Aromanticism Awareness Week

LUSU is currently running a running an ‘I Won’t Stand For It’ campaign about not tolerating oppression, and as always we want to show that we won’t tolerate discrimination of under-represented LGBTQ+ identities. We have previously run awareness campaigns about the asexuality spectrum, bi and pan, and polyamory and non-monogamy, because we want to raise awareness of these identities, clear up some common misconceptions, and ensure that people of all LGBTQ+ identities are welcome within the community.

To start with, here’s a definition:

Aromanticism is the lack of romantic attraction to people of any gender.

In this context, attraction refers to a mental or emotional force that draws people together. There are multiple types of attraction, including:

Romantic attraction – the desire for a romantic relationship with a specific person.
Sexual attraction – the desire for sexual contact with a specific person.
Sensual attraction – the desire for physical contact with a specific person that is not necessarily sexual, e.g. kissing, cuddling.
Aesthetic attraction – the attraction to a specific person based on their physical appearance but without the desire to act upon it.

Some people experience all of these, and others only experience one or two. These types of attraction are separate but can intersect, and they can be difficult to differentiate, especially if you’re experiencing more than one at a time.

Just like aromanticism is the lack of romantic attraction, asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction. These two identities are often confused, but they are completely different. Some people are both aromantic and asexual, and some are only one or the other.

Like most identities, aromanticism exists on a spectrum. Some people never experience romantic attraction at all, and those on the other end of the spectrum experience it regularly.

Aromantic – doesn’t ever experience romantic attraction (or very rarely does).
Grey-aromantic – only sometimes experiences romantic attraction, or doesn’t experience it to a great extent.
Alloromantic – does experience romantic attraction.

There are also several others identities that fall under the aromantic spectrum:

Demiromantic – only experiences romantic attraction after forming a deep emotional bond.
Lithromantic – experiences attraction but doesn’t want reciprocation.
Akoiromantic – experiences attraction that fades once reciprocated.
WTF-romantic – general term for not understand what is going on with how you experience romantic attraction.
Quoi/platoniromantic – can’t distinguish between experiencing romantic and platonic attraction.
Cupio/kalosromantic – desires a relationship but doesn’t experience romantic attraction.

However, just because there are a lot of words to describe the identities on the aromantic spectrum, you never have to label yourself if you don’t want to or if you aren’t able to find a label that fits. You’re also allowed to use terms that are close to how you identify if it’s easier, e.g. a demiromantic person might refer to themselves as aromantic because it’s simpler to explain, or you can use umbrella terms if you don’t want to explain the intricacies of your identity, e.g. LGBTQ+ or queer.

Ultimately, how you identify is your choice – you can use any applicable labels to describe yourself, or none at all.

Here are some other useful terms:

Romance repulsion – when romantic interactions make you feel icky. This varies between people, e.g. some people find romance unpleasant when it affects them directly whereas some people dislike seeing romance in media etc.

Queerplatonic relationship – not a romantic relationship but involves a close emotional bond, which can be similar to friendship or to dating. It’s often used by people on the aromantic spectrum and is normally used due to the commitment level involved which can be similar to romantic relationships.

Aromantic people are heartless

Aromantic people can care about people just as deeply as anyone else – they can love people, just not romantically.

Aromantic people are ‘missing out’

Just because you enjoy or seek out romantic relationships doesn’t mean everyone does; lots of people can quite happily go without romantic relationships.

Aromantic people can’t have meaningful relationships

Platonic or queerplatonic relationships are just as meaningful as romantic ones.

Aromantic people don’t experience discrimination

All identities under the LGBTQ+ umbrella experience discrimination. A total lack of awareness is a very significant form of oppression because it means aromantic people have to constantly explain and justify their identity. Being ignored and silenced is oppressive.

Aromantic people just want casual sex

Some aromantic people may want this, and others may not. This is the same with alloromantic people; being aromantic doesn’t make you any more likely to want casual sex. However, if they do want casual sex, they are often wrongfully demonised for it.

Because of these misconceptions and because so few people are well-informed about aromanticism, it can be difficult for aromantic people to come out. If someone comes out to you as on the aromantic spectrum, be supportive and not intrusive – them coming out to you doesn’t mean you’re allowed to quiz them on their identity.

No matter how to identify, you’re not obligated to come out at all if you don’t feel safe or comfortable doing so. No one can tell you whether or not you should come out, but if you’re having trouble and want to talk to someone you can speak to our Community Diversity Officer, Welfare Officer or Cross Campus Officer.

Resources

Aromantic wiki: http://aromantic.wikia.com/wiki/Aromantics_Wiki

Definition on AVEN (Asexuality Visibility & Education Network): https://www.asexuality.org/wiki/index.php?title=Aromantic

Surprisingly good Buzzfeed article: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mcrosswell/5-myths-about-aromanticism-tysc#.bsX56Pzmy