What It Means To Be Cupioromantic (& How It Differs From Being Aromantic)

Language is an incredible tool for self-discovery. Uncertainty and confusion can be scary, so when we hear something that resonates with our experience, we often respond with a sigh of relief. With words, we can better define the abstract parts of ourselves and see them more concretely. This helps us to understand ourselves better and, as a result, express ourselves more effectively. One of the more obscured layers of our identity can be our romantic orientation.

From the moment we're born, mainstream culture is constantly telling us what our love life should look like. Often, we see romantic and sexual orientation depicted as being one and the same, so you might not have never thought to separate the two. However, the two are distinct sectors of identity. There are a number of different romantic orientations. One that many people have not heard of is "cupioromantic."

What cupioromantic means

Our romantic desire is the want for emotional and affectionate bonding, while sexual desire is the want for physical intimacy. Maggie McCleary, LGPC, a counselor who specializes in queer services, tells Greatist that "society teaches us to think about relationships in terms of who we want to have sex with, so taking a step back and interrogating who we want to spend time and have romance with can be helpful." In fact, research shows that our neurological responses to sexual desire and romantic desire are entirely different. "Cupioromantic" is a romantic orientation.

Everyone's romantic orientation, no matter their label, will be individually unique. But, in general, Henderson Springs LGBTQ+ Center writes that "cupioromantic describes a person who wants a romantic relationship, but does not feel romantic attraction." This might be someone who does not feel passionately enamored by others but still yearns for the other elements of a romantic relationship. Sex educator Dainis Graveris tells mindbodygreen that a common sign of being cupioromantic is that you don't experience crushes like your friends do. Gerveris adds that cupioromantic folk might enjoy all of the best romantic novels and movies, but have no desire to fall in love themselves. They might be accused of leading on others or being afraid of showing feelings, but this is not the case if you're cupioromantic. No one can make you love them if you don't.

How does being cupioromantic differ from being aromantic

If you're familiar with the term "aromanitic," you might find it extremely similar to "cupioromantic." That's because it is. Aromantic is an umbrella term for individuals who do not feel romantic attraction toward others and often do not desire romantic relationships. AUREA explains that, "relationships that those aromantic people seek may be nonromantic or romantic. Some nonromantic forms of committed relationships include queerplatonic relationships, aromates, and chosen family." Meanwhile, someone who is cupioromantic desires relationships with romantic dynamics. The two terms refer to different things, but cupioromanticism is a form of aromanticism. 

We live in a world consumed by amatonormativity, the common conception that everyone is seeking a long-term, romantic and exclusive relationship with one other person. However, this is not everyone's ideal. Finding and fulfilling your unique desires is the ideal, wherever that lies on the spectrum of romanticism or aromanticism.