I just recently started to identify as aro but it sounds like we had some similar experiences so I hope that I can help you at least a little bit
This sounds like what people generally call a 'squish'? It's basically the same principle as a crush but without all the romance bits.
This sounds very similar to an experience I had. I went on a date with a girl and I generally had a lot of fun with her but after the second date I just couldn't imagine having a romantic relationship. She was nice and I wanted to continue being friends but that sadly didn't work out. I think she really liked me in a romantic sense so being friends wasn't an option for her which I can understand. She didn't take it too well and back then I felt a lot of guilt but in retrospect I am glad I broke things off so early. I wouldn't have been able to give her what she wanted and it would've been unfair for the both of us.
This here is exactly why it's been hard for me to accept being aro or well why it actually still is hard for me. I've always liked romance, liked reading about it and join in on fandom stuff, ship people and so on. It's still a thing I like a lot but I realised that I myself can't have something like it. Bc while I liked it a lot in stories I started to notice that I couldn't imagine myself doing all these things. And that realisation did hurt.
Idk if you felt that too but I always kinda expected myself to end up in a relationship? Partially bc everybody told me I would and partially bc it was portrayed as that one thing that is so good and will make me so happy. And I wanted that, I wanted to experience that happiness. I just couldn't find a single person who I could imagine being with. So while I imagined myself in relationships it never became anything concrete and eventually I realised that I was just lying to myself.
So I am starting to learn that there are other ways to be happy and that I don't need a romantic connection to have a good fulfilling life. But that also doesn't mean that I can't still enjoy romance in media. There are a lot of aro people who do, who aren't romance repulsed and that is ok and valid. You aren't any less aro for liking romance stuff.
Anyway so I hope I made some sense here and I hope this helped you at least a little bit?