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arolectriclady

how to reintegrate into the world as an aroace

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Hi guys¬†ūüė䬆I have scoured the internet for posts about being aroace¬†and many of them have helped immensely, but not a lot of them addressed this particular element of the experience. So I figured I would take a stab at articulating it here in hopes that other aroaces¬†(or honestly any a- or arospec people) can empathize and provide advice.

 

I discovered ace and aro identities after my first attempts at dating. I was 22 years old and still had never dated or kissed anyone, so I felt like it was about time to address it. When I found a couple of people who seemed interested in me, I went forward with it because I thought they were genuinely cool, attractive people and I was flattered. But I felt incredibly uncomfortable with anything non-platonic and could not even bring myself to kiss or hold hands. I decided to look into asexuality and aromanticism because it felt like there was something more to my discomfort beyond just nerves and inexperience.  

 

And...bam. My world basically exploded. I realized my "crushes" were really just squishes. My "attraction" was purely deeply platonic and aesthetic. Basically, I thought I was on the same page as everyone else, but it turns out I am clearly not since the way I experience attraction is fundamentally different.

 

I proceeded to have a breakdown because I felt alienated from my friends and family. I felt cut off from these emotions people actually feel. Sexual and romantic attraction is a real, powerful experience and not just something you see in books and media and find entertaining. Dating and sex are not just obligations or activities people do for fun in order to say they did it. They are experiences that derive from an attraction that stems from within, rather than from external pressures.  

 

My question(s):  How do you move forward with this realization? How do you accept and embrace these parts of your identity without exaggerating how it makes you different? Inversely, how do you uphold the validity of your struggles as an aspec or arospec person when it seems like both straight people, as well as gay and bi people, do not understand? 

 

I know these are not simple questions, but honestly, ANY form of feedback, advice, and/or narrative would really help me regain a sense of balance.

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47 minutes ago, arolectriclady said:

How do you move forward with this realization? How do you accept and embrace these parts of your identity without exaggerating how it makes you different? Inversely, how do you uphold the validity of your struggles as an aspec or arospec person when it seems like both straight people, as well as gay and bi people, do not understand? 

Honestly, the only thing I can says to accept yourself as you are. I know it may seem hard, but that's all I got for now. Also, you have the power to validate yourself. 

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For me it would be very boring if everybody experienced things in the same way, or had the same priorities in life. So one way to look at things is that having quite a different 'inner world' to most people's can make you an interesting friend. You'll be making a unique contribution to the world if you're brave enough to not hold back your own viewpoints.

 

On the other hand, I don't think the differences are as great as you might think. For instance, I'm not ace, but ace isn't that much of an imaginative stretch for me. If I imagine somebody I'm not sexually attracted to, then I can just imagine it being like that with everyone. I think it wouldn't make much difference at all to my sense of 'me' if that were the case (although admittedly this is purely hypothetical). Animals also experience sexual attraction and 'romantic' bonding, so I wouldn't identify anyone's core human essence with either. In that sense, most other people may find you more relatable than not.

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I honestly flip-flop between "Yeah! I'm aro and proud!" and "Romance looks so sweet! Why can't I just experience it positively, like normal people? Maybe I can conversion therapy myself into it." and I've known for months. Here's how I say, "I don't need romantic/sexual attraction! I have x, y and z," without feeling like I'm overcompensating.

 

Sometimes I decide I'm destined for greater things. I'm still in my teens. I'm gonna be a doctor, or a writer, or a researcher, and the time I would spend dating would take away from my passion, my success. I also keep in mind that I don't have to live some kind of great life in order to justify my aro existence. I'm nice to my friends and family, and if I spend the rest of my life working at a children's museum (as I have so far), being part of a kid's fun day, that's enough. When I focus on what I am passionate about, I forget about what I'm supposed to be. I like parasites, kids, medicine, Netflix, video games, playing guitar, Michelle Branch's music, languages, reading, writing, cats, etc... Honestly, sometimes you just have to study something that fascinates you to stop your brain from hamster-wheeling. But I'm a nerd like that.

 

Also, some people really want to understand! I had that experience booth-sitting at my university during aro-spec awareness week. I was handing out pamphlets and aero chocolates (pun alert), and I actually had one of my classmates come up to me in the cafeteria later (after reading the pamphlet) and asking me what more I could tell her about this, because she found this so interesting. So, perhaps some people wish they were cool like us¬†ūüėĄ.

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6 hours ago, arolectriclady said:

My question(s):  How do you move forward with this realization? How do you accept and embrace these parts of your identity without exaggerating how it makes you different? Inversely, how do you uphold the validity of your struggles as an aspec or arospec person when it seems like both straight people, as well as gay and bi people, do not understand?

 

I think I actually made peace with my orientations before I knew what they were. After I broke up with my final ex (who is now one of my dearest friends), I remember having to really look inward and contemplate why our relationship didn't work. Turns out that even when I care deeply for someone, there is nothing unique to a romantic relationship that I can't get out of a friendship (or as I'm now aware, a platonic partnership). I also thought about my habit of dating people simply to avoid 'friendzoning' them, as from what I've seen, a simple rejection is a far better alternative than having someone enter a relationship where they don't feel loved back in the way they're looking for.

 

As far as not exaggerating it, I joke a lot about Schrodinger's Closet: I'm simultaneously in and out of the closet because while I don't outright state my orientation, I don't go out of my way to act like I'm anything other than aromantic/asexual. (Also, there's no real exaggerating an identity: it's part of you, and how you respond to learning more about yourself is also part of you.) Nobody ever really asked me about my orientation before I transitioned, and nowadays, people only seem to ask when they know I'm trans. I get a lot of "that will change" attitudes, but I just roll my eyes and let them think what they want to think. (Let's be real: I'm almost 25 and I've experienced 2 different puberties; if I were supposed to be anything other than aro/ace, I think something would have shifted by now.) My dearest friends get it and validate me, to the point that I actually can get tactile with a dear friend who's a cishet guy, and he's comfortable because he 100% recognizes me as aro/ace.

 

I've found over the years that I've been meeting more and more aro, asexual, and people within either umbrella, not to mention people of all orientations that completely understand. Several have just been musicians who I had been colleagues with for quite some time before they mention their orientations, some were people I met in trans spaces. Heck, one or two were even childhood friends, go figure. More people have started coming out to me about orientation/gender now that I'm a bit more openly trans.

 

I guess for advice on upholding the validity, I think it helps to find the support to give you more confidence in how you speak about your identities. I've spent a fair amount of time in aro and ace online communities where I've been able to articulate my thoughts, and I think that gives me more confidence to discuss my identity with those who aren't as familiar, because they'll either be receptive and *get* it, or if they're not, I can just roll my eyes, maybe gripe anonymously if I want, and still feel comfortable in my identity at the end of the day.

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Excellent questions and excellent responses. I agree with much that has already been said.

 

One thing I do want to add might not work for every person, but is something I find liberating. Sometimes I like to deliberately ignore my identity and focus on commonalities I have with other people. It makes me feel less alienated. Less "other." I am highly logical and like research, as do many of my colleagues, so I cam talk about my love for that and bond that way. I share interests in media and creative hobbies with friends and even with strangers, so navigating the world based on these common denominators can avoid a lot of unnecessary awkwardness or long explanations that I don't have the energy to give. In essence, there are plenty of non-romance-related aspects of human life that don't end up circling back to romance in conversation, and these are the things I take advantage of when I am out and about.

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21 hours ago, Naegleria fowleri said:

Sometimes I decide¬†I'm destined for greater¬†things. I'm still in my teens. I'm gonna be a doctor, or a writer, or a researcher, and the time I would spend dating would take away from my passion, my success.ūüėĄ.

This is how I view it most of the time. I have big ambitions and I'd like to think my aroness is an asset to them.
But even if I didn't want that, I think there's something to say for just spending time on things we value. In a way, when you take the romance away, it makes every other aspect of life one step more important, more meaningful perhaps than to an allo person.
 

14 hours ago, running.tally said:

One thing I do want to add might not work for every person, but is something I find liberating. Sometimes I like to deliberately ignore my identity and focus on commonalities I have with other people. It makes me feel less alienated. Less "other." I am highly logical and like research, as do many of my colleagues, so I cam talk about my love for that and bond that way. I share interests in media and creative hobbies with friends and even with strangers, so navigating the world based on these common denominators can avoid a lot of unnecessary awkwardness or long explanations that I don't have the energy to give. In essence, there are plenty of non-romance-related aspects of human life that don't end up circling back to romance in conversation, and these are the things I take advantage of when I am out and about.

That's good advice too. In some ways, every person is gonna feel different in some aspects of their lives.

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Wow. I just want to say a huge thank-you to each person who responded. Each reply managed to address a different angle of what I have been struggling with, and I¬†noticed I have felt more at peace in the last view days than I have in a while. I think it had to do with reading this thread. Obviously there are going to be good days and bad days, but it empowers me to know I am not alone and that we have more in common with one another than we might think.¬†‚̧ԳŹūüėĆ

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