Words by: Lake
Artworks by:
Heba Tarek
This article is part of the “The Wawa Complex” issue

According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs, and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves. – Plato

When that…NOISE…. is everywhere, it can be hard to hear the silence within YOURSELF. Especially when everyone in the orchestra thinks your silence is…an aberration. Ruining their chorus. But this silence is ME. And it has a beauty of its own. – DC Pride, 2022

The Aromantic spectrum is a rarely talked about and often misunderstood part of the LGBTQ+ community. While many sexualities within the community are characterized in relation to forms of attraction, aromantics and asexuals are characterized by their shared lack of attraction. 

Aromantics (Aros) typically experience little to no romantic attraction to others. It is a spectrum that can be experienced in a variety of ways, including as a demiromantic, greyromantic, lithromantic, aroflux, and many more. Aromantics are often grouped with Asexuals when we can be of any orientation (gay, lesbian, asexual, bisexual, heterosexual, etc.) and all are valid.

I will be predominantly discussing my experience of aromanticism, in which I hardly ever feel romantic attraction and have no desire to be in relationships. I’m doing this to bring light to an underrepresented part of the community and to give food for thought regarding society’s general obsession with Romance.

We’re often told how to live our lives and that there is a correct and incorrect way to do so. We’re pushed to conform to gender binaries and stereotypes. This pressure creeps into every aspect of our lives. By taking a look at aromanticism and the way aromantics are wrongly perceived as “broken” or just “not having met the right person yet” and exploring the roots of this pressure, we can challenge these ideologies and define their faults. Understanding aromanticism means understanding the nuanced nature of social relationships and de-naturalizing the idea that there is a “tried-and-true” method to long-lasting, healthy relationships.

From a young age, we see romance everywhere. It’s in the media we consume, at school, and at home. This isn’t necessarily bad – love is a part of human nature and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it. The problem arises when every aspect of our lives becomes oversaturated with this one particular type of love. It seems like romance is the most discussed topic in everyday life, followed directly by sex. This leads to the isolation and invalidation of people who either don’t experience romantic love or have no interest in it. 

When I was a kid, I didn’t understand crushes. I understood liking someone; people were nice and they had good qualities. But whenever someone would talk about liking someone I knew,  it was as if they were talking about a different person. I didn’t understand how people could talk about the world starting and ending with their crush or love. Why make someone out to be more than they are? Were they really that interesting? Or, do we see people differently when we like them? Did I see people differently? I had people show interest in me but I never returned them. They’d eventually get bored, or they’d get upset and leave. I liked romantic situations in a fictional setting but not in actuality.

But then I met Levi. They introduced me to their friend group. They were all LGBTQ+ and we talked openly about our lives and how sick we were of the way this country treated us. They were all dating and I was the odd one out. But I had found my people and stayed with that friend group.  

In high school, I met a girl who was bisexual. She was beautiful. I developed a crush on her. Finally, I liked someone! We could go out and get ice cream and write each other’s names in the sand and cuddle under the blankets and hold hands. Like everyone else did. Like everyone else wanted. 

She rejected me.

I got over it rather quickly, but this led me to a spiral of doubt and questioning. Why did I get over it so quickly? It took me so long to like someone and she rejects me and I’m just OKAY with it? Wasn’t I supposed to be heartbroken? Did I ever actually like her? I couldn’t name a single personality trait she had that I found more endearing than anyone else. Good thing she rejected me. Did I just want to be in a relationship? What’s so great about relationships anyways?

Shortly after this, I discovered aromanticism. I started putting two and two together. I’d never felt so validated until I met people who were like me. We all experience love differently but the feeling of finally belonging somewhere, it’s unmatchable. 

Artwork by: Heba Tarek

The way I see it, there are a few main contributing factors to the societal obsession with romantic relationships.


The societal importance of finding a lover and “starting a family” (in the traditional sense) predated capitalism. Anybody can do these things. However, it’s well-acknowledged that the economy and culture are deeply interconnected. Capitalism thrives off the perpetuation of the nuclear family as the standard unit – small detached families rather than interconnected extended ones – because it allows further commodification of services that people who lived communally used to do for each other. This has altered how we approach issues as a collective and eliminated the sense of community that villages provided individuals.  

Pressuring people to get into monogamous relationships and have children ensures that they will work as hard as possible while continuing to struggle to cover the financial burden and familial responsibility, which, within this nuclear structure, are shouldered entirely by two people. Now, if we need someone to look after our kids, we hire a babysitter or put them into daycare and if we don’t feel like cooking one day, we have to order takeout. If we lived in communities, however, our friends would take the kids for a while so we could relax, and perhaps a neighbor would bring us some food. 

Being able to build these kinds of communities would allow us to provide services to one another. But, unfortunately, we can’t really afford to opt out of the system. We’re pushed into this space where you have to value money above all else and play by capitalism’s rules. The poor are kept poor and the wealthy are kept wealthy because the nuclear family also ensures that wealth is kept within families rather than distributed among the community. 

This makes life significantly harder for individuals who don’t fit the traditional path of falling in love, having kids, and working until they die. It has also hindered the value placed on familial and platonic relationships. Capitalism has created the illusion that people are naturally greedy and competitive (“it’s a dog-eat-dog world”) when this is just a symptom of the system. Really supportive friendships are harder to come by and rely on because platonic relationships aren’t expected to be long-lasting. So, people put less effort into them, and we’re expected to tackle the world and its hurdles on our own.

We’re encouraged to pursue romantic relationships. Life is hard. You don’t want to do it alone, do you? You should fall in love so you have someone who will be there for you through thick and thin. Building a family and a community outside of monogamy is becoming more and more difficult, and we shift towards romantic relationships because we’re scared to be alone.


For the longest time, women couldn’t be single because they weren’t seen as human beings who were capable of taking care of themselves. Women were forced into heterosexual arranged marriages in which the man was the sole provider of the household and the woman was in charge of bearing children. Erasing women’s rights over their autonomy and their lives and painting anyone who deviates from the norm – gay or otherwise –as sinful or broken. 

Thanks to centuries of fighting for their rights. Things have improved since then: Women are able to vote, have jobs and be independent. And in more recent years, the #MeToo movement has made people more connected and aware of gender inequality than ever. Unfortunately, things haven’t entirely changed and women are still expected to get married. They’re expected to have jobs, be independent, care for their children, and cater to their husband’s every need. Men are expected to get married because doing basic human activities such as laundry and cooking is unfathomable. Someone must do these things for them. 

Even LGBTQ+ people of all sexualities are victims of the push for heteronormativity. Gay couples are constantly asked to conform to the husband/wife binary and gendered relationship norms (“Which one of you is the husband?”), and polyamorous folks are hardly ever taken seriously and are viewed as selfish or irresponsible. The same happens to Aromantics. (It’s rather funny; I didn’t think I’d find something to relate to polyamorous people and yet, here we are.) Asexuals are told that their identity isn’t real and that they just “haven’t had good sex yet,” lesbians are told that “the right man can change their minds,” and bisexuals are seen as irresponsible because they “can’t just pick one.” These are just a few examples. The Heteronormative Agenda dehumanizes anyone who doesn’t fit its views through harmful stereotypes and bigotry.

We are shifting towards being a more inclusive society, one that doesn’t keep values based on ignorance. Nonetheless, we can’t deny the lasting effects of principles engrained in our psyche and society for so long, whether they’re capitalist, sexist, or otherwise. We see these legacies as people continue to settle for less than they deserve or remain in unhealthy relationships. Being scared to be alone is one thing, but being unable to live by themselves is concerning. For some, it’s no longer about finding the right person, and more about gaining validation, fulfilling a quota, and ignoring poor self-worth issues imposed on them by others. 

People should have partners because they enjoy their company, not because they’re scared of the consequences of being alone. Being single isn’t a crime. In some cases, it is a luxury. To find peace within yourself, and not have to worry about a partner’s needs or consult on your own life decisions, is a privilege. Humans are social creatures and need love and affection to thrive. I’m not claiming that we can simply think our way out of loneliness or self-loathing; I’m saying that we don’t need only romantic affection to be happy. While committed relationships can be worthwhile for the right people, there’s plenty of time to enjoy yourself.

I’ve had a relatively positive experience since I discovered I’m aromantic. However, not everyone’s experience is the same. Some people may feel disappointed or ashamed on finding out they’re aro. It’s understandable – it’s not exactly pleasant to miss out on an experience everyone else loves. Coming to terms with your identity can be a difficult experience and labels can be intimidating. But it’s important to remember that the purpose of these labels is to build community or to find people with similar experiences, not to force you to identify if you don’t feel ready.  
It would be a bit insensitive for me to approach those who feel ashamed of being aro and tell them to simply get over it just because I don’t feel that way. This is their journey, not mine. But, I’d like to ask them to be kinder to themselves and to know that there is a place and a community for us. Aromanticism is a spectrum like every other in the LGBTQ+ community. Aros can be asexual or allosexual and can be in relationships or repulsed by them. Regardless of where we fit, we’re all here and we’re all valid.

Lake (she/they) is from Northern Egypt. She’s a bisexual aromantic hoping to make a better life for herself and her community. They love traveling, math, their dog, and Koshari.

Further Resources about aromantics and their experiences:

  1. Anthony Padilla’s “I spent a day with romance repulsed aromantics” 
  2. Jaidenanimations’ “Being not straight” 
  3. Tumblr posts by aros
  4. The Aromantic spectrum definitions