Writing Asexual and Aromantic Characters

I did get a notification for the reply at least, so it seems the site is working on that front! Even if it doesn’t show on the top of the comment lol.

I don’t think you’re being offensive at all! By coming onto these threads I’m essentially opening myself for discussion, so there’s no issue with asking questions respectfully.

Definitely, I understand how it might be intimidating to write for allos (allosexual romances are intimidating to write for me, after all) but I think the thing is many authors don’t really seek out research or ask asexual people for advice before they decide whether to lock it out or not, which honestly would probably fix a lot of the issues. I think realistically, an asexual romance doesn’t really look any different from an allosexual one - I mean, most people don’t really know if other people are having sex or not, after all! And that’s essentially the only real difference, if they aren’t having sex that is. A focus more on the emotional aspect of romance is really all you need to do to create a satisfying ace romance imo, which a lot of games already do. There’s many games that I honestly feel like could easily just unlock the ace option and nothing would make it seem particularly allo about the romance. Most CoG and Hosted Games in particular are pretty chaste on the romance front to begin with tbh.

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@LiliArch Yeah, I can see how allos find it difficult to fully understand the ace and aro orientations. I, myself(demiromantic ace), have had similar problems understanding how two people who’ve known eachother for a couple hours(this was a movie) were making out and doing it like they’re known eachother for years. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it back then.

On top of that, people spread disinformation about aces and aros, that it’s a choice like celibacy or forced abstinence(calling us incels). They equate sexual orientation to libido and having sex(while those things can hold hands with eachother, they are not the same thing) and if you’re asexual and/or aromantic, then you’re a virgin, or a kid, or something is wrong with you medically, you have a mental illness, and the list goes on. I’ve seen people say they’re ace and then people say stuff like “Whoa, I don’t want to know about your sex life.”

Then there are the exclus of the LGBT+(and some might even be ace/aro, but they could be trolls, too) who may or may not give legitimacy to aces/aros but state they are not apart of the LGBT+ or they give legitimacy and say aces/aros are a part of the LGBT+ except for “cishet aces/aros.”

When you have all that going on, it’s more likely authors who don’t already know much about asexuality or aromanticism are going to find and read that disinformation thinking that’s what it is instead of digging deeper to find the correct information.

@emiiyaa OMG! I know! When the first games came out that offered being ace as an option, I was thrilled. That soon turned to disappointment when I realized it locked you out of romances and I hit restart in the blink of an eye and picked a different orientation. Now it’s almost like a habit because I don’t want locked out of romance/sex.

P.S.: More about exclus and “cishet aces/aros” is that if an asexual is cisgender heteroromantic, they are straight(and not part of the LGBT+ community). If an aromantic is cisgender heterosexual, they are straight(also not part of the LGBT+ community). This is exclu logic that completely disregards and negates the heteroromantic/heterosexual’s other orientation of being ace or aro.

If you’re researching asexuality and/or aromanticism, do not put much stock in people you may see saying this. Ace/aro does not equal straight even if their romantic or sexual orientation is hetero.

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To expand on this so it’s a bit easier to understand - asexuality & aromantism is similar to being trans, in that if you are a cis straight ace/aro you are still LGBT+, in the same way that a trans straight woman or man is still LGBT+. The A stands for asexual & aromantic, not ally. :+1:t2:

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(Sorry if this is already irrelevant/has been resolved, just wanted to throw in my two cents)

If I’m understanding this right, I think it would be cool to offer a romance path with an NPC for an aro PC, given that they talk through it and it’s clear in the text! I know some aro people who are in and enjoy romantic relationships, and as a person with a Complicated Relationship With Romance I would appreciate having the choice. (See: Cierra mentioning how an ace option shouldn’t lock you out of sex scenes.)

Not problematic (see above), but if you do end up writing the character as aro it’d probably be best to have him mention that directly (something like “I’m aromantic and don’t exactly feel romantic attraction, but I would be really happy to be in a Relationship™ with you, as long as you respect that”) (or, y’know, something more realistic-sounding. I’m not the best at big important conversation stuff).

Like… hm. I’m trying to articulate this properly, because a super common arc for characters is “character A isn’t into romance until character B comes along and :sparkles: cures them :sparkles: .” Obviously you’ve already posted in this forum and are clearly dedicating a lot of thought to it, so you’re probably aware of this, plus I’m just a stranger on the internet—but communication is vital here, and finally seeing representation only for the character to get in a romantic relationship without a conversation like the one above would just elicit a :confused: “oh, God, not another ‘just wait until the right guy’ storyline” out of me. (This isn’t getting into the aro spectrum, which you already mentioned! I’m assuming you calling the NPC aro means he doesn’t feel any romantic attraction, but I could be wrong.)

……Oh, God, I just scrolled back through this. Sorry about the wall of text :sweat_smile: I guess TL;DR: aro characters in romantic relationships = cool and fun! Aro characters in romantic relationships without at least one convo about their boundaries and such = :neutral_face:.

Any other aro-spec people want to contribute to this?

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Thank you so much for the response! And yeah, your quote above is exactly what I want to try and avoid, accidentally implying that aro people just haven’t found the Right Person - I’ve experienced plenty of that in media with other queer groups (not to mention straight women) and I agree that it’s just…ugh. But having read your response, I feel a bit more confident that I can handle it properly. :slight_smile:

Anyway, I do want to include conversations like what you’re describing, giving the ROs a chance to explain what they want and don’t want from a relationship, what they are and aren’t willing to compromise on, and all that so that they and the MC can enter the relationship on equal terms. I’m still trying to figure out exactly where the NPC lands on the aro spectrum - I’m leaning towards “he feels a little romantic interest sometimes, but it’s not an aspect of a relationship that particularly interests him”, and I absolutely want him to make that clear to MC (and have MC accept and respect that!) when they talk about taking their relationship To The Next Level from whatever it is at the time.

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Communication is definitely important to any kind of relationship. I won’t get into much detail, but I recently came across someone on the internet who was saying some pretty disturbing(and most likely triggering) things in regards to something that happened repeatedly in this one story(and their own personal history)… One was “implied consent” being okay and talking to your partner before hand being boring and unnecessary.

Also, having a greyromantic NPC would be great, as they don’t seem to get as much exposure as others on the aromantic spectrum.

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I’m ace, and I think if you remove the sex part, it should be the same as any other kinda character. Just a good romance or friendship path.

Some aces kiss some don’t. Nothing sexual, but sensual can be fine for some people, like hugs and touching is usually fine for most aces I would assume. Obviously not sexual touching, maybe over clothing, I honestly dunno, just no sex.
Some do have sex cuz they feel the need to please their partner, that can happen.
So that could be an option, but that kinda feels specific and would probably be long or annoying to code.

Only speaking for straight-up asexual here, no other ‘‘spectrum’’ kinds.

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I was reading a really good article (with, sadly, all of the examples that come to my mind when I think of (the lack of) asexual rep. Josie headcanon ace 5ever). This line especially stood out: “creating older asexual characters that are intentionally treated in a regressive manner does little to combat the idea that asexuality is part of an infantile mindset.” Because boy, is this true, and hurtful, and ugh.

That neathousepartners article talks about Cole from Dragon Age, and what it doesn’t even mention is that there is a joke about Cole having sex if he is made more human by the Inquisitor. An ‘it will all make sense now you’re more human’ kind of joke. Also, he will start a relationship, though we don’t know whether the relationship involves sex or not, I imagine this is hurtful to aro spec folks.

I’ve seen a Dragon Age dev (I forgot which one) say that they would like to create asexual characters but that the demands of actual ace people vary too much. The idea of hiring an actual ace writer apparently didn’t cross their mind. But really, is it that hard? Start with ace characters not being villains, or robots/aliens, or autistic (signed, an autistic ace).

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Or they could try having more than one asexual character, so the whole burden of representation doesn’t fall on one person. And then write them as individuals, not as embodiments of asexuality. Let them have storylines and priorities and strengths and flaws that have nothing to do with asexuality.

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:point_up_2: :point_up_2: :point_up_2: This! So much this!!! That’s how I write my Lesbians!

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Does anyone else get tired picking the asexual option, but then the rest of the game treats that as if you mean your character doesn’t want to date anyone at all?
I know i’m really tired of Aromatic and Asexual being treated like the same thing.

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Yeah, that’s irritating, especially if the NSFW content is always present in romance routes.

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Definitely. It’s deceptive to list the possibility of playing an ace character when it really means that an “ace-aro” route is available for everyone who doesn’t want to engage in romance/sex. If the terminology is unclear, then please educate yourself or just don’t use it to advertise your game. :weary:

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I actually didn’t mind at first - I was just so overjoyed for any representation at all, even though I’m demi, so “no romance and/or sex, ever” isn’t at all what I’m about. And I recognize that it’s not realistic to expect every game to offer every possible nuance of the sexual/romantic desires of every possible player. I know I’m part of a tiny minority, and I don’t expect the world to cater to me. But it just means so much to me when an author goes to the trouble of getting it right.

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Me too. I also don’t have any problems with headcanoning my MCs as asexual even if there’s no option available or if there are sex scenes within the narrative. But if an ace option is falsely advertised and then it’s just the typical “no romance/sex for you, heh” spiel again, that’s incredibly disappointing.

I don’t expect games to cater to me. But if their advertisement says they do when, in fact, they don’t, that’s just unfortunate. If you mean “ace-aro”, simply write “ace-aro”.

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Maybe this has already been mentioned (I have not read the entire thread), but I find a significant percentage of the time the option is written as an aromantic option, with no asexual option at all, in games without sexual content. I do find this weird, but I would find it equally weird to include an asexual option that’s completely irrelevant to the story. Of course, there are also a fair number of games that pose an “asexual” option and definitely 100% mean aromantic, or an “aromantic” option that also locks out sex in a game with sexual content, and those are very likely a failure to understand the difference.

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At this point in my gaming career, I’ve given up on creating asexual MCs unless the author has created an explicitly asexual RO. This is rare - I can only think of two instances right now - but I’ve found that they’re quite well done because the author hasn’t just transformed “sexual romance” into “sexual romance”, they’ve written the relationship from the ground up with nosexthx in mind. Not something I expect authors to put in the effort to do, but I appreciate it when it’s done.

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I’m not to fond of this mindset because it makes people who want ace rep sound spoiled. It implies that just not having to have sex is some kind of unreasonable demand. I think not having to have sex in a game but being allowed to do romance arcs is a pretty basic request.

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Out of curiosity: Which ones are you referring to?

You’re absolutely right. I guess I have suffered enough online abuse in the past (not here, just in several online spaces during the height of the “ace discourse”) that I’ve since learned to settle for the lowest standard possible. :face_with_diagonal_mouth:

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For my part, when I say I don’t expect to be catered to, I don’t mean that I don’t expect basic respect and appropriate representation. I just don’t expect everyone to understand all the nuances. And as understanding grows, I think it’s fair to expect more. There was a time when it meant a lot to me just to see “I’m not attracted to anyone” presented as a healthy and legitimate option, even if it came with the automatic assumption of aromanticism. Now, that’s just not good enough.

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