Hello. This is going to be a really long post so I am sorry. I am seamonster and I have just started learning about different romantic orientations. I am not asexual but I think I might be aromantic. I am forty years old. I have never been married, have never lived with anyone and have never had a strong desire to do either of those things. I experience other forms of attraction (sexual, intellectual, etc) but don't know if I experience romantic attraction.
I grew up in a very religious and conservative family where I was taught that getting married and being a wife was the "job" a woman was supposed to do. And that is largely how I have always viewed dating: As a job and a chore that I feel pressured into doing and am not really into for its own sake. I was also taught that someday I would meet "the one" and the feelings I would have for that person would be the greatest thing I could ever experience or have happen to me.
So I spent years dating on and off. Some people I liked, others I didn't and I was much more attracted to some of them than I was to others. But I never met "the one". Meanwhile all of my cousins got married one by one and they all had families and I started to become more and more of the odd one out. By my late twenties I started to think that something was just wrong with me and that I was doing something wrong. So I started ordering books off Amazon about how to meet people, how to attract people, how to have the right kind of relationship.
Finally I decided that maybe my standards were just too high and I should just be with someone. (This is not something I recommend for anyone.) I got into a relationship with the next guy who showed interest in me and it was the worst experience of my life. I was not sexually attracted to this person and could not stand to be intimate with him. I actually hated it when he would make the typical romantic gestures because I would find them cringey and they would make me feel really uncomfortable. I spent all of my time around him feeling bored, uncomfortable or grossed out. I did that for probably too long before I just couldn't take it any more and broke up with him.
After that I met someone else who I did feel sexually attracted to and we had a much better relationship for a while. Unfortunately he had issues of his own and we had a cycle of breaking up and getting back together and I knew he wasn't "the one" that I was supposed to be looking for. Around this time I started to come more to terms with being bisexual and with being attracted to women as well. So I decided that maybe that was the problem.
I changed my tactics, started dating women instead and kept looking for this person I was supposed to find. I stopped hoping for someone I loved the same way I love music and dogs and started settling for people I could stand instead. I still did not find "the one" and one of the ex-girlfriends I did have turned out to be a really toxic person in the end.
This all came to a head when I turned forty. Our culture stigmatizes being forty and alone and I went through a terrible period of self hate because of it. That is when you really start to look for explanations for what is wrong with you. I never knew it was possible to be aromantic until recently and even then I didn't think it described me because I have other types of attraction and feelings for people. But when I started watching YouTube videos and reading the accounts of other people I was shocked at how well I could relate to them. So now I am more open to the idea I might just be aro.