Alright it’s time to talk about… aromanticism! I haven’t spent as much time on this as I have on asexuality, so it’s time to answer some questions and bust some myths.
Similar to how asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction, aromanticism is a lack of romantic attraction. I’m both aromantic and asexual, aro ace for short, but not every ace is aro and not every aro is ace. If you’re not aro and/or ace, you’re allo. So someone can be alloromantic asexual, aromantic allosexual, alloromantic allosexual, or, like me, aromantic asexual.
But what does it MEAN? Well, not having romantic attraction can look different for every aro. Some still date or get in romantic relationships, the same way some aces still have sex for reasons other than attraction. Some are in platonic relationships. And some are non-partnering. I’m non-partnering. I love my friends and definitely experience platonic attraction, which I’ll get to in a minute, but I’m not interested in being part of a couple or partnership, even platonically. That’s a lifestyle/behavioral choice, unlike aromanticism, which is an orientation (not a choice).
Those who do partner platonically often use the term QPRs or QPPs: queerplatonic relationships/partnerships. It’s the same level of emotional and relational intimacy and commitment as romantic partnerships you’re used to, but without the romantic elements. But what is romantic and what is platonic? That’s up to you and your boundaries, but some say physical intimacy (kissing, for example), the tone of dates (traditions and roles, for example), or just how you think of each other and what your love feels like.
That leads us to attraction. There are many types of attraction, not just romantic and sexual. Platonic is when you are attracted to someone as a friend. We can get squishes, which are the platonic version of crushes (and just as brutal when unrequited, trust me). Aromantic asexual people may feel squishes particularly strongly because it describes the closest relationships, besides family, that we experience. But anyone can have a squish. You don’t have to be aro or ace. Regardless, it’s just as real and strong and valid as crushes.
My favorite is aesthetic attraction. This is easily confused with sexual attraction, but it’s more removed. Some describe it as the same feeling as seeing your favorite dessert or animal or painting or a sunset/nature in your favorite place. Whatever makes you go full heart-eyes.
I’m aesthetically attracted to all genders, but I lean heavily on the femme/women side of things. I don’t want a romantic relationship or sex with them, but I am still attracted to them in a deeper way than an acknowledgment of conventional beauty. Aesthetic and platonic attraction don’t correlate to romantic or sexual attraction. You can be gay romantically and sexually but aesthetically or platonically attracted to other genders. Or straight romantically and sexually, but aesthetically or platonically into your same gender, etc.
Sensory attraction is related to touch (“who you want to cuddle or hug” is the usual description). There’s also alterous attraction, which alters (just like it says on the tin!) between some or all of these.
Any combination of any of these is possible. If they are helpful to you to describe yourself and how you experience the world, you are free to use them! If not, now you know what they mean and can be respectful when others use them, even if they are not terms you use yourself.