This is the last part in a three part masterpost for people questioning their orientation. This part will cover aro-spec identities, identifying whether you're aro-spec or not, as well as tertiary forms of attraction.
What is Romantic Attraction
Romantic attraction is harder to identify than sexual attraction. This is because there are no complete, 100% signs of romantic attraction. There are things that are typically associated with romance like cuddling, hand holding, and kissing. However, some people might enjoy some or all of these things in non-romantic context, yet dislike them in romantic context.
Therefore, taking a page out of linguistics, a romantic relationship is described as a relationship with romantic intent. It’s a bit of a logic loop, but that is the only way to describe it that doesn’t alienate people who are affectionate with their friends. A romantic relationship is any relationship where all participants agree to the romantic context of the relationship and inherently romantic nature to any of the actions done in the relationship. Romantic attraction, therefore, is the desire to be in such a relationship with a particular person.
That said, if you dislike traditionally "romantic" stuff like kissing and cuddling it's a sign you might be aro-spec. However if you like those things that doesn't mean you can't be aro-spec.
Potential Signs of Being Aro-Spec
Note that these are only generalizations. Some aromantic people won't related to any of these, and some alloromantic people might related to some of them. Some of these items are contradictory. Having any of the experiences listed below is not definite proof that you’re aromantic. This just serves as possible signs that you aren't alloromantic.
- You’ve never had a crush on someone, or fallen in love.
- You’re not sure if you’ve ever had a crush on someone or fallen in love.
- You have trouble telling the difference between romantic and aesthetic/platonic/sexual/sensual attraction. Or you often had “crushes” on your friends.
- You have doubted whether crushes or love really exist, or if they’re just cultural constructs or exaggerations.
- You thought that having a crush on someone meant you admired them or really wanted to be their friend.
- You thought crushes were something you consciously decided to have, so you selected an acquaintance or celebrity to be your crush.
- You have never had a romantic relationship- not because you couldn’t get one, but because you just never really bothered to try, or you liked being single better.
- You feel left out or confused when your friends talk about romance or crushes.
- Your romantic partners always seem to be way more into the lovey-dovey stuff than you are.
- When a romantic relationship gets serious, it makes you feel cold, distant or uncomfortable.
- You have felt guilty about not loving your romantic partner as much as they loved you, even though you sincerely cared about them and wanted to love them back.
- You enjoy gestures and activities that are traditionally labeled “romantic,” but at no point during them do you actually feel attracted to whoever you’re with.
- You don’t enjoy gestures and activities that are traditionally labeled romantic, either because the romance aspect bothers you, or because all of them are just plain unappealing to you.
- You’re more excited by making a new best friend than by falling in love.
- You are either oblivious to other people flirting with you, or feel uncomfortable or threatened by it.
- You find romance boring, annoying, or upsetting when it appears in fiction, even if it’s written well.
- You’re not against the idea of being single forever, or even enjoy the idea.
- You assumed you were bisexual, pansexual, or something similar because you feel the same way towards all genders. Alternatively, you assumed you were straight because you were given no reason to assume otherwise.
- Aromantic: Not feeling any romantic attraction.
- Arospike: When one is usually aromantic, but occasionally feel intense romantic feelings for a short amount of time.
- Greyromantic: Feeling romantic attraction very rarely or weakly.
- Demiromantic: Only feeling attraction after you have a deep emotional connection with someone.
- Aroflux: When your romantic feelings fluctuate but generally stays on the aromantic spectrum.
- Aliquaromantic: When you only feel sexual/romantic attraction under specific circumstances.
- Reciproromantic: When you don’t experience romantic attraction unless you know that the other person is attracted to you first.
- Frayromantic: When you only experiences romantic attraction towards those you are not deeply connected with, and lose that attraction as you get to know the person. (The opposite of demi.)
- Lithromantic: When you experience romantic attraction but do not want it reciprocated/loose that attraction when reciprocated.
- Aro-jump: When one is normally alloromantic, but experiences rare, sudden, and intense spikes of total or near total aromantism for a short amount of time.
Any sexuality can be combined with any aro-spec identity. As some examples:
Demibiromantic: Only feeling romantic attraction after you have a deep emotional connection. This attraction can occur towards two or more genders.
Gayaroflux/Gayflux: Your romantic feelings fluctuate from gay to aromantic.
Greyheteroromantic: You feel romantic attraction to a different gender but only very rarely or weakly.
More Aro-Spec Terms
These are terms that can be used in conjuction with any of the above identites.
- Arovague: When someones aro-spec identity is partially or fully influenced by their neurodivergency.
- Amicusromantic: When one only develop sexual/romantic attraction to people they have a platonic relationship with. (Subcategory of demi.)
- Apresromantic: When romantic attraction only develops after another form of attraction is felt. (Subset of demi.)
- Caedromantic: Someone who was at one point alloromantic, but that has been cut away from them due to past trauma.
- Fictoromantic: Someone who only feels romantic attraction to fictional characters. (Subcategory of procul.)
- Proculromantic: Someone who only feels romantic attraction to people who they're sure they can never be in a relationship with, such as celebrities or fictional characters.
- Requiromantic: When one has limited or no romantic attraction due to emotional exhaustion. (For neurodivergant and disabled people.)
For When You Can’t Classify Your Attraction
- Idemromantic: Someone who can categorize relationships and feelings as platonic or romantic based on outside factors, but experiences no notable internal differences between platonic and romantic feelings.
- Nebularomantic: Someone who cannot distinguish between romantic and platonic attraction because of being neurodivergent.
- Platoniromantic: Someone who is not able to distinguish between platonic and romantic feelings.
- Quoiromantic: Someone who can't classify there romantic feelings/is unsure of their romantic feelings/is unsure if they expirence romantic feelings, for any number of reasons.
Words To Describe Your Feelings Towards Romance
I Don’t Like Romance
- Apothiromantic or Romance-Repulsed: Someone who is repulsed or disgusted by the idea of romance or romantic acts.
- Romance-Averse: Someone who is repulsed by romance that involves them, but not by romance that does not.
No Strong Opinion
- Romance-Neutral: Someone who is indifferent to romance or the idea of romance.
I Like the Idea of Romance
- Bellusromantic: Someone who likes traditionally romantic things, such as kissing or cuddling, but does not want a romantic relationship.
- Cupioromantic: Someone who does not experience romantic attraction but still desires a romantic relationship.
- Romance-Favorable: Someone who enjoys the idea of romance, despite not feeling romantic attraction.
- Acoromantic: Someone who experiences romantic attraction that one wants to act on, but at the same time they have a strong aversion doing so.
- Apathromantic: When one lacks interest in acting on their attraction. They may or may not feel attraction, but it doesn’t matter to them.
- Inactromantic: Someone who experiences romantic attraction and desires a romantic relationship despite being romance repulsed.
- Romance-Ambivalent: Having complicated or mixed feelings towards romance.
Other Types of Attraction
There are other types of attraction beyond just sexual and romantic attraction. These types of attraction can be modified using any sexuality terms. For example, you can be heteroqueerplatonic, meaning you only feel queerplatonic attraction to people of a different gender. You can also attach a-spec related terms to tertiary attractions. For example, you could be demipolyalterous, meaning you can feel alterous attraction to many genders, but only after you have a strong connection to someone. You can also use the a- prefix to show that you don't feel that form of attraction. For example, is you don’t feel sensual attraction you could be asensual.
- Platonic Attraction: The strong desire to be friends with someone in particular, or to have a stronger friendship if you’re already friends.
- Queerplatonic Attraction: The strong desire to be in a queerplatonic relationship with someone in particular. Some people feel that platonic and queerplatonic attraction are the same, but other make the distinction between the two.
- Aesthetic attraction: An attraction to a particular person's appearance. It is based on a desire to observe someone because one finds them aesthetically pleasing.
- Sensual Attraction: The desire to be phyically intiment/phyically touch a particular person (non-sexually).
- Alterous Attraction: A form of attraction that is not platonic or queerplatonic, but also is not romantic.
- Cedural attraction: The desire to feel protected, covered, understood, tutored, and supported by someone in particular.
- Tutelary attraction: The desire to take care of, protect, and support a particular person.
Can I be aro-spec if I feel sexual attraction?
Yes, romantic and sexual attraction are completely separate. Aro-spec people can have any sexual orientation.
Can I can be [insert prefix here]-romantic/platonic/alterous/etc?
Can I be aro-spec if I enjoy fictional romance?
Isn’t 'platonic attraction' just having friends/wanting to have friends?
No. Platonic attraction is the intense desire to be friends with someone in particular. It is not a general desire for friends. Someone can have friends but not experience platonic attraction towards them.
Isn’t a queerplatonic relationship just 'best friends'?
No. Would kiss your best friend? Would you plan major life decisions around your best friend? Would you permanently move in with your best friend? Would you get married to your best friend even though there’s no romantic attraction? I assume the answer is no, and if not you are in a small minority of people.
Of course, not all QPPs do the things I listed, but those are just some examples of ways a QPR could blur the lines of what is typically considered platonic and romantic. Some QPRs may look more like friendships, however people can define their relationships however they want. Something you might consider to be a generic friend activity, another person might not.