People who are aromantic, also known as “aro,” don’t develop romantic attractions for other people. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings. Aromantic people do form strong bonds and have loving relationships that have nothing to do with romance.
From fairy tales to the silver screen to Valentine’s Day, romance is a big part of our culture. Budding romances and a grand romantic gestures are portrayed as the norm and as something we should all expect. That can put a lot of pressure on someone who simply doesn’t have those desires.
Love is hard to define, but there’s a clear difference between love and romance.
MRI scan studies show that romantic love has a distinct neurochemical and hormonal profile that can affect functional reasoning. That’s why a new romantic love can make you disregard logic, skip out on responsibilities, and overlook flaws in the person you love.
Romantic love involves intense feelings of intimacy, passion, and even temporary euphoria for another person. You can’t help but smile when you think of them and it’s hard not to. You want to learn everything about them and be with them as much as possible.
Romantic love can drive you to distraction before settling into a less intense, but still romantic relationship.
An aromantic person doesn’t feel this way. They’ve probably never had those feelings in the beginning of a relationship or later and they don’t aspire to, either — they’re fine with it.
The terms asexual and aromantic can be easily confused, but have very different meanings.
Asexual means you don’t form sexual attractions to others, though you may feel romantic attraction. Some people who are asexual still have sex. Others choose celibacy or abstinence.
The term aromantic has nothing to with sex. It means you don’t get romantically attached to others, though you may develop sexual attractions. People of any sexual orientation can be aromantic.
You can also be asexual, aromantic, or both.
There are many types of relationships. Like anybody else, aromantics enjoy a variety of healthy relationships with family, close friends, and acquaintances. Romance aside, they’re as loving as anyone else.
That’s not to say that aromantic people never couple up. Some do, and through mutual support and shared experiences, these relationships can be very meaningful. Depending on the people involved, this type of relationship may or may not involve sex.
An aromantic person may not behave in ways typically expected in a romantic relationship. While they may enjoy your company, they might not want to spend all their free time with you.
An aromantic person may decide to engage in romantic behavior to please someone else. It’s important to remember, though, that this isn’t an indicator that they have romantic feelings.
As with any two people, it all comes down the individuals, what they expect, and what each can bring to the relationship.
Because romance is anticipated and seemingly normal, a person who doesn’t develop romantic feelings may wonder if there’s something wrong with them. This certainly isn’t the case and each person is different. Consider these misconceptions:
Aromantics are anti-romance
Reality: They have nothing against romance, though they aren’t tempted to be in a romantic relationship themselves. They can still enjoy a good love song or movie with a romantic theme.
Aromantics are cold and heartless
Reality: They have plenty of feelings. They’re as kind and loving as anyone. They form deep, emotional connections, but are content with platonic love and other close relationships. Some of the nicest people you know could be aromantic.
Aromantics are afraid of commitment
Reality: You can fear commitment and still develop romantic feelings. Being aromantic has to do with how you feel, not whether you’re able or willing to commit.
Someone who is aromantic just hasn’t found the right person yet
Reality: It’s not about getting over a bad breakup or finding the right person at all. It’s about a lack of romantic attraction to anyone, which may become noticeable at puberty.
Aromantics don’t like touching, kissing, or hugging
Reality: Physical affection doesn’t have to involve romance. Just like romantics, some aromantics like to be touched and others don’t. Some enjoy sex and others are asexual.
Aromantics can be “fixed”
Reality: There’s nothing wrong, so there’s nothing to fix. Not being in a romantic relationship doesn’t necessarily make them lonely. Trying to force romance on an aromantic person — or any person — is a bad idea. They won’t appreciate it and someone’s feelings will likely be hurt.
Research on aromanticism is lacking and there may be some reluctance to talk about it. So, it’s hard to say how many people identify as aromantic.
Everyone is different. From those very interested in romance to aromantics and everyone in between, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re fine just the way you are.