There are many misconceptions that aro folk have to deal with when they come out. Some people think we’re incapable of loving anybody, while others think our lives are this way because we are desperately damaged.
In this post, we will look at some of the common misconceptions about aromanticism. Add any others in the comments or on our social media feeds.
- That something terrible must have happened to us to make us like this. Now, sure, there are plenty of abuse survivors in the aromantic community but this is because, if you dig deep enough, there are plenty of abuse survivors in nearly every community. The two things might correlate but that does not imply that one caused the other. And if abuse caused aromanticism, there would be plenty of bewildered aros out there who are not survivors of abuse, wondering how they got there, and there would be lots of survivors wondering why they weren’t aromantic. Aromanticism is valid. It does not represent damage.
- That aromantic people are childlike and that their lack of interest in romantic relationships shows a lack of development into full adulthood. This does not represent what real-life aromanticism is like. Many aromantics are not asexual and have sexual relationships that are very much not childish or underdeveloped and even those who are asexual carry out fully adult lives, just missing out this one thing that many others find so key.
- That people who are aromantic but not asexual are sluts or players if they engage in casual sex with someone they are not romantically involved with. Actually, they are acting like adults and putting their needs and desires before outdated societal stereotypes.
- That aromantic people are incapable of loving anybody else. The truth is that we probably love our BFFs and our nieces and our dogs and our teachers and that movie star and the singer we can’t stop listening to… It goes on and on. Our love is felt just as intensely, just as meaningfully, as people who aren’t aromantic.
- That aromantic people “just haven’t met the right person yet”. I know asexual folk get this one too, and it is offensive, just like it’s offensive to suggest that a lesbian “just hasn’t met the right man yet”. Trust us to know our own orientations and preferences. Things can always change, of course, but if we say we are aro, it’s not because of a lack of eligible bachelor/ettes.
- That we can’t know we are aromantic because if we avoid relationships, we don’t know what we’re missing. That’s like suggesting that the only reason somebody doesn’t want to eat a cockroach is because they have avoided eating them in the past.
- That there is no such thing as an aromantic woman. Um, hi.
- That aromanticism doesn’t exist and is not a real thing, it was just made up for the Tumblr generation. The fact is that, if it didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be so many people relating to it. People don’t assign themselves a label for the sake of it, they do so because it fits their lives in a way that the usual tropes just do not. We have a sense of recognition of a shared experience with each other, especially one that movies and books just don’t reflect.
- That there is only one way to be aromantic. In fact, aromanticism, like other romantic and sexual identities, is a spectrum. Some people are repulsed by the idea of romance, others rather wish they could be romantic, they just can’t find it in themselves. I’ve had a couple of successful relationships, not everyone can do that, and none of us are any more or less valid for it.
- That we need to be “fixed”. We are not broken, this is just the way we are. Like I’m not “broken” for being gay, I’m also not broken for being aro. This worried me a lot but my interaction with the Struggle Bus Podcast helped to reassure me, and made me realise that I’m just fine as I am. It’s a different way to be but it’s not wrong.
- That aromantic people are all asexual, and vice versa. There are people who are aro/ace combos, but plenty of asexual people feel romantic love, and plenty of aromantic people feel sexual attraction. There is a feeling that it is understood that asexual people may be aromantic or alloromantic, whereas for aros, it is assumed we are “probably” asexual, when that is just not true. Allosexual aromantic people exist, and we need to make a space for ourselves in society. It’s not that we don’t want to be associated with asexuality awareness, we just don’t want to subsumed by it.