6 Signs You Might Be Cupioromantic & What It Really Means
As time goes by, language has evolved to catch up with the vast spectrum of sexuality and relationship orientations. These days, more and more people are feeling affirmed and locating parts of themselves within new labels and identities. Take, for example, cupioromantic—one of the more recent terms to be added to the lexicon of identity.
What does cupioromantic really mean?
Cupioromantic describes a person who desires a romantic relationship but doesn't experience romantic attraction to others, according to sexologist Carol Queen, Ph.D. Also sometimes called kalosromantic, it's considered a micro-label under the aromantic umbrella, which refers to people who have little to no romantic attraction toward others. Cupioromantic folks are often romance-favorable, but this isn't always the case.
To understand the cupioromantic experience, it's important to first understand that there's a difference between sexual orientation and romantic orientation. They can coexist, but they're not the same, Queen explains. Sexual orientation focuses on who you find sexually attractive (heterosexual, bisexual, etc.). Additionally, a person can also be asexual, wherein they experience little to no sexual attraction to others at all. Romantic orientation focuses on who you feel romantically interested in (heteromantic, biromantic, etc.). A person can also experience little to no romantic attraction to others at all, known as aromantic.
Cupioromanticism is a romantic orientation, which deals with romantic attraction—the driving desire to be romantically involved with someone you like. Queen says people often think someone must experience romantic attraction or romantic desire for another person in order to be in or seek a romantic relationship, but this is a misconception. That's where cupioromanticism comes in.
"There are certainly plenty of discordant relationships on this axis—one partner romantically loves/desires the other; the other one is part of the relationship but doesn't feel the same way,” Queen explains. "Sometimes a relationship changes into a configuration like this over time (one person's romantic feelings fade; the other's do not). Sometimes they start out this way in the first place."
Licensed therapist Rachel Wright, LMFT, notes that some people do take issue with the specific term cupioromantic. "Many people do not like this term, saying it represents conformity with amatonormativity, which is the view that romantic relationships are more favorable than other types of relationships," she explains.
Signs you may be cupioromantic.
In theory, a person who is cupioromantic does not experience romantic attraction to others, but that may present differently depending on the individual. Below are a few common signs that you or someone you know may be cupioromantic, but keep in mind, the signs won't apply to all cupioromantics. Simply take what applies or feels good to you, and leave the rest as you move through your journey of self-discovery.
"Remember, labels are meant to serve you and help you feel a sense of identity, pride, or belonging," Wright adds. "If a label isn't doing that, let it go. You're not a can of soup—you don't need a label."
1. You want relationship perks without the attraction.
You could be cupioromantic if you desire the romantic aspects of a relationship, like having emotional intimacy, passion, and an intense desire for closeness. But you don't experience these romantic feelings for another person, says Dainis Graveris, a sex educator and founder of Sexual Alpha.
Find your match today with eHarmony. Free to join.
You don't get crushes.
Graveris says, since most cupioromantic people are aromantic, a common sign that you could be either is that you don't experience crushes on others like your peers might.
You like the idea of dating, but…
You might be cupioromantic if you've thought of (or even tried) dating other people; however, being attracted to them romantically or "falling in love" may not really happen for you or leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.
Romantic gestures are a turn-off.
Romantic feelings aren't something you want to (or could) get in a relationship. Coming from another person, these gestures don't mean anything to you or can even be a big turnoff, says Graveris.
You like romance…in theory.
Graveris notes folks who identify as cupioromantic may enjoy the idea of romance as seen in romantic comedies and romance novels, but they don't think that they could be that person in a relationship like that in real life.
You're often misunderstood or accused of leading someone on.
"Because romantic feelings don't sit right with you, other people might assume that you don't understand them or have feelings for them. So, it's very easy for other people to accuse you of leading them on. But your feelings are valid; you are valid," Graveris says.
Cupioromantic vs. aromantic.
The definitions of cupioromantic and aromantic may sound similar—because they are—but they have their own unique properties.
Graveris says aromanticism is a spectrum (just like asexuality). It applies to individuals who experience little to no romantic attraction or feelings for another person. Cupioromantic folks are the same as most aromantic people in that they don't experience romantic attraction to others, so cupioromantics do fall along the aromantic spectrum. That said, while cupioromantics don't experience romantic feelings or attraction for other people, they do have a desire to be in romantic relationships.
"Cupioromantic people may still crave or desire romance. Some are even open to being in a romantic relationship. That's why cupioromanticism falls under the romance-favorable umbrella. They can be into the idea of loving someone and being loved," Graveris explains.
Some aromantic people may relate to those sentiments, but on the other hand, some may not have any desire to be in a relationship at all. So, while cupioromanticism falls along the aromantic spectrum, it's not the same thing.
"Because cupioromantic people aren't entirely aromantic, they often harbor feelings of alienation from the aro community because there's still that element of wanting for romance. And some aros think that these feelings aren't valid," Graveris adds.
The aromantic spectrum.
As mentioned above, aromanticism exists as a spectrum. Graveris explains that the aromantic spectrum "is sort of a scale that comprises variations of the aromantic identity." This means folks may "find a variety of similar things that could affect their feelings, choices, desires, and identity." He said while most cupioromantic people also identify as aromantic, people with various identities may also describe themselves as aromantic.
"That can range all the way from a person really being repulsed or super-not-into romantic attraction and its narrative/ideology (aka romance-repulsed), all the way to being in a romantic relationship that they do not feel romantic about—cupioromantic," Queen previously explained to mbg. "And there is the demiromantic micro-orientation that, like demisexual on the ace spectrum, describes someone who may feel romantic feelings sometimes or under very specific conditions. A non-amorous person would not want a love relationship at all, romantic or otherwise."
Additionally, an aro person can be gay, straight, bi, or any other sexual orientation, as well as trans, nonbinary, genderqueer, or any gender identity. These are separate spectrums, so there can be an overlap of many kinds, Queen adds.
Other identities found on the spectrum include the following, according to Graveris:
- Grayromantics are people who fall somewhere in between romantic and aromantic. They may feel something romantic toward other people under very specific conditions. (This can be thought of as the romantic counterpart to graysexuality.)
- Lithromantic individuals may experience romantic feelings toward other people but don't want those feelings to be reciprocated. If their feelings are returned, their attraction toward that person fades.
- Demiromantic people only feel romantic toward other people after forming an emotional bond with them. (See also: demisexual.)
- A recipromantic individual only experiences a romantic attraction to another person if they know that the other person has the same feelings.
Dating when you're cupioromantic.
The best approach to dating, in general, is to really know yourself and what you're looking for in your relationships. Queen says this is so you can seek and recognize compatibility and clearly communicate with a potential partner about what you bring to the table.
However, you may encounter people who "may not know themselves yet—so just stay tuned to your feelings about things like love/relationships/romance and stay communicative with [your] partner or partners as you work out these details."
She adds, "I would definitely advise transparency over 'performing romance,' but sometimes this sort of performance is what a partner desires, and if everyone is good with it, that's different from misrepresenting what you want."
How to support loved ones who identify as cupioromantic.
Queen says the main and most important way to support loved ones who identify as cupioromantic is to forget the "normative stuff" and not impose it on each other.
"Accept your friends and family members for who they are! A relationship doesn't need to be based in sexual desire (ace basics), in 'the mushy stuff' (hearts, flowers, romance (aro spectrum perspective), or any other specific basics besides the desire to be together and treating each other well," she says.
Take the time to better understand what it means to be cupioromantic by respectfully asking questions or doing your own research. Try to understand that healthy relationships look and feel different to everyone, and allow your loved ones the opportunity to work out what that looks like for themselves. And even if it doesn't look like what you're used to, it's no less valid.
"As an ally, it's not our work to determine if something is valid. If a friend is being mistreated, that's one thing. If you wouldn't conduct your own relationship the way they do, that's not an emergency you need to step in to fix," Queen adds.
Additionally, don't pressure the cupioromantic folks in your life to be a different way or perform their relationships in a particular way. Convey that you respect them, their choices, and different styles of connection. Once again, it's the old "Different Strokes for different folks" point of view.
The bottom line.
Just because you don't experience attraction in the same way other people do doesn't mean there's something wrong with you or that your relationships are less valid. Love and relationships can take infinite forms. It really all comes down to what feels right to you.
If you feel like you could be cupioromantic, ask yourself if you feel romantic attraction toward other people. If you haven't experienced any of these romantic feelings, you could be a part of the aromantic umbrella. Taking the time to question your feelings, thoughts, and desires in order to better understand your whole self is usually worth the effort.
Stephanie Barnes is a freelance writer from Kingston, Jamaica. She studied Information Technology from the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean and spent several years as a front-end/iOS engineer. Her work has been featured at The Huffington Post, Healthline, The Lily, HelloGiggles, Business Insider, and more. She's passionate about all things mental health, technology, and binge-worthy television.