Writing Asexual and Aromantic Characters

@Sashira, @ruhenri: Thank you both for sharing what it means and feels like to be aromantic. Assuming I’m understanding the two of you correctly, there is no drive to share and spend time together with a sexual or potential sexual partner in order to form or maintain an emotional bond beyond what one might feel towards a platonic friend. I do believe I have a much better understanding now.

@Sashira: The thought did strike me that there seems to be much less incentive for a sexual aromantic to stay in a marriage or another sort of “romantic” relationship. And if I’m understanding you correctly again, it basically comes down to a purely logical cost-benefit analysis, and I suppose it doesn’t hurt that your relationship is polyamorous, so you don’t need to worry about sexual desire for another motivating you to pull the plug.

That does make me wonder if sexual jealousy is as much of an issue among aromantics as it is among romantics.

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Hm, no, I don’t think that’s right. Romantic people are, as I understand it, seeking to fulfill a void in their hearts where someone to love ought to be. It is their goal to fill their hearts with love for someone. If someone does not have the desire to have a beloved, to experience the highest form of a type of love they never experienced in the first place, it doesn’t mean that all concept of, e.g., “marriage” is lost.

I got married because I desired an ally, a life partner, someone to raise children with when I’m ready, someone to daily show that I care about their existence. You know where you stand with someone you’re loyal to, committed to, absolutely honest with, and know you have that kind of trust with in return. Having that kind of relationship also makes non-monogamy much easier, if you’re already inclined towards it.

Logic is how I decide who to move in with, who to ally with, who to trust. That and gut instinct. But loyalty is part of my makeup; if I found someone who was logically a “better mate” than my husband, it’s not like I’d feed him to the wolves. That isn’t part of the metaphor. :smiley:

Actually… it works both ways. I do feel relief that I can flirt with or date other people, if I’m all that tempted, as long as I’m honest and responsible about it (though again, that isn’t necessarily true of all of us.) But my husband’s girlfriend is cuddly. She holds hands. She has a type of sweet affection for him that I just can’t give him. For us, polyamory makes sense, because we’re okay with not fulfilling all of each other’s needs; just that main one for companionship and someone to have your back.

A lot of things make me wonder. There’s no telling what’s absolute coincidence or what has some kind of correlation until some studies are done, which would first take recognition of our existence. That’s the bit we’re working on now.

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I’ve been finding this topic enlightening.

Sorry if this is an impertinent question, but do you feel the other sorts of love?

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I’m a fairly antisocial person with low psychological attachment, in general. It takes me awhile to trust or like people. I really have no idea how much of that correlates to the aromanticism, and how much is a coincidence. I’ve had the kind of life where I’ve had to be sparing with trust, to move on quickly when people die, and to question the basis of bonds.

When I do start caring about someone’s existence, they become like a member of the same wolf pack. I feel a fierce loyalty that is a kind of love. I’m fond of them, protective of them, I just have no urge to fall “in love” with them. That kind of affection for people is similar to what I’ve heard other extreme introverts say about their close friends.

There’s a maternal variation that I feel for my cats: they are dependent on me and I care for their existence. That’s a kind of love. There’s a couple-based variation that I feel for my husband: we are in a productive alliance based on respect and compatibility, which to me are far more important than feelings I didn’t miss in the first place - we are a mated pair and are committed to each other.

As for the family I was born into, I may have been able to so easily cut myself off from them because my ideas of love are different, or maybe they were just really abandonable. It’s hard to tell. But “my family are terrible and dangerous people” is another one of those problems that I don’t understand putting up with because of “love.” It’s possible those two definitions (of romantic and familial love) are related in my mind somehow.

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I get pretty aromatic if I forget to shower… XD Sorry… sorry…

I did come in here wondering what “aromantic” meant because to me Romance has always been a bunch of cultural bullshit. All these moronic social norms people have built up over the years as part of some game/contest to weed out… well… people like me, who don’t intuitively understand the rules and what exactly causes them to change at seemingly random intervals. Or just a point from which to justify rejecting someone you don’t find attractive while maintaining a sense of moral superiority.

Still, it was an interesting read once it actually got into the topic of “aromanticness”. I feel like that title is misleading… but I suppose there isn’t really a better one. I figured this thread might help me out a bit, but nope. Still, I’m glad it’s helping you guys.

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Thank you @Sashira and @Ruhenri for sharing.

@Shoelip I don’t think it’s fair to call such things moronic or bullshit. Although I can understand your frustrations.

The thread’s to help with the writing of asexual and aromantic characters. I’m sorry that it hasn’t helped you.

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9 posts were split to a new topic: The history of engagement rings

Hey everyone, I know this topic is old but I’ve gathered that it’s preferred to bump old topics than to create new ones so here we go, and sorry if I’m Doing It Wrong. :sweat_smile:

I’ve been thinking about incorporating an aromantic path in my story, and I have been compiling a list of questions about how to do so effectively, but for the moment I want to start with this. I’m currently planning to have a character who has a homosexual/homoromantic route, as well as a homosexual/aromantic route (note that both routes are distinctly not asexual - I have another who would have an ace route, and for now I want to talk about aro specifically and independently from ace).

My main concern for the moment is this … If you were playing as an aromantic PC, and there were an option to pursue an aromantic relationship with an NPC (can I call him an RO? Is that wrong in this context?), would you want that NPC to only have that aromantic relationship route? Or would it be acceptable, or even desirable, for that NPC to also have a romantic path? Or would it just depend on the character and the quality of the writing? I understand that aro is a spectrum and that being aro doesn’t necessarily mean never ever feeling romantic feelings, and I want to say that including both routes would be reflective of that, but I’m not sure if that’s really true.

For what it’s worth, I currently don’t interpret this NPC as an aromantic person, though I do think he would be comfortable and happy in a relationship with an aromantic PC, hence the two routes. I feel like making him aro himself would be viable, though. But then, if I made him aro, would it become problematic if he could enter a romantic relationship with a non-aro PC? Am I just wildly overthinking this?

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So, hi, demisexual here who’s also got a support group made of a few fellow ace friends and someone grey romantic and ace. My biggest first piece of advice for writing Ace characters specifically is not to think of it in terms of “they don’t like sex while non-ace people do”, as that’s quite incorrect, AND it’s a spectrum! There is quite a spectrum of people in the ace community, from the demisexuals such as myself who feel no sexual attraction to others without an emotional attachment/interest in them first, all the way to the asexual people who in general are sex repulsed. Those in between can vary wildly from those who are fine with sex in a relationship if it’s something fulfilling for their allosexual (someone who feels sexual attraction fully) partners, those who are interested in sex but less as a need more just as an interesting/fun thing to do, and of course, those who aren’t really interested in sex, but are also not repulsed by it. And then there’s waaaay more that that as well. There’s a LOT to being ace and I get why a lot of people get confused and overwhelmed trying to incorporate us into their stories as, well… how do you incorporate such a big variety of people?

I’m going to give some tips on what I’m doing and some of what @acegoats is also doing, as well as big don’ts for any potential writers who might see this, and I hope it helps someone who wants to add more identities into their writing!

So, my system and somewhat part of Faye’s (who I @ed above):

  • Give the option for someone to be ace either by making it a separate choice before/after picking sexualities and then let them pick their sexuality, or have each sexuality listed but make two separate version of each: one to flag the player as ace and one to not! (Though, for ace people it’s more romantic alignment, so if you wanted to make it read less specifically sexualities you could just put “I prefer women/men/I have no preference” as that reads sexuality and romantic alignment!)
  • For people who picked they are ace, we’re changing the flavor text for their side of flirts from being sexual and more just… emotionally flirting/fun flirting I guess you could say? From what I’ve found from other ace people and myself, they mostly just feel excited during flirting in not a sexually flustered/excited sense but more… fun excitement.
  • Also, bold flirts are less sexually forward and more just forward in interest. It’s more like playful banter versus sexual tension.
  • Before sex scenes or potential sex scenes, there will be a special scene for ace persons to discuss with their partner/romantic choice to say whether they’re comfortable with sex or not, alongside their feelings on sex and their identity as a whole with their partner. (I’m not meaning like DIRECTLY before a sex scene either, the placement for this scene could be at any point in the romance before sexy times!)
  • Just, in general, the vibe for the romancing aspect should focus on emotions instead of incorporating sexual tension/frustration and attraction. (Though, that’s not to say ace people can’t find people attractive; it’s more noticing people are aesthetically pleasing/conventionally attractive or their own views of attractiveness in appearances.)

The big Please Don’t Do These:

  • Please, please, please don’t make an ace option and then immediately make people who choose that option unable to romance people entirely. Don’t use the ace option to bar romance!!! It’s incredibly hurtful and disappointing to see us viewed as nothing more than a switch to turn off the romantic aspect of a game.
  • Also don’t use it as a toggle to turn off sex scenes! A lot of ace people still like those!
  • Ace people also come in all different romantic alignments! There is a large part of the internet that assumes all ace people are straight, but that is a highly exclusionary and downright hurtful view, so please don’t automatically make ace players straight!!!
  • Also, don’t lock ace characters out of romances with highly sexual Romantic Options (think M from TWC). This is fiction, surely you can think of a work around making ROs necessitate sex to the point the route would be locked!

I hope this helped! I know it’s a big read, but I think some of the information can help clarify a lot and keep writers from making hurtful errors! (Also, I am super open to any dms from people needing help writing ace characters! Please feel free to inbox me at any time for assistance! :heart:)

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Adding onto the last point about not locking more sexual love interests - there’s a huge amount of the ace community that is sex positive or sex neutral (not meaning in the sex positivity movement sense, just whether or not they personally are willing to have sex) so to be honest, ROs wouldn’t really need to be locked at all, since a sex-repulsed asexual likely wouldn’t romance them in the first place! Source: am sex neutral asexual LMAO.

Plus it’d be a bit shit for sex scenes to not be optional in any case, so in terms of actual gameplay it doesn’t really affect too much.

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Thank you very much for this, currently working on this and it rhymes very much with what my playtesters have requested. Very nice to have it summed up so succinctly! :slight_smile:

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While I understand many in the Ace community would like a toggle, I do not think it should be the ace option itself, as that spreads a lot of misconceptions about ace people, alongside the fact that non-ace people can also be sex-averse. It could simply be a question the player is offered, such as “Do you want to see sexual content?” or “Do you want to avoid romantic content?” with a variable that flips to true on if they do want to avoid it.

Honestly, I don’t really see how complex it is from a coding viewpoint; I absolutely suck at coding and I’m still finding it not that difficult to make these changes nor finding it hard to avoid misrepresenting a group already heavily misrepresented on this platform and others :confused:

If people are struggling to figure out how to code this in, I’ll again offer my help in that, too! It seems super complicated maybe from how I explained above, but it’s truly not once you realize you only need a few extra lines of code and some extra variation within the story (which is a bonus for you and players!).

Also, I do not feel this should be a debate of “you can’t please everyone”; it feels like it’s very much overlooking the obvious issue of categorizing ace people, again, as not only sex-repulsed entirely but also romance repulsed entirely, which is also a completely different thing and also another spectrum. I just feel this could be handled in multiple ways without harming an already marginalized community that regularly faces the lgbt+ community being very exclusionary towards them.

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Honestly, IMO the biggest issue I have with the majority of games using the asexual option as a romance toggle is that they gear it up as “you can play asexual!” as though it’s representation, when it’s really… not lol. It’s just using us as nothing more than a game mechanic with an ace flag paintjob and then pretending you’re doing good rep, which is just more offensive than anything tbh.

Usually I’d rather have no asexual option and play as bisexual than have these crappy ace options.

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Expansion on my last post: what makes it even more offensive is that a lot of allo authors will sit and argue with you about how it’s too hard, they can’t do it, you’re just being dramatic (and sometimes that you’re offending your own community, which… no. I’m not lol). It just speaks the a larger problem of ace exclusionist bs in the community, since a lot of these authors are LGBT+ as well. Like, it’s not too hard to add the ability to play a lesbian, why is it too hard to let me romance people as an asexual?

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I hope this doesn’t come off as offensive - I’m afraid my grasp of English language seems to be declining again - but could it be that a part of that difficulty for said allo authors comes from not being able to imagine how asexual romance looks like? (I mean, I personally am having hard time trying to write any kind of romance, because I just can’t wrap my mind around how a romance is supposed to even work. At all. But I digress.) Of course that doesn’t mean it should be impossible, and it definitely don’t justify being rude about it, but I could imagine an author - especially less experienced one - might be intimidated by writing the concept.

I mean… it’s just romance without feeling the need for sex/interest in having sex just because you find someone attractive/interesting. I don’t feel I was being rude, nor do I understand what is hard to grasp about this. I am not very experienced in these sorts of things either, but… people should be able to research this. Reach out to people here for help if they need it. Ace people are expected to just deal with sexually-charged romances for pretty much all romance games on here; as are sex-averse non-ace people. I’ve never really understood why people find it so challenging to imagine an ace romance… is it really such a big part of allosexual romance to just have to have sex? Because that is something I can’t wrap my head around.

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Hi there. Allosexual here. To me it’s not really that hard. Just write a romance where the two parties spend time together and do things for each other and etc. Like any other romance. And whenever sex is suggested, have the player choose whether they want to do it or not.

I think the problem I’m seeing is that writers treat romance as a sub plot that needs a climax and sex tends to be that when it really doesn’t need that much of a climax. If you want a climax, maybe find a way to implement the romance into the main plot but as it stands, i don’t feel there’s a need to have the romance peak with sex.

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I… think you misunderstood me. :slightly_frowning_face: I didn’t mean you were rude, I meant that the people who are shouldn’t. (I also was trying to reply to the message above mine, which… for some reason doesn’t seem to have registered?)

I wouldn’t know; I was writing under the assumption that it is. Like I said, I can’t qute grasp the whole ”romance” thing, so my writing problem is pretty much the opposite of this topic; I was just using my experience as a basis of my assumption, albeit flipping it around. Maybe I missed. :sweat_smile:

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Ah, my bad then! Yeah, I’ve been having trouble getting replies to register today too, think the site’s having an issue or something.

Lili i think the miscommunication here is that it’s not really certain whether you’re agreeing or disagreeing with the premise. Do some allo writers may not be able to understand it? Yeah maybe. No one is denying that. Does that mean they shouldn’t try and research if they’re going to add it to their games? They most definitely should.

If you agree with both of those premises then I think you and cierra are on the same wavelength. There’s really no need to reiterate the point unless that wasn’t your point.

Edit: ah, alright then. Good to know. Cheers.:grin:

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