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Wondering whether I'm on aro spec or not


Kat
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Hey guys,

 

Recently, I started wondering about my romantic orientation and I hope you will help me. I just want to add that I'm certainly not an asexual. My interest in romance was never... anything more than casual, as in I wanted to be in a relationship since everyone acts like it's the best thing ever but pursued a relationship only 3 times. The first one was when I was 22 because until then I was busy with school and didn't have time to date or to bother with my sexual orientation. The first two times lasted just a month and I was genuinely happy when it was over. It was very nerve wracking for me, constantly wondering what I was supposed to do at that specific point. In the end I broke up with them because we had very little in common and it seemed pointless to date them. I'm in my 3rd relationship now and while the girl is really cute and sweet, it seems like... she feels more in the relationship than I do and that kind of scares me. We have a lot in common, she's funny and really hot. But the PDA weirds me out (maybe because we're a same-sex couple). She seems very eager to cuddle, kiss, hold hands and stuff. I just really want to grope her. xD I also noticed that my touches are more of sexual nature (waist, butt, legs, lips) and it feels odd touching her in any other way (though, I dislike touching people normally so this is still an upgrade). She also constantly goes on and on about how she's worried that someone else will steal me and stuff but I've never been jealous, in general. She's not the "nagging" girlfriend who would constantly ask who I was with, she's very positive whenever I talk about my female friends. This just makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong but I don't feel like something is "missing" as many people put it when there is no romantic attraction to someone. I like hanging out with her and want to continue the relationship I just want to figure out where I'm at before I talk to her, I don't want to risk hurting her feelings unless necessary nor I want to risk us breaking up.

 

As for crushes, I'm not sure if I ever had any. I realised that I confuse "crush" with admiration. Like, I get the feeling of being "attracted" to someone I admire (regardless of gender) but if I don't find them attractive I would never ever date them or do anything intimate. It probably doesn't make any sense and it confuses me too. :/  In any case, I'm not sure how were these 2 crushes (admiration + physical attraction) actually crushes as I never had the traditional symptoms of feeling nervous, butterflies, blushing, whatnot that people usually associate with crushes (and it seriously sounds like they need medical help). I just found them hot and well established women (in both cases they mastered something I was learning). Though, usually I found this admiration for both sexes and then it boils down to: "Am I attracted to him/her or not? (S)He is not hot, so nah."

 

Romance in media never interested me, quite the opposite, I find it very annoying and I usually skip over any scene that involves it. People just act so irrational and outright stupid often for no reason and usually don't even have anything in common. It completely escapes me how anyone could date a person with whom they have nothing in common with like Penny and Leonard from TBBT. I also never understood the "(s)he hurt me but I'm staying with her/him because I love him/her" it sounds like an excuse and a dumb one.

 

As for relationships, my ideal one would be something like exclusive friends with benefits with very limited touching aside from sex.

 

What are your thoughts?

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Well only you can really say if you're aromantic, but it does sound very possible you are experiencing sexual but not romantic attraction. Like you say, it could just be internalised homophobia around PDA with another girl but your attitudes to relationships in general, particularly the relief when they're over, is a very common aromantic experience. Your ideal relationship being fwb also really points to aromanticism, as 'what do I want from a relationship' is a really good starting place for 'what attraction am I feeling', as well as a much easier question to answer! My advice would be to examine what about PDA makes you uncomfortable, and possibly to talk over your feelings with your girlfriend. Good luck!

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8 hours ago, arokaladin said:

Well only you can really say if you're aromantic, but it does sound very possible you are experiencing sexual but not romantic attraction. Like you say, it could just be internalised homophobia around PDA with another girl but your attitudes to relationships in general, particularly the relief when they're over, is a very common aromantic experience. Your ideal relationship being fwb also really points to aromanticism, as 'what do I want from a relationship' is a really good starting place for 'what attraction am I feeling', as well as a much easier question to answer! My advice would be to examine what about PDA makes you uncomfortable, and possibly to talk over your feelings with your girlfriend. Good luck!

Thank you, I will talk to her about that and see where it goes.

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Hey @Kat

 

Not 100% sure if I'm aromatic either, but I relate strongly to everything you wrote, in case that helps!

 

13 hours ago, Kat said:

Though, usually I found this admiration for both sexes and then it boils down to: "Am I attracted to him/her or not? (S)He is not hot, so nah."

 

Yeah, I think I have basically the same checklist:

  1. Are they interesting to talk to?
  2. Do I want to grope them? (as you put it! xD)

Other stuff people seem to add to that checklist mostly confuses me O.o

 

For this:

13 hours ago, Kat said:

It was very nerve wracking for me, constantly wondering what I was supposed to do at that specific point

and this:

13 hours ago, Kat said:

I'm in my 3rd relationship now and while the girl is really cute and sweet, it seems like... she feels more in the relationship than I do and that kind of scares me.

 

Maybe communicate this to your current partner? I think people tend to assume (especially when their orientation is ' normal'?) that other people operate similarly to them and that other people's external behaviours are resulting from the same internal processes or intentions (drivers, let's say) as their own. So, if you don't explicitly communicate your internal behaviour drivers (romantic orientation in this case) she might assume that the absence of romantic displays from you, and/or displaying discomfort around these from her, means that you just aren't 'into her' specifically (as that would probably be the internal driver of this external behaviour in her case). Whereas, if you explain that it's like this for you with everyone, your internal 'drivers' are quite different to hers, and it's not a commentary on how you (don't) feel about her compared to similar past relationships, she might relax a bit and there might be less pressure and expectations placed on you to display your affection towards her (or react to her affection towards you) in traditionally 'romantic ' ways? Perhaps a good rule of thumb here is to never assume anything about what another person's behaviour 'means'! Instead, talk to them about it. Describe feelings (I said/did X because I was feeling Y)

 

13 hours ago, Kat said:

As for relationships, my ideal one would be something like exclusive friends with benefits with very limited touching aside from sex.

Why would it need to be exclusive? Just curious, given that you've said you don't really get jealous or posessive. Answering that might tell you some more about your orientation?

 

Anyway, hope that helps and wasn't too abstract/analytical (I tend to write this way - like people are machines running different operating systems and programs or something, haha).

 

Good luck with your relationship and figuring out your romantic orientation :).

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10 hours ago, NullVector said:

Hey @Kat

 

Not 100% sure if I'm aromatic either, but I relate strongly to everything you wrote, in case that helps!

 

 

Yeah, I think I have basically the same checklist:

  1. Are they interesting to talk to?
  2. Do I want to grope them? (as you put it! xD)

Other stuff people seem to add to that checklist mostly confuses me O.o

Heh, I'm glad I'm not the only one. Though, I was told that people like me are very shallow and self-centered. Welcome to the club of assholes, I suppose. :D

 

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For this:

and this:

 

Maybe communicate this to your current partner? I think people tend to assume (especially when their orientation is ' normal'?) that other people operate similarly to them and that other people's external behaviours are resulting from the same internal processes or intentions (drivers, let's say) as their own. So, if you don't explicitly communicate your internal behaviour drivers (romantic orientation in this case) she might assume that the absence of romantic displays from you, and/or displaying discomfort around these from her, means that you just aren't 'into her' specifically (as that would probably be the internal driver of this external behaviour in her case). Whereas, if you explain that it's like this for you with everyone, your internal 'drivers' are quite different to hers, and it's not a commentary on how you (don't) feel about her compared to similar past relationships, she might relax a bit and there might be less pressure and expectations placed on you to display your affection towards her (or react to her affection towards you) in traditionally 'romantic ' ways? Perhaps a good rule of thumb here is to never assume anything about what another person's behaviour 'means'! Instead, talk to them about it. Describe feelings (I said/did X because I was feeling Y)

I did. Not in this way though. You see, the phrase "Romantic Attraction" exists in my native tongue but sounds extremely awkward and weird. I doubt that people who don't speak English (like my gf) would even get the meaning and it would be impossible to deliver the point without using a variation of "I'm not in love with you and I might never be.". Even in context, this ought to be in top 10 of "Sentences that signal the end of relationships" list. I've seen and heard of so many cases that two compatible people broke up just because one didn't fall in love with the other, it's crazy! Why do people need freaking flying bugs in their intestines to be happy? What is wrong with humanity? Seriously though, my intentions would be 100% misunderstood. I'm willing to discuss it when it becomes relevant, I have no intention of lying to her but at this point, it would do a lot of harm and no good.

Not to mention that romantic love is so deeply ingrained in the society that vast majority of people wouldn't even understand asexuality which actually has physical manifestation. I doubt anyone could even imagine what aromanticism means.

 

But we did discuss that I'm not very emotional and not good at expressing emotions and that it doesn't mean I don't care for her. (I intentionally used the word for "care for", I care for her, I care for my friends, I care for my family, I care for my pets, etc.) She replied that she didn't notice anything like that, so I assume she is fine with the level of my (non-)expression. As for romantic displays, I do that. She seems very.... emotional? She's a person who has her heart on her sleeve. And I really like making people around me happy (I often end up low on money just because I like treating my poorer friends for drinks or meals.) so it's easy to see what works for her and what doesn't. Anyways, she's the type who likes romantic displays so I do that in the way that is comfortable to me: cheesy one liners (I seem to be really good at those), buying flowers, paying attention to her likes/dislikes, taking her to places that are popular with couples etc. It might not be completely genuine (especially the one liners) but it makes her happy so it makes me feel like I did my job right.

Me and my gf agreed to openly discuss whatever we need so I mention stuff like this ocassionaly. She didn't seem to mind anything yet. Another reason I don't want to risk this as we are very compatible. Out of the women I know (a lot) I met only two this compatible with me, my current gf and a straight girl (though, she did say she would date me if I were a guy). And my current gf has a lot in common with me, including relationship planning (we literally see the relationship timeline and priorities the same way, whether it gets to "marriage", moving in together, children, etc. we literally have the same ideal timeline or other stuff like number of kids, ideal house, pets, we even want to move to the same town ....). It just seems stupid to risk this over a misunderstanding that doesn't even play a role in the relationship.

 

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Why would it need to be exclusive? Just curious, given that you've said you don't really get jealous or posessive. Answering that might tell you some more about your orientation?

Good question. I suppose that's just how I'm wired? Someone once told me that you are either open to polyamory or you aren't. And both is okay, both is simply what we need in relationships. I wouldn't mind trying a polyamorous relationship but I can't imagine this working for life partnership. Besides, I doubt I would even find a woman genuinely willing to do this. And despite being... non-traditional at core (potentially aro and homosexual), I'm fairly traditional in life otherwise. I support gender roles (though, I think people should be allowed to pick which gender role they want) and I do think that a relationship should contain one person of male gender role and one of female gender role. I did indirectly say this to my gf because I said "I can't imagine being a mother, I would do better as a dad." her response was "Well, you can be the dad in our family."

Also, it also seems easiest to maintain and focus my life on as 2 partners would require twice as much attention and I'm a very busy person. I work full time, I'm a president of a volunteering organisation and travel almost every weekend.

 

If my partner had another partner I wouldn't consider this relationship serious. Call me conservative but I just wouldn't. There is no commitment and no guarantee that the person will be able to commit to something as serious as a living arrangement or family with children. Committed relationship seems basically the first "check" that the partner would be ready for a family. Which I plan in the future. Also traveling, free time activity, etc. is easier to plan in fewer people.

 

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Anyway, hope that helps and wasn't too abstract/analytical (I tend to write this way - like people are machines running different operating systems and programs or something, haha).

I'm the same so this approach is the best for me.

 

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Good luck with your relationship and figuring out your romantic orientation :).

Thank you. Your insight really helps and sorry for the rant.

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47 minutes ago, Kat said:

it would be impossible to deliver the point without using a variation of "I'm not in love with you and I might never be.".

Yeah, language is tricky! Please don't sabotage your relationship on my account. To be honest, I'd probably make a complete mess of it if I was in your situation and tried what I originally suggested xD (I'm not exactly the best at communicating my feelings in a way that avoids misunderstandings of intent either)

 

47 minutes ago, Kat said:

But we did discuss that I'm not very emotional and not good at expressing emotions and that it doesn't mean I don't care for her. (I intentionally used the word for "care for", I care for her, I care for my friends, I care for my family, I care for my pets, etc.)

And the word "love" is especially problematic, I find (and it's something that's come up quite a few times in these forums, incidentally, so we aren't alone here!) It would make me uncomfortable using that word, for fear of being misunderstood. To me, it would mean wanting what's genuinely best for them, committing to helping them to reach their important life goals, etc. But not "freaking flying bugs" in my intestines :P

 

47 minutes ago, Kat said:

And despite being... non-traditional at core (potentially aro and homosexual), I'm fairly traditional in life otherwise

Hah, I'm a bit like this too. Plus I find unconventional ideas interesting, so in my imagination I can entertain living all sorts of wild, Bohemian lifestyles. But in practice, I would probably find them too disorienting. No need to justify yourself or anything like that, I was just being nosy :)

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You check a lot of boxes for aro, :aropride: lol, so it's extremely likely you are, especially considering that you aren't like 16 years old anymore. I've seen crushes “in action” and I don't think you would wonder if you ever had one if you indeed had one. xD

1 hour ago, Kat said:

If my partner had another partner I wouldn't consider this relationship serious.

Ok, it's probably the term “friends with benefits” you used, which “mislead” us a bit. FWB has an inherently “not very serious” connotation.

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28 minutes ago, DeltaV said:

You check a lot of boxes for aro, :aropride: lol, so it's extremely likely you are, especially considering that you aren't like 16 years old anymore. I've seen crushes “in action” and I don't think you would wonder if you ever had one if you indeed had one. xD

I suppose this is the problem here, the only way to know if I can have them is to actually have one. Without that I don't know what they feel like. :D

 

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Ok, it's probably the term “friends with benefits” you used, which “mislead” us a bit. FWB has an inherently “not very serious” connotation.

My bad, I didn't know how else to describe it. I doubt there has ever been a word invented for what I'm trying to describe.

 

1 hour ago, NullVector said:

Yeah, language is tricky! Please don't sabotage your relationship on my account. To be honest, I'd probably make a complete mess of it if I was in your situation and tried what I originally suggested xD (I'm not exactly the best at communicating my feelings in a way that avoids misunderstandings of intent either)

Yeah, I'm still working on that myself. xD

 

Quote

 

And the word "love" is especially problematic, I find (and it's something that's come up quite a few times in these forums, incidentally, so we aren't alone here!) It would make me uncomfortable using that word, for fear of being misunderstood. To me, it would mean wanting what's genuinely best for them, committing to helping them to reach their important life goals, etc. But not "freaking flying bugs" in my intestines :P

I couldn't agree more. Are you my long lost twin? I'm kinda curious about your "aro story" (why you think you're not a typical bug infested romantic) since we seem to be quite alike, it might be insightful to read that, if you don't mind.

 

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Hah, I'm a bit like this too. Plus I find unconventional ideas interesting, so in my imagination I can entertain living all sorts of wild, Bohemian lifestyles. But in practice, I would probably find them too disorienting. No need to justify yourself or anything like that, I was just being nosy :)

I hear ya! I just wanted to explain why I thought what I thought since that's kind of the point of this thread.

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1 hour ago, Kat said:

I'm kinda curious about your "aro story" (why you think you're not a typical bug infested romantic) since we seem to be quite alike, it might be insightful to read that, if you don't mind.

 

I'm afraid it's not a very interesting story! I basically just never felt sufficiently motivated to seek out romantic relationships. I was waiting for the motivation to arrive, but it never did. I wanted to try sex, but I grew up in contexts where that wasn't really done by people I knew and respected outside of conventional heterosexual (in my case) romantic relationships. To be honest, I think I was a bit ashamed of, and afraid to admit to, my own sexual preferences here :/ (which would probably be along the lines of the "friends with benefits" scenario you described). I'm working on that. It's all too easy to self-shame here, I think, and take on the idea that we really are just "shallow and self-interested" "assholes" for having this type of preference (ego-dystonic is a word that @DeltaV taught me and it fits perfectly in this context).

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10 minutes ago, NullVector said:

 

I'm afraid it's not a very interesting story! I basically just never felt sufficiently motivated to seek out romantic relationships. I was waiting for the motivation to arrive, but it never did. I wanted to try sex, but I grew up in contexts where that wasn't really done by people I knew and respected outside of conventional heterosexual (in my case) romantic relationships. To be honest, I think I was a bit ashamed of, and afraid to admit to, my own sexual preferences here :/ (which would probably be along the lines of the "friends with benefits" scenario you described). I'm working on that. It's all too easy to self-shame here, I think, and take on the idea that we really are just "shallow and self-interested" "assholes" for having this type of preference (ego-dystonic is a word that @DeltaV taught me and it fits perfectly in this context).

I guess I struggled with the same issues. I just learned to laugh at the "shallow and self-interested" thing. As long as you don't hurt anyone what's the big deal about your preferences? Why should you care about anyone's opinions? I suppose being homosexual made me deal with this on a completely different level and being called shallow for being honest about what attracts me is the least of my worries. I've been called worse over that and I'm still here.

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30 minutes ago, Kat said:

I just learned to laugh at the "shallow and self-interested" thing. As long as you don't hurt anyone what's the big deal about your preferences? Why should you care about anyone's opinions?

Oh, I agree that when you unpack it logically like this, it's total nonsense! xDI mean, it makes no sense to say that you're "selfish" just for expressing a particular preference about relationships (expecting people to only satisfy your preferences, without you accommodating theirs, is different; that would actually be selfish, but also has nothing to do with what you specifically prefer per se). Might as well say that we're both 'selfish' for sexually preferring women to men and thereby excluding men from the list of sexual partners we'd consider! Equally nonsensical argument (and not one that most people would even think of making). But romantic preferences don't get the same consideration as sexual ones for some reason (amatonormativity is what Elizabeth Brake calls this).

 

Problem is that this "shaming" of aromantic sexual relationships can become so normalised in the culture that you may not even realise that you're doing it to yourself (internalizing it). So logic never gets the opportunity to be applied here, given that logic is a conscious (not subconscious) process. I think I went for years without noticing what I was doing and without really acknowledging my own sexual and (lack of) romantic desires.

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10 minutes ago, NullVector said:

Problem is that this "shaming" of aromantic sexual relationships can become so normalised in the culture that you may not even realise that you're doing it to yourself (internalizing it). So logic never gets the opportunity to be applied here, given that logic is a conscious (not subconscious) process. I think I went for years without noticing what I was doing and without really acknowledging my own sexual and (lack of) romantic desires.

I understand, been there done that. It needs time for you to make peace with it and to accept it as part of your self. But the first, biggest step is to understand that there is logically nothing wrong with what you're feeling. Your subconscious will eventually follow suit even though it might take time. Or look at it this way, if I can live with myself so can you. :D

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On 3/11/2018 at 12:41 AM, NullVector said:

but I grew up in contexts where that wasn't really done by people I knew and respected outside of conventional heterosexual (in my case) romantic relationships.

Very likely it was done here and there, ;) you just belong to a sociocultural group where nobody brags about such “adventures”.

On 3/11/2018 at 12:50 AM, Kat said:

I guess I struggled with the same issues. I just learned to laugh at the "shallow and self-interested" thing. As long as you don't hurt anyone what's the big deal about your preferences?

Actually, if I free myself from all this cultural conditioning, I regard romance as shallow. Not that I claim that it is objectively shallow, just from the standpoint of my aro logic. ¬¬ Romance is with few exceptions tightly connected to sex and for whatever reason regarded as the supreme relationship between adults in our culture. So something banal1 like sex – as it feels to me, e.g. like a hobby, a legal physiological high, etc. – gets absurdly exalted.

 

Amusingly, the supposed non-shallowness of romance doesn't fit with how much extreme consternation alloromantic asexuals are met… IDK like Dan Savage's statement on asexual romance: “I couldn't help but think, as I read your letter, that your boyfriend is either a fool or a fag.”. :evilgrin:

 

But probably this strange amalgamation makes totes sense intuitively, instinctively for allo-allos… whatever! :P

 

1 though obviously it's still an activity that has to be approached with some seriousness and is recommended with people with whom you share mutual respect and trust … so not like eating ice cream :aroicecream: … more like tandem skydiving … well, okay that's overexaggerating it again. xD

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