What It Means To Be Aromantic, According To Relationship Experts & Aromantics

As sexuality becomes a more widely discussed subject matter in mainstream culture, more terms for the varying positions on the LGBTQ+ spectrum arise. These new words can more accurately describe the many ways in which a person experiences love, sex, desire, and relationships. One sexual identity that’s becoming more recognized and better understood as of late? Aromantic, which is an orientation where someone does not feel romantic attraction toward other people, says Amanda Pasciucco, LMFT, an AASECT-certified sex and relationship therapist.

"It’s part of the 'A' on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum," adds Debra Laino, PhD, an AASECT-certified clinical sexologist and relationship coach. An aromanic person can still feel sexual attraction, but they might not identify with the way romance is often presented in current media and culture, Laino says. (Picture: Sultry glances over glasses of wine, fireplace snuggles, candlelit dinners, boxes of chocolates, etc.) Take Claire*, a 20-year-old living in Seattle, for example, who says their a-ha moment was when their partner said, "I love you" for the first time. "I suddenly realized, Oh, we don't mean the same thing when we use this word," they tell Women's Health. Claire’s love was the kind you feel for a close friend—not the butterflies-in-your-stomach, starry-eyed stuff. "They were talking about romantic feelings, and I wasn't," Claire recalls. And TBH, this is a pretty normal reaction for an aromantic person: "They might have other things that turn them on, like a physical touch, but their desire would not come from a romantic connection," Laino explains.

Aromantic is a term that’s typically used to describe someone who experiences little to no romantic attraction, according to volunteer-run initiative Aromantic-Spectrum Union for Recognition, Education, and Advocacy (AUREA), where Claire is now a team member. So, for example, when a movie features someone with a crush or a book describes a character’s infatuation? "That’s not something I experience," Claire explains.

There’s not much data out there about aromanticism, but one study in the Journal of LGBT Issues In Counseling found that, out of 414 American participants, almost 1 percent were aromantic and 0.7 percent were asexual. Another not-yet-published study out of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver found that about 27 percent of asexual people were also aromantic.