[TellMeAbout] The Aromantic
I’ve had a lot of confusion over the years about romance. Growing up, so much propaganda gets bombarded at us. Be good, be dutiful, follow the norms of your parents and grand-parents and you, too, will live the Stepford dream of romance and the perfect partner.
There was something incredibly wrong with this that I couldn’t understand, even as I saw my peers increasingly drawn into the maw of romantic and relationship conformity. My only conclusion had to be that what was wrong, was me.
And that’s where I left it for a very long time, keeping it hidden behind a hardened facade until I began to understand and explore asexuality, finding answers that finally made sense.
There are a lot of terms in the asexual lexicon. The two I most identify with are:
- asexual – A person who does not experience sexual attraction
- aromantic – A person who does not experience romantic attraction.
These are not the same thing though it’s easy to think they are, especially by someone looking in from the outside. The most common reaction from such people is skepticism, embodied with the response “You just haven’t met the right person.”
Provided you accept the premise that asexual is an actual thing, then it’s fairly easy to get your head around, whether that is you as the asexual person or some other trying to puzzle out what you mean. Aromantic is harder to nail down. It does not mean an inability to exhibit or understand romance, it only means that you’re unlikely to have romantic feelings about another person. A phrase that seems to have gone out of fashion and may help to provide some sort of context is platonic relationship. A platonic relationship can be very deep without any romantic or sexual component.
Of the two terms I think that I am predominantly asexual and I see now that this has driven so much when it comes to personal relationships. The societal norm tells us that romance is synonymous with seduction and that this is an inevitable path to sex. That Mills and Boon fallacy was sunk deep in societal consciousness and I’m sure it’s still quite a predominant expectation.
When everyone else is ‘normal’ and seems to buy into the fallacy the only way forward is to avoid the romance because you don’t want the inevitable meltdown when either you reluctantly engage in sex or reject the advances of the other person and destroy an otherwise good friendship.
The question I’ve been asking myself is “did the strong asexuality create an aromantic mindset as a protective shield ?”
I’ve always appreciated romance in art, the themes are timeless and often have me reaching for the tissues. Why could I appreciate and immerse myself in the abstract yet avoid it in the personal experience ?
What does seem to be happening is that with people who are aware of and respecting my asexuality there is no expectation that sex is ever on the agenda. The need to be reticent or protective when it comes to romantic or flirtatious interactions is no longer a consideration with them – a flirtatious double entendre can be enjoyed for what it is without either looking for or fearing hidden calls for sex.
I’m still trying to work out whether I actually have romantic attraction to others and that it’s been rigidly suppressed, or if I only experience romance and romantic concepts in a more abstract manner.
Why the confusion ?
I wrote in December of a lovely evening and meal with my former mistress. Candlelit tables in a restaurant providing an atmosphere for a very intimate evening. As intimate as it was, was it romantic ? I don’t think romance was a part of the evening. It might depend on whether you consider intimate and romantic to be the same thing. As someone slightly pedantic regarding the meanings of words, I don’t consider them to be the same things.
Would I consider the same situation to be romantic if the person across the table was my domme ? No, despite the highly intimate nature of our relationship both physically and mentally, I wouldn’t.
To answer my question, I’m inclined to accept that being aromantic is innate rather than protective behaviour though wistfully I’m open to being proved wrong.
Written for #TellMeAbout. Click on the image to read informative posts from across the D/s spectrum.
My Romance: No Lingerie, No Roses, No Chocolate * Liz BlackX
January 31, 2021 @ 12:08 pm
[…] not aromantic. After Melody’s insightful post, I wondered about this for a little while, but I decided I’m not. I do fall in love. I often […]
February 19, 2020 @ 3:29 pm
I don’t know if you’ve ever watched a Netflix show called “BoJack Horseman”, it’s another comedy cartoon like Family Guy, and one of their main characters is ace. I thought they did it quite well, though I’m no expert.
February 19, 2020 @ 3:40 pm
I’m so out of touch with these things. I haven’t had a TV for over 5 years and never felt a need to replace it with other services.
I tend to find out about stuff when the outrage wagon hits Twitter and go investigate 😂 As it is, I’m not one who really feels a need to be represented in shows and other culture. It’s a mirror that I’m very uncomfortable looking in to.
I might go look see if there’s an episode or clips on YouTube. Thank you 🌹🌹
February 19, 2020 @ 4:39 pm
I don’t think you’re missing out on too much, lol, though I still use my tv and Netflix. But I know what you mean – I learn about most shows via Twitter -buzz. I think I can appreciate why it’s uncomfortable to look in that tv mirror. There’s a Bette Davis film I love – “Now, Voyager” – but it always devastates me to watch it because it feels like looking at myself, and not in happy ways!
February 17, 2020 @ 10:24 pm
I’m not very romantic per se, to be honest, and have often wondered if I might be aromantic. I certainly don’t buy into the Mills and Boon thing, as you say, though I read a lot of them in my youth! It’s very true that there’s such a construct in society that inextricably links romantic love, sex and intimacy when in fact they three separate things, and that leads to a lot of confusion. I think that your post is part of an important conversation to be had. Great piece
February 18, 2020 @ 7:07 am
It’s all too easy to think you must be defective in some manner if you see love, sex, intimacy, even attraction, as separate things. The larger conversation about asexuality and aromantic is about where the conversation regarding homosexuality was 40 years ago. It simply hasn’t happened in the mainstream in any seriousness. You kind of stumble across helpful resources hidden away in a corner of the Internet and just like back then when people first found those hidden resources about being gay or transgendered, they can be a life saver.
In fact yesterday I was seeing some threads about a mention of asexual/aromantic in a recent episode of Family Guy. There was some small joy about it being a first for mainstream TV. The bigger reaction was despair because the context was a disbelief that it’s a real thing.
February 14, 2020 @ 10:34 pm
I don’t think I am romantic and then after delving deep and writing something I find I am but just not in the traditional sense.What ever that is – It is Valentines day and my man will just carry on as normal – and I dont mind –
But you are saying romance is a feeling rather than a scene or an act even… that got me thinking – and u are right. It doesn’t matter how romantic someone is with u or acts with u – if u don’t feel it then all the candles, flowers and chocolate might as well be thrown in the bin, NOW – ehhh hang on – lets just get the chocolate out shall we 😉 …
February 16, 2020 @ 10:03 am
Aromantic is hard to describe. One of those things that when you come across the experiences of people who can put it in to words there’s a light bulb moment of clarity. I don’t think it’s quite as easy to get that clarity when looking in from the outside and not able to connect with it.
What’s the difference between an intimate evening out with someone and it being romantic ? Why can you have deep friendships that don’t translate to romantic attraction and desires for the other person ? There’s some boundary lines here that make a lot of people go “huh ? WTF”.
Oh, I do make use of chocolates, there’s an exceptionally fine service from a French company I’ve used for a very long time. They’re an indispensable social tool – no, bugger that, they’re damned delicious
Thanks, May 😘
February 13, 2020 @ 8:16 am
This is a really interesting post Melody. I wrote about the non-conventional side of romance as I am nor typically romantic either but have learnt from reading more about being a aromantic and about how you see yourself. You have got me thinking 😊
February 13, 2020 @ 5:25 pm
Hey, I love it when someone says I got them thinking and this post seems to have set a few thinking. It’s the best compliment there is.
All I can say about aromantic is that, real or not, what I’ve read in the last couple of years validates what I’ve felt and experienced for decades. Not that you have to be aromantic to find issue with the Disney princess version of romance that pervades. It’s apparent that few do identify with those expectations and yet they are the ones left wondering what’s wrong.
February 8, 2020 @ 8:22 pm
This is very interesting. Somehow I was on a corner on the internet where asexuality and aromantic and most other ‘niche’ terms were really normal. Maybe it has to do with my age, though at the same time I’m pretty sure most of my peers don’t really know what these things mean. I thought I was asexual for a while, until I realised that I was simply very very numb because of my depression. But when I thought I was I was really worried that something was wrong with me, while it’s completely normal. I remember it being really confusing to one of my friends too that she felt aromantic.
On a random note, have you heard of the book Asexual fairytales? (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47811031-asexual-fairy-tales) I haven’t read it yet but I really wanted to buy it, were it not for the books on my shelves I should probably first read… #new rule
February 9, 2020 @ 9:40 am
The idea that anyone has anything other than the traditional drives for sexual and/or romantic attraction is deeply ingrained. To the extent that many people first encountering it can’t believe that it’s real. When I read stuff from asexuals there’s a common theme that they grew up thinking it must be “our fault”, that there’s “something wrong with you”. This is a conclusion we also draw to ourselves because we haven’t found it discussed anywhere.
I can see how depression would mask interest in sexual attraction and feel the same as being asexual. There’s a corner of the Internet for almost everything, though it took me a very long time to know to even look for this one. I’m not the evangelical sort, but I do like to post about this side of me once in a while – it explains that thing where people say “… but you’re a sex blogger, why don’t you write about sex ?” 😂
Writing about It does illicit responses from unexpected quarters that are great to see. 🌹🌹
February 8, 2020 @ 1:51 am
I think you bring up a good point about the connotation of ‘romance’ — it is NOT intimacy, taking each word as defined separately, but for many people I think the concepts overlap.
I’m not very romantic though – the whole ‘romance’ thing sort of escaped me somehow in my formative years, so as an adult I just go “…?…” when the idea of romance comes up; and expert, I am NOT – so what do I know?
Arthur Conan Doyle considered himself a writer of “romance.” He used the word to denote mystery, intrigue, and — key word, here — FICTION.
So in that sense, I ‘get’ romance.
And I like it.
Mostly. (Provided it is written well.)
And in *that* sense of the word, I happen to find Agatha Christie and P.D. James and Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane – and Terry Pratchett, good Lord YES! – to be some of the most romantic people to have ever lived. 😉
February 8, 2020 @ 1:29 pm
You’re right, romance incorporates so much more than just the normally assumed interaction between people.
Literature and especially opera are my means of partaking in romance. I can place myself inside these mindscapes and romance makes sense. Only when I try to visualise another real person in the other roles does the vision shatter.
Sam Vimes may well be one of the great romantic characters 😉
February 8, 2020 @ 1:47 pm
Oh my gosh, yes! I love me some Vimesy. 😀
February 7, 2020 @ 7:40 pm
An interesting post Melody, Thanks for sharing with Tell Me About ☺️
February 8, 2020 @ 11:10 am
February 5, 2020 @ 11:15 am
Thanks for this insightful post. It actually got me thinking about my own personality. I mean, I know I’m not asexual, but aromantic? Hmm, I didn’t even know there was such a thing. Never too old to learn 😉
February 5, 2020 @ 12:53 pm
Thanks Liz, if it set off a thought chain that’s good.
According to 2014 data about 1% of population are asexual and about 1/4 of them are aromantic. For people ‘normally’ sexual about 4.9% are aromantic. If you do seek out information, the good place to start is https://asexuality.org/ 🌹🌹