Aromantic (often shortened to aro) is a romantic orientation defined by a lack of romantic attraction. Romantic attraction is often defined as the desire to be in a romantic relationship and/or do romantic acts with a specific person. For non-aromantic people (alloromantics) romantic attraction is involuntary and even occurs when someone doesn't know the other person (though one might not act on it). Aromantic people do not have an innate desire to be in a romantic relationship. They might also feel disconnected from the idea of romance.
A common misconception is that all aromantics lack emotions, lack the ability to form social connections, and are "loveless". In reality many aros are capable of feeling love- platonic love such as that between a mother and child or best friends. Aromantics can also meet their emotional needs through queerplatonic relationships, or other non-romantic relationships. Some aromantics get platonic crushes or "squishes", also known as platonic attraction. On the other hand, some aromantics may not experience platonic love or attraction, and may identify as aplatonic. Others may not desire partners of any kind, and may identify as nonamorous. Some aromantics embrace the loveless label and reject the idea that love is necessary for happiness.
Being aromantic does not mean that one is unable to experience sexual attraction. An aromantic person can have any sexual orientation. They may identify with a sexual orientation in addition to the label of aromantic to specify who they're interested in sexually, if anyone. For example, a heterosexual aromantic person is sexually attracted to people of a different gender, but is not romantically attracted to them. Some aromantics are also asexual (aroace), meaning they do not feel sexual attraction as well. Not all aromantics identify with a sexual orientation, some identify primarily or only as aromantic (non-SAM aro/aro neu). Some aromantic people may additionally experience tertiary attractions, which are attractions outside of sexual and romantic, and may use specific labels to describe this attraction. Examples of tertiary attractions include aesthetic, platonic, and sensual attraction.
Romantic dispositions among aromantic people can vary. Some aromantics may still have or seek or a romantic relationship despite not feeling romantic attraction to anyone (cupioromantic). Other aromantics may be repulsed by the concept of romance, either as a concept applicable to themselves or in general. Terms like romance-repulsed, romance-indifferent, romance-favorable, or romance-ambivalent are commonly used to describe these feelings.
The term "aromantic" may also be used as an umbrella term, referring to anyone on the aromantic spectrum.
Due to the ambiguous nature of romantic attraction it can sometimes be difficult to identify when one is aromantic. Romantic attraction is sometimes defined by the actions that one takes during a relationship, such as holding hands, kissing, or cuddling. However, none of these activities alone necessarily indicate romantic attraction. These actively are only considered romantic if one personally considers them romantic in nature and does them with romantic intent. An aromantic person might enjoy some or all of these activities in non-romantic contexts, but does not like them in romantic context. Because of this some queerplatonic relationships or close friendships can sometimes resemble or be mistaken for a romantic relationship; with the difference being that in a queerplatonic relationship the participants agree that it is non-romantic, and in a romantic relationship the participants agree that it is romantic in nature. Therefore, the nature of a relationship is best defined by the intentions of the participants. If one or any partners feels romantic attraction and all partners agree to a romantic context, then the relationship is considered romantic.
This can make it difficult to identify when one is aromantic, especially when one has trouble distinguishing between romantic feelings and platonic feelings. If this is the case one might identify as platoniromantic, idemromantic, nebularomantic, sensualarian or quoiromantic.
The term aromantic was first coined in an AVEN thread titled 'Relationship Definitions' in June 2005. While this is not the first use of the split attraction model it is one of the first mentions of the term aromantic. After this there is very little mention of aromanticism until 2010, when aromanticism begin to gain a community on AVEN.
Aromantic Flag and Symbols
The first proposed aromantic flag had four stripes. Green, because it's the opposite of red, the most commonly associated romance color. Yellow, representing platonic love, because yellow roses represent friendship. Orange, for greyromantics, because it's in between red and yellow. And black, representing alloromantics that "reject traditional ideas of romance". This flag was later changed because it closely resembled the Rastafarian flag, and because it had a stripe representing alloromantics.
The second proposed aromantic flag was a five striped flag. With dark green and light green representing the spectrum of aromantic identities. A yellow stripe representing friendship, and a grey and black stripe representing the spectrum of sexual identities in the aromantic community. The design was later altered; changing the yellow stripe to white; due to it causing sensory problems for certain individuals. The meaning of the stripes was kept the same during the redesign.
Another aromantic flag was coined by Cryptocrew at Hayden000s request on January 16th of 2021 and was first published on a post one day later. The yellow flower represents platonic love or alterous/queerplatonic and desires, dark green represents lack of romantic attraction, light green represents the greyromantic spectrum, the black represents a disconnect or disinterest in romantic acts, the upside-down white hearts represent community and how aromantic people can love, just not how people expect them to.
There are several other symbols used to represent aromantics and aromantic love. One is an arrow, due to aromantic often being shortened to aro, which is pronounced the same way. Like asexuals, aromantics also use the symbol of the spades to represent themselves, and aroace people especially use the ace of spades. Also similar to asexuals, some aromantic people wear a white ring on the middle finger of their left hand (the opposite hand of the black asexual ring). Aromantics have also started using the symbol of a green heart, representing non-romantic love. An older, lesser used, symbol is an aardvark which seems to have originated from a meme.
The term aromantic uses the Latin prefix a- which means 'a lack of'.