My Aromanticism (Part Two)
The following is a collection of reader submitted narratives. They detail personal stories, thoughts, and feelings about identifying on the aromantic spectrum. Apart from general grammar edits, these submissions have been published as submitted, and as such be aware of discussions of romance, mental illness, rape, and sex. This is the second installment of three.
Having a girlfriend and being poly is great! I love making people happy and usually romantic attraction don’t make me uncomfortable, I just don’t feel those ‘butterflies’. Sometimes relationships can be difficult. The only way I can really understand someone loves me back is through sex. And i mean like, incredibly vanilla sex. It’s the only time I feel something close to ‘butterflies’ and it’s wonderful. I understand not every aro person is like this, but this is my experience. My ex was on the asexual spectrum, and that was perfectly fine, but we really didn’t work for each other’s needs. My aromanticism also is a hassle to explain to every new partner and often makes me frustrated not being seen in the lgbt+ community or getting confused as ‘asexual’. I’m coming to learn how to overcome societal pressure in my sexuality and in my everyday life! Other than that, I find safety in the small aro community that is growing more and more visible every day (feels like every 3 years but! i’m happy)! :)
I love being aromantic and the community is an important part of my life, but I often worry what my future will be like. I would love to be in a romantic relationship one day, but I have no idea how to go about it. Whenever I come out I have problems with my language not having the words I need for explaining it, and I dread what it'll be like to try explaining everything in depth to a partner with no familiar labels and definitions to support me.
My aromanticism isn’t about the love I don’t feel. It’s about the love I do feel for my family, friends and pets. I am very proud to be aromantic.
The aro community experiences so much erasure and hatred that I find it can be really angry. I'm not sure that I want to be in a community that's angry at the world because it doesn't recognize its existence.
My aromanticism is inherently connected to my bi/pansexuality, my non-monogamy, and my relationship anarchy. It means I fundamentally relate to people differently than everyone else I know. It's resulted in really beautiful relationships and it always requires lots of patient explanation over time. In a practical example, it's meant my friends, my co-workers, even my therapist have taken months or years to understand my co-parenting relationship with my cousins, it means I have to work really hard to ensure I have supports partnered people take for granted. But I feel freer than most people I know and I have so much love in my life.
I feel fear that no one will ever be interested in me because I can't give them what they want.
My aromanticism is about being loud and proud but also quiet and content. It makes me feel at home, like I finally found a place where I truly belong and its the identity I'm the surest of. Its an anchor point I can come back to whenever I explore the other parts of me.
Being aro, for me, has frequently felt like being on the outside of an inside joke. People around me talk about finding others hot, and that somehow correlates to wanting to date them. I can recognize that people are good-looking, I can recognize that people make good companions, and it ends there. I barely even think about what most people talk about engaging in since the ages of 13 or 14. I get asked if I'm single and I forget that not-single was ever an option. I feel very distant from the idea of romance and am always baffled at how it could ever just "be" in someone's life. It took a long time for me to even believe that romantic attraction was real.
It's been difficult as a generally romantic-minded person coming to terms with my own aromanticism. There are times I really wish I had a romantic partner, though I know any actual relationship would never hold up to any fantasized one. I have recently entered a space in my life, though, where this doesn't bother me, where the most important thing is being my most confident, happiest self. Love can come from all quarters, from friends and family, and most importantly from within. Romantic love is not a requisite for happiness. I am what I am, and I love all that I am.
Dating activates my fight-or-flight response, and so does the idea of having sex. when it comes to romance, however, I often feel a longing like I’m missing something, because I just wanna kiss all my friends, but I know I’ll never be able to.
- @elea-normal (el)
I recently learned that I’m very demi and it all makes so much sense to me now. I enjoy affection with my friends without worrying about it being romantic, although I can’t experience romantic attraction unless I’m basically already friends with someone.
When thinking of the future, I am disheartened at the thought of my close friends leaving me behind in priority of their romantic partners.
My aromanticism feels very...natural? I think if romance wasn't such a huge thing in society, I would honestly never think about it. When people get crushes or start dating, it feels like they are the weird ones.
How to be a heartbreaker: be aromantic. My sexual relationships often end up with the other party developing romantic feelings for me, even when I tell them at the start it's not on my radar, while I'm like: "You fell in love with me? I'm sorry" (and I really am sorry because I don't like it to break someone's heart, at all).
I assume people think I will change or they will change me through their affection but the opposite is the outcome. Romantic feelings make me want to run for the hills when they are directed at me. Sex is great but I don't feel (or felt) anything romantic for anyone, ever.
I often feel like people get emotionally attached to me quickly in a certain way while I could have a breakup one day and be happy the next day. Friendships are a different story - can be tough for me to let them go, too.
I can’t be bothered to ever find out what romantic attraction actually is, but I do know one thing: girls are fucking hot.
It’s so freeing honestly but it can get frustrating when your friend with benefits doesn’t understand that you don’t experience romantic love.
Figuring out I was aro was like shrugging off a large coat. I dropped a lot of societal expectations from my mind, because I didn't feel a need to keep chasing them anymore. I found a place where I fit.
My aromanticism makes me very separate and isolated, especially since I am also asexual. Everything that is valued in a relationship is either romantic or sexual, and I won’t find an intimate non sexual or romantic partnership unless they are also aroace. I will always be the last priority in my friendships as they find romantic and sexual partners. I am happy being who i am, just disheartened that my friends do not value me as much as I value them. Being aromantic asexual makes you more of an after thought in relationships.
My aro-ness led me to believe that people were always exaggerating butterflies and sparks and love at first sight. I enjoy being in relationships but no more than I enjoy being in friendships. I'm still working on learning what I ACTUALLY want from a relationship and what society has told me I want.
I feel so conflicted about my romanticism. I'm okay with being aro and not being in a romantic relationship but I'm also curious about what it's like to be in a romantic relationship and kind of want it sometimes. but when thinking of being in a romantic relationship I get anxiety about being trapped in a relationship with someone I don't actually love and them feeling like I lied to them.
Honestly? It's a breath of relief. It's an answer to a long-held question that had me deconstruct my identity and put it back together. It's an inherently radical feeling that challenges conformity. Now, ironically, I can say 'I love you' knowing that it's never performative, because it's what love means to me and not to amatonormative society. I love being aromantic!
- Eris Varga
(Rape mention) I identify as Asexual & Aromantic, specifically Cupiosexual and Cupioromantic. This means that while I don't experience romantic or sexual attraction, I still more or less want a "normal" relationship with someone.
I was always fine with my identity despite not knowing what it was. I never had kissed boys on the playground as a toddler, I never read Twilight or other romance novels, I never wanted to talk about boys. Because of this, I think other girls had a hard time relating to me, so most of my friends were boys.
It wasn't until I was 17 that I had my first kiss; my eyes were closed and I was NOT expecting it. My only thought was, "oh, so that's what that's like." I ended up dating him and he ended up raping me. Nearly every day. For months. I got multiple throat and vaginal infections, but even that didn't stop him. I haven't really told anyone.
I got diagnosed with PTSD after that and had panic attacks during any sort of intimacy. I'm 22 now and it's gotten a lot better.
My now husband helped me work through it all. He was super great about consent and stopping when needed and not pushing much.
I think now I struggle with am I still valid as Ace/Aro if I'm in a relationship with a man? I still don’t feel any attraction towards him or anyone else, but I do love him.
I am, in so many ways, a romantic. That's been hard to reconcile with the fact that I'm also aromantic. I love fairytales and romance novels and hearing about my friends' relationships. It took me a long time to realize that I just... don't have those feelings. I've now reached a point where I've accepted that, and I'm working towards pride. But it's still really hard to realize that my happily ever after is going to look a lot different than I imagined when I was a kid. But I can't force feelings that aren't there, you know? And I think realizing that I'm aro has helped me really realize how much I deeply love and appreciate my friends and family. It's also led me to meet wonderful people in the queer community. That all makes it so much easier to remember how wonderfully rich my life is, and how many ways there are to love with my whole heart.
My family thinks it’s a phase, my friends assure me that one day I’ll find someone who feels similarly. For me, any romantic relationship makes me super super uncomfortable because I don’t share the same feelings as the other person, and I’m afraid they’ll think they just have to wait for me to feel the same...I’m not sure how I will find someone who feels the same as me, but I just want a cuddle buddy sometimes.
It's not that I don't understand the idea of romance, I just see it and think that I could do better. It makes sense to get to know people by doing fun things with them, but why restrict that to potential romantic partners? It's like applying for uni but to each individual major rather than to the whole school - just show up, see if you're a good fit, and the specifics on how you're involved will fall into place. I understand the idea of picking one person to commit to, and it makes sense to have a special relationship type for one with such commitment, but if that's a romantic partner, why would you do romance before you're important enough to each other to commit? If romance isn't necessarily that, then why prioritize romantic relationships over others? There's a lot I don't understand, but I understand well enough to prefer my way.
For me, my aromanticism is a lot about scripts, and not Knowing how they work. I've got adhd (and I'm pretty sure I'm autistic, but I'm not diagnosed with that so) which means that a lot of, for lack of a better word, social scripts just. Don't work for me. I tell you I love you which means that we're romantically involved which means we kiss and have sex and get married and a dozen other things that I'm not comfortable with or just can't do. It ends up being a sort of defense mechanism for me, to prevent myself from being forced along that "romantic" path.
Being aromantic is a lot like not liking sushi. A lot of people look at me funny (especially the ones who love sushi), and they think it’s weird that I love making sushi. Sometimes it’s really, really irritating when people go “oh you say that but you haven’t tried every sushi ever” or “you had it for the first time when you were a kid, you probably like it now” and nobody seems to accept that I just don’t like sushi!!
Breaking from the metaphor, I’m a very affectionate person. I love telling my friends I love them, I love cuddling my friends, and sex is fun and all, but I gotta constantly watch myself to make sure that I’m not accidentally leading anyone on. It’s a little tiring, sometimes, but overall I wouldn’t change myself for anything.
I always felt pressured in relationships, and discovering I'm aromantic allowed me to be myself and be free to not do what society expects of me. I love my friends and I don't want to rely on just one person. But it comes with the fear that all my friends will abandon me once they're married.
I don't want romance, and am uncomfortable with it being shown in front of me (even when it's my parents). But I also love romantic movies/books. I think it's because it's fake, so the romance isn't "real". So I guess being Aromantic for me is slightly confusing... For other people that is.
I've had a lot of negative experiences with my aromanticism lately, mainly exhaustion. It's impossible to find content to enjoy, participate in fandom, or interact with people irl or online without being exposed to an incredible amount of romantic content.
I've joked that my aromanticism is a superpower - the power to see past the strict structures of the social expectations of love, romance, family, relationship ordering, attraction, identity labels, and see the true arbitrariness and socially-constructed nature of it all. There are 6 billion different ways to be human and this one is mine; whatever label I use, I'm allowed to want what I want out of life, and it doesn't include romance or a sexual or romantic partnership. Sometimes it feels alienating and lonely; sometimes it's relieving and freeing - but it allows me to accept and pursue what I want, not what I think I'm supposed to want.
The third piece in this collection will be published on the 22th of November. The first piece can be found here.