Aromantic people may experience attraction in the absence of romantic love

StaceyNHerrera

**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.

Growing up, I fell headfirst into romanticism. I loved watching Disney movies where the handsome prince rescued the damsel in distress. I moved on to romantic comedies, and chick lit in my teens, devouring anything from Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks movies to Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.

I binged on romance novels, Harlequin in particular. In my early twenties, I started writing my own stories, imagining myself as the heroine who always got her happily ever after.

It’s no wonder then that when it came to my own love life, I expected (and sometimes demanded) the same level of romance that I had been reading and watching since I was a child.

We grow up and realize that people are flawed, and relationships require work. Unfortunately, reality often fails to meet our expectations. The fairytale endings we yearn for seldom happen in real life.

Love is not always fireworks and grand gestures. And sometimes love does not include romance at all, which I learned the hard way.

When I was in college, I developed feelings for a close friend. I will call him John. I had known John for a few years, and he was one of the nicest, most genuine guys I had ever met. We bonded over our shared love of music, and he would often confide in me about his dreams and aspirations.

I started to see John in a different light, and before long, I was head over heels in love with him. I wanted to tell him how I felt, but I was terrified of ruining our friendship.

One day, we were hanging out in my dorm room, and I mustered up the courage to tell him how I felt, only to find that John didn’t feel the same way.

“I am physically attracted to you. I always have been,” he said. “But there’s no romantic attraction.”

As you can imagine, I was devastated. I felt rejected, embarrassed, and humiliated all at the same time. But it turns out I misunderstood what John meant.

“I don’t think you’re getting it,” John continued. “It’s not that I’m not romantically attracted to you. I’m not romantically attracted to anyone. I am aromantic.”

Before John, I had never heard of the aromantic spectrum. I had always assumed that everyone experienced romantic love. But John opened my eyes to the fact that there is a whole group of people who don’t feel romantic attraction and that it was perfectly normal.

Aromanticism is not the same as asexuality. Aromantics can experience sexual attraction, but they don’t experience romantic interest.

“Aromanticism is the lack of romantic attraction to others, or low or absent interest in or desire for romantic relationships. Aromanticism relates to a person’s romantic orientation, rather than their sexual orientation. It may also be viewed along a continuum (called the aro spectrum).” — Dr Emily Blake, PhD

Since John, I have met other aromantics, which has been eye-opening. I have realized that romance is not the be-all and end-all of relationships. There are many different ways to show love and appreciation for someone without needing to be in a romantic relationship.

What are the signs of aromantic?

Like most things, every aromantic is different, but there are several common traits that many aromantics share. For example, aromantics often:

-A lack of interest in romantic relationships

-An inability to relate or conceptualize romantic stories.

-A preference for platonic relationships

-An inability to feel love or romantic attraction

-A belief that love is not necessary for a happy and fulfilling life.

Can an aromantic be in a romantic relationship?

Yes, some aromantics choose to be in romantic relationships even though they don’t experience romantic attraction. There are many reasons why an aromantic might enter into a romantic relationship, such as:

-Companionship

-Sexual intimacy

-To have children

-To conform to social norms.

“Aromantics aren’t consigned to a life of solitude. They can still form strong and meaningful connections with others or develop attachments based on nonromantic types of love.” — PsychCentral.com

What is the difference between being aromantic and asexual?

The main difference is that asexuality is a sexual orientation, whereas aromanticism is a romantic orientation. Aromantics can experience sexual attraction, but they don’t experience romantic attraction. It’s also worth noting that not all asexual people are aromantic, and vice versa.

“While some aromantic people are asexual, 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.” — VeryWellMind.com

If you think you might be aromantic, there is no need to label yourself if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. The most important thing is that you are honest with yourself and those around you about what you are looking for in a relationship.

And if you happen to fall for an aromantic person, don’t take it personally if they don’t feel the same way. There’s nothing wrong with you, and there’s nothing wrong with them either — you’re both just wired differently.

Do you think you might be aromantic? Have you ever heard been in a relationship with an aromantic person? Let us know in the comments below!

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Intimacy & Relationship coach, writer, and creator of The Sensuality Project. I specialize in Relationship-ing (it's a verb).

Los Angeles County, CA
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