There are practically no aromantic characters in media, and while the numbers are growing, representation is still pretty sparse.
Perhaps a major contributing factor to the underrepresentation for aromantic people in media is due to a lack of understanding of what aromanticism actually is and how it feels to not fall in love. In this article, I will be giving tips on writing characters who are aromantic while also well-rounded, as well as providing some general information and dispelling myths on aromanticism.
What Does Aromantic Mean?
Being aromantic (or aro, for short), means experiencing little to no romantic attraction. It was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2004 (which was also the year I was born, which I find hilarious). Some aro people are also asexual, while some aren’t (the same way that not all asexual people are aromantic).
This should sound pretty obvious, but every aromantic person is different. Some are repulsed by romance at all, some are neutral about it, and some even enjoy it! Personally, I’m the last kind, I adore romance, love reading rom-coms and reading fluffy fanfiction, and even called myself a hopeless romantic for most of my life (emphasis on the hopeless). All I was missing was the actual attraction part.
Some aromantic people value platonic relationships on the same level as romantic, having the steady commitment of a romantic relationship without the romance part, while some people prefer to be alone.
Everyone’s self-realisation of their romantic orientation is different, so is their journey to acceptance. Some people knew since they were young, possibly before they even had the words to explain themselves. For others it could have taken years, possibly even failed relationships for them to realise they were aromantic.
Being Aromantic Isn’t a Tragedy
Being aromantic isn’t a tragedy (and neither is just being single, no matter what your orientation is). I say this to mean that your aro character does not need to be pitied for not feeling attraction or not pursuing a romantic relationship. While yes, the realization that you’ll never “fall in love” in the way that society wants you to can feel like a loss at first, finding out that you’re aromantic is often quite freeing. You don’t have to force feelings that will never come, don’t have to engage in things that are comfortable just because it’s something that you’re “expected” to do.
Not falling in romantic love isn’t something to be sad about, whether or not you’re aromantic.
Be Mindful of Stereotypes
Some common stereotypes about aromantic people are that we’re heartless, cold or cruel. For example, many villains are portrayed as being “loveless” and cold, with no love in their hearts and thus no morals, thus evil. Another stereotype is that aromantic people are naive, or that we don’t know anything about sex or romance. Also, people tend to think that all aros are just traumatised or afraid of intimacy (while aromantic people can obviously have trauma, it isn’t the cause of their aromanticism).
It’s usually best to avoid these stereotypes, or at least be mindful of when you do fall into them. If you focus mainly on having your characters be well rounded and full characters. Also, it’s best to avoid having your aromantic characters be robots or aliens (unless all your characters are robots or aliens). Romance is often seen as “what makes us human”, so anyone who is aromantic is seen as “inhuman”.
Of course every aro or ace person is different. If you’re going to write about aromantic characters, I recommend talking to real life aromantic people. But really, all it comes down to is making your aromantic characters well rounded people, with individual journeys, experiences, worldviews and personalities. Aromantic representation is so important, for the next generation of young aro readers to have someone to look up to, to see that we are not broken, and can in fact lead wonderful lives without romance.
is a young writer from Ottawa, Canada. When he isn’t in school, he enjoys reading, writing, crochet, and playing with his two cats. Their favourite genres are horror and fantasy, and they enjoy all things strange. You can find him on Instagram at @nate_fahmi.