Aromantic Awareness Week
Leah Himlie, online publishing coordinator
Happy Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week (Feb. 21-27)! In honor of this week, I am dedicating this article to educating more people on what aromanticism is and addressing some frequently asked questions about it that I’ve encountered both online and in person.
What is aromantic? At its core, aromantic is a label that describes a person who does not experience romantic attraction. This should not be confused with asexual, which describes someone who does not experience sexual attraction. These two orientations are distinct, though some people identify as both. Think of it like brown hair and brown eyes. Some people have one, some have the other and some have both. Likewise, some people are aromantic (aro), asexual (ace) or aromantic asexual (aroace). All orientations are valid and included in the LGBTQIA+ community.
Aromanticism, like asexuality, is a spectrum and so one does not need to be completely aromantic to call oneself arospec. Arospec refers to people who are on the aromantic spectrum. (However, the phrase “on the spectrum” is reserved for the autistic community.) For instance, maybe someone has only experienced romantic attraction once in their life. Maybe the attraction is there one day and gone the next.
One last distinction that is important to make is that aromantic people do not inherently hate romance overall. Some may not want to be in a romantic relationship for themselves but will be perfectly happy for others.
Regardless of the specifics, some people experience romantic attraction but not in the way the majority of people describe it. They may choose one of many arospec micro labels to describe themselves, such as demiromantic or greyromantic, but some people also like to use aro as an umbrella term. This can be confusing, but the important thing to remember is to respect the labels someone chooses for themself.
Can aromantic people love? This is considered a rude question because it implies that romantic love is the only and most important type of love. Many aromantic people can and do love people platonically, queerplatonically, alterously or in other ways, not to mention the arospecs who do experience romantic love occasionally. Of course some people do not experience love in general, and that’s valid too. It doesn’t make them less human. The types of love an aro experiences or doesn’t experience are unique to each person.
Can aromantic people date? Yes. Even though aromantic people do not feel romantic attraction, they can still participate in the action of romantic things like dating if they are comfortable with it. Attraction does not equal action. And of course there are arospec people who do experience romantic attraction sometimes.
Every person has different levels of comfort and different attitudes toward romance. Some might be disgusted by romance, some might want to be in a romantic relationship and some might not care one way or another. These attitudes do not invalidate an aro’s identity because aromantic simply means that one does not experience romantic attraction. An aro who wants to be in a romantic relationship is just as valid as one who is disgusted with the idea of participating in romantic actions.
The aromantic and asexual communities tend to coin a lot of terms because there previously hadn’t been any words to describe aro/ace experiences. If you are learning everything for the first time, don’t worry if you don’t understand all the terms right away. I’ve been neck deep in the community for the better part of five years now, and I’m still learning.
If you are interested in learning more about aromantic identities, I suggest using LGBT Wiki. It’s a great resource to find definitions and micro labels. There are a lot of informational accounts on Instagram too. You can also contact me directly. I’m always happy to answer questions and explain more in-depth. Have a happy and safe Aro Awareness Week!