Gender & Sexuality dictionary


or aromanticism

What does aromantic mean?

An aromantic person is someone who doesn’t experience romantic attraction. Being aromantic is not the same as being asexual, and it’s certainly not about smelling nice, which is being aromatic.

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Where does aromantic come from?

pimptier – DeviantArt
pimptier – DeviantArt

The word aromantic comes from the prefix a-, meaning “not,” and romantic, which in this context means “relating to romance.” The word aromantic has existed since at least the 1820s, though it was used back then to mean the same as aromatic. It began to be used in the sense of something “non-romantic” around the mid-1980s.

It isn’t known exactly when the word aromantic began to be associated with its current meaning, though there is evidence of it being used this way online at least as far back as 1996, though it may have been around earlier. As a result of its widespread use, an Urban Dictionary entry for aromantic popped up on July 11, 2006. Given the fact that romantic orientation and sexual orientation are often conflated, it makes sense that the word asexual existed before aromantic.

Examples of aromantic

“Constant relationship drama, as people do not understand what am I looking for and not willing to listen. As an aromantic woman I have to dodge courting rituals and and [sic] all sorts of efforts to get me to date someone.”
Cassiopeia [user comments] (June 24, 2016)
“I only found the term aromantic a few years ago but if I had known it existed before I would have been identifying as aro since I was a child.”
bluefj Reddit (April 12, 2017)
“There is certainly nothing wrong with the media and literature trying to portray the beauty of romantic love and sexual attraction, but there is when it comes at the price or aromantic and asexual people.”
Stephanie Farnsworth, “The face of evil: the terrible way we show aromantic and asexual identities,” The Queerness (April 23, 2016)

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Who uses aromantic?

People often get asexuality and aromanticism mixed up. While they’re similar in their lack of attraction, the domains in which lack of attraction exists are different. The distinction lies in the difference between sexual orientation and romantic orientation. A person’s romantic orientation describes a pattern (or lack thereof) of romantic attraction (like having a crush on a specific someone). A person’s sexual orientation describes a pattern (or lack thereof) of sexual attraction.

While sexual orientation usually also includes patterns of romantic attraction, noting the distinction between one’s sexual and romantic orientations can be quite useful in asexual, aromantic, and LGBTQ+ circles. For example, someone who identifies as solely gay can be assumed to be both homoromantic and homosexual, meaning they feel both romantic and sexual attraction toward someone of the same gender. A person’s identity can be explained in terms of both their sexual and romantic orientations when it’s helpful. Some examples of where this might be useful are discussions of identities like aromantic pansexual, heteroromantic asexual, aromantic asexual, or even biromantic heterosexual.

With this model, it makes sense that a person who’s aromantic isn’t necessarily asexual. If a person who identifies as asexual can seek out romantic relationships with no sexual component on account of their romantic orientation, it’s not too much of a leap for an aromantic person to be interested in seeking out sexual relationships without a romance component because of their orientation.

Aromanticism is different from just not wanting a relationship. While people of other romantic orientations are capable of romantic attraction toward specific people, aromantic people are not. Being aromantic doesn’t preclude the possibility of having a significant relationship if a particular aromantic person wants one. The relationships that aromantic people are involved in may often instead be rooted in more platonic feelings.

A squish is the aromantic equivalent of a crush. It’s a strong desire for a close friendship or non-romantic relationship with someone. Essentially, it’s a friend-crush and it sometimes manifests with the urgency of a romantic one.

Since aromantic can be a mouthful, some people opt to shorten it to aro. This often occurs in conjunction with the collapsed version of asexual (which is ace) to form aroace or aro/ace.

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of aromantic like most terms we define on, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of aromantic that will help our users expand their word mastery.