It’s Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week, beginning on the 21st of February. In a society where romance is often seen as “essential”, people on the aromantic spectrum can often feel rather left out of the conversation.
Aromantic people do not experience romantic attraction – the interest in and desire to form a romantic relationship with an individual. There’s a whole spectrum of identities under the aromantic umbrella, though “aromantic” is also an orientation in itself. Such other identities include
- Greyromantic – only very rarely experiencing romantic attraction
- Demiromantic – only experiencing romantic attraction after you’ve already known someone for a while
- Quoiromantic – being unable to tell the difference between romantic attraction and other types of attraction (aka wtfromantic or nebularomantic)
- Lithromantic – only experiencing romantic attraction if it is not reciprocated (aka aproromantic or akoiromantic)
- Reciproromantic – only experiencing romantic attraction if the person is attracted to you
- Frayromantic – only being romantically attracted to people you don’t know well
- Aegoromantic – only liking the idea of romance, but not wanting to participate yourself (aka autochorisromantic)
- Cupioromantic – not experiencing romantic attraction but still wanting to be in a romantic relationship
- Aroflux – the amount of romantic attraction you feel fluctuates
Aromantic, Greyromantic, Aroflux
The most commonly known orientations on the aromantic spectrum are aromantic, greyromantic, and aroflux.
Someone who is aromantic experiences no romantic attraction.
Someone who is greyromantic experiences rare romantic attraction.
Someone who is aroflux experiences changes in the amount of romantic attraction they experience.
The opposite of aromantic is alloromantic. Someone who is alloromantic experiences average rates of romantic attraction.
Romantic attraction is defined as feeling an emotional pull towards another, specific, person and desiring to be in a romantic relationship with them. Having a crush is generally feeling romantic attraction towards the object of the crush.
People can still enter into romantic relationships even if they do not feel romantic attraction, if they have a desire to participate in romantic acts with the person regardless (e.g. going on dates, kissing, sending valentine’s cards, etc).
QPRs & the Split Attraction Model
The Split Attraction Model (SAM) is a model used primarily by the asexual and aromantic spectrum communities. Under the SAM, one’s sexual orientation and one’s romantic orientation can differ. For example, someone can be asexual but biromantic, or heterosexual but aromantic, or any other combination of differing orientations.
People on the aromantic spectrum are not necessarily also on the asexual spectrum, but may be. Someone can be aromantic and heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual or any other sexual orientation.
People who are aromantic but experience other kinds of attraction may enter into a QPR. QPR stands for either Queerplatonic Relationship or Quasiplatonic Relationship, depending on the preferences of those forming the relationship. There’s also QPP, where the second P stands for Partnership.
People in a QPR are neither romantically involved nor “just friends”. A QPR is a type of relationship that allows two people to be in a committed partnership without a romantic element. Different QPRs will look different for different partners but can include living together or sharing life decisions, but doesn’t need to. It’s a way for people who do not want to enter romantic relationships to commit more strongly to each other.
Demiromantic & Frayromantic
For some aromantic spectrum people, how well they know a person affects whether or not they are able to feel romantically attracted to them.
Demiromantic people only experience romantic attraction towards people they know well.
Demiromantic people will not feel attraction towards everyone they know well, but can only feel it towards people they know well. A demiromantic person may find themselves feeling romantically attracted to someone after being friends for a year, even though they had no romantic feelings towards them in the first place, and in fact would have been unable to have such feelings without knowing the person well.
Frayromantic people only experience romantic attraction towards people they do not know well.
Contrary to demiromantic people, a frayromantic person may be romantically attracted to someone they meet in a pub, but after a month of getting to know them, the romantic attraction automatically fades to nothing even if the other person didn’t actually do anything to make the frayromantic person feel any differently.
Lithromantic & Reciproromantic
For some aro-spec people, whether or not they are romantically attracted to someone depends on whether or not that someone is romantically attracted to them.
Lithromantic people can feel romantic attraction towards others, but if the subject of their attraction is attracted to them, their attraction ends.
Someone who is lithromantic may be romantically attracted to someone, but if that someone was to ask them out, or express that they reciprocate the feelings, their attraction will disappear. Lithromantic can also be known as aproromantic or akoiromantic. All three terms mean the same thing.
Reciproromantic people can only feel romantically attracted to someone if that someone is also attracted to them.
Conversely to lithromantic, a reciproromantic person will not feel romantic attraction towards someone until that person expresses attraction towards them, asks them out or does something else to show that they are attracted to them.
Aegoromantic & Cupioromantic
Some people on the aromantic spectrum experience a disconnect between the attraction they feel (or do not feel), and their desire to participate, or not, in romantic relationships or romantic activities.
Aegoromantic people, also known as autochorisromantic, may experience fantasies about romance, or may enjoy the idea of romance, but feel a disconnect between themselves and the experience.
Someone who is aegoromantic may find romance novels or movies interesting and may like the hypothetical idea of being in a relationship, or fantasise about fictional relationships, but in reality they do not want to be involved in a real relationship. They may feel romantic attraction to people but have no interest at all in actually being in a romantic relationship or participating in romantic activities.
If someone is cupioromantic, they do not experience any romantic attraction towards individuals, however they still desire to be in a romantic relationship.
Someone who is cupioromantic may get involved in a relationship with someone who is attracted to them, even if they don’t reciprocate the attraction, or they may end up in a relationship with another cupioromantic person, where they both enjoy romantic activities without feeling the romantic attraction. Despite their lack of attraction towards individuals, they wish to participate in romantic activities.
Quoiromantic & Types of Attraction
Someone who is quoiromantic cannot tell the difference between what types of attraction they feel towards someone. This can also be known as wtfromantic, or amongst the neurodivergent community, nebularomantic. They may be unsure how they feel towards others.
People may feel many types of physical or emotional types of attraction to others. Someone may feel one type of attraction towards an individual, some of these types together, or all at once. For someone who is quoiromantic, they may not know if they’re feeling romantic attraction or one of the other types.
Sexual attraction – the desire to have physical, sexual intimacy with a person and carry out sexual acts with that person.
Platonic attraction – the desire to become friends with a person.
Alterous attraction – the desire for emotional closeness with a person that is neither solely platonic or romantic. People who feel alterous attraction to someone may wish to enter into a QPR with that person.
Aesthetic attraction – liking the physical look of a person.
Sensual attraction – wanting to cuddle or be close to another person in a non-sexual way.
Favourable, Neutral, Averse, Repulsed
Whether or not someone feels romantic attraction towards particular individuals is different from whether or not they wish to be in a relationship, or their feelings on romance in general. The following terms describe someone’s feelings towards romantic acts, rather than towards people.
Someone who is romance-favourable enjoys the idea of romance, participating in a romantic relationship, or experiencing romantic activities.
Someone who is romance-neutral has no strong opinion on whether or not they would like to be in a romantic relationship, they do not seek one but nor are they opposed to the idea.
Someone who is romance-averse dislikes the idea of being in a romantic relationship and does not want to participate in romantic activities.
Someone who is romance-repulsed dislikes the very idea of romance, even when it does not involve themselves.
These terms all relate to a person’s own personal attitudes towards romance, NOT their moral stance. Morally, someone who approves of romance is romance-positive and someone who disapproves is romance-negative.