Some terms and things to keep in mind to keep in mind
Alloromantic: To put it simply, not being aromantic
Cisgender: Assigning with the gender you were assigned at birth
When I say “Aromantic” I am referring to everyone along the aromantic spectrum as a whole.
My experience with romantic relationships and being aro, my constant discovery of my identity, and what aro people want you to know about our identity
Aromantic Awareness week is from February 21st to 27th. We take this week to bring awareness to Aromanticism, tell our stories, and educate. In this article, I am going to tell my personal stories of discovering my aromanticism through romantic encounters I have had and talking about things I wish alloromantic people knew.
The Aromantic Prince Charming
I have always loved Disney Princess movies. I thought they were all amazing. Of course, let's put aside the heteronormativity and all of the stereotypes of it all. I loved the concept of two people being meant for each other and being so madly in love it felt like it was meant to be. But as I got older, I learned to understand it less and less in practice. I was always disinterested in crushes and dating but loved the idea of finding my Prince Charming (keep in mind at this time, I was still a cisgender heterosexual female). I had two boyfriends in middle school that I dated,where we mainly held hands at carpool and in gym class. One of these first boyfriends kissed me and I feel really bad about this but I don’t call it my first kiss. Because looking back, I felt nothing and wasn’t ready to kiss yet.
I had a girlfriend I dated on and off from Freshman year to Junior year. We were best friends before we dated and I developed a crush on her. The interesting thing about this was I didn’t really think about her a ton. I did, but it was solely “I want cuddles” or “I want kisses”. It was all affection-based. Each time we broke up, (we broke up 3 times), I wasn’t sad about the relationship being gone. Instead, I was sad about not getting affection and I became worried about where it would come from next. The last time, there was more of a worry of not seeing her again because she was still my best friend, but it wasn’t a mourn of loss of a relationship; it was the loss of affection.
There is only one relationship I ever felt love in. From the second they began speaking and getting passionate about the project we were working on, I knew something about them felt different. They ended up coming to work with me that year and we only got closer. Then, in December of 2019, I felt something I had never felt before: Actual, god honest, love for someone. We did end up dating each other and it was the most amazing relationship I have ever had. This, I believe, may have been the only time I have felt a deep love for someone. It felt like what I had seen in the movies;Prince Charming found his princess and they lived happily ever after.
What you should know and what we want you to know
I spoke with some fellow Aromantic people and reevaluated my own experiences and thoughts. One of the main misconceptions I see most commonly is that aromantic people do not experience attraction at all. This is surely not true as there are many types of attraction. Some of these include aesthetic attraction (attraction to someone's physical appearance), Sensual Attraction (want to engage in non-sexual acts with someone i.e. cuddling, holding hands, etc), and sexual.
Aromantic people can also be in relationships as well which is one of the other things I would like to talk about. Not all aromantic people decide to get into relationships. Sometimes those that do prefer Queerplatonic relationships. Queerplatonic relationships are relationships that involve a connection that is strong and intimate, but does not have a romantic connection. These relationships can take many forms, similar to romantic relationships. These relationships are to be valued just as much as romantic relationships. I was in a queerplatonic relationship when I was a freshman. I was really excited about it, too. My friends at the time would mock and make fun of me every time I talked about my partner. Their behavior degraded and belittled a relationship that was important to me. It was hard for me to cope with and sometimes it still hurts to think about. All of this to say, these relationships are to be valued the same as romantic relationships because they are still important to people.
Another misconception I see commonly is the mistake between the difference between asexual (aka ace) and aromantic (aka aro). Those who are asexual feel little to no sexual attraction (this as well being a spectrum). These two don’t inherently go hand in hand. People can be aromantic but allosexual and vice versa. While this can be something that happens, it does not always. The last thing I want to address is the fact that people say things like “You’re missing out” or “You won’t be fulfilled in life”. I feel fulfilled in my life at the moment. I don’t feel as if I need romance to be fulfilled in life.
A common misconception is to think that aromantic people do not feel romantic attraction at all. Aromanticism (just like sexuality and gender) is a spectrum. There are countless identities and ways that people feel and interact with romance. And just like any other identity, everyone defines it differently. I will share with you some words that people use and basic definitions of these identities:
Demiromantic: Not being able to feel romance without a deeper connection
Aroflux: Having a romantic attraction
Greyromantic: Feeling romantic attraction, just rarely
These are just a few words that people use. There are countless other identities on the spectrum. Also, keep in mind: people who use these same words may all define them differently. How one person defines their identity as greyromantic may be different from mine. I like to identify as greyromantic right now. My romantic orientation is a grey area that has yet to be discovered. Or never to be discovered.
Saying any of the things I have mentioned to aromantic people can feed something I like to call “Internalized arophobia”. Kind of like internalized homophobia but with being aromantic. Internalized arophobia is when you have issues with thoughts that invalidate your identity. I say this to stress the importance of educating yourself on these identities and making sure you aren't saying anything potentially harmful. I also say this to show my fellow aromantic and aro spec people: You are not alone. You are valid. And your internalized aphobic thoughts are all incorrect.
I hope that this article helped whether you are an alloromantic ally trying to learn or an aromantic person who was looking to find someone to relate to. My experiences aren’t the same as everyone else’s. This Aromantic Awareness week, I encourage you all to listen. Listen to the stories, experiences, and needs of those in the aromantic community. This can be uplifting for us and you may hear us on our needs. It's important for all of us to work together to make this world safe for everyone.