Last November, I wrote about how I don’t understand romantic attraction and how a lot of online aromantic discourse doesn’t make sense to me because of that. As rotten-zucchinis perceptively noted (footnote 3), it’s not so much that I’m failing at discourse as that discourse is failing me.
I’ve always identified as aromantic because I don’t experience crushes. I’m 41 years old and have never had a single crush in my life. There is a cultural narrative around crushes, falling in love, limerence, and my experiences profoundly separate me from that narrative. It’s this sense of difference from the norm that I define as my aromanticism. It therefore follows that alloromantic people would be those who do experience crushes, falling in love, and/or limerence and therefore that romantic attraction must have something to do with the capacity to fall in love, get a crush, or experience limerence.
The problem is that an awful lot of discourse around romantic attraction in asexual communities doesn’t seem to match with how I understand it. I’ve seen definitions of romantic attraction that are circular (”wanting to have a romantic relationship”), or that sound like sensual attraction, or that read any kind of love as romantic attraction, or that define romantic attraction as “wanting to have a relationship”.
Some of these definitions simply don’t make sense to me, while others seem to imply that if you want any kind of nurturing or emotionally-intimate relationship with another person, you can’t be aromantic.
To be honest, this reminds me of the attitude the asexual community spends so much time trying to rebut, that you can’t be asexual if you have any kind of sexual feelings, thoughts, or experiences at all. That kind of narrow definition would limit asexuality to non-libidoist, sex-averse asexuals. We reject such definitions of asexuality, so why are we pushing similar definitions of aromanticism?
As Queenie has pointed out, aromantic aces are sometimes treated as though we are fundamentally different from all other aces. We’re those weird ones that apparently have no feelings or relationships at all. (My favorite line in Queenie’s post is, “Or maybe you’ve seen one of the blog posts about how asexual people are just like allosexual people, but without the sexual attraction! …except for aromantics; we don’t know what their deal is.” We don’t know what their deal is, indeed.)
I’ve always felt a sense of commonality with wtfromantic people, in particular because they don’t get the discourse on romantic attraction and I don’t get it either. Some people also use the term wtfromanticism to describe an experience of having feelings for another person that can’t easily be classified as either platonic or romantic but which are somewhere in between; some people use the term greyromanticism to refer to this experience instead.
Whatever term is used to describe it, that kind of feeling seems to me to be distinct from limerence and it feels like something I might possibly be able to access (although I have not in fact experienced it). It seems to me that this kind of feeling is consistent with how I understand queerplatonic relationships. And it seems to me that this kind of feeling can be consistent with my definition of aromanticism, or at least could be considered gray-aromantic or aromantic spectrum.
I would like to see more discussion of the non-alloromantic experience as something shared by a range of people who may or may not identify as aromantic and who may use such labels as greyromantic, wtfromantic, or gray-aromantic. I would like to see more emphasis on the aromantic spectrum as a continuous range or field of experience. I would like to see aces stop ruling out an aromantic identity because they would like a relationship or have felt love for a partner. I’d like to see more posts like “I found the right person and I’m still aromantic” and Jo’s “confession and announcement” about being aromantic and in a relationship.
I’d like to see aromanticism discussed as more than just a lack or absence.
I’d like to stop feeling like I’m being stuck in a box that allows me no room for growth or deep connection with others.
I’d like to stop feeling like a freak in the asexual community because I’m aromantic.