Not Cupid's Aro: Aromantic Awareness Week 2023

February 19, 2023 | Emily

Comments (0)

Happy Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week! Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week is an annual event meant to spread awareness and acceptance of aromantic identities. It's an opportunity to spread information about issues aromantic people face, but also a time to celebrate. For some people, getting struck by cupid's arrow is a hard pass and that's okay! If you want to learn more this post is for you.

What does aromantic mean? How is it different from asexual?

Aromantic Flag
The aromantic flag was created in 2014. Public domain from Wikipedia commons.

A person who is aromantic experiences little to no romantic attraction to anyone of any gender. They might feel sexually attracted to others but might not want to be in a romantic relationship. Asexual people feel romantic attraction to others, but feel little to no sexual attraction. Aromantics are not always asexual, and aromantic people are not necessarily asexual. Some people do not feel sexual OR romantic attraction to anyone. This group in the community is called aromantic asexuals, or aroace for short. For more information about the full spectrum of asexuality, check out Ames' excellent blog celebrating Ace Week

Although the language meant to recognize and celebrate aromantic people is a more recent development, aromantic people have been around throughout history. You may ask, "how do you know that aromantic people existed?" This is a great question. We know it can be complicated to look at history through a modern queer lens. Our language is continuously evolving. It's hard to say for certain if people of the past would identify with modern meaning of terms like queer, lesbian, gay, asexual, transgender or aromantic. Luckily, historians have approached this gap in information in thoughtful and fulsome ways.

Rainbow Revolutionaries: 50 LGBTQ+ People Who Made History

Rainbow Revolutionaries by Sarah Prager does a great job explaining how historians approach this task. By understanding that aromanticism is not a fad but the lived reality of many people, we create a world where all identities are recognized and valued more equitably.

When is Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week?

It takes place the week after Valentine's day - which might seem odd to you at first. Valentine's day tends to focus on celebrating long-term romantic relationships. Companies bombard us with advertisements for gifts, chocolates, jewellery, getaways and dinners. Couples are under pressure to make it the most romantic and memorable day of the year. In the days leading up to Valentine's dozens of friends and coworkers will ask me if I'm planning a special surprise for my partner. If you're like me and you hate waiting in lines and reservations, you might hide out at home every year. If you are single you may feel pressured to find a "happily ever after." Valentine's Day can be even more frustrating for members of the aromantic community. It can be difficult to find space for their own existence.

Can aromantic people have relationships?

Aromantic and asexual people can be involved in a wide variety of relationships, including romantic and platonic bonds. You might hear people refer to the aromantic umbrella, a term for several different identities related to aromanticism. The term grayromantic is used when people identify with aromantic experiences but don't find aromanticism to be a perfect fit. People who are demiromantic only experience romantic attraction when they have a strong emotional bond with someone. There are many diverse forms of intimacy that might not always fit into mainstream understandings of relationships. Aromantic and asexual people might take part in romantic or sexual relationships. Others might prioritize platonic relationships, such as friends and family. Both options are healthy and normal.

What can I do to support someone who is aromantic?

Don't be dismissive of their orientation and respect all types of relationships. Many aromantic people are told, "You just haven't met the right person," or "give it time." There is a lot of social pressure to find a partner, marry, and settle down. People who do not desire these things might feel like there is something wrong with them, or feel that they don't belong. If you want to help a friend, family member, or acquaintance who is aromantic, you can respect their orientation. Get informed about aromantic experiences and affirm their identities. You can advocate for visibility and integration whether or not you are aromantic yourself. 

Why do awareness and representation matter?

Anyone who is part of a marginalized group knows how difficult it can be to find representations of yourself in fiction. Aromantic and asexual representation is improving, but still has a long way to go. Characters who are asexual or aromantic are often marginalized or stereotyped. These depictions can dehumanize aromantic characters, describing them as robotic and unfeeling. Characters might be so smart that they have no time for love, sex, or any other human feelings. Other problematic aromantic depictions are often victims of trauma or "prudes". These narratives promote the idea that there's something abnormal with aromantic people - and that's just not true. There are many diverse aromantic people with a multitude of identities and relationships.

My colleagues have put together a list of recommendations that reflect their lived experience in the aromantic community. They've tried to collect and show many different types of characters and highlight a growing body of literature which presents the aromantic experience in a wonderful way. While reading this booklist, keep in mind that this is only a fraction of the full spectrum of aromantic experiences. We hope you enjoy these books as much as we do.

On this page

Select any of these options to jump to a section, or just keep on scrolling.

Recommended Children's Titles

First Test - Tamora Pierce

First Test by Tamora Pierce

Keladry of Mindalen dreams of being a knight. At only 10, her mind is set on starting a page's training. But the old training master is set in his ways and isn't willing to give her the same chance as the boys. She has one year to prove herself, pass this first test and show that she's just as good - if not better. Nothing will stop her from earning her knighthood. Although Keladry does have a romantic relationship in the third book, she decides it isn't for her. On her website, Tamora Pierce describes Kelandry as both aromantic and asexual.

Hazel's Theory of Evolution

Hazel's Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

Hazel is heading into the eighth grade and she's not sure what to expect. Hazel loves reading encyclopedias and learning everything about the world. She's starting to have trouble finding answers to all of her questions about life in her beloved books. This is a novel about growing up and learning about life. Hazel is aromantic and asexual.

Recommended Young Adult Titles

The Kindred

The Kindred by Alechia Dow

Joy and Felix are humanoid beings who were mind-paired, or made 'Kindred', at birth. According to the galactic rulers, the Kindred program ensures that people from all social strata have a voice. In reality, the rulers use the Kindred bond to quash revolutions. Joy is from a planet where resources are scarce; Felix is a duke in the galaxy's noble family, but the bond they share is unbreakable. Or is it? A sinister plot to overthrow Felix's family sends the pair fleeing to Earth. Some things to love about the book: Joy is a dark-skinned Black girl, fat, and demi-sexual; Felix is bi (possibly pan). Queerness is not relegated to extra-terrestrial characters. The human Joy and Felix on Earth are also queer.

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Felicity Montague is rejected from medical school because she is a girl. She is determined to become a doctor so she heads out on a perilous quest with her friend Johanna and Sim, a pirate princess in disguise. Felicity is asexual and aromantic.

Little Thieves

Little Thieves by Margaret Owen

In this retelling of the Grimm Brothers' Goose Girl, Vanja Schmidt is the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune. Vanja needs to secure her freedom from a life of oppression. To do this, she steals the identity of her noble employer as well as vast fortunes from rich families. Not only is Vanja cursed by a wronged god, but junior detective Emeric is hot on her trail looking to make a name for himself. Vanja is a 'horrible girl,' but also a complex character who built a hard shell out of necessity.  Vanja and Emeric are both somewhere on the ace spectrum. Little Thieves acknowledges their identities and gives them space to talk about it, but does not center on it. The author identifies as a person on the ace spectrum.

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson

"This is the book I wish I had when I was a teenager. I didn't have the language to describe how I felt, who I was until way later in life, and like Lou at the beginning of the novel, I also thought that I was weird or broken." - Kim, Librarian.

Lou, a Mètis teen on the cusp of adulthood, is about to embark on a summer of secrets, self-discovery, community, rage, resistance and acceptance. When we meet her, Lou doesn't have the language to talk about her asexuality, so she keeps her thoughts and feelings close. Matter-of-fact conversations with queer community help validate her experience.

When Villains Rise

When Villains Rise by Rebecca Schaeffer, third in the Market of Monsters trilogy. Adapted into a comic on Webtoons.

Nita and Kovit are determined to take down the black market that sells magical body parts once and for all. They've captured Fabricio after he betrayed Nita to the black market. Fabricio's father runs a company that protects the monsters in charge of the Black Market from jail. Bringing the company down by stealing the monsters' secrets is the one thing in the way of certain death. Nita is both asexual and aromantic.

Recommended Adult Titles

An Accident of Stars

An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows

Saffron stumbles through a hole in reality and finds herself in the magical realm of Kena. An initial faux-pas draws her into the turmoil of a looming civil war. Kena is a feminist and racially diverse world that upends Earth's cultural, gender and sexual practices. The representation in the book reflects a multitude of identities. Gwen, another worldwalker, is aromantic and in a polyamorous triad.

The Bruising of Qilwa

The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia

Firuz-e Jafari is a refugee and secret practitioner of blood magic. While working at a clinic, they discover a strange disease that causes political rifts in their new homeland. In this Persian inspired world, queer characters are ordinary. Firuz is asexual, aromantic and nonbinary.


Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

Kaikeyi is the infamous queen in the Ramayana, the Hindu epic. Patel creates a feminist reimagining from the "villain's" perspective. Kaikeyi fights to retain her agency and self-actualization as she becomes queen. Kaikeyi is a complex character who is both asexual and aromantic.

Sheepfarmer's Daughter

Sheepfarmer's Daughter by Elizabeth Moon, the first book in The Deed of Paksnarrion Trilogy

Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter of Three Firs has no intention of getting married to a man. And it isn't because she's into women, either. She has no intention of bedding or marrying anybody. The story opens with her dodging an arranged marriage - and the swing of her father's belt. At eighteen, her heart is set on joining a mercenary company and becoming a warrior of legend. Within her first year, she'll face a lot more than she bargained for. There's a lot of violence and blood in these books, along with enough adventure to thrill anyone's heart. After the first trilogy of books about Paks' adventures, Elizabeth Moon wrote seven more books set in the same world.


Theory by Sienna Tristen, Book one of the Heretic's Guide to Homecoming

Ronoah is always worried and anxious. Running from his past, the only thing he has left is devotion to his god. Meeting Reilin opens him up to new experiences as they set out on a journey into the underground.

With the Lightnings

With the Lightnings by David Drake, first in the Royal Cinnabar Navy Series

"I think...that while I've never been interested in mating rituals in either the abstract or the particular, it may be interesting to attend the ball, yes." -Adele Mundy

David Drake is known for writing military science fiction. With the Lightnings starts out that way and becomes a space opera romp in part two, complete with shipwrecks, krakens, hostage situations and disgruntled librarians - in space. Adele Mundy is the new Electoral Librarian for the planet Kostroma. When the planet is attacked by Alliance, Adele uses her skills to spy and gather information for the Royal Cinnabar Navy. Along the way, she makes reluctant - and eventually best - friends with the charismatic Lt. Daniel Leary. Darke published 13 books in the series from 1998 - 2019. Leary and Adele feature in 11 books.

Recommended Non-Fiction Titles

Ace and Aro Journeys: A Guide to Embracing your Asexual or Aromantic Identity

Ace and Aro Journeys: A Guide to Embracing Your Asexual or Aromantic Identity by The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project

The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project is an advocacy organization aiming to educate us about asexuality and aromanticism. A collaboration by ace and aro individuals, this book is a deep dive into discovering and embracing your asexual or aromantic identity.

A Quick and Easy Guide to Asexuality

A Quick & Easy Guide to Asexuality by Molly Muldoon and Will Hernandez

This short graphic novel is an incredibly easy to understand introduction to asexuality. It includes a great section on aromanticism. Molly and Will educate readers while sharing their personal experiences.

Pride Celebration

You can also check out our Pride Celebration page to see our 2SLGBTQ+ in-person and online program offerings, booklist, blogposts and more.