Aromanticism is a lack of inclination or an aversion to most or all romantic experiences, such as developing crushes and falling in love. Aromantic people (colloquially “aros”) observe that sexual and romantic desire are not always coterminous; an individual may be aromantic and heterosexual, for example, meaning they experience a binary sexual attraction without feelings like infatuation accompanying it. Just as people may consider asexuality a sexual orientation, aromanticism can be thought of as a romantic orientation.
The aromantic and asexual communities overlap to some extent. The word “aromantic” grew out of the online asexual community. The first known usage, in about 2002, came in a now-defunct Yahoo group known as the Haven for the Human Amoeba, but the term took off a few years later in the forums hosted by the Asexuality Visibility & Education Network (AVEN) as well as Tumblr, Reddit, and aro blogs. There, some asexual people described feeling a lack of both sexual and romantic desire. As the discourse expanded, however, it became clear that many aromantic people are also allosexual, meaning they do experience sexual attraction.
Like asexuality, aromanticism has taken many forms throughout history without being called by that name. Aromantic people have gotten married and procreated without falling in love, for example. This invisibility is compounded by amatonormativity: the assumption that all people have or should have a romantic orientation, or that having romantic feelings is the default for human experience.
Aromanticism also resembles asexuality in that it’s considered a spectrum. Additionally, like “-sexual,” the suffix “-romantic” can be combined with other terms to reflect the specificity of an individual’s identity. A person who’s heterosexual also may be, say, heteroromantic; an asexual person may likewise be heteroromantic. Individuals may apply different terms to themselves over the course of their lives. Using the term as an adjective (e.g., “an aromantic person”) rather than a noun may be more humanizing, and including some explanation is helpful for clarity. As with any identifier, taking into account an individual’s preference wherever possible ensures coverage aligns with their lived experience.
- AUREA: The Aromantic-spectrum Union for Recognition, Education, and Advocacy
- The Asexual Visibility & Education Network (AVEN)
Aromanticism is a lack of inclination or an aversion to most or all romantic experiences, such as getting crushes and falling in love. Sexual and romantic desire are not always linked; an individual may be, say, aromantic and heterosexual. Aromanticism can be thought of as a romantic orientation, in contrast to a sexual orientation. Using the term as an adjective (e.g., “an aromantic person”) rather than a noun may be more humanizing, and including some explanation is helpful for clarity. As with any identifier, taking into account an individual’s preference wherever possible ensures coverage aligns with their lived experience.