The following are frequently asked questions about aromanticism and experiences of people on the aromantic spectrum.
What is aromanticism?
What is the relationship between aromanticism and sexual orientation?
What does romantic attraction feel like?
Can aromantics love?
Are aromantics lonely without romantic relationships?
What kinds of relationships do aromantics have?
What is a queerplatonic relationship?
How does a queerplatonic relationship differ from a friendship?
Which aromantic flag is the one in use?
How do I know if I’m aromantic?
Is it OK to identify as aromantic if I (want to) have a relationship?
Is is OK to identify as aromantic if I have, want to have, or have been in a romantic relationship?
Is it OK to identify as aromantic if I want to do something that is romance-coded (such as kiss, cuddle or hold hands with people)?
Is it OK to identify as aromantic if I enjoy romantic stories?
Can I be aromantic if I’m not asexual?
I realized I’m aromantic while I’m in a romantic relationship, what can I do?
My friend/family member just came out as aromantic, how do I support them?
I came out as aromantic to someone and they responded in a dismissive way, what can I do?
My partner came out as aromantic, what can I do now?
I think my partner may be aromantic, what can I do now?
How do I tell someone I want to be in a _ relationship with them?
I identify as aromantic, but I think I have romantic feelings for someone. Can I still identify as aromantic?
I’m writing an aromantic character, how do I make sure my portrayal doesn’t come across as offensive?
Q: What is aromanticism?
A: Aromanticism is a romantic orientation, which describes people whose experience of romance is disconnected from normative societal expectations, commonly due to experiencing little to no romantic attraction, but also due to feeling repulsed by romance, or being uninterested in romantic relationships (see our glossary). Most aromantic people don’t fall in love. They may or may not enjoy activities that are often seen as romantic (e.g. kissing), be uncomfortable with romance, be single or have a partner or be married - those are individual characteristics that vary between aromantic people.
Q: What is the relationship between aromanticism and sexual orientation?
A: An aromantic person can have any sexual orientation, or they can have no sexual orientation. Aromanticism usually describes one’s relationship to attraction of a romantic kind and sexual orientation can describe one’s relationship to sexual attraction, so it’s possible to have both. Within the arospec community many people use the term split attraction model to describe their different relations to various attractions, including romantic and sexual. Others identify with one orientation, e.g. aromanticism, and it’s not unusual for them to experience the attraction as a monolith.
Q: What does romantic attraction feel like?
A: People have described the feeling as near obsessive and which leads them to think less objectively about the person - it’s typically referred to as a crush or infatuation. It usually also includes wishing or imagining having a romantic relationship with that person, regardless if one decides to try and act on that wish or not. The majority of aromantic people don’t know what it feels like firsthand.
Q: Can aromantics love?
A: This depends - aromanticism doesn’t determine a person’s ability to feel love. The majority of aromantic people don’t experience romantic attraction and don’t fall in love. On the aromantic spectrum there are aromantic people who feel romantic attraction (be it infrequently or otherwise in a nonnormative way) and who can experience romantic love.
There are different kinds of love however - familial love, friendship, partnership, love for pets, love for nature, etc. and many aromantics experience love that is not romantic. There are also aromantics who do not feel any form of love, though it should not be suggested that they do not experience any sort of caring or emotion at all. Love is a subset of emotion after all, not it's ultimate form.
Q: Are aromantics lonely without romantic relationships?
A: Romantic relationships aren’t the key factor to a person being lonely or not. What does factor into the experience of loneliness are a person’s needs for contact and closeness with others as well as how well they can realize those needs in the environment they’re in. For many alloromantic people, their primary support system is their romantic partner. Aromantic people may have support in friends, partners - romantic or otherwise, families, etc. It is the existence of that support system (or lack thereof) that is key to a person being lonely or not, regardless of their orientation.
Q: What kinds of relationships do aromantics have?
A: A lot of aromantics are happy to be single and make a choice not to change this, others pursue various partnered relationships. Some of these include queerplatonic relationships, romantic relationships, and chosen families. Aromantic people have friendships and family relationships that may be important to them, regardless of the choice to form partnered committed relationships or not. Sometimes the term nonamorous/nonpartnering is used to describe the choice to not get involved in committed relationships.
Q: What is a queerplatonic relationship?
A: A queerplatonic relationship is a committed non-romantic relationship that goes beyond what is the subjective cultural norm for a friendship. This may be a useful term for describing queering friendships in environments where those bonds are perceived to mean less than family and romantic bonds. Levels of intimacy and/or behaviors between the queerplatonic partners involved often don’t fit the conventional standards set by society. Some queerplatonic relationships may include sex and elements that are generally considered romantic. In practice, every queerplatonic relationship is different. For all questions about specific terms, we suggest checking out our glossary.
Q: How does a queerplatonic relationship differ from a friendship?
A: Queerplatonic relationships go beyond what is considered the cultural norm for friendship and are not romantic relationships. That means one person’s queerplatonic relationship can look like another person’s friendship depending on the behaviors it includes, the feelings felt, and the level of commitment involved. It can also look like someone else’s romantic relationship in a similar way. What is crucial is that the people in the relationship itself consider it to be beyond their culture’s definition of friendship. What constitutes a queerplatonic relationship is highly subjective.
Q: Which aromantic flag is the one in use?
A: The aromantic flag that is currently used by the community has five horizontal stripes in green, light green, white, gray and black. It was created by cameronwhimsy on Tumblr. Green and light green represent the aromantic spectrum as a whole, white represents the importance of nonromantic relationships, such as friendships, familial and queerplatonic relationships, various forms of attractions and nonromantic love, and gray and black represent the sexuality spectrum.
It’s the most popular one and it replaced the first and second versions of the aromantic flag. The first one, which had four horizontal stripes in green, yellow, orange and black, established the color green as the aromantic color - it is the opposite of red, which often symbolizes romance.
Due to the fact this flag closely resembled Rastafarian flag, new designs were proposed. The second one, with five horizontal stripes in green, light green, yellow, gray and black, was created by the same person who designed the one that is the most popular today and closely resembles it.
The combination of the colors was causing sensory strain in some people, and so the yellow stripe was replaced by a white stripe.
Q: How do I know if I'm aromantic?
A: Everyone discovers that they’re aromantic in different ways. It’s often done through comparing oneself to peers, reflecting on what constitutes romance in one’s culture and whether that makes sense to that person, or is something they want to participate in. Here is a list of some common aro experiences that might help you figure out if you’re aromantic:
Some aromantic people don’t want to find a romantic partner, don’t feel enthusiastic about the idea, make up excuses for why they aren’t looking for a romantic partner, and/or feel like it’s something they’re being forced into.
Some aromantic people want to find a romantic partner, but aren’t interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with any person that they meet. They also may reject opportunities to enter into romantic relationships.
Some aromantic people feel uncomfortable in romantic relationships with people they generally liked, often feeling as though their romantic partner loves them more than they love that partner.
Romantic actions don’t come naturally to some aromantic people; those actions may feel like a script to act out to make their partner happy.
Some aromantic people have never fallen in love and they don’t find the idea that they could exciting.
Some aromantic people wish they had fallen in love or had a crush, but it doesn’t happen.
Some aromantic people have fallen in love or had crushes, but it occurred rarely or under specific circumstances.
Some aromantic people are confused as to why other people are so preoccupied with romance.
Some aromantic people assume that other people are making up and/or exaggerating romantic attraction and their infatuations.
Some aromantic people aren’t able to tell whether their affection for a person who they like is platonic or romantic.
The same affectionate actions — such as cuddling, receiving heartfelt gifts, terms of endearment etc. — can feel comfortable or uncomfortable to some aromantic people depending on whether they are intended to be romantic or not.
Some aromantic people may want to go on dates with friends and aren’t able to tell if that means their feelings are romantic or not.
Some aromantic people consciously choose who to have a crush on instead of it happening spontaneously, or lie about having a crush when asked.
Some aromantic people don’t notice others flirting with them or that their own behavior is perceived as flirtatious by others.
Some aromantic people are surprised when they hear about people getting together, be it in real life or fiction. To them those people just met or don’t know each other well.
Some aromantic people feel very uncomfortable when someone tells them they’re in love with them or have a crush on them. This may include feeling anxiety, dread, guilt, panic, or as though a responsibility has been put upon them.
Some aromantic people may develop romantic interest in someone only when they tell them they’re in love with them or have a crush on them.
For some aromantic people, the thought of romance must be prompted. They may see romance in media, have relatives ask if they’re seeing someone, or have their friends discuss their dating lives for this line of thinking to occur. They may think about romance briefly and forget about it again.
Some aromantic people may enjoy flirting as a fun conversation and don’t have intentions for it to lead to dating or romantic relationships.
Some aromantic people may be told they give solid dating advice, because they seem to have an objective view.
If you’re questioning, we can also recommend the following resources, where aromantics talk about the signs of their aromanticism:
Q: Is it OK to identify as aromantic if I (want to) have a relationship?
A: Yes, you can identify as aromantic and (want to) have a relationship. Some aromantic people are in long term committed relationships. The aromantics who do choose to pursue committed relationships sometimes use terms like amorous/partnering to describe that attitude. Relationships that those aromantic people seek may be nonromantic or romantic. Some nonromantic forms of committed relationships include queerplatonic relationships, aromates, and chosen family. Some aromantic people also practice relationship anarchy.
Q: Is it OK to identify as aromantic if I have, want to have, or have been in a romantic relationship?
A: Yes, you can identify as aromantic and (want to) have a romantic relationship. You can also identify as aromantic if you have been in a relationship before. Romantic relationships are an option for aromantic people, though many feel uncomfortable with romance. In general, romantic relationships are simply one kind of interpersonal relationship, and are not necessarily dependent on feelings of attraction. As long as both you and your partner(s) are comfortable calling your relationship romantic, feel free to use that label.
Q: Is it OK to identify as aromantic if I want to do something that is romance-coded (such as kiss, cuddle or hold hands with people)?
A: Yes, you can identify as aromantic and want that. Some aromantic people enjoy participating in behaviors that are romance-coded in their culture, like kissing or cuddling. For most of these aromantic people those are behaviors with non-romantic intent and they would be uncomfortable with those same behaviors with romantic intent behind them. There are some aromantics who are comfortable with those behaviors even if they have romantic intent behind them.
Q: Is it OK to identify as aromantic and enjoy romantic stories?
A: Yes, you can identify as aromantic and enjoy romantic stories. In general, people enjoy certain things in fiction that they wouldn’t want to be part of in real life themselves. It is worth noting that aromantic people who may like reading about romance wouldn’t necessarily be more comfortable with seeing romantic gestures in person. Some aromantic people have the experience of seeing stories about romance as unreal but fascinating, similar to stories about magic.
Q: Can I be aromantic if I'm not asexual?
A: Yes, aromanticism and asexuality don’t have to go together. There are aromantic people who are asexual, aromantic people who are allosexual, and aromantics who don’t identify with any sexual orientation. Right now, a significant number of self-identified aromantic people is also asexual, because the term originated in asexual communities. As more people learn about aromanticism we may see a change in the makeup of our communities.
Q: I realized I'm aromantic while in a romantic relationship, what can I do?
A: This is a difficult situation to be in, but don’t worry, you’re not alone - many aromantic people have been there. You can think about what you want to do that would be the best for yourself now that you know. Do you want your partner(s) to know about your identity? Do you want to change something in the relationship that would make you more comfortable in it? Are you uncomfortable in this relationship and wish to break up with your partner(s)? Take the time to have an honest conversation with your partner(s) about your identity and what it means to you. Bring up what you’d like from the relationship and ask your partner(s) what they’d like from the relationship. You can talk about your boundaries around romance, if you have any, and bring up alternative kinds of relationships to see what will work best for you. Good luck!
Q: My friend/family member just came out as aromantic, how do I support them?
A: Every aromantic person will have different needs when it comes to support. You can ask what this person wants you to know about their aromanticism. Ask if there are any expectations that the person doesn’t want associated with them. Some examples include the expectation to have a partner or marry and have kids with a romantic partner. You can ask what kinds of relationships and levels of intimacy they are comfortable with. You can do some of your own research, keeping in mind that the needs of each aromantic person will be different, and you can ask your friend/family member how to best support them and make sure you’re doing it in a way that is helpful. Above all, let the person know that you believe them and give them space to be themselves.
Q: I came out as aromantic to someone and they responded in a dismissive way, what can I do?
A: We’re sorry that happened to you - it’s a difficult situation to be in and there’s unfortunately no solution that fits every case, but your safety should be the priority. When evaluating safety, consider if the person you came out to is a person you are dependent on for your livelihood, and if yes - do you have someone who could help you in case anything goes wrong. In case of minors, this also means a person or an organization that could provide any legal help. Consider if the bad reaction is reflective of the person’s overall opinions about people deviating from the norm and how they speak about such people, for example if threats of violence are made. Take into account the attitude towards talking about feelings and willingness to admit mistakes and apologize in your environment.
If you feel that you have enough support in case things go wrong, talk with the person about how their reaction made you feel. Sometimes people don’t realize the extent to which their words affect you and having an open conversation about it can help build understanding. If you don’t feel that having this kind of conversation is an option now or in the future, you can talk about it with someone who is supportive of you, be it a friend, family member, or an online group. If you don’t have anyone trusted to turn to yet, we can recommend finding an aromantic space (such as a forum, blog - see our online resources) to talk about it with people who understand. It’s easier to handle rude or dismissive behavior when you have someone in your corner.
Q: My partner came out as aromantic, what can I do now?
A: This depends on what you and your partner want from your relationship and what was the intention for telling you about their aromanticism. Figuring out that one is aromantic can be a difficult process, because it's not a narrative that is generally accessible - some people may even not believe being aromantic is possible. Due to this, some aromantic people may enter romantic relationships for various reasons. This is why it’s important to know what your partner’s aromanticism means to them to see how it may affect your relationship. Some people want to share this part of themselves with you because you’re an important person to them, some want to break up because they realized a romantic relationship is not for them. Some may want to leave your relationship as it is, some may want to renegotiate - maybe certain actions are uncomfortable to them, maybe they want not to call your relationship “romantic” but for example “queerplatonic”. There isn’t one solution that fits all and a honest talk with your partner about yours and theirs feelings and expectations can help you figure out what to do.
Q: I think my partner may be aromantic, what can I do now?
A: Your partner may have talked about some of the aromantic experiences or you notice some of them or other signs that they may in general not experience romantic attraction in a normative way. You could bring up the concept to them, especially if this seems to be a source of distress to them and they believe that every other person is able to feel romantic attraction. If they indeed identify with aromanticism, for some this may be a joyous realization and some may feel like they’re broken, and finding communities of people who are also aromantic can help - take a look at our online and offline resources. You can talk about what this means for your relationship, since every aromantic person will have different needs, feelings and expectations. See My partner came out as aromantic, what can I do now?
Q: How do I tell someone I want to be in a _ relationship with them?
A: First you can make sure that the other person knows what kind of a relationship it is. Explain the term if they don’t know it and sit down with that person to have a frank conversation about what exactly you’d like in that relationship. Ask what that person would like and discuss your boundaries around certain behaviors, exclusivity or the lack of it. Good luck!
Q: I identify as aromantic, but I think I have romantic feelings for someone. Can I still identify as aromantic?
A: Aromanticism is defined as experiencing little to no romantic attraction. That means that there are aromantics who feel romantic attraction infrequently, under specific circumstances or otherwise nonnormatively. The crucial thing is that they still identify with the aromantic experiences more than they do with the alloromantic experiences. We’re diverse - you can take a look at all the aromantic spectrum identities (in our glossary) that describe various ways of feeling or not feeling romantic attraction. Maybe you can find people who had experiences similar to yours!
Q: I’m writing an aromantic character, how do I make sure my portrayal doesn’t come across as offensive?
A: The best thing you can do is to make a character’s aromanticism one part of them. You can have the identity affect their behavior (for example, being oblivious to other character’s romantic feelings), but flesh out the character beyond that. Give them a personality independent of their aromanticism. You could use the resources (including feed and glossary) on this website to inform yourself better on aromanticism and experiences aromantic people have. We’re a very diverse group of people. Be explicit when you’re writing a contemporary aromantic character. Either have them use the label themselves or mention it in narration - this way more people will be able to find out about aromanticism. Good luck!