Round-Up: Wishlist

Round Up of Submissions

Welcome to the round-up of submissions on the topic of ‘Wishlist.’ You can see the call for submissions here: Thank you to everyone who participated! We had three responses, from students at University of Ottawa, SRH School Of Popular Arts (SOPA) Berlin, and Smith College.



  1. There’s a lot of things I wish were different in this world concerning asexuality, however one crucial change that could actually be super beneficial is spectrum representation of asexuality. I think a lot of people have a general understanding of what asexual means but they only see the tip of the iceberg since asexuality can come in so many forms as does any sexual identity and is very personal and unique. I want to start seeing stories showcasing the broad spectrum of what the asexual experience is really like; of asexuals who want nothing to do with sex to the rather kinky asexuals who do have sex but just lack attraction for others. I want to hear about graysexuals, demisexuals, aromantics who aren’t asexual, those who are both. I want to hear about the less known types of asexuality like cupiosexual, akoisexual and autochorissexual and everything else. I want to see more than just the simple stereotype of what asexual is thought to be. Not only that but I want to hear about the isolation and exclusion that many ace people feel, including myself, since ace struggles are rarely talked about save for inside the ace community. I want to see more realistic sexual dynamics and scenes like you see in the show, Sex Education where sex is not “flawless” like you see in movies and porno but is layered, complicated and messy. To put things simply, I just want to see authenticity and honesty regarding sex and sexuality so everyone can finally feel good about themselves rather than feel ashamed.


2. I wish we had more graphic novels/childrens booklets that break down and accurately reflect the forms of attraction and what they can look like. In general, child books/comics are probably one of the most simple and easily accessible type of education, which can also be used for teens and adults!

For schools and college/university specifically workshops or even mandatory classes that target systematic, social, racial etc. injustices in general, but also sex ed (including sexuality, types of attraction,…) could make a huge difference in spreading awareness and understanding! Todays mainstream media mostly contains stories/characters that only exist to end up in relationships or sex. Therefore it would be amazing to see more movies, that approach relationships from different perspectives (so not from an allo/hetero cis POV).


3. I want a society where it is normal to live long-term with your best friend(s), even if you are in a separate romantic and/or sexual relationship. When I was younger, and still to an extent now, I was afraid that I would make close friends as young adult, but then they would leave me for a romantic and/or sexual partner, either in moving out of shared living arrangements or lessening their engagement with me as a friend. Even regardless of the housing market and available incomes, I want a society where you can choose to live with the most important people to you, be they friends, queer platonic partners, or romantic and/or sexual partners.

I also want to see this in books and other media representation. I want characters who live with their best friends, and that’s the main relationship in the story, and they still go do romantic things with someone else. Or they don’t and that’s fine too. I want ace and aro characters who are in QPRs or apply the split attraction model to their own lives, even if they don’t use modern words, just as I want non-ace and non-aro characters to do those things too.

Round-Up: Education

Round Up of Submissions

Welcome to the round-up of submissions on the topic of ‘Education.’ You can see the call for submissions here: Thank you to everyone who participated! We had three responses, from students at Smith College.



  1. I generally don’t feel comfortable talking about my identity in class, and with most of the classes I’ve taken, it’s not relevant. The exceptions for me have been language and literature classes. The college Chinese classes that I’ve taken have included sections on future plans, stuff like having a family, money management, (re)marriage. Those were awkward due to the relatively amatonormative environment, but I never brought up asexuality or aromanticism, and just selectively chose the questions that I could answer comfortably. There was also the factor that I’m not entirely confident my language instructors would have understood either the word “asexuality” or “无性恋.”

My literature courses have mostly been the same deal. In the first one, my professor and some of my classmates were quite focused on sexual imagery they thought was obvious in the texts. I didn’t think so, but the experience turned me off discussing asexuality and aromanticism without knowing how accepting the environment would be. Since then, in my literature classes, I’ve been trying to avoid the sexuality and gender questions to the best of my ability.

The literature class that I’m taking this semester has been a bit different. One time, another student brought up stereotypes that asexual characters often fall into during the class discussion. I didn’t say anything, but I was internally agreeing with her. Then one day last week I was really frustrated with the readings because of how one of them connected non-sexual experiences, disability, and government sterilization programs and how the other assumed common romantic experiences. I told myself that I wouldn’t force myself to participate, but I ended up making a few comments about how uncomfortable the stories were. When one of my classmates asked if I am aroace, I said yes.


2. My decision to minor in the study of women and gender (SWAG) in college has meant that there were many times when asexuality was relevant to class discussion, but I’m the only student who ever brought it up, even when it seemed glaringly obvious to me. I have, twice now, had professors who actually mentioned asexuality in class, but both times it was more of a passing thought or a suggestion of something to look into on our own.

My confidence in bringing up asexuality (or aromanticism, or allonormativity and amatonormativity) has grown over the years. I remember the first two SWAG classes I took, there were times when I desperately wanted to point out how what we were discussing so clearly pertained to asexuality, but was too afraid to do so. I feared the professor would tell me it wasn’t relevant, or I would be accused of derailing the conversation and bringing up perspectives that weren’t “queer enough.” Finally, however, I spoke up and pointed out that an essay on pervasive sexuality (and not just heterosexuality) in our society was basically just talking about allonormativity. From there, I gained confidence, and was able to start bringing in not just ace knowledge but an ace perspective. I now feel confident talking about my own asexuality, brining the ace/aro/aspec community into conversations about sexual liberation, and again and again have called out amatonormativity as the issue at hand when we’re talking about the privileging of partnered, monogamous, romantic and sexual relationships in capitalist society.

My greatest success, however, has been to convince a professor to incorporate ace literature into her SWAG 101 syllabus. I didn’t make it my mission for this to happen, but by taking a different class with her in which I continually started conversations about asexuality and aromanticism, something must have clicked for her that this was a relevant and necessary topic to add to her curriculum. Thus, one day, she happily informed me that she was adding some ace readings to her syllabus because of me, and it was the most magical feeling in the world to know that I was the cause of that positive change.


3. In most of the classes I’ve taken about queerness, asexuality has been mentioned. It generally stays at the definition level though. I suppose it’s because that’s not what people think about when they are planning a course on queerness; you have to really go looking to find much about asexuality, so if it’s not your priority, it doesn’t come up. But I wish I could learn about asexuality in class outside of open-ended projects, and that not only I but also my classmates could learn about asexuality. Yet, compared to aromanticism, asexuality is a common topic. I’ve never had a class even mention aromanticism outside of whatever brief mention of asexuality is offered. Sometimes I write about aromanticism in reflections or other assignments for those courses, and my professors always seem excited to have it mentioned, but it’s never mentioned in the classroom.

In my queer-focused classes, there is at least awareness of asexuality, if not always aromanticism. In my other classes, there is not even that. In literature and language classes, I’m tired of readings focused on romance, and being expected to analyze these romance scenes and inevitably struggling to because I don’t get it. I wish that professors were more open to not everyone enjoying or being excited about romantic scenes. I’m tired of scenes that don’t seem to be about romance, yet there is some hint somewhere I do not see that sends my classmates into headcanoning a relationship that need not be there – why can they not be friends? I only know that there’s supposed to be romance because others said so and yet sometimes I’m expected to write reflection about that romance. I wish that when I said I didn’t empathize with the character in love that I wasn’t told I needed to try harder. I wish people were more open to other interpretations. I wish that when my classes studied relationships between religious ascetics, that it was acknowledged that that could have been friendship or a queerplatonic relationship – that it didn’t have to be forbidden romance.

Round-Up: Stories About Love

Round Up of Submissions

Welcome to the round-up of submissions on the topic of ‘Stereotypes.’ You can see the call for submissions here: Thank you to everyone who participated! We had three responses, from students at Smith College.



  1. Self-love is something I’ve struggled with all my life (as I’m sure many of us have) but recently I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to act on and express love for myself, even when it’s hard. This Valentine’s Day, I ended up making the whole day about self-love, and it was honestly a healing experience.

I had a major deadline on February 13th, so I’d been working to the point of exhaustion for the whole week prior, and then decided to take the next day off. In the spirit of it being Valentine’s Day, I decided to not just to sleep in, skip class, and treat myself to a little spa-day (which basically just meant doing all the basic self-care I’d been neglecting for the past week) but also taking myself out on a “date.” I gave myself a budget, got a nice lunch, and then did some shopping. I bought things that I’d always thought of as too much of a luxury to “waste” money on for myself, but would buy in a heartbeat if I needed a gift for someone else: expensive chocolates, fancy moisturizer, and cute stationary. I know my main love language is gift-giving, but buying “gifts” for myself is hard, because it feels frivolous.

I ended the day by getting ice cream, and sitting by myself, staring out the window as I ate, I felt completely happy. It was hard and awkward at first, but showing myself love felt so good that I wasn’t even bothered by all the couples out and about. If anything, I was just happy for them. I realized that their celebration of love was just as important as mine, and whether or not anyone else saw that, it only really mattered that I knew it for myself.


2. How do you write about love when love is a category that have trouble imagining yourself in? Society has coded love so insidiously as a romantic category, as a sexual category, that even as an aroace, someone who believes love can be separate, it is hard to convince myself that other things are, in fact, love. For instance, a big part of my personality is that I love books and reading. And yet here I am, wondering if I can really write a story about my relationship with one of my favorite books, and if that would count as love. So let me prove that it can.


A 13 year old girl, backstage at her dance recital dress rehearsal, only ten pages into the book she’s reading, and already fascinated. She goes and dances, and then comes back to her book. She reads more. It was her first real initiation into sci-fi, and it was also the first book that had a character with a disabled experience that she could fully identify with.

She eats up the first book, and then the second one, but then the third book in the trilogy hadn’t been published yet. Then when it comes out that summer, its still not out in the US because of publication deals. Her uncle gets her the book for Christmas. By this point, she has a new favorite series. When she gets an email address, one of the first things she does is sign up for the author’s newsletter. The author writes more, starts other series, and she reads them too. Her favorite series by the author evolves as more books come out.

Her attachment to these books started as fascination with science fiction as a whole and first character similar in a certain way, but it expands to the worldbuilding – and my, does she love the worldbuilding. She finds little easter eggs and questions and intriguing what-ifs. She starts writing what she would later know to be fanfiction. Some of those what-ifs turn out to be what if these two characters weren’t in a romantic and sexual relationship, but one character was in a lesbian relationship with a third, and had some more-than-friend arrangement with the first.

During the pandemic, she ventures out into online fandom spaces because learns there are other people chatting about these books, and she is really excited to talk to people about her favorite book. They ask questions of each other, and answer them, and read the new books alongside each other, and speculate about what they think is going to happen and why the characters are certain ways and everything. She stays up way to late some nights, messaging back and forth about the books with her friends. She is happy.


3. Love is friendship

Late night conversations sharing stories and laughter and tears

Sharing joys and sorrows, hopes and stresses

Joys found in those moments together

Studying together, grabbing lunch, hosting game nights, trading photos

Supporting each other, present for each other

Building community, building belonging

Round-Up: Stereotypes

Round Up of Submissions

Welcome to the round-up of submissions on the topic of ‘Stereotypes.’ You can see the call for submissions here: Thank you to everyone who participated! We had two responses, from students at Smith College.



  1. Do you remember those YA novels where the main character is on some all-encompassing quest to save their country or world? The ones where they might have had a romantic interest and relationship but it’s pushed aside for the sake of the world? I do. On one hand, it was always refreshing to have a story where romance, sex, and relationships weren’t a main focus. As a young aro-ace, those stories were always a bit more special because of what wasn’t there – relationships.

Yet something was always off. I didn’t want to have to defeat a dark lord and lose a finger (LOTR), overthrow a totalitarian government (Hunger Games), or regain my rightful seat as a princess (I’m sure there is some example) to not have a romantic relationship. Asexual and/or aromantic people aren’t disinterested in different types of relationships because they are trying to address pressing calamities. Asexuality and aromanticism do not require justifications to be valid.

To be fair, this stereotype pops up most where there is implicit but not explicit asexual and/or aromantic representation. Its fine for a character or a person to not engage in relationships if they have too much else going on in their life, I just wish we didn’t understand these characters as asexual and/or aromantic. This stereotype primes people to expect a justification for our identities that is not necessary.


2. There have been times that I have felt like a stereotype – and sometimes that was validating (because clearly I fit the description) and sometimes that was invalidating (because there is pressure to make it clear that we aren’t stereotypes). And then other times I felt the opposite – that the stereotypes didn’t fit me well – and again, depending on the day, that could feel validating or invalidating. The thing about stereotypes is that there are a lot of them, and many of them are contradictory (e.g. the naïve ace vs the ace who makes all the sex jokes). Some are fun – that we all like cake and dragons – and others are problematic, whether because they conflate distinct experiences or because they are the only popular representation of asexuality or aromanticism. And there’s nothing wrong with fitting or not fitting a stereotype, but there is a lot of pressure to make it clear that stereotypes aren’t completely accurate any time we are discussing asexuality and aromanticism, and while that education work is important, it is also stressful. When someone describes a stereotype that fits me, I have to determine how to respond – how to say that that’s not accurate because it’s a stereotype but it is accurate for me, except that maybe I don’t want to share those personal details, but I also don’t want them getting the wrong impression … – and if there was greater variety of representation, maybe that would be less needed, but at the same time, that puts the pressure on creators to make diverse representations all the time and sometimes to not make representations based on themselves if they fit a common stereotype – which isn’t fair.

Round-Up: Favorite Parts About Being Ace and/or Aro

Round Up of Submissions

Welcome to the round-up of submissions on the topic of ‘Favorite Parts About Being Ace and/or Aro.’ You can see the call for submissions here: Thank you to everyone who participated! We had six responses, from students at Smith College and University of Otago.



  1. I love that identifying as asexual and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum has made me feel free. Before I learned about the ace/aro spectrum and my place on it, I thought I would have to end up in relationships I wouldn’t enjoy, simply because I was “supposed to” have those relationships eventually. Realizing my ace- and aro-ness helped me understand that I don’t “have to” live my life in any specific way that I know won’t bring me joy! More and more, I’ve allowed myself to explore what I actually want in my future, rather than what I’ve been told to expect. I love my friendships! I don’t want to put them aside later on down the line for romantic and sexual relationships like society pressures people to do. I feel like I now have the confidence to imagine my life the way I’ve always wanted to see it.


2. When it comes to being aroace, I appreciate the experience and view it gives me, in which I can better empathize with others and feel better equipped to help people better understand themselves. Realising i was aroace improved my life enormously. I no longer had this huge question mark over my life and I could begin to understand why I felt so out of place and misunderstood for so long.


3. I think one of the most obvious perks to being asexual is not having to worry about STDs and pregnancy. Now, this isn’t necessarily specific to asexual people (there are a variety of reasons someone might not have sex or not want to have sex) nor is it true for all asexual people, but it’s true for a lot of us and, just personally, it’s great to not really be that worried when my period is late, because unless I’m the next Virgin Mary, it’s literally impossible for me to be pregnant!

One unexpected way I’ve come to really love my ace identity and the ace/aro community is through the knowledge that we generate by simply being non-sexual-and-romantic-relationship focused people in a society that prioritizes sex and romance. Listening to aromantic people talk about their experiences with love and friendship and inspecting how our society deprioritizes platonic love in detrimental ways has honestly been kind of life changing. Even though I am interested in romance and romantic relationships, being in this community has been so helpful in reshaping the way I think about romance and how I choose to structure my life around relationships and which relationships to prioritize, and for that I will be forever grateful.


4. What I love about being aroace is how freeing it is. My exposure to ace communities showed me that people like me could live wonderful and fulfilling lives regardless of whether we had sexual/romantic relationships or not. It allowed me the ability to reflect on my own feelings and desires more deeply. That led me to start using the aromantic label, and to start to explore my gender. And although I am still subject to societal pressures around sex and relationships, I don’t feel bound by them in the way I used to. I love that my identity throws into question so many of the things that society assumes are universal, and that me living into my identity might cause other people to rethink their worldviews as well.

And as I lived into my ace identity, I also felt more and more comfortable calling myself queer. I felt more comfortable being in queer spaces and participating in conversations there. I really felt like I belonged on my (very queer) campus and in my (very queer) friend groups. If I hadn’t started to identify as ace, I would not have the relationship to myself or the world that I have today. I am free to explore and to create my own future outside of what society prescribes. That’s both a daunting task and an incredible blessing.


5. As someone who’s alloace, I appreciate not having to worry about sex and all of the issues that it *can possibly* bring up (I know that they’re not guarantees). It just seems like a lot of work and stress, and it feels kind of relaxing to not have it be a concern in a relationship. Accepting and embracing my ace identity has allowed me to be fully comfortable in my skin. Before I knew I was ace, I believed the things people said about me: cold, emotionless, a late bloomer, etc. But not experiencing sexual attraction doesn’t make a person broken. I have a word, a whole slew of words, to describe how I experience attraction, and I’ve never felt better. And don’t get me started on the ace community. To be seen, validated, and understood is a beautiful thing. The ace spaces I’ve entered have been so welcoming and warm. We can bond over shared experiences and discuss the kind of visibility we want to see. Ace people receive so many assumptions about what it means to be ace that we don’t make those same assumptions about each other. That makes for a really understanding and non-judgmental community (one I’m so thrilled to be a part of).


6. The process of discovering I was aroace and then exploring what that meant for me helped me understand my life and my experiences, growing my self-awareness, and it helped when I later explored my other identities to have had that first experience of questioning already. It helps me explore who I am and what I want from life. The ace community was my first exposure to the complexity of identities, how definitions and experiences don’t always match up well, and how different identities can intersect. The ace community let me feel comfortable and legitimate in my experiences, and taught me that I don’t need to hide myself. I love the perspective on life that being aroace gives me.

Round-Up: What We Wish People Knew

Round Up of Submissions

Welcome to the round-up of submissions on the topic of ‘What We Wish People Knew.’ You can see the call for submissions here: Thank you to everyone who participated! We had three responses, from students at Smith College.



  1. One thing I wish more people understood about asexuality is that asexual people can have sex and consent to sex. Obviously, lots of asexual people don’t want to and/or choose not to have sex. Makes sense, considering we don’t experience sexual attraction (although that on its own can be difficult for people to grasp too, don’t get me wrong.) However, that doesn’t mean we’re incapable of consenting to sex, or that when we do choose have sex, it’s inherently non-consensual or harmful. Explaining that asexual people can be sex favorable, sex neutral, or sex repulsed can sometimes help people understand this, but still I think sex favorable aces confuse people. As a sex favorable ace, I want people to understand that I can have sex with my girlfriend, and that she is not pressuring me into it (or worse), because that idea is really hurtful to both of us. However, it can be hard to explain my experience in a way that will get people to understand without having to explain my actual experiences with sex, which is super personal, and not something I want to share most of the time! Sometimes, to avoid the conversation as a whole, I just let people think that we aren’t having sex at all. (And, depending on what your definition of sex is, maybe we aren’t! But that’s a whole other debate.)


2. One of the greatest “microlabels” that I have ever heard of is none-of-your-business-sexual/romantic. Faced with an intrusive friend, relative, acquaintance, or stranger who wants to know all of the private details of your life, you are already equipped with the answer: “My sexuality is none of your business.” “Whether or not I masturbate is none of your business.” “My romantic preferences are none of your business.” As long as there is not abuse going on, you are entitled to privacy.

Personally, I’ve not been faced with any noisy people asking details about my private life, however I know that many aces and aros have, questions others wouldn’t think of asking sexual or romantic people. To anyone who has ever been asked these questions: you are not compelled to answer. To anyone who has ever asked these questions: you are not obliged an answer.



– A shared identity does not make us identical. We identify as ace and/or aro for a variety of reasons.

– Some of us are clear about our identities while others are questioning or find uncertainty or indefinableness central to their experience.

– Some of us have clear separations between different identities while others find them inextricably intertwined.

– Many of us are surprised and confused to learn that crushes/attraction aren’t made up and are actually as important to many people as they are made out to be in stories.

– The assumption that everyone will fall in love and get married is problematic because it leads those of us who don’t fall in love to feel like there’s something wrong with us.

– Some aces are willing to have sex in certain circumstances, but others are not.

– It’s hard to find music or stories without sex or romance.

Round-Up: Headcanons

Round Up of Submissions

Welcome to the round-up of submissions on the topic of ‘Headcanons.’ You can see the call for submissions here: Thank you to everyone who participated! We had four responses, from students at Smith College.



  1. Keladry of Mindelan, of Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small quartet (middle grade/YA fantasy), is word-of-god asexual and aromantic. Of course, I first read these books in third or fourth grade, so I didn’t pay any attention to that, enamored with the school story and the girl training to be a knight. But Tamora Pierce remains one of my favorite authors, and as I got older, I enjoyed how refreshing it was that Kel didn’t just fall in love with her *one true man* and live happily ever after. Yes, Kel had a few crushes, but her not wanting to marry, settle down, or have children (right then) was a more important character trait. Even the few crushes she had, she was confused by them and questioned whether her feelings were real when her crushes faded. She didn’t instantly *know* what she was feeling and how romanced worked, and nor did I.

The series ends before Kel turns 20, when she still has most of her career and life ahead of her. We fans don’t know exactly what would happen to her, but there’s been many guesses. My personal favorite is that Kel would live with or next door to her (married) friends Neal and Yuki, in a sort of QPR, being “Aunt Kel” to their children. She would raise her adopted children, care for the animals that adopted her, and be the Protector of the Small. Kel’s story, or at least my headcanon of her happily-ever-after, was the first story of that type that I could see myself in. In a world that emphasizes hetero romantic and sexual relationships so heavily, her story provided hope and inspiration for my own future. Not alone or abandoned when friends start pairing off into relationships and marriages, but still present and with her best friends.


2. I feel like there is such little ace/aro representation in the media, that I would really appreciate anything at this point. Of course, not all representation is good representation (here’s to looking at you, awful episode of “House” that treats asexuality as a medical disorder). I don’t want to see characters written off as ace as a plot device or to make the public happy with a weak attempt at representation. I’m pretty tired of seeing lists of ace characters that include folks like Dexter or Hannibal who made it on the list in the first place because “they’re too interested in murder to have time for sex.” I mean, what is that? I’d like to see representation that covers the entire asexual spectrum: characters that are ace, aro, aroace, demi, graysexual, and so forth. I want characters in queer platonic relationships, sexual relationships, romantic relationships, polyamorous relationships, and just living their best life. I want characters of different ages, ethnicities, religions, backgrounds, etc. I want the ace community to be able to see themselves in these characters, and I want allosexuals to better understand the ace community by seeing asexuality and aromanticism so honestly and thoroughly depicted.


3. I have a tendency to headcanon any female lead as ace, probably because I’m projecting onto her. This can get complicated when the character is portrayed as sexual, but the complications have actually led to some of my favorite ace headcannons. For example, when the female lead is supposed to be “sexy” and is sexualized by other characters, but rarely, if ever, expresses sexual desire herself, I find myself clinging all the more strongly to my ace headcannon. A classic example of this is Jessica Rabbit, though I tend to apply it to classic literary and mythological characters, like Lady Macbeth, Jane Eyre, Persephone, and Circe.

As far as ace representation, I haven’t seen that many that interested me, mainly because they seem to always be men and/or heteroromantic. I would really love to see some sapphic ace representation, because that’s what I am, and of course we all want to see ourselves in media. One ace representation I did like despite this was Todd Chavez from BoJack Horseman. What I liked was that they didn’t just have the character come out and then leave it at that, but they actually worked his asexuality into the plot of the show, dug into some of the struggles of being ace, and made some genuinely funny jokes around it. For example, Todd starts dating the first ace girl he meets, and eventually it becomes apparent that they have nothing in common, so they break up when they realize they were only dating each other because they’re both ace. He feels discouraged about how small the dating pool for fellow aces is, but eventually he finds someone he clicks with. It was nice to see an ace character have an arc like this over the course of a show.


4. Keladry of Mindelan from Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small quartet is canonically aroace and has long been one of my favorite characters, since long before I learned she was aroace. While she does have a couple crushes, they are never the focus of her life, and looking back on it now, I wonder whether that was one of the reasons I liked her so much.

Thinking about characters I headcanon as ace and/or aro, there’s a lot of them. I think it’s my default to assume a character is ace and/or aro unless I have strong reason to think otherwise. Some favorites would have to be Bilbo and Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings, neither of whom shows any interest in dating or marriage but both of whom deeply value their friendships. In fact, Tolkien is one of the rare authors who emphasizes friendships and family relationships far more than romantic relationships across his works.

Round-Up: Confusions

Round Up of Submissions

Welcome to the round-up of submissions on the topic of ‘Confusions.’ You can see the call for submissions here: Thank you to everyone who participated! We had five responses, from students at Smith College and University of Toronto.



  1. I can never stop being confused by allos…

Firstly, the prioritization of romantic relationships & the relationship hierarchy: HOW can you abandon all your years worth of friendships and familial connections because of ONE person you suddenly have romantic feelings for? How can you centre your ENTIRE life on one relationship and one form of attraction? How can you consider friends to be “just” friends when friendship is one of the most beautiful things in the world?

Secondly, marriage: Aside from the fact that our capitalistic society has attached financial benefits to marriage, what’s the point? Why should your feelings about someone change just because of a piece of paper? And why would you want the government or a public institution involved in your private relationship anyways?

Thirdly, monogamy: IF you somehow DO feel these mythical romantic and sexual attractions, how could you feel them for only ONE person and WHY would you only want to share them with one person in the first place? There is so much love to give…why shackle it down with limitations?

Lastly, why has alloromantic culture become THE culture of the world? Biologically, allosexual culture makes sense for the survival of our species via sexual reproduction. But why are people (and it doesn’t even have to be aromantics) shamed for not wanting to date, get married, or fall in love? There is no necessity to it…

People have often been confused by my asexuality and aromanticism: is it a hormone imbalance? Are you just too young to have figured out which allo sexuality you are? OMG, HOW CAN YOU NOT HAVE CRUSHES OR FIND ANYONE HOT??!?!

But actually, it’s simple: My asexuality and aromanticism are just an alternative and equally wonderful way of being. And allos are the ones who are really confusing ?


2. Before I came out as ace and really started to delve into the ace spectrum, I was extremely uninformed. For one thing, I didn’t even know asexuality was a spectrum. I treated it like a binary. I mistakenly thought that asexual people never ever wanted to have sex, and aromantic people never ever wanted to have a romantic relationship. I identify as ace but not aromantic, so when I was beginning to learn about my own asexuality, I (subconsciously or not, I really don’t know) didn’t focus as much on learning about aromanticism. When I learned that I could be ace and experience romantic attraction, I felt so validated. But for some reason, I couldn’t see how aro people could want to have sex but not a romantic relationship. I was so steeped in allonormativity that I couldn’t even see my own hypocrisy. Sex isn’t love and love isn’t sex. And romance isn’t love, either. I realized that rang true for me, so why couldn’t I see that it was true for others? I see now the aphobia that I had internalized and that I’m working out with every new thing I learn about being ace. Maybe a person wants sex or love or both or neither. Maybe a person experienced sexual and/or romantic attraction in the past but doesn’t anymore and vice versa. There should be no strict rules, no right or wrong way to be ace/aro. I’m so grateful to have found a community that really gets me, and I’m going to do my best every day to correct not only the misconceptions that I hear but the ones that I had.


3. What I don’t get is why a specific person is attracted to some people but not others. I can understand preferences as a byproduct of evolution: the vague traits often deemed “attractive” generally show that an individual is healthy and therefore has good genes, for instance being tall and having facial symmetry. But it’s the step beyond that confuses me. Why is person A attracted to person B but not person C? It’s the personal preferences.

But then this is the same question as why some people prefer chocolate desserts while others prefer fruity desserts, and I don’t think science has answered that one either.


4. Before I knew I was asexual, there were a lot of things that used to confuse me. For example, I never had a celebrity crush, and I didn’t understand how people could even have crushes on people they’d never met. Sure, I understood that they were attractive, but to me, a real crush had to involve personality as well as looks. So I mostly thought people were exaggerating for fun, and that they didn’t feel any real attraction. I also didn’t understand why people found it so hard to “wait until marriage.” I wasn’t raised to think it was necessary to do, but if you did want to wait, why was it such a struggle? Again, I thought people were exaggerating about how intense sexual desire is, because it seemed so simple to just not have sex. One thing that really upset me, though, was how women in books, movies, etc. always had to end up with a man. Part of that was just me being confused by heteronormativity, but it wasn’t like I necessarily wanted them to get with a woman instead, I mostly just wanted them to ditch the guys. I remember watching the movie version of The Great Gatsby with my mom when I was 13, before I read the book. At the end, I was so mad, and asked my mom why Daisy had to choose between two awful men. I mean, living on her own was clearly the best option! My mom, of course, explained that at that time it wasn’t a good option economically, but that answer just upset me more. I didn’t understand why women were expected to need men, and I didn’t want that for myself, but I rarely ever saw another option represented in the media.


5. A few things that confuse me:

– How attraction can be so important that people will stay in unhealthy relationships just because the other person is “hot”.

– Why it is so hard to find music that is not about sex and/or romance.

– How there can be relationship drama between people who’ve known each other for less than a week at summer camps.

– Why people prefer sex with another person over masturbation.

– Why marriage is treated as the only route to happiness.

Round-Up: Experiences with Attraction

Round Up of Submissions

Welcome to the round-up of submissions on the topic of ‘Experiences with Attraction.’ You can see the call for submissions here: Thank you to everyone who participated! We had five responses, from students at Smith College and University of Toronto.



  1. This is sort of an imaginary skit/dialogue between a hypothetical sexual and romantic person and myself, an aroace, trying to define romantic attraction and figure out if I experience it.

a: If sexual attraction is an intrinsic desire to have sex with another person, romantic attraction should be an intrinsic desire to have romance with another person.

b: But wait, how does someone “have romance”?

a: Okay, engage in romantic activities with or express romantic feelings for another person.

b: But now we have to define romantic activities and feelings.

a: Well, romance is a bunch of feelings you get, like constantly thinking about someone and wanting to make them happy, looking forward to when you see them next. Romantic activities are things you do to express those feelings to said person.

b: But how does that differentiate itself from friendship, wanting to be friends with someone? I frequently think of things I want to tell my best friend and chatting with her has been some of the best hours of my life.

a: Romance is more than that. It’s … love.

b: While you may prioritize romantic relationships, my friendships are incredibly important to me, and I would thank you not to treat them as lesser.

a: Sorry. Let me try again: romance is things like wanting to kiss, cuddle, and hold hands with your partner, to name a few.

b: So, essentially things that are coded as romantic by society, and in another culture those things could be solely sexual, sensual, or platonic, for instance.

a: Well, when you put it that way…

b: Okay, I have a question: I have a vague sense what sexual attraction is supposed to feel like, physiologically. And since I’ve never felt anything like that directed at another person, that was helpful in realizing I’m asexual. Is there any parallel that can be found with romantic attraction. Is romantic attraction butterflies in your stomach?

And that’s where my skit falls apart, because that’s a genuine question I have. I don’t think I experience romantic attraction, but I’m simultaneously not sure what romantic attraction is or if it even exists, rather than being a mash up of all the other types of attraction.


2. I identify as aromantic and asexual, and both romantic and sexual attraction are a complete void to me. However, I still use the split attraction model to differentiate between the two, as I believe my absence of romantic attraction has a significant impact on my life whereas my absence of sexual attraction does not, and therefore the difference remains important to me.

I experience all other forms of attraction other than romantic and sexual, including, but not limited to, platonic, aesthetic, and sensual. In terms of how I KNOW I don’t experience romantic or sexual attraction…on one hand, I just consider what other people have described these attractions as and acknowledge that I have never experienced anything like that, but on the other hand, I just feel this ‘sixth sense’ that I haven’t felt that way before.

Romantic attraction and behaviour completely converge for me. I know in the aspec community we preach “action does not equal attraction”, but for me, a huge part of my personal aromanticism is that I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WANT ANY INVOLVEMENT IN ROMANTIC ACTION WHATSOEVER. It converges a little less for sexual attraction and behaviour for me. I choose not to have sex because of STI, pregnancy, etc. risks, but if health risks weren’t present, I probably wouldn’t mind trying sex for fun even if I’m asexual.

Lastly, my experiences with attraction…which are a complete absence of romantic and sexual attraction…do not conform to societal norms AT ALL…I’ve always felt like an outcast for never having had a single crush, whereas those around me are constantly discussing crushes, hot people, and the yearning to fall in love. Everyone expects you to have a crush, date, and have marriage as a life goal…so when you don’t, it’s clear your experiences are far beyond the ‘norms’.


3. I have never experienced sexual or romantic attraction, nor have I ever desired a sexual or romantic relationship, which made figuring that out much simpler. Nor have I ever found sensual or platonic attraction to be useful descriptions for me. Out of all the types of attraction that are commonly discussed, aesthetic attraction is the only one that resonates with me at all, but then again, it seems very different from the other types of attraction because it applies to things other than humans as well – it is not necessarily a category that fits with the others. It seems to me that attraction as a concept is useful in three ways – as a tool for self-reflection, as a way to find people with similar experiences, and as a way to communicate your experiences and imply your relationship preferences. For the second and third, I generally stick to ‘aroace’ since it is short and the assumptions made about it tend to be accurate for me. For the first, I have found the many types of attraction useful, though like many others, I’m still very confused by what romantic attraction is.

As for the role of attraction in society, I find it irritating and baffling. Advertisements, for instance, are often full of images of conventionally attractive people, which somehow makes the product sell better (something which I intellectually understand but really don’t understand). Or the idea of dating someone based on their looks alone, and the expectation that romantic or sexual relationships must be based on attraction. It can feel very isolating seeing how the world around you is working off a different basis of assumptions and instincts than you.


4. It was clear to me by the time I was fourteen that I’d never experienced sexual attraction. I’d never felt the desire to have sex with someone and struggled with the idea of finding people “hot” beyond thinking they were nice to look at. That hasn’t changed in the seven years since, but my experience with differentiating romantic and platonic attraction was a bit more complicated.

When I first discovered I was asexual, I immediately assumed I must be heteroromantic because, as far as I could tell, I liked boys. I had “crushes” on boys, I though I wanted to date them, but without the sex part. But then, once I could separate romantic feelings from sexual desire, I started to see how some of my “friendly” feelings towards girls could actually be romantic. Thus, when I first came out, I said I was asexual biromantic, because I thought I’d probably had crushes on both girls and boys.

And then I fell in love with a woman, and the experience was completely different.

The intensity of emotion went so far beyond any of the “crushes” I’d had before. It wasn’t just: “I think they have a nice face and I like talking to them.” It was: “I want to kiss her and hold her hand and tell her I love her so bad that sometimes I cry like I’ve been hit by a freight train of emotions.”

In this new context, it became clear to me that the “crushes” I’d had on boys before weren’t romantic. I probably just misinterpreted a combination of platonic and aesthetic attraction as a crush, because I was “supposed” to like boys. Now, I know for certain I’ve only ever felt romantic attraction towards women, so I identify as an asexual lesbian.


5. The Split Attraction Model…I cannot express how grateful I am to have found it. When people think “attraction”, their mind almost always jumps to sexual attraction. But if that’s the only attraction there is, then ace folk are just plumb out of luck. I don’t experience sexual attraction, but I do experience other types of attraction: platonic, emotional, intellectual, romantic, and sensual. It isn’t always easy to tell the difference when I’m experiencing one or two or all of these types of attraction, but it’s comforting to know that I can put a word to the experience. Platonic attraction is the love I feel for my friends. I care deeply about them, but I don’t feel other types of attraction towards them. Emotional attraction is the draw I feel towards people whose soul I admire. Intellectual attraction is a desire to mentally connect with someone. Romantic attraction is a deep, inexplicable yearning to share my life with someone and to share in their life as well. Sensual attraction is the completely non-sexual desire to have physical contact with another person. The latter is probably the most difficult type of attraction to explain since it’s easy to misconstrue as sexual attraction, but I think it’s so important to talk about. I’ve had friends and family assume that because I’m asexual, I must not like any physical contact. But I can’t imagine not experiencing sensual attraction for the person that I also feel romantic attraction towards. I also experience sensual attraction to people that I have no romantic attraction towards. Sometimes, I want to touch a person’s soul, mind, heart, and/or body. I want to know them. It just so happens that I want to know them without knowing them sexually.

Round-Up: Origin Stories

Round Up of Submissions

Welcome to the round-up of submissions on the topic of ‘Origin Stories.’ You can see the call for submissions here: Thank you to everyone who participated! We had seven responses, from students at Smith College, Rowan University, and University of Toronto.



  1. For the longest time I assumed I was straight, since that’s the default sexuality according to society. I never really had crushes in school, but I chalked it up to me not being ‘boy-crazy’ and being a dedicated student. I thought that crushes were something you chose to have, rather than something that just happened to people!

I think I first heard the term asexual at school in 8th/9th grade, but it was in an aphobic context. I later was exposed to the ace and demi labels in a more positive light at my summer camp, which was very queer-friendly. Until late in high school I called myself ‘probably straight’, since I didn’t experience attraction to women but still felt a disconnect from other straight girls. But late in 11th grade I did end up taking on the demisexual label – at the time I thought I had a crush on a friend and I didn’t realize the split attraction model was a thing.

In the fall of my first year at college, being surrounded by other queer students, something clicked and I started identifying as heteroromantic ace (again, still assuming straightness as the default romantic identity!). This later shifted to biromantic ace (when I experienced another possible crush), then to non-SAM ace (because I decided romantic attraction was too complicated to deal with) and finally to my current label of aroace.

Looking back to my childhood and teenage years there were a lot of little signs that I was aroace. I think those rare crushes I felt when I was younger were likely more platonic than anything else. But I wasn’t really exposed to the ace or aro communities until my late teenage years – if I had heard about them earlier, my aroace journey may have played out differently.


2. Before I knew what asexuality was, I used to say that I wanted to “wait until marriage.” Not for religious reasons, but because it was the only way I knew that someone could defer sex without forgoing relationships altogether. I wasn’t too sure that I wanted to have sex after marriage either, but that seemed like a long ways off. Surely I’d change my mind, right?

I was fourteen when I first saw the term “asexual” in the comment section of youtube video. I was googling definitions and reading articles within minutes, devouring the information on the other side of the screen. I’d been questioning my sexuality for a while, but my mental arguments always went in circles. I only knew three options—gay, straight, and bi—and I knew I wasn’t sexually attracted to women, so I couldn’t be gay or bi, and thus I defaulted to straight. (Compulsory heterosexuality, am I right?) Realizing that asexuality was an option opened the door to possibilities I’d never imagined, but needed so desperately.

The most important thing I learned in frantic googling was that romantic attraction and sexual attraction are two different things, and just because I knew I didn’t feel sexually attracted to women, didn’t mean I couldn’t like them romantically. Once I realized that, it quickly became clear that I did like women. A lot. Way more than I liked men. So, in the end, realizing that I’m asexual is also how I realized that I’m a lesbian. And honestly? If I never encountered the term, if I never had that fourth option, I might still be “defaulting” to straight.


3. I first heard of aromanticism while fanfiction about Keladry of Mindelan (Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small series). That particular fic was something about Kel realizing its okay to not want relationships, and in the notes at the end, the author included something about aromanticism. Later, I google-imaged aromanticism, and read a bunch of graphics about both asexuality and aromanticism, and learned about different misconceptions people can have about asexuality and aromanticism. At that point, I thought I might be aromantic, but I couldn’t possibly be asexual. It was alright for other people to asexual, but I had to be sexual, because of biological imperatives to reproduce and continue my genes and my species. And then I forgot about both aromanticism and asexuality for about a year. A year later, I came back to either the same fic or a similar one, and I researched asexuality and aromanticism again. This time, I wasn’t just limited to google image searches, but I also found AVEN and read I lot of threads there. After several months, I decided to start identifying as asexual, but I had no idea about my romantic identity. Since then, in terms of my romantic identity, I’ve identified as questioning, somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, quoiroromantic, romantic attraction doesn’t exist so I will not label myself with a romantic label, and aromantic. These days I mostly use asexual aromantic.


4. Movies were my first introduction to relationships. I always felt that sex scenes were low-hanging fruit, an easy way to show that two characters were interested in each other. Movies made it seem like the only way you could strengthen a relationship was to have sex, and that didn’t feel right. Then there were movies without sex scenes. I admired the ability of screenwriters to show two characters in love without falling back on the “old reliable” of romance plots. I thought I was just drawn to the literary talent of it. In retrospect, I see that I was drawn to, if not actual canon asexual representation, then my own perceived asexual representation. I had no definition of asexuality or understanding of the asexual spectrum until I came to college. Before that, I thought I was just more closed off than other people. I love the idea of love, but I couldn’t see myself wanting to have sex. To me, “sex” and “love” were not interchangeable terms, but that didn’t fit with the mainstream depiction of love. So, I thought I must be the one in the wrong. People said I was shy or cold or emotionless. I didn’t put out, so I must not be interested in a relationship, right? And then I came to Smith. People are so open about their sexuality in a way I had never experienced before. I found ace channels on YouTube. Alone in my room, I would say, “I am asexual” out loud and see if it felt wrong. It never did. I learned about the split attraction model, and I joined AACE. I heard from people whose experiences I could relate to. Labels are just labels, but when I say, “I am asexual”, it feels right. I feel warm and whole.


5. I could imagine my wedding night clearly: a nondescript man whom I didn’t love would say that now we were finally married, we could have sex. I would ask myself if he’d married me just so he could demand consent and would then tell him that I’d only married him because of the pressures placed on Catholic women to wed before reaching their “expiration date.”

This scenario has played out in my head countless times. Originally, it brought horrible anxiety attacks that made me conclude I was broken for not feeling the same attraction that my peers did.

I eventually began to wonder if I felt attraction towards women and had just repressed it because of my upbringing. I took a huge step away from the Catholic idea of thought-crime and imagined scenarios (with as much vividity as my sheltered mind could muster) between other women and myself, though I ultimately realized I didn’t feel sexual attraction towards them either.

While this helped me understand what I felt, until I discovered the word “asexual” a few years later, it didn’t help me feel any less broken. For being such a taboo subject in Catholic circles, sexual attraction is viewed as innately human and something to be repressed until marriage, so not feeling it at all means you’re even worse than those who feel “temptation.”

Through the past few years (and a lot of non-Catholic social support and therapy), I’ve unlearned a lot of the mindsets I was raised to have. I’ve come to realize I’m not broken, and while I’m still exploring what romantic (and even gender) labels best fit me, I’m fully accepting myself for who I am and not letting outdated ideologies dictate how I feel about myself.


6. I first heard about asexuality in grade 12 (age 17) when a friend suggested it to me considering I had never had a crush or been physically attracted to anyone before. At the time, I (naively) believed that not *that* many people experienced attraction at this age anyways, so I was probably someone who just needed time and experience (since I had few friends, too, not having a romantic/sexual partner didn’t seem off for me). I first considered that I might be asexual when I became extremely close friends with a male individual in first year university (age 18), yet still did not feel any romantic or sexual attraction despite him being completely emotionally and socially compatible to me. Yet I didn’t want this to be true, so I just shoved the thought away. Being a pre-med made it easy for me to blame being “too busy with studies” to worry about my sexual orientation. Finally, in third year university (age 20), with the pandemic allowing me time away from having to perform an unauthentic version of myself for others, I (albeit hesitantly) began exploring a potential queer identity for myself. Asexuality never felt like the missing piece of the puzzle to me, so I delved into the ocean depths of the internet one evening, and eventually came across the term aromantic through this avenue, although I don’t recall the exact moment it happened. Aromantic described my experiences to a tee, and since then I have embraced the labels of aromantic, asexual, and queer, not being interested in further microlabels. Claiming an aroace identity took much unlearning due to amatonormativity – I had to unlearn that being aro guaranteed loneliness, an absence of family, and a less fulfilling life, while relearning that it is simply its own unique and beautiful experience.


7. Growing up, I’d never heard of aromanticism, and I’d only heard of asexuality as it being part of the LGBTQIA+ acronym; I didn’t really know what it was, I’d never heard of anyone who was ace, and my general impression was that it was incredibly rare. I knew I had never experienced attraction, but I assumed it was inevitable; I never asked myself whether I would be attracted to people – I just asked myself what gender they would be. It was at a church forum when I was 14 that I first heard someone talk about asexuality and aromanticism as identities real people had.

A few months later, I started researching asexuality. At the time, I quickly dismissed the idea that I might be asexual, but I kept coming back to it every few months, eventually realizing that I was sex-repulsed and had never experienced sexual attraction, but concerned that I was just a ‘late bloomer,’ until I eventually realized that the label of asexual felt right to me, and that I could change it later if my experiences changed.

But I found it much harder to conclude that I was aro. For one, I had to unlearn the assumption that marriage or long-term partnership was the only path to happiness, a surprisingly difficult assumption to unlearn despite my inability to imagine myself in such a relationship and my bafflement every time I realized my peers were interested in dating. Another sticking point for me was that romance is not well defined. It was only in college when I met other ace and aro people and was able to talk with them about their experiences that I realized I was aro because despite not knowing what romance was, I knew I didn’t experience romantic attraction because I didn’t experience any attraction.