What does it mean to be Aroace?

by | Apr 25, 2024 | Your Child's Identity | 0 comments

Some of the first films we watch growing up end with a “happily ever after”, where a princess will ride off into the sunset with her prince. From an early age it is engrained on us that in order to find happiness, you should be in a relationship.

As our society is so focused on trying to find partners and relationships, it’s understandable that the Aroace label may be a little confusing. That’s why we’re here.

Aroace is short for Aromantic, an umbrella term for those who don’t typically experience romantic attraction, and Asexual which is a term to describe someone who does not experience sexual attraction. But what does that mean for your child?

Katie Freedman
Katie Freedman

Katie Freedman, 22, who identifies as Aroace, said: “It’s a big spectrum and is different for everyone. Some people may not want to have sex because they are on one end of the Asexual scale. But they may be more open to being in a relationship. It doesn’t have to be the same for both. It’s to do with attraction, not behaviour.”

With all the societal expectations that surrounded Katie, she found her self-acceptance with being Aroace a challenging journey. 

“I went through so many labels trying to work out what I was feeling. It’s only been in the last few months that I really started labelling myself as Aromantic. But I went through being bi, queer and lesbian and all sorts of things.

“I had been switching between different labels and still felt like I was searching for something. I started identifying as asexual but put off identifying as Aromantic for so long because I still couldn’t quite accept it about myself. I thought maybe I’m demiromantic and then I finally accepted it and settled on something. I feel a lot more true to myself.”

Demiromantic is someone who only develops romantic feelings for another person when they have a strong emotional connection to them.

“I think they’re both quite stigmatised in society, but from my experience the desire for romantic attachment and relationships is so embedded, even more than sexual attraction. That’s why it took me a while to come to terms with.”

For the same reasons, Katie was worried that her parents would not understand her when she came out last Christmas. In fact, the opposite happened. 

“I was a lot more nervous to come out as that than any other queer identity because I think it’s much easier to accept not being straight than not wanting relationships at all. I remember I was in the kitchen around last Christmas and I asked would you like an update on my sexuality and then I explained it all.

“But I was really pleasantly surprised that they got it. It really took a pressure off of me. I don’t think they had heard about it before but they asked lots of nice questions and showed that they were willing to learn about it.”

Another challenge Katie faced was the stigma she felt for being Aroace, as she felt our society did not reflect who she is. 

“The idea that everyone will find someone one day is so ingrained in us as a society and all we want is a partner. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling quite cut off from the world and that society isn’t built for me. In the law, people who are married get benefits that single people don’t, the world is built for couples and the expectation that you’ll get married and find a partner.

“A lot of people, including me have felt broken and something is missing within me but the main thing to remember is that we live in a society that is built for relationships.”

Unfortunately, we cannot change the structure and beliefs of our society. But as a parent, there are many ways that you can support your Aroace child. Katie says that the first step to supporting anyone who is Aroace is not making any assumptions.

“I think not having those expectations and assumptions is key. For example, don’t assume things like ‘when you get a boyfriend’ or ‘when you find someone’. Even if your child hasn’t come out to you, you want to create an environment where they feel safe. 

“Additionally parents should protect their child around family members. I can picture my Grandma asking me about when I’d get a boyfriend. I’d really appreciate it if in those situations my parents would be like ‘Katie doesn’t need a boyfriend’.”

So, whilst the concept of your child being Aroace may be new, remember that asking questions and listening to your child is key in order for you to create a safe space where your child feels supported. 

Whilst your child may not have the “Happily Ever After” that is seen during princess films, they will create their own. After all, who said that we have to rely on other people to be fulfilled in the first place?