This is for the April 2019 Carnival of Aros: “Coming Out and/ or Being Out as Aromantic Spectrum“
The hardest thing about coming out as aromantic is that the vast majority of people don’t know what that means, and it is difficult to explain it quickly in a way that makes sense to someone who has never heard of aromanticism before. Asexuality is easier because a lot more people have heard of asexuality as a sexual orientation. Even if they have not heard of asexuality as a sexual orientation, they probably know what a sexual orientation is, which makes explanations easier. There is no widely-known framework like that which aromanticism fits into. Thus, I rarely bother to come out as aromantic.
I find it easiest by far to ‘come out’ as aromantic when I am in ace spaces, either online or offline (so far, I have not had much contact with specifically aro spaces, but my guess is that coming out as aro in an aro space would be even easier). Many of the aces I am in contact with are also arospec, and even if they are not, they generally already know enough about aromanticism that I do not need to go into a long explanation. I would go as far as to say that I am ‘out’ as aro whenever I am among aces. (By the way, since this blog has so many ‘asexuality’ posts, it counts as an ‘ace space’ for this purpose).
The second easiest situation for coming out as aro was when I came out to my mother. She had spent some time researching asexuality online, and she did not find that research very helpful. That is probably how she first encountered the idea of aromanticism, but I don’t know whether or not it made enough sense to her for it to be meaningful. She later read My Mom’s Been Reading The Invisible Orientation (Part 1), which made more sense to her than anything she read on the internet. Among other things, that book offers a general explanation of aromanticism. She asked me if I had a romantic orientation, and I said yes. This was relatively easy because she was already doing research on asexuality and, by extension, the split attraction model and romantic orientations. I did not need to explain everything, and more importantly, she was willing to listen.
This already covers most of my experiences as coming out as aro, because outside of these situations, it takes a lot more effort.
I have come out as aro on the internet a few times outside of ace and/or aro spaces. The advantage of doing this online is that it is possible to post links for the people who are actually interested in understanding what ‘aromantic’ means. However, even with the option of posting links, I rarely do this because it is too hard to predict how people will react or whether it is even worth trying to explain. I only do this when I think being aromantic is so relevant to what I am doing online that it is worth disclosing that I am aromantic. And it is hard to gauge how others reacted to that disclosure because they usually do not comment on it.
I cannot recall a single instance when I came out as aro offline outside of an ace space or my mom’s presence. This is the hardest of all, because I don’t even have the option of giving people links. I’m intimidated by the prospect of needing to go into complicated explanations with people who probably had no idea aromanticsm was so far outside their existing models of the world and thus were not ready for that type of update in their worldviews.
It is relatively difficult to come out as aro largely due to lack of awareness, and lack of awareness persists partially because many aro people are not coming out. However, I am hopeful that this will gradually change, and I think that even the few occasions when I do come out as aro outside of ace and/or aro spaces are making a very small contribution towards this.