Affects Friendships and Other Relationships

Despite common misconceptions, being aromantic does not mean a person doesn't love anyone or isn't capable of love. The “aromantic” definition explained how a person experiences love, not whether or not they experience love. Not experiencing love at all something different.

Aromantic simply means a lack of romantic attraction, but attraction doesn't equal love. You can love your parents, your children, and your friends. All these relationships include valid expressions of love; they're just not expressions of romantic love.

Aromantic people can form bonds of attachment with others. An aromantic person may also desire to live with another person or to have a long-term living arrangement with a close friend. Not all aromantics want to be alone or live alone, though some do.

Some, however, explicitly want relationships or friendships that involve living together. They just don't feel romantic attraction toward their roommate. Although they may not feel romantic attraction toward this person, they are still likely to be picky about the people in their lives, particularly a roommate.

Some aromantics prefer to have a primary partner. This may be the person they lean on most for emotional support, and it may be the person they live with. They may or may not have sex with this partner, even though romantic affection is likely absent from this relationship.

How to Know if You Are Aromantic

If any of this information strikes a chord with you, you may be wondering if you're aromatic.

One place to start is with a test called the Kinsey Test. These tests give you prompts and a range of responses to try to ascertain your sexual orientation. It’s not just for the asexual or aromantic person – it runs (just about) the whole gammot.

Source: pexels.com

To learn more about being aromatic you may also want to join online communities for aromantic people. Tumblr has many aromantic blogs, and forums are a great place for discussing aromanticism with others.

Online Help for Aromantics

If you want help exploring your feelings about being aromatic, you can reach out to a professional counselor. They can offer an unbiased, non-judgmental space for you to express yourself and think about your identity.

Being aromantic is not a mental health condition or a problem. It may, however, affect the way you think about intimacy, communication, and identity. A professional counselor is equipped to help you navigate this exploration. You may read below for reviews of BetterHelp counselors.

Counselor Reviews

"In one session Douglas has helped me realize and find a way to break a pattern that I've been having for the last few weeks and probably lifelong. This is going to help me improve my relationships and my life will be more fulfilling. I'm glad I got to talk to Douglas, I can sense he is a great professional."

"Rosemary respectfully listens to me. In between my long explanations she always finds a way to navigate me to what really matters. She is able to distinguish what is really the point at focus and we work on that. I have realized a lot of things about myself and my challenges already. I would recommend Rosemary to anyone."

Conclusion

If you identify with some of the characteristics of aromanticism, you may wish to call yourself aromantic. Being an aromantic person is a label like any other, and you are not required to label yourself in any way. That said, sometimes a label makes it easier to explain your preferences to others. It can also help you find like-minded individuals.

Remember that being aromantic is not a mental health problem of any kind. It is not something you need to "fix," even if dominant cultural messages tell you that romantic relationships are the norm or the ultimate goal. You are free to set your own goals and to live in a way that makes you happy. Take the first step today.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I know if I am aromantic?

 Romance and sexuality and how you experience them are entirely that – experiential. No one else can tell you exactly where you might land on the aromantic spectrum. And, it probably wouldn’t matter a great deal to you if they could.

Things like the Kinsey scale can give you a ballpark for determining terminology based on things like the aromantic spectrum so that you can use them as a communication tool, likely for potential partners. However, that doesn’t mean that it has to define you to yourself.

Can You Be Aromantic without being asexual?

As discussed above, it isn’t common but some people are romantic without being asexual. Romantic attraction and sexual attraction often go together, but they don’t have to.

Is aromantic part of LGBT?

That depends on how you like your acronyms.

“LGBT” stands for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender.” However, you may also have seem “LGBTQ,” which stands for “[LGBT] Queer,” where “queer” just means “non-straight" - a term that arguably includes aromontic people. Some people further expand the acronym to “LGBTQIAA” where one of the As stands for “Asexual.”

The short answer is, while “Aromantic” may or may not be explicitly included in LGBT+, LGBT+ exists as a way of supporting people living non-straight experiences, which usually includes aromantic and asexual people. Because this group is possibly the most accepting group of people on the planet, you probably don’t need to worry about being ostracized by them for your lack of romantic or sexual attraction.

Can an aromantic have a crush?

Sort of?

“Crush” is kind of a big umbrella, and it’s changing all the time. We used the definition “romantic attraction without close personal acquaintance” earlier in the article. That’s you classic “school yard crush” or the kind of crush that people may have for people like celebrities. Aromantic people don’t really get crushes of this sort because they don’t really experience romantic attraction.

However, terms like “career crush” refer to people that you may not personally know but that you look up to. If you explicitly link “crush” to romance, than no, most aromantic people don’t really experience them. If you consider a crush “admiring from a far,” than yes, aromantic people can experience crushes.

What is the Aromantic Flag?

The Aromantic Flag consists of one dark green bar on top of one light green bar on top of one white bar, on top of one grey bar, on top of one black bar.

For more information on the aromantic spectrum, including Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week, check out this site.

What is ACE?

ACE” is usually used as a sort of slang term for “asexual.” Asexual people may also be familiarly referred to as “aces.”

How do you know if you’re ACE?

You know if you’re ACE in that same way that you know anything about yourself – through experience. If you don’t experience sexual attraction by, say, your mid to late teenage years, it’s very likely that you’re ACE.

If you really want to pull out the stops, once again, look for things like Kinsey Tests.

Can aromantics get married?

Anyone can get married. There’s no test to determine whether you’re aromantic or not. Well, there sort of is, but no one makes you take it so that they can use the score to determine your marriageability.

Aromantic people can and do get married. Unfortunately, they may experience marital difficulties if their partner is a more romantically inclined person. Like any two people getting married, the important thing is to get to know one another and whether or not you believe you’re compatible.

What is the ACE Flag?

The ACE Flag is a black bar ontop of a grey bar on top of a white bar on top of a purple bar.

For more information about the ACE flag and other ACE awareness topics and online resources, visit the Asexual Visibility and Education Network.

What does homoromantic mean?

As per the terminology structure cited above, “Homoromantic” refers to romantic feelings towards individuals of the same gender as yourself. Again, a little reminder, being homoromantic does not necessarily mean that you are homosexual.

What is an ACE in LGBT?

ACE individuals are often included in the LGTB community because of their non-heterosexual experience. However, be advised, having non-heterosexual experiences is not the same as having LGBT experiences. Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgender peoples are far more likely to experience far more significant stigma than ACE individuals.

What is aromantic in LGBT?

This is a bit of a touchy subject. LGBT is focused on gender expression and sexual identity which is closely linked to romantic experience and expression for most people but is not exactly the same for everyone.

As discussed above, some asexual people (which includes most aromantic people) can find some space under the LGBTQIAA+ umbrella as non-hetersexual persons. But, strictly speaking, aromantic people are not included in LGBT.

What does a crush feel like?

The feeling of a crush is classically difficult to pin down and how (or if) you experience a crush changes based on where you land on the aromantic spectrum.

The best way to describe a crush might be a feeling of romantic attraction or of close interest and admiration for a person that you don’t know or don’t know well in person.

What does it mean to Have a type?

To have a “type” means that there is a specific set of characteristics or physical features that cause a person to experience romantic or sexual attraction.

It may be redheads, or muscles, or lack of muscles, etc.

What is it like to be in love?

This is an impossible question to answer. Partially because, as we’ve seen through this article, how different people express and feel love is drastically different from person to person.

Further, also as discussed in this article, there are many different kinds of love. The generally accepted answer to this question is “You know it when you experience it.”

What does the pink, purple, and blue flag mean?

The pink, purple, and blue flag is the bisexual awareness flag.

What are the pansexual colors?

The colors on the pansexual flag are pink, yellow, and blue.

Is there a straight Pride Flag?

There is not a widely accepted “straight pride flag.”

The whole reason for flags for people with different experiences has to do with the underrepresentation of those persons by a largely heteronormative world. As a result, heterosexual people don’t require greater visibility and their sexual orientation makes for less of an impact on the ways in which they experience their lives.

What does “GREY ACE” mean?

GREY ACE” is a space within the asexual community for people who experience sexual attraction but not as often or not as intensely as most people. As a result, while they may not be entirely aromantic, they may identify more firmly with aromantic persons than with persons of other sexual orientations.

What causes asexuality?

Asexuality, like any sexual expression, asexuality isn’t usually “caused” by anything - it’s just a part of who you are.

However, for some people, asexuality can be caused by low testosterone. This hormone naturally declines in men around middle age but it can also be thrown off by some physiological conditions or medications.

Basically, if you have always been asexual, it’s probably just who you are as a person and that’s okay. If you used to be more sexual and have noticed a decline in your sex drive lately, talk to your primary care provider.

What does asexual mean in LGBTIA?

The final “A” in LGBTIA is often interpreted as either “Asexual” or “ally” - someone who is not LGBT but supports LGBT causes.

Does ace mean 1?

The “ace” in a deck of cards was historically the lowest in the suite. However, the game has changed! In most games of poker, the ace serves as a high card, trumping even the King and other face cards. However, in some games, an ace can also be one, allowing 1-2-3-4-5 straight runs.

Similarly, in black jack – a game in which the objective is to have cards with a numerical value close to or equal to but not exceeding 21 – the ace can commonly be worth either 1 or 11. Because all face cards are worth 10 in black jack, this once again, makes the ace a potential de facto high card.

Are asexual people called “ACEs” because they are alone? Probably not.

What does the title Ace mean?

The title “Ace” can mean a lot of things, largely because ACE is a common acronym. It could stand for “Autocad Certified Engineer,” “Aircraft Carrier Engineer,” anything.

What does your ACE score mean?

On the topic of acronyms, an ACE score has to do with the experience of people who suffer from childhood abuse. It has nothing to do with asexuality, aromantics, or the aromantic spectrum.

What does it mean to be Greysexual?

“Greysexual” is a shorter form of “grey asexual” - that term used above for people who fall on the asexual or aromantic spectrum but sometimes experience sexual attraction or urges.

How many sexualities are there?

At least five are widely recognized. These are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, and asexual. However, some also identify other sexualities including demisexuality.

Conclusion

If you identify with some of the characteristics of aromanticism, you may wish to call yourself aromantic. Being an aromantic person is a label like any other, and you are not required to label yourself in any way. That said, sometimes a label makes it easier to explain your preferences to others. It can also help you find like-minded individuals.

Remember that being aromantic is not a mental health problem of any kind. It is not something you need to "fix," even if dominant cultural messages tell you that romantic relationships are the norm or the ultimate goal. You are free to set your own goals and to live in a way that makes you happy. Take the first step today.


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