Or more like, whether I should be allowed to.
Since even though the term really resonates with me and my experiences throughout my life, I have a romantic partner. And sometimes I feel like that just destroys any claim I may have to the identity.
But see the thing is, my aromanticism is the lack of romantic attraction, the desire to seek somebody/some specific person out and become their partner. I’ve never really had a crush.My partner and I likely would have never become romantic if she didn’t initiate it. And, like, I certainly wasn’t feeling lonely or needing to meet someone before I met her — it just sort of happened???
(Actually, near the beginning, I thought that our relationship would be queerplatonic, not romantic.)
I see all sorts of discussion about why behavior is not identity with regards to asexual identities (and, I mean, I’m an asexual who has sex! So there’s that), but I haven’t quite been able to extend the same discourse to aromantic folk. I mean, I do feel like I get a few pluses for having a partner, especially with regards to my family, but does that mean I should stop calling myself aromantic?
Intellectually, I say no, but then every so often I wonder if I’m, like, delegitimizing aromanticism as an identity, or whether I’m holding onto a label that was good for me in the past but now doesn’t apply, or whatever.
(I guess I could be gray-romantic?
I’m liking the sound of that more and more.)
Honestly, I don’t see having a romantic relationship as a reason to “have to” stop identifying as aromantic, any more than having a sexual relationship is a reason to have to stop identifying as asexual.
And similarly, an aromantic might want a romantic relationship for the same reason an asexual might want a sexual relationship - such relationships come with other benefits such as companionship, stability (sometimes), a priority that rarely comes with friendships, etc….it may also be much easier to find a romantic relationship than to find, say, a queerplatonic one.
And being aromantic doesn’t mean having any kind of aversion to romantic behaviors. It just means you don’t have that inherent attraction to certain individuals. But romantic behavior can still be enjoyable without attraction, even as sexual acts can be enjoyed without attraction.
For example, I can definitely say that I am not romantic: I’ve never had any sort of crush, or romantic attraction, or anything similar. But even still, I like the idea of romance. And in a suitable situation, I wouldn’t mind being in a romantic relationship with someone - I suspect I might even rather like one. I don’t think the experience would be the same as for someone who was romantic, but I think I’d still enjoy it. There are a lot of factors that currently mean I’m unlikely to be in one for now, but in the future I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. Finding a stable asexual relationship is hard enough - think how hard finding a serious, long-term queerplatonic would be. And as someone who would probably like some sort of long term, serious relationship eventually, then practically speaking there is a good chance that such a relationship may be romantic. And even relationships that are not initially romantic may become something like that over time.
And the fear of “delegitimizing” the identity by using it is, I think, a common pressure on people - but it’s not one that one should need to bow to, and something that I think needs to be talked about more. It’s the same as the idea of the “unassailable asexual” - the idea that having “flaws” like being sex-averse or not neurotypical or whatever makes you “not really” asexual/aromantic/whatever, or the pressure to not speak about one’s identity when one does fall under certain negative stereotypes. And this is unhealthy because really, there is no such thing as the “unassailable asexual” (or unassailable aromantic) - it’s impossible to fulfill all the expectations and demands that others will have, so no one will ever reach that “unassailable” ideal. And putting pressure on individuals to constantly stand as representatives for their entire orientation is incredibly stressful and limiting.
I think the same thing happens to aromantics as well, although there hasn’t been a lot of discussion about it yet. (this is true for a lot of topics relating to aromanticism - it’s often just lumped under asexuality, so I think the experiences and problems that come form aromanticism of itself hasn’t been getting the attention or discussion that they probably need).
But in the end, I don’t think having a romantic partner is any reason to stop identifying as aromantic, if that’s what you think best fits you. (Although, I do rather like the term wtfromantic anyway, considering how confusing and often rather arbitrary the line between “romantic” and “aromantic” sometimes seems)
This is a fantastic discussion. I consider myself to be aromantic for the same reason nextstepcake does (never experienced a crush or anything similar). I feel like discussions of romantic attraction are often confusing. Some descriptions are hard to distinguish from sensual attraction (both seem to involve being drawn to be physically close with someone or cuddle with them) while others say things like “a desire to have a romantic relationship” but never define what a “romantic relationship” is. But no matter what definition people use, I don’t seem to experience it, so I consider myself to be aromantic.
I’ve been thinking a lot about queerplatonic relationships lately with all the negative attention in the Tumblr tags and I have to say that I’m completely confused as to the difference between romantic and aromantic non-sexual relationships, or they seem to be different only in degree. At what point does physical affection move from platonic to romantic? You got me.
The fact that I’m so confused about romantic attraction and non-sexual romantic relationships is one of the reasons why I prefer to focus on asexuality and not really identify by my romantic orientation. I also don’t feel I really understand what the interests of aromantic sexual people are and what I would have in common with them. An “aromantic community” separate from the asexual community would focus on those things but since I don’t know what those things are, I don’t feel I belong to that community.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds the whole thing confusing!