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Romantic and Aromantic Lexicon and FAQ

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Welcome to the A/Romantic Orientations Lexicon

Romantic attraction is not easy to define, but I'd try saying that it's a set of feelings that causes people to desire a romantic relationship with a specific other person(s). Sometimes this romantic attraction is directed towards a specific gender(s), giving people who experience it a "romantic orientation", which is not exclusive to asexual people. For many sexuals, their romantic orientation and their sexual orientation are in alignment, so the gender(s) of the people they fall in love with are also the gender(s) they are sexually attracted to. For an asexual, who does not experience sexual attraction, it is their romantic orientation that determines which gender(s), if any, they are inclined to form romantic relationships with. A person may be aromantic or romantic, or somewhere in between.

This is a list of terms to describe a/romantic orientations (the terms are listed alphabetically, not for importance):
  • Aromantic: a person who experiences no romantic attraction to others.
  • Biromantic: A person who is romantically attracted to members of two different sexes or genders.
  • Heteroromantic: a person who is romantically attracted to members of the opposite sex or gender.
  • Homoromantic: a person who is romantically attracted to members of the same sex or gender.
  • Panromantic or Omniromantic:a person who is romantically attracted to others but is not limited by the other's sex or gender.

Romanticism and aromanticism, as sexuality and asexuality, can be put on a scale of intensity or frequency, therefore the following terms can also be taken into consideration:

  • Grey-romantic or Gray-romantic: a person with a romantic orientation that is somewhere between aromantic and romantic. One type of gray-romantic is called demiromantic.
  • Demiromantic: a type of grey-romantic who only experiences romantic attraction after developing an emotional connection beforehand. According to the model derived from Ragber's "secondary and primary sexual attraction model", demiromantics do not experience primary romantic attraction, but they are capable of secondary romantic attraction.

People who have a non-binary gender identity may find the following terms useful:

  • Androromantic: a person (regardless of their gender) who is romantically attracted towards male-identified people; it helps defining romantic attraction for people who don't identify in the gender binary system, and can't say which gender is “same” or “opposite” to theirs.
  • Gyneromantic or Gynoromantic: a person (regardless of their gender) who is romantically attracted towards female-identified people; it helps defining romantic attraction for people who don't identify in the gender binary system, and can't say which gender is “same” or “opposite” to theirs.
  • Transromantic: a person who is romantically attracted towards transgender person(s). Generally used in the trans* community to describe trans* people who are exclusively attracted to other trans* people.

Other terms can be found used, more often than not in the asexual community, but are not romantic orientations (more like characteristics or preferences) and their explanation can be found in the following posts, among the FAQ.

This is just a list of short definitions, more detailed explanations can be found in the FAQ in the post below and in the AVENwiki.
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Welcome to the A/Romantic FAQ

This is a list of questions that I noticed are more frequently asked regarding romantic and aromantic orientations. Hopefully they'll be useful to both newbies and regular members, but feel free to start any thread to discuss these and other topics further! The answers given are partially taken from discussions I have read and found interesting, partially from me, so please consider that it's mostly personal thoughts and/or elaboration.

Am I homoromantic? Am I biromantic? Am I aromantic? Am I panromantic? Am I heteroromantic? [etc...]


We understand how the self-discovery process can be hard sometimes, and this kind of questions is a natural part of it. Nevertheless, just like with the classic "Am I asexual?" question many newbies ask, we can't answer this for you. Only you can know what your feelings are and who you are (or are not) attracted to.
This new forum has been created to help everyone understand romantic attraction better, and to help people who are questioning their orientation, so don't be afraid to ask any sort of questions and enjoy reading and browsing discussions about this topic.

What is Romance? What's the difference between Romance and Friendship?


Answering these questions is not as easy as someone might think, as some things one person might call romantic might be not romantic for someone else. There is no general agreement, but my guess is that romance, and therefore the difference between romance and friendship, begins when someone has the desire to be more intimate than friendship with someone else. One thing everyone agrees on is that the difference is not sex, even for sexual people, e.g. you can be having sex but not in a romantic relationship. Eventually, the self-identity thing is the only reliable criterion: two people are in a romantic relationship if they say they are.
Interesting links on and off AVEN:
Romance vs Romantic Identities
What does romance mean to you?
Friendship and Romantic Attraction

What does romantic attraction feel like?


This is a question that cannot have a very precise answer for a very simple reason: we're talking about feelings, and everyone experiences them more or less differently. In general, many people have described romantic attraction to feel like a more or less overwhelming set of emotions caused by the person(s) whom they're attracted to. It involves, just to name some examples, feeling better when this person(s) is around, wanting to spend lots of time with them, the desire to take care of them and make sure they are okay and the desire to have a closer relationship with them.
Interesting links on and off AVEN:
Romantic Attraction
How do you know when you have romantic feelings for someone?
What exactly is romantic attraction, and without love how does it differ from a squish?
Are you a romantic type? What does being a romantic type mean to you?

Does romanticism mean that you ought to be looking for a relationship?


Not necessarily. Many people, when feeling romantically attracted towards someone, will probably look for a closer relationship with the person(s) of their interest; other people, or even the same people but in different situations, might enjoy fantasizing romantically but not actively pursue a relationship. Some people are romantically attracted to more than one person, but this doesn't mean that they will automatically look for a polyamorous relationship. Furthermore, some aromantics look for relationships (might be platonic, queerplatonic, etc..) and don't experience romantic attraction

What does gray-romantic mean more in detail?


A gray-romantic (or grey-romantic) is a person with a romantic orientation that is somewhere between aromantic and romantic.
For example, a gray-romantic may:

  • Experience romantic attraction but not very often.
  • Experience romantic attraction, but not desire romantic relationships.
  • Desire relationships which are not quite platonic and not quite romantic.

Interesting links on and off AVEN:
Index of threads discussing gray-romanticism
Grayromantic on Asexual Advice

What is difference between grey-romantic and demiromantic?


A demiromantic is a type of grey-romantic, specifically a person who only experiences romantic attraction after developing an emotional connection beforehand. (source) According to Ragber's model of primary and secondary attraction, a demiromantic experiences secondary romantic attraction, but not primary.
Interesting links on and off AVEN:
Demiromantic - Why is it not official?
Demiromantic / Gray-R? is that possible?
Being Demiromantic
Curious - What exactly is demiromantic?
Demiromantic - tumblr

What is primary and secondary romantic attraction?


"Primary vs Secondary romantic attraction" model comes from the "Primary vs Secondary sexual attraction" model, originally by Ragber. It's a model which has been also considered controversial somehow, you can find more about it here. This thread also discusses it, and I think the "Friends" example Dr_Holmes made is just great to understand! I'm actually gonna quote it here:

On 6/21/2012 at 4:41 PM, Dr_Holmes said:

haha well i'm sort of jumping into a discussion that's already been progressing for a while... :blush: but i just suddenly thought that we could totally try to define this using Friends!! :lol:

if we take Monica and Chandler right,
they had known each other since they were in college and they had been friends for a long time.
so when they finally actually fall in love, it had taken all of those years of knowing each other and becoming close platonically, and then a couple of months of secretly dating for romantic feelings to manifest. This would be secondary romantic attraction i think because it developed out of other kinds of attraction.

I think Chandler has primary sexual attraction to Monica as we can tell from the episode when they're at the beach and Chandler is trying to get Monica to agree to circumstances under which she would sleep with him (and she says she wouldn't even if he was the last man on earth :P ), so even though he's not romantically interested in her, he's sexually interested in her because she's a good looking female person 8)

Monica on the other hand, has secondary sexual attraction to Chandler because she originally only sleeps with him because she's drunk, not because she's particularly attracted to him, and continues to sleep with him because... it's ... a good... experience.... :rolleyes: haha... and it isn't until a few weeks later that she stops thinking of him as dweeby chandler that she happens to be sleeping with, but actually someone who she's attracted to smile.gif

My example from friends of primary romantic attraction AND primary sexual attraction would be Mike and Phoebe who meet and are very into each other in both of these ways right from their first conversation happy.gif

so i hope this adds something to the discussion biggrin.gif

i would add just that maybe there could be primary and secondary of all types of attraction (platonic, aesthetic, romantic and sexual)
like for instance someone can be just instantly recognisable as really good looking (i believe) but in other cases people can seem more good looking to you as you know more about them and think they have a nice personality (which would be secondary aesthetic attraction...? huh.gif )

Can heterosexuals be homoromantic? Or homosexual be heteroromantic? [etc...]


Yes, they can. Most of the times, sexual and romantic orientations seem to be aligned for sexual people; but just like not all a-sexuals are a-romantic, different attractions can have different directions. There are people who are sexually attracted to one gender and romantically attracted to another (or more than one).
So yes, there are homo/bi/a/pan-romantic heterosexual, hetero/bi/a/pan-romantic homosexuals, etc, even though they can be considered, probably, a minority compared to heteroromantic heterosexuals, homoromantic homosexuals etc..

Interesting links on and off AVEN:
Black, White and the Spectrum Between
Can a heterosexual person be homo-romatic or any other combination thereof?
Romantic attraction in conjunction with sexuality
Do your orientations clash? For everyone, not just sexuals

Can romantic orientation change?


Just like sexual orientation, there are theories about fluidity in romantic orientation as well. It's still hard to give a precise answer: does orientation change, or do people just get to know themselves better? This can be harder especially when someone shifts from hetero- or homo-romanticism to bi-romanticism (and/or sexuality); some people could argue that they just didn't know they were bi before, or that they were in denial (the denial thing is used also for shifts from hetero to homo sometimes). Still, there are people who clearly know that in some periods of their life they were only romantically attracted to one gender (or more) and in other periods only to one other (or more).
Interesting links on and off AVEN:
Queer Transformation - A Research Project in the Making
Is my romantic orientation changing?

What does aromanticism mean? Does it mean that I don't like roses, candle-light dinners, kisses or other romantic stuff?


Well, it's not really about "romantic stuff"; many romantic people don't like candle-light dinner, roses etc as well, so aromanticism is not defined by this. It would be like defining asexuality from the fact that someone doesn't like some sexual acts (that also sexuals might not like sometimes). Aromanticism can be overall defined as lack of romantic attraction, just like asexuality can be overall defined as lack of sexual attraction. But obviously it's not that simple, just like asexuality is not that simple. Both of them are a spectrum that include many shades of grays, for example. So it's not like you are either romantic or aromantic, there's also gray-romantics (demiromantics are an example)! The aromantic spectrum includes all people who feel little to sporadic to no romantic attraction.
You can find threads about aromanticism on AVEN looking at the Aromantic Threads Index, where there's also links to other communities and blog pages about it.
Off AVEN interesting links:
A PSA About Asexuality and Aromanticism
Aromanticism and Biology

Can aromantics have relationships?Even romantic ones?


Aromantics can have all kinds of relationships, just like everyone else: family, friends, non-romantic partners and romantic partners, monoamorous and polyamorous relationships, etc... One may wonder: how can they have romantic relationships? Well, saying that an aromantic person cannot be in a romantic relationship is like saying that an asexual person cannot be in a sexual relationship. See what I mean? The fact that they lack this kind of attraction doesn't imply that they can't do something. The aromantic spectrum growth (inside and outside the asexual community) also helped defining more kinds of relationships and nuances in them: we can often see words like "queerplatonic", "squish", "zucchini" and many others used to describe relationships in aromantic discussions.
Interesting links on and off AVEN:
Index of threads discussing aromantic relationships
What a Poly, Aromantic Relationship Looks Like
Queerplatonic is a word for describing.......
Asexual Queerplatonic Relationships
Queerplatonic Relationships (in general)

Can sexual and demisexual people be aromantic?


Yes, they can. Aromanticism is not an asexual-only thing; sexual and asexual people can have all kinds of romantic orientations, including aromantic. This doesn't mean that aromantic sexuals are the ones that only want a night-one-stand and no committed relationship ever. As we have seen in the question above this one, aromantics can have all sorts of relationships. How does this work for demisexuals, who only feel sexual attraction after a strong bond has been established with the partner? Well, this bond is often, but not always romantic. I imagine most of us can say they have important non-romantic relationship, and that there's a strong bond with these people, may it be affectionate, intellectual or something else.
Interesting links on and off AVEN:
Platonic, but Sexual Relationship
Aromantic Demisexual (a hard situation)
Aromantic Demisexual - Are there more of us?
Aromantic sexuals?
Romantic attraction in conjuction with sexuality (About Aro Sexuals)

Does aromanticism mean I hate people or that I don't like hugs/touching/etc?


No, being aromantic doesn't mean hating people (aromanticism is not misanthropy) or disliking physical contact. It means that you don't experience romantic attraction. There might be aromantic misanthropists, obviously, and there are aromantics who dislike physical contacts, but these things don't have to go together.
Interesting links on and off AVEN:
Aromanticism - Not The Same As Touch Aversion
I want a buddy to snuggle with, not a partner...
Romance vs Affection

I still don't get aromanticism fully, I have more questions.


It's okay. As it's been said, it's not easy to define/explain aromanticism, and you can find more information on the Aromantic FAQ on AVENwiki or browsing the historical Aromantic Thread, which has been an important reference for many aromantics for years on AVEN. You could also check out A forum like AVEN but entirely dedicated to discussing aromanticism instead of asexuality, Arocalypse. Obviously the A/Romantic Identities Forum is here to discuss anything about romantic and aromantic orientations, so feel free to ask all the questions you have!

Is romantic attraction related to gender identity?


It depends what you mean with this question. Terminology speaking, yes, romantic orientation's lexicon is related to gender identity, as "hetero", "homo" (etc..) -romantic means that one person is attracted to the opposite, same (etc..) gender, so gender identity is important here. There are terms for people who are non-binary-gendered, such as gyno-, andro- and trans/skolio-romantic.
If with this question you mean if people of a certain gender (or lack thereof) are always romantically attracted to a specific gender, then the answer is no. One of the most common questions is if agendered people are always aromantic or only attracted to other agendered individuals. Or if genderqueer are only romantically attracted to genderqueer people. The answer is no; they can be, but they don't have to be.
Interesting links on and off AVEN:
Romantic Orientation for Agendered/Genderless People
Genderless Homoromantic
Agender Biromantic
The challenges of genderqueer love

What if I dont reckon myself with any of these labels?


I wouldn't be so surprised; as I said, the process of self-discovery is often not easy. It can be very confusing, attractions may change over time, and even though there seems to be always new labels, sometimes we just don't find one that "clicks". It's important to remember that labels are supposed to be only useful tools in communication, it's not the label that gives us our identity. We are all different people and we often choose a term just because it gets close to describing how we feel, even though it might not be perfect. If you find a label useful, you can choose to pick it up and use it to describe yourself; if you don't, you shouldn't stress yourself about it: you are always you, and there's other people like you that don't "fit" in the labels we listed. It's important to remember that in any case you are not alone, you are not "broken", and you're very welcome in this forum and on AVEN as a whole.

Are these all the labels on romantic and aromantic orientations?


No, they are not. There are many labels discussed and used both in and out the asexual community. Some of these, for example, are lithromantic, WTFromantic and sapioromantic.

What is lithromantic?


Lithromantics are individuals who experience romantic love but do not desire their feelings to be reciprocated. Lithromantic people may want to avoid dating and romantic relationships entirely, or may be comfortable with such a relationship or even desire it, as long as their love is not returned in a romantic way. Some lithromantics may even accept reciprocated love, but do not require it to find a relationship fulfilling, as most romantics do.

The term lithromanticism comes from the Latin lith- meaning stone. It was coined by Ian Ridley and Lanthir Calendae, drawing on the context of butch-femme sexual terminology. (source)
Interesting links on and off AVEN:
Anyone ever hear of a lithromantic or identify as one?
Lithromantic - tumblr ]

What is sapioromantic?


The term "sapioromantic" comes from "sapiosexual": a person who is sexually attracted to the intelligence in others. So "sapioromantic" means a person who is romantically attracted to the intelligence in others. They may have a preference for the same sex, the opposite sex, both or neither/disregard gender completely. As such, they may hypenate their romantic orientation to say homo-sapioromantic or bi-sapioromantic etc...
Interesting links on and off AVEN:
Demisexual and Sapiosexual
Share Your Sapioromantic Interests

What is WTFromantic?


Wtfromantic is a very loose definition. A wtfromantic will typically be someone on the aromantic spectrum, who does not experience romanticism in the traditional manner, but who cannot fully say they are aromantic or grey-aromantic. It is usually used by someone who knows they are not a full romantic, but has no better term for what they are. The specific meanings of the identity is up to each individual. *

Wtfromantics may differ from grey-aromantics in many ways. While grey-aro individuals are those who fall somewhere along a line in between romantic and aromantic, wtfromantics may not be on the line at all. Wtfromantic is generally used as a catch-all term for those who fall somewhere in the category of semiromantic or alternatively romantic, but do not better fit into any other label. (source).
Interesting links on and off AVEN:
Explanation of wtfromantic
WTFromantic - Question for aromantics
My romantic orientation is?
A set of affections difficult to characterize

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