In case you haven’t heard of it before, the term “aromantic” is used to describe people that may not experience sexual attraction or have the desire to form long-term romantic, physical relationships. This is part of the asexual spectrum but comes in various different combinations, as all sexualities do. Here are a few ways that you might be aromantic if you’re uncomfortable in romantic relationships.
What does it mean to be aromantic?
At its core, aromanticism is simply a lack of romantic attraction. This identity plays out in different ways and all aromantic people experience different types of feelings and relationships. However, what they have in common is the absence of desire to give or receive romantic gestures or to have romantic relationships.
Aromanticism does not make a person incapable of loving or caring for another person. It also does not mean that they can’t have relationships. What these relationships look like depends on the person and cannot easily be quantified.
So, how do you know if this label applies to you?
Signs you may be aromantic
- You don’t desire romantic love. This doesn’t mean you don’t experience or want any kind of love in your life. You adore your friends and family and definitely love them. You just don’t want romantic love with someone, even if you’re sleeping with them and the sex is great. So when people ask you when your friend with benefits is going to become your boyfriend, the answer is “never.”
- You don’t get crushes. While your friends might have crushes on other people, you just don’t get those feelings. Like, ever. When you meet people, you often think they’re smart, interesting, funny, etc. but you never sit around fantasizing about what it would be like to fall madly in love and become an official couple.
- You want relationships for other reasons. You don’t get into relationships for the romance or romantic feelings that are involved. There are other reasons why you might want someone to be your partner, such as that you feel platonic love for them or the person’s your best friend and you love being with them.
- You don’t understand all those love songs. While other people might become tearful at the latest love ballad or romantic movie, you just don’t feel it! You don’t understand or feel what others see as being so moving. Of course, not all aromantic people are going to dislike or roll their eyes at the latest love music or movies. You might enjoy this media but from a distance – you just don’t want to find romantic love in your own life.
- You love being single. Since you don’t have any romantic inclinations, you might not see the point of getting into romantic relationships with others – or want to. This makes you love being on your own. The bonus? You don’t feel pressure to find someone special and settle down.
- You can have sex for fun. Just because you’re not interested in romance, that doesn’t mean that you don’t necessarily want to have sex or that you don’t enjoy it. You can have sex without any strings. In addition to that, you might also have strong sexual attractions to people. You just don’t necessarily feel romantic feelings attached to them.
- You feel free. Since you don’t feel the need to want to get into a romantic relationship with anyone ever, this has freed you up to explore the kind of future you do want without any restrictions or societal pressures weighing you down.
- You worry about letting people down. Although you don’t get crushes and you don’t feel anything romantic towards people, sometimes someone will want to be in a relationship with you. This might have made you go along with things and get into relationships just because you didn’t want to disappoint the other person, which shows that being aromantic is not always without its own set of pressures.
- You don’t know what lust is like. You’ve never felt lust and you don’t understand what it’s supposed to be like, even though your friends might rave about experiencing it. You know what sexual pleasure is and have experienced it, you just don’t get those butterflies in the stomach at the very thought of being with someone.
- You’d rather have a best friend than a boyfriend. If you’re aromantic, you might feel more excited at the thought of getting a new BFF rather than a romantic partner. This crushes the myth that aromantic people are cold or aloof – they can be tender and loving, and they care deeply for the people in their lives that matter to them. They just don’t feel that love in a romantic way.
- You love the idea of squishes. A squish is basically the aromantic version of a crush. This is the need for a strong platonic relationship and emotional intimacy with someone. If that sounds really awesome to you, then you might be aromantic. These relationships can also include living together, FYI.
- You like people but rarely love them. Or, you love people but rarely make the connection to actually act on that or move things further. You don’t have the desire to touch someone or live with them in order to prove your love. In fact, it might not even form part of the equation. It’s likely that you love them in spite of their desire for physical relationships. This is where it is important to communicate that your aromantic identity is permanent and part of you. You won’t change your mind with time and they shouldn’t put pressure on you by waiting around.
- For you, love isn’t physical. Frankly, this is true for lots of the global population. There are so many ways of identifying oneself or feeling at home in a label. Most people don’t simply wake up horny. Physicality isn’t the end goal of a relationship. In fact, you might be sex-repulsed, not just indifferent to it. This is why it’s important for partners to listen to asexual people because their actions can make people uncomfortable.
- Sex doesn’t make sense. Maybe it just seems functional. Some aromantic people struggle to see the appeal, stemming from the lack of control, the physicality, being naked, or all manner of personal boundaries. But also, there doesn’t need to be a reason or contextual history that explains why or what makes them aromantic. You wouldn’t ask a straight person why they’re straight. Their identities are valid. They’re not stepping stones for people exploring their sexualities or coming out, and it’s short-sighted to presume as such.
- You need your space. If you’re aromantic, your love language is probably more intellectual than emotional. Maybe you love listening to your partner and find that gift-giving is really fulfilling, more so than quality time which can get overwhelming and overstimulating.
- The opportunity cost isn’t appealing. Ultimately, like all people, we can endure certain things to please other people. Or to compromise, or to make them happy. For some aromantic people, they aren’t repulsed by couples cliches or the idea of living with someone physically. However, that doesn’t mean that they should be expected to just accommodate their partner if their partner prefers a physical relationship. These relationships require genuine communication about boundaries. Sometimes they just don’t work out because people have vastly different desires and needs. That’s okay. I promise. For aromantic people, the cost of having other people around all the time, no matter how much they love them, just doesn’t outweigh their appreciation for their own time. It’s as simple as that.
- Other priorities rank higher. You might find that you have lots of special interests or hobbies that consume your life. This is one of the many ways in which the concept that not having a partner means your life is empty. Nothing could be further from the truth. However, it will mean that if you are in a platonic relationship or friendship as an aromantic person, you will find it hard to prioritize the other person when you’d rather be distracted by one of your cherished games or hobbies. That doesn’t make you any less of an adult. Or a mature individual. Stick with your gut. Don’t force a relationship that doesn’t feel right just because society says that we need partners to be fulfilled.
- You don’t feel truly understood. Maybe the straights ignore you, and the lesbians aren’t sure what to do with you because of all their Tiktok thirst traps. Some lesbians commonly cite that they thought they were ace before they realized they liked women. But that can be a little patronizing. The LGBTQI+ community has its own work to do to ensure that ace identities are heard and included within their terms. It can be isolating.
A few things to keep in mind
It’s important to realize there’s a spectrum. There are lots of different ways in which you could express being or feeling that you’re aromantic. Maybe you do sometimes feel romantic feelings for people and have crushes once in a while but you identify as aromantic. Therefore, it’s important not to define yourself according to very specific traits. Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, or not. Either way, if you feel that some points on this list apply to you, then chances are you could be aromantic.
You will find your ace community. Whether you find them on Facebook or even in your local town, you will know you’re at home when you find your people. The internet is a wonder for helping to connect you with others in the same community. Don’t be shy about reaching out. You’ll feel so much less alone.