I think a huge part of the ignorance about aromanticism is that people fundamentally misunderstand aro relationships because they simply do not have any frame of reference for what it would be like to live without romantic feelings. Non-aro people completely miss the point when they imagine their life as exactly the same, but with the romantic feelings and relationships removed, and extrapolate that that’s what aro people’s lives are like, because for a lot of people… it’s not.

It’s the same misunderstanding when cis people try to imagine what it would be like to be trans by thinking “what if I wanted to be a boy?” and straight people imagine their partner and their relationship as exactly the same, just another gender.

That’s why we get all this bullshit where allo people act as though all relationships must fit neatly and obviously into either ‘romantic’ or ‘platonic’ categories, because… their relationships do. That’s why we hear stuff like “lol what you are describing is a friendship!” when aro people talk about QPRs, because for them, any relationship that lacks romantic affection is a friendship. Because they are not imagining their life without a relationship that is committed, incredibly intimate, exclusive, and prioritised above all others.

Aro people can still desire a level of intimacy and commitment with somebody that everybody else gets from romantic relationships, without wanting a romance: sharing everything – space, money, belongings, time – having a level of emotional and even physical intimacy that is not common in friendships, being committed to one another, making that relationship a priority above other things in your life, basing major life decisions around that relationship… these are all things that most people fulfil through romantic relationships, and aro people can desire that kind of intimacy without feeling or wanting romance.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand QPRs or the aro experience. You don’t have to understand it to respect it. At some point you have to acknowledge that you don’t understand because you have not experienced it, you have no frame of reference for it, and you will never really know what it’s like because those are not one of those people. The validity of aro people’s experiences does not hinge on whether or not non-aro people understand or accept them.