So, this isn’t really a bookish discussion, but it’s something I’ve wanted to talk about for a while now. With some recent things that have happened in the community (I’m sure you’ve seen the discussions on Twitter) I felt now is a good time to post it!
“What the heck is Aromantic?”
Everyone is different. I’m not going to sit here and define an orientation, but in a basic sense being aromantic means you don’t feel/experience romantic attraction. It’s not a sexual orientation. However, just because I don’t experience romantic-love doesn’t mean I don’t feel other kinds of love like platonic and familiar.
“So, you’re Asexual?”
Nope. Aromantic ≠ Asexual. Yeah, a lot of people identify as aro/ace, but not every person who’s asexual is aromantic and vice versa.
What not to say to someone who’s Aromantic:
- “You just haven’t found the right person!”
- “Why are you so bitter?”
- “Wow, you must be SUPER lonely?”
- “You’ll change you mind!!!”
- “You clearly have a commitment phobia!!”
- “So you don’t have feelings?” [As someone who cries over EVERYTHING I can 100% confirm this isn’t true]
And let’s not even go into things that are basically just people slut shaming.
Basically, I only realised I was aromantic a couple years back. I actually didn’t even know it was a thing. I’ve never really been interested in romance. The idea of public displays of affection or grand gestures of love make me feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable and squeamish. I’ve only been in a few relationships and none of them really worked out. When I was 18-21 I was in a kind of on again/off again relationship that was really unhealthy and extremely emotionally manipulative. I thought maybe this is why I was so opposed to “finding someone” however as time went on I realised no, that wasn’t the case at all. It was more than just having some bad relationships. I couldn’t imagine myself being romantic with ANYONE.
Of course, I went through all the “maybe there’s something wrong with me?” feelings. I was quite well versed in sexual orientations, but none of those talked about not feeling romantic attraction. Then Tumblr did some good and I learnt about the term “Asexual”. This still didn’t describe me. Still, it was probably the closest thing to what I was feeling so I naturally decided to do some research. That’s when Google informed me that there was something called “Aromantic” and it could exist entirely on it’s own. Everything clicked into place.
I am extremely aware of my privilege, but sometimes it’s hard identifying with an orientation that hardly anyone knows exist. I’m not trying to say I have it harder than others who fall under the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. Still, it’s not easy. I don’t label myself as LGBTQIA+ even though I kinda identify as pansexual, because I feel very fluid in my sexuality and like I don’t deserve to be there. I don’t have to fear for my life being aromantic, but I’m also not a straight person. I kinda feel like I’m just sorta floating around in this weird space that sits outside that community. I know a lot of bi, pan, aro and ace people feel like they’re not welcome in the LGBTQIA+ community and that really needs to change.
In regards to media it kinda sucks seeing myself never represented. The closest I’ve come to seeing myself in a book is Every Heart A Doorway and even then there wasn’t an aromantic character. The term was just used. Still, it was such a powerful moment for me that I actually just burst into tears.
It’s hard when everywhere you’re look you’re being told that the next step in order for your life to be fufilled is to “fall in love” and “get married”. Whenever you see family and they ask “so do you have a partner yet?” like it’s some kind of life stage that I need to check off to “make it”. Sometimes I feel so incredibly broken because I don’t think I can ever do that – more importantly I don’t WANT to that. Most days I’m okay though. I shouldn’t have to live up to these standards that are ridiculous anyway. No matter what you identify as you don’t need someone else to be whole.
It’s why I tend to avoid straight up romance books too. I just can’t connect. It’s not a case of me finding romance boring ect. I don’t want to read and give the book a low rating when it’s my fault I don’t like it. I’m not demanding that romance never be included in books again, but I’d love to see a book where a character explicitly states that they don’t experience romantic attraction. I totally understand that some people find love at a young age, but I also think there’s an unnecessary pressure put on teenagers that they have to settle down and “find the one”. I could never connect with YA books where the characters find the loves of their life at such a young age. When I was younger and read YA I felt like there was something wrong with me because why hadn’t I found someone? Obviously, I’ve grown up since then but I’m sure it’s a thought a lot of teenagers have too. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 18 and I’m not ashamed by that, but for so long I felt like I was just repulsive or something because why hadn’t it happened already?
I don’t know. This post is just me rambling away because I don’t know how to structure it in a more precise way. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I would really, really love for more people to know that that being aromantic is a thing and I would love to see myself represented in media.
If you’d like some more info on Aromanticism then here’s some links that explain things a lot better than I have! The most important thing to remember is that everyone experiences things differently!!!
- AVEN Wiki’s Aromantic FAQ
- 5 Myths about Aromanticism
- The Difference Between Asexual and Aromantic Matters – Here’s Why