Aromantic (often shortened to aro) means someone who generally does not experience romantic attraction. Romantic attraction is defined as the desire to be in a romantic relationship and/or do romantic acts with a specific person. While a heteroromantic person is romantically attracted to people of another gender, but not to people of the same gender, and a biromantic person is romantically attracted to people of two or more genders, an aromantic person is romantically attracted to no genders. For non-aromantic people (alloromantics) romantic attraction is involuntary and even occurs when someone doesn't know the other person. Aromantic people do not have an innate desire to be in a romantic relationship. They might also feel disconnected from the idea of romance.
Being aromantic does not mean that one is unable to experience sexual attraction. An aromantic person can have any sexual orientation. Many aromantics use separate romantic and sexual orientations. For example, a heterosexual aromantic person is sexually attracted to people of another gender, but is not romantically attracted to them. Some aromantics are also asexual, meaning they do not feel sexual attraction as well; they may identify as aroace.
A common misconception is that all aros 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 is still love. Aros 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 aros embrace the loveless label and reject the idea that love is necessary.
Aromantic can also be used as an umbrella term, referring to anyone on the aromantic spectrum.
The sexual counterpart is known as asexual.
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 indicate romantic attraction. An aromantic person may enjoy some or all of these activities in non-romantic contexts, but does not like them in romantic context. Because of this a romantic relationship can closely resemble some queerplatonic relationships or close friendships, therefore, the nature of a relationship is mostly defined by the intentions of the participants. If one or both partners feel romantic attraction and both partners agree to a romantic context then the relationship can be 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 as 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 aro-spec identifies. A yellow stripe representing friendship. And a grey and black stripe representing the spectrum of sexual identifies 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.
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, 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'.