I've been aro for 4 decades. That's a while.
In this time, I didn't even know the condition existed until a few weeks ago. Now though, in retrospect, I am seeing that romance has been missing from my set of conceivable human experiences since I was a toddler. For me, being aromantic means that I am still open to heterosexual relationships (and seek them out) but I recoil from the romance part of them. Romance, to me, is the distorting of these relationships and the people in them beyond the "logical". Its no longer - that girl is cute, its - she is everything, she is better than all the rest, I want to die with her in my arms (or is it the other ay around... I don't want either). Remarkably, that lack of romantic sentiment has applied to things and situations as well as people throughout my life. Here's how:
Being a certain religion, being from a certain race, language group etc etc. has never really made me feel as special as it clearly does to others. To me, I am happy to be from where I'm from - but its a mixed bag, we have a lot of room for improvement in some areas so I don't really wax lyrical or get on my high horse about it. I get upset about the way "my people" are treated by some people and institutions, of course. But I'm not convinced of any special properties or dignity or whatever that makes me obligated to be proud of my skin color or race or something like that. To me that's hokey and ridiculous.
I appreciate people's inventions or clever business ideas - but not beyond the basics of their usefulness or their application to real people in the real world. Many "entrepreneurs" are insulted by my meh response to their mad passionate appeals for agreement that their idea is the dogs bullocks. See how I put the word entrepreneur in quotes. Stuff like that really upsets them.
As a parent, I love my kids like a bear loves its cubs. Man, that's my offspring winning that medal or talking for the first time. Emotionally that is amazing and I feel all the passion needed to play the daddy role. I only fall short in one area. The part where people say " its the most amazing experience in the world being a dad". Is it really? A bit preachy though right? What about all the b------t parents have to deal with? What about the totally negative impact it has on the relationship that made being a parent possible in the first place. To me, romanticizing parenting (fathering or whatever) beyond what it actually is doesn't reflect reality and once again is hokey and seems disingenuous.
As an aro (who may or may not be in the military ;-)), I'd still be 100% willing to deal with the worse stuff should it come to having to defend my country - and remain steadfast in the face of enemy interrogation.
Yet, no heartstrings are being pulled when I hear the "proud to be an American" song. I'm actually proud to be an American - but that's because I actually think we've done some cool stuff and I like having some of that rub off like its something I'm part of. But I'm also ashamed of some of the stuff we've done and know that stuff rubs off on me too. I think we have stuff to learn from others. We're flawed humans like everyone else. Fighting is disgraceful and no amount of romanticism makes stuff like landmines, nuclear bombs and flamethrowers or the people who happen to use them somehow more honorable than those who don't. As for the symbols: the flag could be white, green and black (see what I did there?), we could wear tutus into battle and call ourselves the clown force and I would probably not feel much different about it than I do now. Pretty much not swayed by the aesthetics when life and death is at stake. (Okay maybe I'd write a polite letter about the tutus...)
Of course, I can still feel attachments, love, be dedicated, make and keep promises, enjoy a day out with someone special, have special people in my life and feel allegiances to teams and groups. I just don't have a romanticized soft-filter view or expectations of those things. At all.
To sum it up, being an aro means I "keep it real". Both with relationships between people and with the way I see my nationality, race, roles, religious background and the other labels that define me to others. Is this the same for other aros out there? Do romantic descriptions of nationality, soldiery, religious piety, family relationships, dedication to job duty etc irk you like they do me?
Would love to hear what all this means to you.