This is for the Aros (and Arospecs)

Leah Himlie, online publishing coordinator

Valentine’s day is coming up, and our already romance-saturated culture is going wild. Pink, red and white decorations are everywhere. Little stuffed animals holding hearts that say “I luv you” sit on shelves in every Target. There’s enough candy to rival Halloween, except this stuff features gushy sayings on the wrappers.

If you’re romance repulsed, it’s enough to make you sick.

If you wish you had a partner, it’s enough to make you sad.

If you have a partner you like or love, congratulations! I’m happy for you.

But this is for the aros.

The aros who feel disgusted by the constant barrage of romance in the media all year, and especially on Valentine’s Day.

The aros who feel alienated and don’t understand what romantic love is or why it’s such a big deal.

The aros who feel pressured to date just to feel accepted.

The aros who genuinely want to have a relationship, romantic or otherwise, and are afraid no one will ever accept them for who they are.

The aros who wish they weren’t aro.

The aros who love that they’re aro.

And the aros who fall anywhere in between. 

This is for you. Wherever you are on the aromantic spectrum, you’re valid. You don’t have to love a certain way in order for that love to be valid. In fact, you don’t have to love at all. You’re still valid. 

There’s no wrong way to be arospec. Everyone has different levels of comfort and different attitudes toward romance. Personally, I’ve always loved the idea of it. I like shipping fictional characters and reading about first dates. I always thought that’s what my future would hold, so when I began to realize that it might not be for me, I fought it. But the longer I fought, the more I realized that I am arospec. Nothing can change the fact that I will never experience the traditional romantic relationship that books told me was “normal.”

It took a long time for me to come to accept myself the way I am, and sometimes it’s still hard. But I’m proud of how far I’ve come, and I’m proud of you- wherever you are on your journey of self-acceptance. It’s not easy, especially when the world is actively rejecting you.

So this is for the arospecs.

The arospecs who sometimes do feel romantic attraction, but not in the way everyone else seems to experience it.

The arospecs who don’t feel “aro enough” to be part of the aromantic community.

The arospecs whose orientations fluctuate.

The arospecs who don’t want to label themselves.

And the arospecs who just don’t know where they belong.

This is for you. This is for us.

Aros and arospecs, I see you. I hear you. You are not alone.