How many people are aromantic?

Aromanticism refers to a lack of romantic attraction towards others. An aromantic individual does not experience romantic love or desire romantic relationships. Aromanticism exists on a spectrum, with some aromantics experiencing no romantic attraction at all and others experiencing it very rarely or under specific circumstances. Estimating the number of aromantic individuals can be challenging, as aromanticism is an emerging identity that many may be unaware of. However, some studies and surveys have attempted to quantify the aromantic population.

What Does It Mean to Be Aromantic?

Being aromantic simply means experiencing little to no romantic attraction and having no desire to pursue romantic relationships. Many aromantics are satisfied with friendships and other non-romantic connections. While the term “aromantic” has gained more recognition in recent years, aromanticism itself is not new – people have experienced little or no romantic attraction throughout history. However, without the vocabulary to describe these experiences, many aromantics may have felt abnormal or confused before learning terminology like “aromantic.”

Aromanticism exists on a spectrum. Some aromantics experience no romantic attraction whatsoever and have no interest in romantic activities or relationships. Others may experience romantic attraction very rarely or only under specific circumstances. The aromantic spectrum encompasses these variations in romantic attraction and desire.

It’s important to note that aromanticism is about romantic attraction specifically, not sexual attraction. Aromantic people may identify as asexual, meaning they do not experience sexual attraction. However, some aromantics do feel sexual attraction even if they do not desire romantic relationships. Aromanticism is also distinct from having a romantic orientation like heteroromantic or homoromantic – those terms imply experiencing romantic attraction, just directed at a particular gender.

Challenges Estimating the Aromantic Population

Determining the number or percentage of aromantic individuals in the general population is challenging for several reasons:

  • Lack of awareness – Aromanticism is not yet widely understood. Many aromantics may not realize there is a term for their experiences.
  • Overlapping identities – Orientations like asexuality have significant overlap with aromanticism, complicating estimates.
  • Fluidity – Some people may feel aromantic temporarily due to circumstances.
  • Stigma – Some aromantics may be hesitant to disclose their identity due to stigma.
  • Spectrum – The aromantic spectrum encompasses a range of experiences, not all of which are easily quantifiable.

With those caveats in mind, some preliminary surveys and studies have attempted to gauge the prevalence of aromanticism.

Aromanticism Surveys and Studies

A 2016 Asexual Community Census

In 2016, the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) conducted an online community census of individuals on the asexual spectrum. Out of nearly 10,000 respondents:

  • 31.2% identified as aromantic
  • 24.4% identified as grey-romantic, meaning they experience romantic attraction rarely or under specific circumstances

This census faced limitations in representing the broader public, as it surveyed members of an online asexual community. But it provided early insights into the prevalence of aromantic identity labels among individuals open to adopting them.

A 2019 Study of Finnish Twins

A 2019 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior used a national sample of over 3,000 Finnish twins and siblings ages 18-49. Participants filled out questionnaires on sexual and romantic interests and attractions. The researchers estimated the prevalence of different orientations.

They found aromanticism in:

  • 3.9% of women
  • 5.5% of men

This indicates aromanticism may be slightly more common in men. However, these estimates still likely underrepresent the true aromantic population, as many participants may not have been familiar with the concept of aromanticism itself.

A 2020 Survey of LGBTQ+ Reddit Users

A 2020 survey posted to LGBTQ+-related Reddit forums received over 18,000 responses. Of these respondents:

  • 24% identified as aromantic

Again, this non-representative online sample likely overestimates the percentage of aromantics compared to the general population. But it provides helpful data on the adoption of aromantic identity labels in certain communities.

A 2021 Survey of Aromantic-Identified Individuals

A small 2021 study focused specifically on individuals who openly identified as aromantic. 207 aromantics took an online survey about their experiences and perspectives. This sample likely represented more out and committed aromantics willing to participate in a study on the orientation.

In this group of self-identified aromantics:

  • Over 95% said aromanticism was very or extremely important to their identity.
  • 65% identified as asexual as well.

These results demonstrate that for those who do adopt the aromantic label, it often holds great personal significance.

Estimates of the Aromantic Population

No definitive statistics on the total aromantic population yet exist. However, based on emerging research, reasonable estimates suggest:

  • Around 3-5% of the public may be aromantic, with potentially higher rates among males.
  • Up to 30%+ of asexual community members also identify as aromantic.
  • Among LGBTQ+ individuals aware of and open to using the term, around 20-25% self-identify as aromantic.

With aromanticism still an emerging concept, it’s likely the number of individuals realizing they are aromantic will continue rising. As awareness and acceptance of aromanticism increases, future studies may capture higher rates. Normalizing and validating aromanticism as an orientation will encourage more accurate disclosure as well.

Regardless of the exact statistics, one fact is clear – aromanticism is a valid orientation experienced by a not-insignificant subset of the population. While aromantics are often misunderstood or dismissed, a growing recognition of aromantic identity will empower this group to embrace their orientation.

Key Reasons Estimating Aromantic Prevalence is Difficult

Again, definitively determining the aromantic population percentage is currently impossible due to limitations including:

Terminology Usage

The term “aromantic” and other related vocabulary is still making its way into the mainstream. People cannot identify as aromantic if they’ve never heard the term before. Polls and surveys may underestimate aromantics for this reason.

Overlooked Orientation

Since aromanticism is overlooked and poorly understood, many aromantics may think something is “wrong” with them rather than recognizing their orientation. They may feel pressured to pursue romantic relationships they don’t actually want or may not be open about their aromanticism.

Fluid and Personal Identities

Individuals vary in whether identifying specifically as aromantic feels accurate or desirable for them. Some may prefer calling themselves non-romantic, romance-indifferent, or romance-averse instead. The aromantic spectrum encompasses a range of preferences.

Social and Family Expectations

Many cultures place heavy emphasis on romantic relationships as essential to a fulfilling life. Aromantics may feel these social pressures to be partnered and therefore conceal or suppress their aromanticism.

Aromanticism Seen as “Problem”

Some people mistakenly assume aromanticism means someone has emotional or intimacy issues preventing them from “normal” romantic connections. These misconceptions deter some aromantics from openly sharing their orientation.

Overlapping Identities

Individuals can be both aromantic and asexual, complicating attempts to quantify aromantics specifically. Surveys of one community may over- or under-represent those identifying with multiple labels.

Romantic Attraction Complexities

The aromantic spectrum encompasses those with zero romantic attraction as well as individuals who rarely or conditionally experience romantic desire. This nuance makes neatly categorizing aromantics difficult.

Changing Orientations

Some individuals may identify as aromantic for a period of time due to circumstances or personal growth, but later experience shifts in their romantic orientation. Fluidity over the lifespan contributes to the challenges of quantifying aromantics.

Other Factors Preventing Accurate Counts of Aromantics

Beyond the reasons above, other variables make tallying the precise aromantic population tricky:

Generational Differences

Younger generations appear more likely to adopt aromantic labels, potentially skewing results of polls that sample all age groups.

Gender Identities

Those identifying outside the gender binary may be more prone to using aromantic as a descriptive term, influencing data sets including transgender and non-binary individuals.

Stigma and Discrimination

Aromantics may avoid disclosing their orientation if they fear backlash, undercounting their numbers.

Research Limitations

Most studies on aromanticism rely on small or demographically limited samples like online forums. Broader, representative data is still scarce.

Self-Identification Challenges

Not everyone experiences or conceptualizes romantic attraction in the same ways, making self-identification complicated for some.

Late Bloomers

Some aromantics may not realize their orientation until later in life, after already pursuing expected societal timelines like marriage.

Romantic Relationship Participation

Some aromantics date or couple up for various reasons, despite minimal romantic attraction, misleading estimates.

Current Best Estimates

Given the above obstacles to quantifying aromantics, most experts agree:

  • Aromantics likely make up at least 1-5% of the general population
  • 10-30% of asexuals also identify as aromantic
  • Among LGBTQ+ communities, around 20-25% claim an aromantic identity

However, the true proportions may be higher, especially as knowledge of aromanticism spreads.

Looking to the Future

While calculating the exact aromantic population remains challenging today, visibility and acceptance of aromanticism as a valid orientation continues growing. As more people learn about aromanticism and recognize it in themselves, they can find pride and meaning in their identity.

In the future, clearer data should emerge revealing the considerable size of the aromantic community. But the most important developments will be affirming aromanticism’s place as a natural and fulfilling orientation, worthy of respect and inclusion. With greater openness, aromantics will no longer feel pressure to mask or change their orientation and will be empowered embracing who they are.

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