Sexual Identity What It Means to Be Aromantic People who are aromantic do not experience romantic attraction By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry Facebook Twitter Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology. Learn about our editorial process Updated on October 17, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Steven Gans, MD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Verywell / Madelyn Goodnight Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Definition Characteristics Aromanticism vs. Asexuality Aromantic Spectrum Relationships Challenges Support Caring for Yourself In intimate relationships, what starts as romantic love, which includes an intense desire for closeness and emotional intimacy, often transitions into compassionate love. People who are aromantic, however, don't feel this way. This is because an aromantic person doesn't feel a romantic attraction toward others. Learn more about aromanticism and how it affects relationships. If you identify as aromantic, we share a few tips for caring for your mental health. We also provide ways that you can help support a family member or friend who is aromantic. What Does It Mean to Be Aromantic? A person who is aromantic does not experience romantic attraction to persons of any gender. People who are aromantic also lack interest in having romantic relationships. Romantic attraction refers to a desire to have emotional contact and interaction with a partner, while the definition of a romantic relationship can vary depending on the individual. Aromanticism is the opposite of alloromanticism, which is a desire to experience a romantic relationship. Aromanticism is sometimes known by the abbreviated form “aro.” In the LGBTQIA+ lexicon, the “A” represents aromantic, asexual, and agender. Although the exact prevalence of aromanticism is not known, one study suggests that around 1% of people identify as asexual and around 25% of these were also aromantic. What Does the Term 'Alloromantic' Mean? Characteristics of Aromanticism Everyone’s experience is unique, so feelings about romance and relationships can vary greatly among aromantic people. Some may have different desires and expectations for physical and emotional intimacy. There is no standardized definition of what constitutes romance, so one person's definition may differ from someone else’s. Some signs that you might be aromantic include: You don’t experience feelings of romantic attraction.You feel that you do not need a romantic relationship to feel complete or fulfilled.You don’t experience “crushes” or being “in love” with someone else.You have a hard time relating to romantic stories. Being aromantic doesn’t mean that you don’t feel or experience love. You may experience strong feelings of love for family and friends. And research suggests that aromatic people often still desire sex. 'I Don't Want to Fall In Love': What to Do If You Feel This Way Aromanticism vs. Asexuality Some aromantic people are asexual, but the two are not synonymous. Asexuality involves a lack of sexual interest or attraction. Some asexual people may not desire sex but can still want romance. And aromantic people may desire sex but not romance. There is little research available on aromanticism, and the distinctions between romantic and sexual orientation are not fully understood. People sometimes have difficulty distinguishing between romantic and sexual attraction because they are often so closely intertwined, making studying the topic more difficult. I Belong to the LGBTQ+ Community Even If Others Disagree Aromantic Spectrum Both asexuality and aromanticism are part of what is known as the asexual spectrum identities. While many aromantic people are also asexual, people with various sexual identities may also describe themselves as aromantic. For example, a person may describe themselves as an aromantic bisexual, an aromantic lesbian, or an aromantic gay man. Other identities on the aromantic spectrum include: Gray-romantic or gray-sexual: These terms refer to individuals who fall somewhere in the middle of aromantic and romantic and asexual and sexual. They may experience some romantic or sexual feelings but only under certain conditions. Demiromantic or demisexual: These terms refer to people who only experience romantic or sexual feelings with another person after forming an emotional bond. Lithromantic or akoiromantic: These terms refer to people who may feel romantic feelings toward other people but do not wish for those feelings to be returned. If those feelings are reciprocated, the attraction fades. Recipromantic or reciprosexual: These terms refer to individuals who only experience a romantic or sexual attraction if they know that the other person also feels the same way. Glossary of Must-Know Sexual Identity Terms How Aromanticism Affects Relationships It is important to note that aromantic people may still be involved in intimate or sexual relationships. However, these relationships may look different from romantic relationships. Such partnerships may involve being in an exclusive relationship, living together, showing affection, and having sex. Aromantic people may get married, have children, and raise families. Motivations beyond romance, such as a desire for family or children, are some reasons why people might choose to pursue a relationship. Aromantic people may pursue relationships to give or receive affection and care. A lack of romantic or sexual interest does not mean that a person does not want intimacy, commitment, or emotional support. They may develop relationships based on shared interests, mutual respect, or emotional closeness. However, such relationships may be based on a more familiar or platonic sense of love rather than a romantic one. Some aromantic people may enter what is referred to as a queer-platonic partnership or QPP. These partnerships are platonic in nature but have the same degree of commitment as a romantic partnership, including cohabitating and making decisions together. Challenges Societal expectations can create challenges for people who identify as aromantic. There is a tremendous amount of societal pressure on people to find a partner, commit, and have children. People who don’t desire that are often pressured to settle down, get married, and have kids anyway. Those who don't are often made to feel that there is something wrong with them or that they are missing out. Romantic content in popular media can also sometimes present challenges for those who are aro. While some aromatic people might enjoy romance-centered movies, books, and tv programming, others may feel indifferent or even repulsed by such depictions. Amatonormativity Amatonormativity is a term that has been coined to describe society’s expectations concerning romance. It has been used to describe the pressure to find and prioritize romance, marriage, and monogamy. Some researchers have suggested that amatonormativity creates a social stigma surrounding being single and can pressure people into entering or staying in unhealthy relationships. How to Support Someone Who Is Aromantic If you have a friend or loved one who is aromantic, there are things that you can do to be a supportive friend and ally: Respect their romantic orientation: You might not fully understand all of the aspects of what it means to be aromantic, but you should show respect for what they feel. Listen to what they have to say and ask what you can do to accommodate their needs and show your support.Don’t be dismissive: Remember that people understand themselves and their own feelings better than you ever can. Don’t dismiss what they feel or insist that they’ll change how they feel. Don’t try to push people into romantic situations they are not interested in.Don't make assumptions: Avoid common misconceptions about aromantic people, such as the idea that they are cold or simply haven't met the right person. Be respectful if you have questions and be aware that the individual may not want to share. Ask if it is okay for you to ask questions and learn more about them. Strengthen Friendships With Good Listening Skills Caring for Yourself Aromantic people often face stigma and misconceptions about their romantic orientation. Others sometimes think they are not loving or that they will eventually change and develop romantic relationships. Dealing with these myths can sometimes make people feel isolated or pressured to conform to other people's expectations. Get Help Now We've tried, tested, and written unbiased reviews of the best online therapy programs including Talkspace, Betterhelp, and Regain. Find out which option is the best for you. While you might not want romantic relationships, having social support is important for your mental health and well-being. Focus on cultivating strong relationships with other people outside of romantic contexts. It is important to remember that other forms of love are not any less important than romantic love. If you are aromantic, don’t feel pressured to participate in romantic or sexual situations you aren’t comfortable with. Don’t force yourself to do things to meet someone else’s expectations or because of social pressure. A Word From Verywell While aromantics are often mistakenly viewed as cold or prudish, it is important to remember that people who identify as aro have diverse feelings and experiences. Some may enjoy physical intimacy, and some may not. Some may want a commitment without the expectations of a romantic relationship, while others may prefer to have no romantic relationships at all. If you think you might be aromantic, it is important to remember that you alone get to decide how you feel and how to share those feelings with others. For more resources and information being aromantic, visit some of the following resources: AACE (Asexual & Aromantic Community and Education) Club Aromanticism FAQ from Aurea, the Aromantic-spectrum Union for Recognition, Education, and Advocacy The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project A Handbook for Coming Out: A resource created by The Trevor Project to offer advice to LGBTQIA+ young people about coming out. If you are seeking support for issues with coming out, relationships, bullying, self-harm, and more, contact the LGBT National Hotline at 1-888-843-4564 for one-to-one peer support. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. What to Do When You're Questioning Your Sexuality 9 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. LGBT Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Asexuality, attraction, and romantic orientation. Antonsen AN, Zdaniuk B, Yule M, Brotto LA. Ace and aro: understanding differences in romantic attractions among persons identifying as asexual. Arch Sex Behav. 2020;49(5):1615-1630. doi:10.1007/s10508-019-01600-1 Fischer NL, Seidman S. Introducing the New Sexuality Studies. Routledge; 2016. Bogaert AF. Understanding Asexuality. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc; 2012. Pasquier M. Explore the spectrum: guide to finding your ace community. GLAAD. Miller SJ, ed. Glossary of terms: defining a common queer language. Teaching, Affirming, and Recognizing Trans and Gender Creative Youth. London: Palgrave Macmillan; 2016. doi:10.1057/978-1-137-56766-6 Brake E. Minimizing Marriage: Marriage, Morality, and the Law. New York: Oxford University Press; 2012. Singal J. The new science of single people. The Cut. AUREA. A beginner's guide to being an aromantic ally. By Kendra Cherry Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.