When we think about sexuality, we often think of it in terms of who people are attracted to, but it’s important to remember that there are many people that are not sexually or romantically attracted to others at all. (And that’s okay.)
Sexuality is a spectrum, and one end of the spectrum is the absence of romantic or sexual attraction to others. When thinking about this end of the spectrum, there are two important identities to understand: Aromantic is an identity label for people that are not romantically attracted to others in any way, while someone who is asexual is not sexually attracted to others.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at what it means to be aromantic:
What are some signs of being aromantic?
If you are aromantic, you might never have a romantic crush on someone or be able to relate to others talking about romantic crushes. A lot of aromantic people understand what it looks like when others feel romantic love, but personally are not interested in romantic attraction or do not feel as though they have those feelings.
Of course, it’s important to understand that aromantic people can still have love for others. Many aromantic people have close friendships, family relationships, and even partnered relationships. While they make have a lot of love for these people, the romantic attraction isn’t there.
What does an aromantic relationship look like?
Being aromantic doesn’t mean you can’t experience other types of love or develop strong connections to others. People that are aromantic don’t experience romantic attraction but can still feel and express love to others.
It’s possible for an aromantic person to love a partner even if they do not feel romantic attraction to them. There are plenty of reasons that aromantic people pursue romantic relationships aside from romantic attraction. Aromantic people may want to feel bonded with a partner, start/have a family, and/or provide their partner with emotional support.
While aromantic people can be involved in happy romantic relationships, they don’t have to be! Lots of aromantic people do not find satisfaction in romantic relationships and therefore don’t pursue them. This often means that aromantic people have lots of platonic friendships and strong relationships with their family members and find that these relationships are perfectly fulfilling.
What is the relationship between aromanticism and sex?
If someone identifies as aromantic they are not necessarily asexual, which means that they do experience sexual attraction to others and like to have sex. It is important to note that though aromantic and asexual are different identities, it is possible for people to identify as both. If someone does identify as asexual and aromantic, sex may not be completely off the table. Even some asexual people have sexual relationships, just like aromantic people can date romantic partners.
Some asexual people are in relationships with non-asexual people, so they have sex because they want to give their partner pleasure. Other asexual people do not have sex with others and instead prefer to masturbate. It’s important to understand that even within these identities there is a huge amount of variation in preferences. Within the spectrum of asexuality, there are terms like sex-averse, sex-indifferent, and sex-favorable to be more precise.
Though the idea of aromanticism may be new to you, just know that there are plenty of people who identify as aromantic. If you identify with some of the characteristics but not others, it’s still totally possible that you fall somewhere on the aromantic scale. Sexuality is very personal and so while there are general characteristics for certain identities, you do not have to fit perfectly into the definition to identify this way.
If you are feeling aromantic, it can also also be difficult to navigate partnered relationships in an authentic way. If this is the case for you, know that there are plenty of online forums you can join to help you understand the spectrum of aromanticism and to get connected with other people who identify somewhere on the aromantic spectrum. Hearing from other aromantic people about how they navigate love, partnered relationships, and sex can help you feel more confident in your identity.