It’s 2017 and nobody knows what ‘aro’ means

Stephanie Farnsworth tackles the myths being pushed about aromantic identities.


The chances are that depending upon your accent if you say the word “aro” to people they’re either going to think you’re into archery or a particular type of chocolate. Nobody has any idea what it means. Now, list take downs of myths are pretty basic but given that the content around aromanticism is practically zero online we’ve created a myth-busting piece to share with trolls when you can’t be bothered to argue with them or have things to do.

Aromantics don’t care

You’re confusing aros with psycopaths (often defined as impaired empathy generally although there’s still debate) – and it’s not the same thing. Some aros might not care about people but that’s got nothing to do with being aromantic. Aros care deeply about their families, friends and partners just like anyone else. The only difference is the feelings of romantic love, which usually aren’t present (not always, because like everything there’s a spectrum). We still have incredibly meaningful and profound connections with our partners. If you think that’s weird then the chances are you’re massively romanticising your own love life. Have you loved everyone you’ve ever dated? Probably not. Does that mean you’ve treated people any differently? If it does, then that’s on you as a person but not on aros. It’s perfectly possible to have a close and respectful relationship with someone you care deeply about and trust without experiencing romantic love.

If you think that’s weird then the chances are you’re massively romanticising your own love life.

You just need to find the right person

You sound as idiotic as someone who thinks a homo-romantic woman just needs the right man. Just stop. We know who we are.

You deserve love

We know that and we have love, just not of your very narrow definition. It’s not about rejecting a concept, it’s about embracing who we are. We’re not isolating ourselves from the world. Truth be told, pushing a narrow idea of what identities are acceptable is what causes us harm so shove your 1950s ideas around romance and give us the respect we demand.

Aromantics can’t have long term relationships

Romantic identities have no bearing on longevity. Aros are no more or less likely to have long or short term relationships.

Aromantics will cheat

You’re now confusing aros with cheaters. Again, some aros will cheat but because some people will cheat. Aromanticism doesn’t impact our morality or make us suddenly selfish. Respect for people is separate to any ideas about what we’re attracted to and what feelings we have anyway.

Aromanticism doesn’t impact our morality or make us suddenly selfish.

Aromanitcs sleep around

I mean, yeah, some will and a lot won’t. The idea that anyone in the LGBTQ+ community suddenly will sleep around is the definition of queerphobia. It’s been engrained in society by bigots for years and we need to get over it. We also need to finally let people do what they want with their bodies without judgement. If an aro sleeps around, it doesn’t lower their morality.

Aromantics are most compatible with bisexuals

It’s a myth largely based on the idea hinted at above: bisexuals will sleep around and so will aros and so it’ll be a massive fun orgy. Sorry (and I am because it’s a crushing disappointment) but that’s just not the case at all. Plus, aromanticism relates to romantic identity; people can be both bisexual and aro.

Aro is a set and defined identity  

Aro, like all labels, is just a generic descriptor. It is a word that groups experiences for ease of use. For instance, within the branch of bisexuality there is absolutely huge diversity; some will predominantly be attracted to men whereas some may be attracted to multiple genders. Trans too is a descriptor that isn’t set in stone; not all trans people are binary and there are genderfluid trans people meaning that their identity does fluctuate.

We always say that identities are on a spectrum because that’s the closest thing we can compare it to. In reality, identities can be changing even subtly over time. The only person who gets to define your identity is you. Aromantics can experience romantic attraction and that isn’t a betrayal but it may just be so rare or unexpected to the rest of their lives, or it might be considerably weaker or altogether different to romantic love. Grey-romantics exist and make up a huge part of the aro community. It’s difficult to describe the absence of feelings to people who just expect them so trust aromantics to be able to define ourselves.

Aromantics can’t date asexuals

No, no, we’re not automatically a mismatch by default (and also no, not all aros are aces). Healthy relationships are based on respect, not sex. Aromantic people can absolutely be in a relationship with little to no sex, and some asexual people do have sex. Let people define themselves and set their own boundaries. It might not be the typical relationship you see on TV where a cishet guy and a cishet woman are declaring their love in between the sheets every two scenes but that doesn’t make it less valid or less beautiful.

Healthy relationships are based on respect, not sex.

Aromantics are touch-averse

These are two incredibly different things. A lot of people don’t like being touched so ask for permission off anyone first. Aromanticism has generally been associated with hating people being anywhere in the vicinity, hating touch and hating intimacy. Okay, some people may experience that and that’s cool, but it’s not related to romantic identity. Plus, you can’t label us selfish sluts and then say we are weird and avoid human contact. If you’re going to push these bigoted myths at least try and be consistent.

Follow Stephanie (@StephFarnsworth) on Twitter.

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