This Aro Week (19th-25th February 2023), we’re taking the opportunity to debunk some myths around aromanticism and raise awareness about what it means to be aro.
What does aro mean?
Aro is an umbrella term used by people who don’t typically experience romantic attraction. Romantic attraction can be defined as a desire to have romantic contact or interaction with an individual. You may hear people referring to the ‘aro spectrum’, which encompasses a wide variety of different experiences, including not feeling romantic attraction at all, feeling romantic attraction occasionally, or feeling varying levels of romantic attraction at different times.
Here are five things you should know about aro people:
1. Not all aro people are asexual
And vice versa! Romantic orientation is separate from sexual orientation, so people who identify as aro aren’t necessary also ace. While there can be overlap between the two identities, and many people do identify as aro and ace, we shouldn’t assume that the two always go hand in hand. You can find out more about asexuality here.
Aro people who experience sexual attraction and/or occasional romantic attraction might also use terms such as gay, bi, lesbian, straight and queer in conjunction with aro to describe the direction of their attraction.
2. Aro people can have relationships
Romantic relationships aren’t the only type of relationship, and aro people can have meaningful, loving relationships with their friends, families, and platonic partners if they wish to.
Some aro people choose to enter into queerplatonic relationships or partnerships – these are generally described as platonic relationships with a deeper level of commitment than what we might typically expect from a friendship. For example, queerplatonic partners might live together or share financial or domestic responsibilities with one another. These relationships aren’t typically romantic or sexual in nature.
3. Aro people aren’t cold and heartless
Aro people are not ‘emotionally immature’ and are just as capable of the full range of human emotion and feeling as alloromantic people (people who do experience romantic attraction). Romantic love is not the only form of love: aro people can and do have a variety of close, fulfilling and loving relationships with people in their lives, including friends, family members, chosen family and queerplatonic partners. Some aro people may also enjoy physical affection.
4. Being aro isn’t just a phase
Although for some people, romantic attraction can change over time and be in constant flux, you shouldn’t assume that people who identify as aro might one day change their minds. Aro people don’t need to be ‘fixed’, and they aren’t just ‘waiting for the right person’ – they are who they say they are.
5. Aro people are part of the LGBTQ+ community
The LGBTQ+ community is a safe space for many who are not accepted by society for who they are.
When people are free to be themselves, we all benefit. For anyone living outside the historical and modern-day expectations of gender, sexuality or attraction, finding others who have a shared experience can help people feel seen, accepted, and part of a community.
While aro people may face different societal barriers and forms of discrimination than those with other identities, they are a valid part of our community. We are always stronger when we stand together and work towards a world where we are all free to be ourselves.