Hi folks! Yesterday, we talked about asexuality, so today it must be time for Aromanticism!
What does it mean to be aromantic?
Well, remember that the prefix “a” means “not”. So aromantic folks are not-romantic!
Now, I don’t mean that they’re just super staid in their relationships, and hate flowers and candles. I mean that they don’t experience romantic attraction! They enjoy friendships and connections with family members and close friends, but they don’t feel romantically for other people.
Wow, what does that even look like?
Well, the surface level answer is that aromantic people generally don’t date or get married, because they don’t really get the point of romantic relationships.
Some aromantic people just aren’t into being close and intimate with other folks. Touching, cuddling, smooching, holding hands… None of that sounds particularly appealing. They use the label aromantic to indicate that they prefer slightly more detached connections. Not less emotional – close friendships are important, any everyone needs support! – but less intimate.
But a number of aromantic people consider themselves aromantic because they don’t recognize any of their quite close and loving relationships as romantic. Or rather, they don’t understand what is the difference between a romantic connection and a friendly one, because all of their connections are equal.
“What do you mean, you love one or a few people more than you love your friends?” an aromantic friend of mine once asked.
“Differently,” I tried to explain. “I don’t love my partners more than I love my friends, I just love them …differently”
“What’s different about it? And I don’t mean sex – ace romantic people exist.”
“Well, with my romantic partners, I want to like…snuggle with them and put my face close to them?” I thought harder. “I like holding hands and planning for the future and just, like, breathing together.”
“You and I hold hands,” my friend countered. “And you snuggle with your platonic friends, and you make out with people you’re not dating. And you’re planning the future with your polycule, even the ones you aren’t dating. What’s the difference?”
It just *feels* different,” I said lamely.
“Well, it doesn’t for me,” said my aromantic friend.
Aromantic discourse highlights a really interesting issue. What’s the difference between a friend and a partner, and why does society insist that we value our partners more than our friends? Many folks lose touch with their friends when beginning romantic relationships, or after getting married. We’re expected to care more about the opinions about your partners, and to plan our long futures with them, but our close friends don’t get any kind of say in our future. What’s up with that?
A special kind of connection exists in the aromantic world, and it’s one that has thankfully been shared into some queer communities.
When an aromantic person has a close and special bond with someone, it’s often called a queerplatonic relationship. It’s not “just” a casual friendship, but it’s not quite a romantic relationship. It’s a close and emotional friendship between two bonded people, but doesn’t mirror a typical romantic relationship. It’s usually platonic, not sexual, and may not involve co-sleeping, legal marriage, or even cohabiting. It queers a typical platonic relationship by indicating a special emphasis on a connection between them.
I’m not aromantic, but I do have a queerplatonic relationship with one of my partners – we usually don’t cosleep (occasional sleepy snuggle-fests aside), but we hold hands, gaze adoringly into each other’s eyes, and plan the future together. We cook dinner together most nights, and I love to fetch her snacks when she’s trapped under the cat. But it’s not quite a romantic relationship, and we don’t usually smooch each other. Yet this relationship is no less important to me than any of my romantic or sexual connections.
Many aromantic folks aren’t interested in these kinds of connections, but many others ask a genuinely valuable question: why do we value friendship less than romance? What’s the difference?
In media, we constantly hear the phrase “just friends,” but aromantics strive to remind us that there’s no such thing as “just” friends. When you have a friend, you have a valuable connection that is no less gorgeous, important, and reverence-inspiring than any kind of romantic connection.
Next up: agender!