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Do you think you are born aromantic, or that you became aromantic?

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Hey everyone!

Question in the title. Maybe you think it's weird, but I recently read a bisexual who says that people are not born with their sexual orientation (which of course meant "romantic and sexual orientation"), but that they became bi/gay/straight etc. The person says that it's like liing chocolate : we like it because we are born in a society that likes it, but if we were born in a country who doesn't know it, we would think it is as disgusting as insects. Now, I always disagreed with this. I mean, I thought about it, but I saw nothing that would have made me "became" asexual or aromantic, I think I am born this way. (Also, the theory of that person doesn't explain why some people don't like chocolate ^^ ).

Now, I don't open this thread to debate on it (though if you want to, we can), but because I feel that bisexual are more likely to think that we are not born with our orientation, that education/society gave it to us. Because it must be logical for them that people should love someone, not a genre, and that society inhibited the love for one genre for most of people. Or something like that.

On the other hand, I think that aro are more likely to think that we are born this way, because we have to deal with people who ask us what happened to us to be that way. And that it's important for us to explain that we are traumatized people or whatever.

 

But I can only speak for myself. I could be mistaken. So, what do you think about it? Born aro or not?

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This is a very interesting and often controversial topic. I think it's very difficult to answer but as long as we are not using our answers to justify hatred and hurting others (many anti-LGBT people claim that "becoming LGBT" would mean those people could "un-become LGBT" and they purport things like conversion therapy), it can be an interesting intra-community topic to ponder.

 

I have my own thoughts on this but I'm not entirely committed to them simply because they're not based on concrete evidence. Just a heads up!

 

I think that defining ourselves as particular sexualities/identities /is/ something we made up socially, as a way to group people and segment them by their differences and labels.

I often see this idea that "you are born X Sexuality and don't change" being thrown around and I do not think that that is the case. Orientation and identity are fluid because we live in a social and ever-changing world, ever changing ourselves via growth and learning. I think that labels are useful descriptively but not prescriptively, meaning that I use "aro" to label my general pattern of experiences. I can still label myself "aro" if there have been exceptions to the pattern, but I find it a useful label for getting across what I observe my natural tendencies to be. These natural tendencies are influenced by my state of life and being moment to moment. I may grow into a new person, personality-wise and physically, in the future so it is entirely possible that my orientation or identity may change. They also might not. But my point is that by nature these things are fluid and CAN change, whether or not they actually do. My issue with using labels prescriptively is that a lot of misunderstandings and self-hatred arise this way. If i call myself "aro" but this ONE TIME i experience something different, am i suddenly no longer aro? Even if i never experience that difference again? Am i supposed to act like a non-aro now? What does that even mean? Saying someone is born a certain way makes it seem like that person has to fit a box with rules and if they don't, they have to find another box. This isn't very inclusive to me.

 

So to answer the original question, I don't think we are "born aro" or the like, but i also don't think that breaking orientation down into "nature or nurture" is in any way a productive conversation. It's like asking whether we're born with or acquire certain personalities. I don't think that orientation is simple enough a concept to be broken down in this simple way. Orientation, to me, is something that can change (naturally, not necessarily by influence, as conversion therapy failures show us time and again), but can also stay the same. Orientation isn't completely immune to change, but it isn't something that can be externally changed, just like personality. We grow and change, so parts of our identities also have the potential to. Hope that makes sense.

 

This is a good topic, thanks for starting it. :)

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I find this to be a very intriguing question too, and I didn't fill out the poll because what I really want to say is... both?

 

Like, I don't think there was a time where I was ever romantic. But perhaps some of us are born more susceptible to becoming one thing or another, and our environment can sway in a certain direction. I've often wondered, if I'd grown up with two parents who loved each other romantically and all that stereotypical stuff, would I have ended up romantic? Maybe. Although I believe in another topic we were talking about orientations of family members, and some people did have highly romantic parents. So I dunno. I'd love it if some scientists could crack down on some research though.

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I think that aromanticism has some epigenetic cause. With this explanation, both answers can be true. Epigenetic markers can be set before birth but can also be changed due to environmental influences.

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I feel like I could never have become anything other than aro. But I also feel like it's part of my personality and we know personality can change. 

 

In the book Sex at Dawn the authors writes about research of sexual orientation, among other things. It has been shown in studies that in general female sexuality is more fluid than male. Females can acually change from say heterosexual to bisexual over life. While males are more influenced by early sexual experiences. If sexual orientation can change then maybe romantic can too. 

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On 9/12/2018 at 9:56 PM, running.tally said:

So to answer the original question, I don't think we are "born aro" or the like, but i also don't think that breaking orientation down into "nature or nurture" is in any way a productive conversation. It's like asking whether we're born with or acquire certain personalities.

 

100% agreed with this. I didn't answer the poll because I believe all aspects of our personalities - including identity and orientation - are influenced by nature and nurture.

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I answered "born aromantic" because ... that's what it feels like 🤷‍♀️  (though I think that my attitude towards sex and romance changed from favorable to slightly repulsed since I started identifying as aro ace)

 

I also don't like it when people assume that another person's sexuality or romanticism changed (especially if they blame it on a previous relationship).

 

 

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Thanks for all your answers, it's very interesting!

 

@running.tally to be honest, I always thought of fluid orientation as an orientation itself. I mean, I don't see fluidity as something very frequent, but maybe I'm wrong? I didn't even know orientation changed for some people before a year or two, so I'm not well placed to talk about it.

But anyway, I agree that we shoud not excluded someone because he felt romantic attraction once. I think that's why it is good to think of aromanticism (and asexuality) as a spectrum, so things are not black and white. I gladly say I'm aro even if I'm more grayro if we want to be precised.

On 9/12/2018 at 10:56 PM, running.tally said:

I think that defining ourselves as particular sexualities/identities /is/ something we made up socially, as a way to group people and segment them by their differences and labels.

I don't think we do that to exclude people, just to have a word for what we felt. But maybe I think like that because I don't live in a country based on communities (though we start to be influenced by that model of society...).

On 9/12/2018 at 10:56 PM, running.tally said:

(many anti-LGBT people claim that "becoming LGBT" would mean those people could "un-become LGBT" and they purport things like conversion therapy)

Yeah, and they also say that "being born LGBT" means that there is a LGBT gene we could identify to prevent people for being LGBT... To that regard, I don't think one answer is better than the other. 😡

 

On 9/13/2018 at 7:55 AM, Naegleria fowleri said:

I've often wondered, if I'd grown up with two parents who loved each other romantically and all that stereotypical stuff, would I have ended up romantic? Maybe. Although I believe in another topic we were talking about orientations of family members, and some people did have highly romantic parents.

Well, my dad was very romantic, so... (to be precised, I won't ay that my parents always showed a lot of love to each other, but they still did from time to time, and my dad kept saying that he had his first girlfriend when he was five; listening to him, you'd think he dated his all town).

But at the same time, it may have a role? Though my brother said he were not aro, he never dated and he's 28. I have a firend, she is bi, her brother is gay, and I don't remember if her sister is lesbian or not... So maybe, education could have a link? I don't know.

 

On 9/13/2018 at 3:05 PM, Tagor said:

I think that aromanticism has some epigenetic cause. With this explanation, both answers can be true. Epigenetic markers can be set before birth but can also be changed due to environmental influences.

Interesting! I think that's why scientists say about orientation : that it had both enviromental and genetic causes. But I just see that on internet and I'm not an expert at all, so I don't want to say something wrong.

 

On 9/18/2018 at 3:03 PM, November said:

I answered "born aromantic" because ... that's what it feels like 🤷‍♀️  (though I think that my attitude towards sex and romance changed from favorable to slightly repulsed since I started identifying as aro ace)

 

I also don't like it when people assume that another person's sexuality or romanticism changed (especially if they blame it on a previous relationship).

I feel exactly like that too!

 

 

Thanks for all your answer, it was very interesting and made me think.

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On 9/13/2018 at 1:55 AM, Naegleria fowleri said:

I've often wondered, if I'd grown up with two parents who loved each other romantically and all that stereotypical stuff, would I have ended up romantic?

it didn't work on me.  🤷‍♀️

 

i put 'born aro'.  yeah, it can be fluid, but like @running.tally i think that's a dangerous way to describe it because it's used to suggest that queer people will become not queer, and even if it does change, it doesn't invalidate previous identities.  i've always been aro (even if i didn't always know it) and i feel strongly that i always will be.

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On 9/12/2018 at 6:10 PM, nonmerci said:

On the other hand, I think that aro are more likely to think that we are born this way, because we have to deal with people who ask us what happened to us to be that way. And that it's important for us to explain that we are traumatized people or whatever. 

I sometimes suspected that romantic love was, as you described it, some sort of acquired taste: You had to get used to it and I simply missed that opportunity. xD But not like normal chocolate… no, like 90% cacao chocolate brrrrh…

 

Tbh, I have no idea why I ended up like this, there wasn't really anything that much out of the norm how I grew up.

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I voted "born aromantic", but I think it may be a little bit of both. As it was said earlier, anti-LGBT+ people would argue that you could "un-become LGBT+" if you "became LGBT+." So, I'd say it's more of a "being born" type of thing.

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In some ways "become aromantic" is the more complex situation. Since it requires addressing what someone was before along with how and when that got changed.
Another possibility would be that everyone is "born aromantic" and it's alloromantics who have "become that way"... Though it does appear that many people are aware of their romantic (and sexual) orientations from a fairly young age. Which rather implies these are inate.

 

On 9/12/2018 at 9:56 PM, running.tally said:

This is a very interesting and often controversial topic. I think it's very difficult to answer but as long as we are not using our answers to justify hatred and hurting others (many anti-LGBT people claim that "becoming LGBT" would mean those people could "un-become LGBT" and they purport things like conversion therapy), it can be an interesting intra-community topic to ponder.

This has similar "What were they before?" issues.
In practice so called "conversion therapy" seems only effective for inducing PTSD. Regardless of if the intent is to make LGBT people straight or autistic people neurotypical.

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There are ALWAYS several factors that make a person who they are. Having said that, it’s damn impossible to change who you are.  All humans are complicated. Learn to live with who you are. 

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My both parents were romantic, but I am aro, so I don't think it's genetic.

On a more philosophical level, I think humans are defined by their ideas rather than by innate traits. Our personalities do change, especially when we are young.

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I do think it's possible to be influenced to becoming aro or something else, but I also think it's possible to be born that way, 'cause we live in a society where is given so-very-much importance to romantic love, we're surrounded by romantic love stuff, so much that I myself tried to fit in for a long time, before discovering that being like me could be a thing and also has a name. So yeah, I put "born aro" 'cause I've always lived romantic love in the same conflictual way, I don't remember a time when it was different. 

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Maybe I grew up to become aro. But… i always felt that way so…. Born aro i say. Whatever made me aro was within me from the start, i think.

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I've always thought what I think grows to become who I am. So I was probably a little bit aro from very early on - but I don't think from the start. Most of me was an empty slate waiting to be filled, and I still haven't run out of space to fill.

 

Was I aro or ace when I was born? Well, who knows, but hopefully, I was a baby.

But I'm definitely not the same person I was a year ago. Or a year before that. Or a year... You get the picture. Who I am is constantly growing, and I don't think it's possible for much to be born in.

 

But... That's me. If other people say they were born the way they are, then they are. It's hardly my business anyway, lol.

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I put "born aro" because I know that I've been this way my whole life. Kids usually start getting romantic feelings at a young age, and I never have. However, I have wondered if I might have developed differently if I'd had two parents instead of one.

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I think it goes both ways. I remember reading what the different labels of the Aromantic spectrum were, and I remember there was one definition that said they became Aromantic because "of a tramatic or life changing experience" (I can't remember what it was called tho). But it was different from other versions of Aromanticisum. So I think it depends ┐( ∵ )┌ I think that the type of Aromantic that became an Aromantic later in life, could MAYBE not be one later on. But idk, I'm not a phycologist, and I don't know anything about the human mind and trauma. ┐(‘~`;)┌

 

But that being said, I know for a fact that I'm Aromantic by birth. I haven't had anything "traumatic" happen to me to make me this way. (ㆁωㆁ)

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I'd be inclined to believe it's a combination of things, possibly some genetic tendencies (oxytocin receptors? I dunno!) mixed with us contextualizing our experiences in the framework we experience them in. 

 

My speculation on this is that asexuality would have more of a genetic component- sexual attraction seems like it ought to be a more cut-and-dry one from a genetic perspective? But I wouldn't be surprised if there are cultural factors that can influence them as well. Aromanticism is a tricky one though, because "what romance is" (and the level of emphasis around it) is itself so culturally/socially defined. So "what romantic attraction is" seems to me like it would be subjective too.

 

I mean... just for myself, I'm still struggling to work that one out. I know I have disconnects from the idea of romantic attraction- just interested in other things more than the prospect of being expected to check in with someone consistently- which could well be related to neurotransmitters (I have adhd and an anxiety disorder too, so that would make sense to me!), and baffled by the perception of people as ranking this sort of "fairy dust" as important as general compatibility in choosing partners. But on the other hand, I definitely do feel intense attractions, the mix of which I'm still trying to sort out things like "is this sensual and aesthetic attraction in assorted levels, or is it romantic? and is there a meaningful distinction?" and even "do I really lack romantic attraction, or do I just shy away from the idea because the ideas of romance and sex are so deeply linked in our expectations, such that I associate romantic gestures with things that could escalate to sex?" (I ask myself this combination of questions a lot as someone who is asexual and ranges wildly and without warning between sex-neutral and -averse and on rare occasion -favorable, doesn't want the expectation of possibility of sexual behaviors to be present, and only learned this all after I married an allo guy).

 

I don't think the specific set of attractions I feel (and don't feel) happened because of specific events by any means- I've identified a tons of different ways (straight, pan, panro demi, panro ace, aroace, "ace and grayromantic enough to keep me on my toes", and now tentatively "oriented aroace (kind of bi-adjacent)") based on the information I had at the time- but I think the kinds of attractions I have felt over time have stayed consistent throughout- I've just gained insight into how to contextualize them, as I've grown older and learned more about lgbt+ experiences. 

 

These personal senses of my own orientation are going to take more study on my part, certainly! But my point is, considering how subjective we are with our definitions of "romantic attraction is what you think it is," it seems like it has to be culturally informed at least. That is, the way we feel things could certainly have genetic components, but we define them based on what we know.

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On 9/9/2019 at 2:35 PM, Whistle said:

My speculation on this is that asexuality would have more of a genetic component- sexual attraction seems like it ought to be a more cut-and-dry one from a genetic perspective? But I wouldn't be surprised if there are cultural factors that can influence them as well. Aromanticism is a tricky one though, because "what romance is" (and the level of emphasis around it) is itself so culturally/socially defined. So "what romantic attraction is" seems to me like it would be subjective too.


I'm not sure that there are any genetic factors involved in romance at all.
Even allowing for the possibility of horizontal gene transfer it dosn't seem plausible that something could come into being and spread so rapidly.
Whereas cultural imperialism does seem a plausible explanation for near global amantonormativity which currently exists,.

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