We talk about sexuality quite often, but not enough about romantic orientation. In fact, if I were to talk about romantic orientation with a random passer-by, they probably wouldn’t know what I was talking about. Before I get into my romantic orientation, I would just like to explain what exactly it is and the difference between it and sexual orientation.
Your sexual orientation (or sexuality) is who you are physically or sexually attracted to. Different sexual orientations are heterosexual (straight), homosexual (gay/lesbian), bisexual (bi – meaning attraction to two or more genders), pansexual (disregarding gender and just being attracted to the person) and asexual (little to no sexual attraction to anyone).
Romantic orientation is who you are emotionally or romantically attracted to. Most people are heterosexual heteroromantic or bisexual biromantic or something along those lines, but that is not the case with everybody. Some people are biromantic asexuals or panromantic homosexuals and some people are aromantic.
Aromantic means that you have little to no romantic attraction to anyone. Much like asexual people, there are many different kinds of aromantic people as it is a spectrum.
Types of Aromantic People:
Lithromantic individuals enjoy the idea of romance in theory and can feel some degree of romantic attraction, but do not seek out romantic relationships and do not need their feelings to be reciprocated.
Cupioromantic individuals do not experience romantic attraction, but they are still curious about romantic relationships and tend to seek them out. They enjoy romance, to a certain degree, but do not actually experience romantic crushes.
Greyromantic individuals experience romantic attraction, but it is rare and infrequent. They can seek out romantic relationships, but more often than not, they do not.
Demiromantic individuals only experience romantic attraction after forming a close bond with another individual. They do not experience primary romantic attraction, but secondary romantic attraction.
Apothiromantic individuals do not experience any form of romantic attraction and are generally repulsed by romance.
A common misconception about aromanticism is that aromantic individuals do not date and can’t be in a relationship. Some aromantic individuals do have romantic relationships with other people but may not experience romantic attraction. A common relationship that aromantics have is a ‘queerplatonic’ one. Queerplatonic relationships are non-romantic relationships that involve a close emotional bond between two or more individuals (they can be monogamous or polyamorous). They may appear to be a general romantic relationship to onlookers, but they lack romantic aspects. People in a queerplatonic relationship may also kiss, go on dates and engage in sexual activities.
Some aromantic people are asexual, but not all, and may also feel sexual or physical attraction to individuals despite not feeling romantic attraction. I, for example, consider myself to be a pansexual aromantic (lithromantic to be exact) and I have a friend who is a bisexual cupioromantic. I only began accepting the fact that I was aromantic this year. I began struggling with my sexuality when I was 11, when I first realised that I was attracted to girls.
I came out as queer when I was 14 because I couldn’t find a label for what I was. I had never much enjoyed the idea of marriage and I could never see myself partaking in a romantic relationship. I fantasised about them, but I had always seen them as temporary and a waste of time. As I got further into my teen years, it got more of an issue as romantic relationships were becoming an option for me, but I just kept backing away as soon as a crush was reciprocated. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me until my friend introduced me to aromanticism and then I began to identify with the label.
I hope this has given you a better view of what exactly aromantic is and what it means to be aromantic. Every aromantic individual is different, just like every straight, gay or bi individual is different. Not experiencing romantic attraction does not define you in any way, it’s just another label to help you understand yourself a bit better.