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Seeking help and thoughts


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 I'm making this post to explain the relationship I am currently in, and to hopefully gain some insight to help us navigate our feelings. My partner recently decided he thinks he might be aromantic, but we are unsure because his feelings are constantly changing and contradicting. I hope a thorough explanation of our relationship may be able to shed some light on the situation, and someone might be able to help us understand what his romantic/non-romantic orientation is.


About two months ago my best friend, C, and I decided to enter into a monogamous "romantic" relationship.

Some background leading up to this decision: We were friends all through high school, and have been each other's closest friends for the past three years of our adult lives. We have been having sex for almost the entire duration of our friendship as well, only putting a hold of that part of the relationship when one of us was committed/ in a relationship with someone else. We also have been saying "I love you" as a normal part of our interaction for years now. We have both been in several relationships since our friendship started, and still remain just as emotionally close while in other relationships. We have been living together for a long time, and plan to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This may be irrelevant, but when we moved in together we also decided to adopt a kitten and are enjoying raising him together. 

In the summer of 2017, my last serious relationship ended. C and I resumed our normal behavior of spending every day together and engaging in intimate/sexual activities. The difference was this time, as opposed to times before when we returned to this normal state of our relationship, we were living together. Over the course of the next six months we spent every day together, cooking meals, carpooling to our university, studying, going out to dinner, spending time with either family, being sexually intimate, sleeping in the same bed, to name the type of activity. It was very much like that of what many people would idealize a romantic relationship to be. Through this time, I would occasionally bring up the idea of us being in a committed romantic relationship, or even just putting a definition to what our relationship was so that no one got hurt if the other did something that one of us was emotionally not okay with. C usually did not want to discuss it much. 

After C took a trip with his family where we were unable to contact each other at all for over five days, his behavior changed when he returned. He became much more physically affectionate, and used language like "I love you" much more frequently, and along with sexual interactions (which we have not used the term "love" with before.) Again, I pursued an answer of what our relationship meant to him. He again told me he did not know. Over the next couple of months he would become increasingly jealous if I interacted with other people in a flirtatious manner, mention the idea of "spending his life with me", and continue to tell me how much he loved and wanted me in his life. Regardless of those actions, he still did not want to define where our relationship is going.

I identify as idemromantic, and it does not bother me whether he would rather be platonic friends or romantic partners, but I could not live with the uncertainty any longer. I have loved him in the same way I love my other best friends for these past three years, but I also need a level of security in the roles people play in my life. Through the past several months, I had grown emotionally attached to him as my romantic partner. Finally, I made the decision to move out for a while and live with another friend of ours until C and I could return to a less attached level of interaction and I could be comfortable knowing he was my best friend and I was not hurting him any by seeing other people, and vise versa. When I told C about this decision, he panicked. He usually is a calm and mostly apathetic person, but at the knowledge that I would not be the same part of his life as I had been, for even this temporary amount of time I planned to be gone, he was immediately very emotional. I want to make clear, this was not me trying to give him an ultimatum. I was trying to take a step I felt necessary to allow for a healthier relationship between the two of us. Regardless, he begged for me to stay, insisting he loved me too much for me to leave and that he knew now that he wanted to commit to a "romantic" relationship. I agreed to stay, but that I wanted to try to live in a more platonic way for a little while first, and if he still felt like he wanted a relationship after he had calmed down and that time had passed, I would be happy to commit. That time passed, and we both agreed that a "romantic" relationship is what we wanted. I described my desire for it as " a way of being able to remind myself he cares and wishes to continue to live the way we do. It is my security in knowing that I love him and am not going to lose him so easily." At the time he agreed, and said he felt the same.

Now, two months have passed and he told me earlier this week that he thinks he is aromantic. He said that he does not think he loves me because he "always expected to know what love felt like" but he does not know what it feels like now. He said that the reason he never pushed for a relationship between us is because he never felt a need for me to love him, and his feelings for me have come about so subtly and slowly that he does not think it is love. These statements contradicted things he has been saying for the past year about loving me and wanting to keep me in his life. I asked him if he still likes the idea of sleeping next to each other, going out to dinner, being intimate in ways such as holding hands or kissing, and he said he still wants all of that. I asked if he was being genuine in his actions through the past few months and he also said yes. I am just hurt, and very confused. He is feeling similarly, from what I can tell. We are just very confused and want to seek help and perspectives from others who are more knowledgeable of the ace spectrum. Much of his behavior makes me think he might not be aromantic, but somewhere on the spectrum. We just want to be able to understand in order to work on our relationship in a healthy way. 


I guess the questions we want answered are "what does his romantic orientation seem like to you?" and "Does it seem like this relationship is a good idea, or are we setting ourselves up for failure?" Feel free to ask any questions. Thank you for any help you can provide.

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Seems like he wants his cake and eat it. You are his go to sexual partner. No commitments from you from his point of view, all sex. People say things which they think the other wants to hear, in this case "I love you" to oil the relationship along.

This is very manipulative, or so it seems, but this is a simple fact of nature, not evil or cruel intent.

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We can provide guesses and advice but make sure your partner knows that only he can figure it out completely and label himself. (You probably already know that but it's a good disclaimer!) Thank you for coming by and sharing.


Your relationship sounds like it has been very respectful and mutual, so kudos to that. You guys are talking things through and trying things out, and that's very healthy. If you want to continue your relationship as you guys figure things out, I don't think it's necessarily doomed to failure. As long as you both know that you are taking it one day at a time, I think you can do it. You sound like you are very close and would be able to talk things through in case things go awry. Just keep that communication open until you decide on what kind of relationship and label you want to use.


As for the question of romantic orientation, if your partner is on the aro spectrum, he may be aroflux or arospike. These orientations flip-flop between different parts of the aro spectrum at different times. Arospike, especially, is typically characterized by usually not feeling romantic attraction and then suddenly having intense feelings of attraction (like short bursts of intense attraction), which can then fade. I'm feeling arospike vibes from your partner, but it is also possible that they are a romantic person who is undergoing uncertainty or fear because they really like being in a relationship with you (i.e., feeling scared of losing it so acting very attached or possessive). Alternatively, they may have always been aro to some degree but you are the exception. Maybe even grey or some other orientation would fit better. Maybe they are aro and just because their actions don't seem to fit doesn't mean what they say is invalid; feelings/orientation and behaviour are different things, so whatever he decides on is likely the truth. Here is a list of orientations that may help!

You mentioned past relationships. Were the relationships he had romantic, and did he feel romantic attraction then? That may help narrow in on what is going on re: his feelings.


As for you, you're awesome for being patient and coming by to ask for help figuring things out. Attraction and relationships are always so finicky and they differ for each person. Hope this helps a bit and it's completely natural for you to feel hurt. You're not a bad person for having negative feelings. 


EDIT: Looks like you posted this dilemma as another identical thread as well, so I hope the answers there can be helpful as well.

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It seems to me your conflict is not really about if C is aromantic or not but rather about if he can figure out his feelings for you and what he wants from your relationship. If you still want the same things it probably doesn't matter if his feelings are platonic and sexual rather than romantic. But if you are unsure of what he wants and he is unwilling or unable to communicate that, it can be a problem. I think you will have to figure out what sort of things you two need to be in agreement on for you to be happy in the relationship. Maybe he will never be able to figure out exactly how he feels, if his feelings fluctuate or he has trouble understanding them.

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