Submission #3: The Relationship Between the Aro and Ace Communities

The following is a submission by Iz N. for the February 2019 Carinival of Aros/Carnival of Aces.

I’m asexual and aromantic, and have identified as such for about eight years now. I have mixed feelings about how I fit in with both identities. I’m much quicker to id as ace, if I say anything beyond just “queer”. I think that’s because it’s easier to know I don’t feel sexual attraction than romantic attraction. Sexual attraction, after all, feels like a physical reaction, which, while murky, is at least relatively simple to pin down. This is particularly true since I have a libido, so I know what sexual arousal feels like – it’s just not aimed at anyone.

On the other hand, I don’t get romantic attraction at all. I feel lots of intense and complicated emotional feelings for lots of people in my life, some of whom I love. I’m a naturally tactile person with friends, so I like to hug and hold hands and kiss cheeks and walk down the street with my arm around someone’s waist. I like to go out to dinner and movies with my friends. I have intense and meaningful conversations about our inner emotional lives, as well as discussions of the best young adult writers and who I would fancast as Squirrel Girl. I miss some of my friends deeply when I haven’t seen them in a while, and I like to check in on how they’re doing. All of those activities could be romantic, and on paper could even be read as dating, but they’re not romantic for me. My aro-ness is complicated further because I think I would like a queer-platonic relationship; I’d like to live with someone who is my primary person, and I’d like the relationship to be stable. I don’t care if this person is ace or aro, neither or both, as long as they’re committed to me as well. I know that aro people can want and have that kind of relationship, but it does make me more confused about romance generally – that kind of relationship could and often is seen as a romantic one.

I’m starting to feel like I want to be more involved in specifically aro communities. Being involved in ace communities helped me solidify my identity by letting me compare my experiences to those of other ace folks. I’d like to find an in-person aro community (I am very much a Luddite, and do not enjoy interacting on social media), but I feel like aces dominate most of those. My local ace community is actually mostly aroace, but ace topics dominate discussions, and aro conversations are usually an afterthought. I hope that one day I’ll be able to go to meetups that are for aros, where I can discuss these feelings and try to figure out who I am.