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Aromantic Girlfriend help please...


Ryan
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hello everyone...my girlfriend of close to two years just broke up with me because she claims she loves me but doesn't have romantic feelings.  From the start she warned me (as did her best friend) that she had never had them though she thinks she may have at about 10 years old.   After a bit of research I found this site and wanted to find some help.  I love her passionately and from the start I told her I was okay with her being that way...but suddenly just before I proposed she broke it off.  For those of you that are aromantic do you have any articles or other resources that can help her see that there isn't anything wrong with her and that is an actual thing.  I would like to understand her better and I do want to marry her.  Yet I need her to be secure with how she is.  Also I have limited time as she may be leaving the country.   Thanks everyone.  Im at work now so didnt search this site to much so please feel free to send me there.  She is quite scholarly so medical journals would be the best source.  She said the only reason was the lack of feeling so I hope if I can show her there isn't anything wrong with how she feels I think we can work it out.

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Hey, Ryan,

 

It actually sounds like your ex is pretty sure of what she feels? I don't see how explaining that there's nothing wrong with being aromantic would encourage her to marry you. As an aromantic person who's had exit romantic relationships several times, I think what prompted me to leave wasn't insecurity about my aromantic identity, but stress from trying to force myself to do things I didn't want to, to meet the needs of my non-aromantic partner.

 

Your ex said that the only reason she didn't want to marry you was "lack of feeling." Forgive me for being blunt, but what is the purpose of asking more questions here, when she's given you such a clear answer? I don't understand what there is to "work out" between you two--if a person doesn't want to do romantic things with you, because they don't have romantic feelings, shouldn't you just accept how they feel, and stop trying to do romantic things with them? If she doesn't want to marry you, or be in a relationship with you anymore, there's nothing you can do to change thatIt's not your fault that she has no feelings for you. It's not that you didn't try hard enough as a partner. Feelings don't follow logic and they're outside our realm of control. But what you can control is how you react to how she feels about you. I know that it's hard to let go of her. But it's going to hurt more if you keep holding onto unrealistic expectations for both of you. And if you're holding onto unrealistic expectations until she shuts you down 100%, then you're just delaying the inevitable. 

 

On being aromantic, there are many posts on this site, where people share their experiences of being aro. Medical journals, not so much, but I don't think that scientific research has been very respectful or understanding of the LGBT+ community to start with. I can talk about my experiences with ending relationships as an aromantic person. Maybe they'll help you gain some insight into how she feels.

 

It took me a long time to realize I was aromantic. The first relationship I had, was with a good friend of mine, and I really wanted things to work out. But throughout the entire relationship, I felt like I was just going through the motions. It stressed me out whenever she wanted to hold hands, kiss, or make out with me. At first I thought it was just social anxiety, and after breaking up with her, I made a point of getting into more relationships to build confidence.

 

That was a bad idea. I remember Googling "how to break up with someone" moments after agreeing to be their boyfriend. The entire concept of relationships just felt extremely alienating to me. I knew what a good boyfriend was supposed to do, but I didn't understand why. Yes, you do things with your partner, because you love them, but I never felt anything remotely similar to romantic love during all my past relationships. I felt the stress of an actor onstage, of someone pretending to be a person they are not. I felt the excitement of planning gifts for my partners, of optimizing formulas to make them happy; I was more focused on building those formulas, than I was on building a connection with them. I understood romance theoretically, but not in practice. I eventually stopped trying to force myself into romantic relationships, because I realized I was just doing it for the sake of other people around me. I couldn't muster the courage to say "no" to romantic relationships, until I accepted that I didn't want to be in them. And I bet your ex probably thought the same.

 

I wish you the best of luck in wrestling with your confusion, and in accepting the conclusion of your relationship. I'm sorry that it took something as major as a proposal to end things between you, but with these things, it's better late than never.

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If she hasn't heard of aromanticism, then by all means, point her here, or to one of the basic descriptions of it.

 

The odds of her being comfortable with marriage are probably pretty low though, but I can't say because I don't actually know her. With that said, you might want to look into queer/quasi platonic partnerships, maybe that's something she might be comfortable with, if you really want some way to be with her, and then you two would have to work out the details of what works for the both of you.

 

So, it may be possible for you two to be 'together' in some way (this is up to her), but it probably isn't going to be according to your idea of marriage or even a 'normal relationship'.

 

And even if that is possible, don't try to push her into it, because (I'm just guessing) that's more likely to make her want to run away. She needs you to give her space and to accept her the way she is, and not try to make her fit into your ideal of a relationship. It's pretty awesome that you're doing research, though. :arolove:

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@RyanThe fact that you're actually doing your homework on the subject is impressive. Too many have resorted to resentment instead of coming to an understanding in your situation. Thank you for that.

 

I must agree with @omitef here. It's wonderful that you accept her, and I hope she appreciates that. However, aromanticism isn't something that can be made insignificant through understanding. It doesn't just alter the way we think. It changes what we do and what we are capable of. She might have been thinking about this breakup for a very long time, but that's for her to say. Not me.

 

To understand the potential leverage aromanticism can have over someone's actions, I present myself as an example. It's difficult to comprehend the force of such an impulse, so I'm not sure how to describe it. I'd describe it as pressure. When someone tries to get emotionally close to me, it hurts in a bad way, like my lungs are being slowly crushed. I get a fight-or-flight response as I think of ways to escape. I've resorted to physical force against my own best friends to keep them from holding hands with me. In a moment like that, I'd do anything to get away. No matter how much I like someone, all bets are off if they put me on a pedestal. It's really great to see when people don't mind that I'm like that, but that doesn't make the pressure go away.

 

If your girlfriend was able to survive a romantic relationship for two years, I guarantee she doesn't feel the pressure as much as I tend to. I just figured my example might give some perspective to what we're dealing with here. 

 

Just the cultural association we have with the practice of marriage may cause her to associate it with romantic pressure, and say no. That's already assuming she can even stand the feeling of being an aromantic person in a romantic relationship, which is a massive if

 

If you want scientific background, start by understanding epigenetics. That system of gene regulation is the most probable basis for differing sexual and romantic orientations in general, but no precise information exists on the subject of aromanticism yet. 

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13 hours ago, Ryan said:

She is quite scholarly so medical journals would be the best source

Sadly we all feel the lack of formal research and papers on aromanticism. I just checked my regular source but sadly it is all about asexuals, which is having it's own problems with finding correct participants for studies. Exploring the forums here and other informal internet resources really seem like the only option right now.

 

As for the other things I second what everyone else has said. You being okay with being in a relationship with an aromantic does not automatically mean the aromantic is okay with being in a relationship with a romantic. Guessing from my own knowledge, marriage maybe the one step too far - I know plenty of romantics who are repulsed by marriage or don't believe in the concept. 

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When searching for an answer one can't just look for the answer one wants to hear.   I admit I read what you all said and wanted to reject it as it was not the story I was looking for...but you are right.   I don't know for sure if she is aromantic but regardless I need to let her make her decision and focus on healing.   Our song may not be over but I can't force, manipulate or coerce her to joining in unless she wants to.   So yah...Im most definitely a romantic and find even the idea of aromantiscm as alien.  I wasn't even aware that people could be that way until I tried to understand where she is coming from.   A good reminder that polarized thinking is usually erroneous.

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On 28/09/2017 at 9:02 PM, James said:

I'd describe it as pressure. When someone tries to get emotionally close to me, it hurts in a bad way, like my lungs are being slowly crushed. I get a fight-or-flight response as I think of ways to escape

 

It has been like that for me as well sometimes. I find it really interesting how all the metaphors I've heard people on this site use to describe the experience of romance repulsion are kind of thematically similar. Drowning; suffocation; crushing (lol, that last one is a little ironic isn't it? ;)) And definitely 'fight-or-flight' can kick in for me too.

 

@Ryan I guess it can seem pretty "alien" if you don't experience anything like the above, but it's really cool that you're making some effort to understand it intellectually :) Spread the word! :D

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On 10/1/2017 at 9:56 AM, NullVector said:

And definitely 'fight-or-flight' can kick in for me too.

I also subscribe to “drowning, suffocating, crushing”. Romantic intimacy is the uncanny valley between what happens in a very close touchy-feely friendship (= :hugs:) and … sexual activity!

 

But still nothing to run away from. If there was any good reason to engage in it, sure. xD

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  • 2 years later...

i completely understand my girlfriend broke up with me recently for the same reasion, and we had been together for almost a year and 8 months. I'm devastated and my heart hurts like hell. Unfortunately if she's sure about how she does or doesn't feel there's nothing you can do.  I know it doesn't seem fair, but sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing.  I'm so sorry this has happened to you, and trust me I know from experience how hard this is. Hang in there I hope things work out for you in the end. 

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