Jenny Kschadow found the perfect man. It was easy to talk to him, it was fun to be with him, he was a great concert accompanist, and he really loved her. The problem was, she didn't love him back.
In fact, she had never loved anyone – at least romantically. She couldn't even wrap her head around how it felt. After Googling "can't fall in love", she learned that there is a term for people like her: flavor.
"I immediately thought I was and was thrilled to have found a community that I could deal with," says Jenny, a 28-year-old in Leipzig.
Claire *, a 20-year-old who lives in Seattle, says that her a-ha moment was when her partner first said, "I love you". "I suddenly realized, Oh, we don't mean the same thing when we use that word."
Claire's love was the way you feel for a close friend – not the stuff with the butterflies in your stomach and the starry eyes. "I realized that they were talking about romantic feelings, and I wasn't."
What is the definition of aroma?
Aromantic is a term that is commonly used to describe someone who has little or no romantic appeal. This emerges from the Aromantic-Spectrum Union for Recognition, Education and Advocacy (AUREA) voluntary initiative, in which Claire is now a team member. When someone in a movie describes a character's infatuation with a crush or a book? "I don't experience that," explains Claire.
There is * very * little data on flavoring, but a study by the Journal of LGBT Issues In Counseling involving 414 people in the United States found that almost 1 percent was aromatic and 0.7 percent was asexual. Another unpublished study by the University of British Columbia at Vancouver found that about 27 percent of asexual people were also flavorful.
To be clear, flavor is different from being asexual (also known as having no sexual attraction), although the two can overlap – and often do – says Dr. Bella DePaulo, social scientist in Santa Barbara and author of Singled Out: How Singles are stereotypes, stigmatized and ignored, and still live happily ever after.
Wait, what's the difference between aromatic and asexual?
Both terms deal with attraction. The difference, however, is that the aroma is about the romantic type, while people who identify themselves as asexual do not experience sexual attraction.
There is definitely an overlap between the two communities, but there are also many people who only identify as asexual or aromatic. Another connection between the two terms, however, is how the aroma community first came together. While there have certainly been tons of people who have had no romantic appeal throughout history, AUREA notes that the term "flavor" apparently only began to be used in the early 2000s and that terminology appears to have developed within the asexual community .
CONTINUE READING: Could you be asexual? Here you will find everything you need to know
"People in the online asexual community have started talking about the fact that they see sexual attraction and romantic attraction as two different things," says Dr. Kristina Gupta, an associate professor in the Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wake Forest University. "You could be interested in both a sexual relationship and a romantic relationship, you could only be interested in sexual relationships or only in romantic relationships, or you could be interested in neither."
Claire also first heard of the term aroma through the asexual community. "I identified myself as asexual before I identified myself as aromatic," explains Claire. "They are two separate identities, and while some people identify as both, there are many aromatic people who do not identify themselves as asexual and many asexual people who do not identify themselves as aromatic."
What does an aromatic relationship look like?
Our society tends to hold the idea that the most important relationship that a person can have is a sexual and romantic relationship with a single person, says Gupta. "I think a lot of conversations about different types of sexuality and different relationship styles are about saying that this is not the only type of relationship that is important and valuable to people, and that it is not the only way that people are to relate to other people. ”
In Claire's case, they have a found or selected family with whom they spend a lot of time and who support them emotionally, as well as a queerplatonic partner, whom they describe as a relationship outside of the romantic partner / friendship binary. "It's about taking what you want from different types of relationships and making it work for you in a relationship format for choosing your own adventure," says Claire.
Claire and her queer platonic partner drink tea together, visit the same place of worship, see each other as often as they can, and talk to each other super often, says Claire. “But we don't participate in other things that could be considered more romantic, such as dates. We are not living together. We could choose to raise a child together in the future, but that is not yet decided. "And while some queerplatonic relationships can include sex, Claire doesn't.
Just as every relationship varies, Claire says that the difference between her queerplatonic relationship and her Platonic relationship is simply a feeling. "It's very foggy," they say. "I would actually say that my relationship with my queerplatonic partner is very similar to the relationship with the family I found: it is very committed, I know that it will be there for me. But it is different from my family relationships, it is different from only acquaintances that I have at work or at school. "
And flavor doesn't mean you can't experience other types of love or develop strong connections with others, DePaulo emphasizes. This also does not mean that you cannot or do not want to be in a relationship.
Jenny, who is still experiencing sexual attraction, has a partner who feels both sexual and romantic. This setup works for her because she loves engagement and camaraderie; She just doesn't experience the same euphoric feeling that goes with romantic love.
Does "flavor" mean that you are unwilling to get involved?
No no. Claire says they saw online claims that "flavor is just a term used by heterosexual men who don't want to settle down" – basically, flavor is equated with engagement phobia.
Claire points out that women and gender-affirming people also identify themselves as aromatic, that the aromatic community is diverse, and that everyone who identifies as aromatic experiences aroma differently. "Certainly there are men who could identify as heterosexual and aromatic and they are part of our community and we want to support these people," says Claire, "but I think the idea that (flavor) is just an excuse for heterosexuals Men is. " sleeping around is totally inaccurate. "
CONTINUE READING: Polyamorous, aromatic, demisexual – and 19 other sexuality terms you really need to know
Claire also says that some of them were worried when they first came out as aromatic for some of their loved ones, which meant that Claire would not feel happy or fulfilled in life.
"I think there is an ubiquitous idea that people need romance to be happy," says Claire. “As an aromatic person, I have my friends, I have my family, I have hobbies that I like and I work, which I find very fulfilling. I just don't find fulfillment and joy in romance. "
Do you think you could be aromatic?
Although identity works in a spectrum and can be fluid throughout your life, experts and flavorists say these are some common experiences:
1. You cannot refer to love films or books.
When a character on a TV show fell in love with two men at the same time, Jenny's mind was overwhelmed. "I remember how strange it was that there were people who fell in love with two people at the same time, and I had never been in love," she says.
If that sounds like you, you might be aromatic. However, such experiences can be confusing and prevent people from realizing that they are flavorful, DePaulo says. "Romantic feelings are celebrated so often and so often portrayed as inevitable in every life," she continues, "that it is hard for anyone to believe that they simply will not experience such feelings."
2. You have a crush.
It is also common for flavorful people to pretend to be romantic because they are told that this is normal. "If other people share their fantasies of romantically engaging with certain celebrities, aromatic people may try to get into the mind," DePaulo says. "But it doesn't feel natural because it isn't."
3. You have never had "butterflies".
You may have gotten butterflies before a big test or major performance, but when it comes to other people – even someone you are drawn to – nada. As Jenny puts it: "I was attracted to people, but to me it never seemed like other people had. It was always clear to me that what I felt was never in love or in love."
In her current relationship, she says, she feels happy and content, but a different kind of happiness than her partner. "Maybe I'm less excited or euphoric," she explains.
4. Valentine's Day is not your jam.
Hate Valentine's Day? Join the club. But while the vacation is largely unpopular (for legitimate reasons), if you're flavorful, you're not so bitter about it, but indifferent.
There is usually a romance novel (flowers, dinner …), explains Dr. Phillip Hammack, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who deals with sexuality. "People who are aromatic don't really care. It's not something that appeals to them."
5. You are a committed friend.
Aroma does not mean that you are not attracted to others, just that you are not romantically attracted to them, whether it is their looks, intellect, mood, or anything else.
"Healthy flavorists are likely to have close friends and other people who are important to them," DePaulo says. "Empathy is not the same as feeling romantic. We can empathize with children, parents and all kinds of people for whom we would never experience romantic feelings."
What to do if you are aromatic
It is up to you to tell potential partners exactly what it means for you to be aromatic. Is a long-term relationship appealing or does it sound like resistance? Are you an aromatic asexual or an aromatic who likes sex? Don't you like PDA, but are you cool with cuddles at home? Whatever your answers are, have them – and be open to them. The people you deserve will understand.
If you're interested in talking about your feelings with a professional, Gupta recommends making sure from the start that the therapist you found helps you find out what's best for you in a non-judgmental way without You steer a certain direction. "For every therapist you want to meet him from the start and say:" I think about aroma or asexuality. What do you think about it? "Gupta says." When a therapist says, "Let's find out how you can become romantic or sexual," that's a big red flag to get out of. "
One more thing: "It is important to use the term because it gives aroma-loving people a language that they can use to legitimize their experiences," says Hammack. “In the past it was considered pathology – something was wrong with you. Now we know that is not the case at all. "
* The name was changed for data protection reasons.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com
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