If you're aromantic, you have little or no romantic attraction to other people - here's what that means

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If you're aromantic, you have little or no romantic attraction to other people - here's what that means
The aromantic pride flag next to the LGBT pride flag. Leonid Altman/Getty Images
  • An aromantic person is someone who has little to no romantic attraction to other people.
  • You may be aromantic if you feel physically attracted to people, but you don't have crushes.
  • You may also not want to do things associated with romance, like sharing a bed or getting married.

We often think of dating and falling in love as universal, but not everyone experiences romantic feelings. If you're aromantic, you have little or no romantic attraction to other people.

Aromantic people can have close platonic bonds and feel physical attraction, but they usually don't have crushes or want romantic relationships.

Here's how to tell if you're aromantic and how you can support aromantic people in your life.

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What does aromanticism mean?

Being aromantic can mean different things to different people, but "it is often defined as not experiencing romantic attraction or not being interested in forming romantic relationships," says Kristina Gupta, PhD, a professor of women's, gender, and sexuality studies at Wake Forest University.

There are a few key signs that you may be aromantic, Gupta says, including:

  • You don't find the idea of romantic relationships appealing.
  • You have difficulty relating to stories about romantic relationships.
  • You're physically attracted to people, but you don't have crushes.
  • You develop strong connections with other people, but you don't want to do things associated with romance like sharing a bed, kissing, or getting married.

When it comes to relationships, "aromanticism can work in different ways for different people," Gupta says.

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Some aromantic people may not want a partner and are only interested in having close relationships with friends and family.

Other aromantic people might be interested in committed non-romantic relationships, sometimes called queerplatonic relationships.

"Queerplatonic relationships are often friendships that involve more commitment and/or intimacy than what is culturally 'normal' for a friendship," Gupta says. This can mean living with a partner, sharing finances, or even having kids together, all without a romantic connection.

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The aromantic spectrum

  • Demiromantic means you can develop romantic feelings toward someone, but only after you've already formed a strong connection with them. For example, you may feel romantically attracted to a close friend, Gupta says.
  • Gray-romantic means that you're somewhere in-between romantic and aromantic. "You might feel romantic attraction sometimes but not often or you might have some interest in romantic relationships but not a strong interest," Gupta says.
  • Aroflux means that you fluctuate between feeling less aromantic and more romantic at different times. On one day, you may feel completely aromantic, while other days you may feel gray romantic or even fully romantic.
  • Recipromantic means that you can't feel romantic attraction to someone unless you already know that they're attracted to you.
  • Akoiromantic means that you may feel romantically attracted to someone, but the feeling goes away if they are also romantically attracted to you.

How to support someone who is aromantic

Aromantic people may not always feel understood by their friends and family. If someone close to you is aromantic, Gupta offers a few steps you can take to support them.

  • "First, believe them - if they tell you they are aromantic, believe they are aromantic," Gupta says.
  • Let them know you support them and accept them the way they are.
  • Educate yourself about aromanticism. You can find information resources on GLAAD's website.
  • Support their relationships, even if they don't follow the cultural norms. "For example, if your child is in a queerplatonic relationship with someone, make sure your child knows that their queerplatonic partner is welcome in your family," Gupta says.

Insider's takeaway

If you're on the aromantic spectrum, you may not feel romantic attraction and you might have a hard time relating to romantic movies or books. You may also feel attraction only in certain circumstances, and the labels demiromantic or gray-romantic may feel more accurate.

If someone you love is aromantic, be sure to support them and let them know you accept them.

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What is pansexuality? What it means to be attracted to others regardless of their gender identity What does it mean to be asexual? Understanding the asexual spectrum What is demisexuality? When you don't feel sexual attraction without an emotional connection Interested in polyamory? Here's 5 tips for making romantic relationships work with multiple partners, according to a sex therapist
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