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Is my partner Aromantic?

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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. Since we talked about this, he continues to try to kiss me and tell me he loves me. I have been less inclined to be lovey; I usually turn for him to kiss my cheek instead and have not been able to tell him I love him back. Not because I don't feel it, but because I would much rather him say he cares for me instead of loves me, but I am not sure how too bring that up. 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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First of all, I feel the need to ask: Does he know you're posting this? You say "we" a lot, but you're the one asking the questions, and you don't seem to mention much about looking for answers together, or him looking for them on his own.

I'm not saying this to accuse you of anything, or say that you can't be here, don't have a right to seek answers, etc.; I'm just concerned, coming from the other side. As a mostly closeted aro myself who went through a lot of struggles with other people telling me "Oh, you must be _____!" when I was questioning, I would feel very uncomfortable with someone close to me sharing details of my orientation online and asking strangers to label me, especially if it was without my knowledge. So while I can understand your dilemma, I just want to make sure I'm not invading anyone's privacy by trying to help you.

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It's very difficult to judge someone's orientation from the outside for obvious reason, the only one who can know for certain is the person themselves, or in this case C. If he says he's aromantic, even if he 'contradicts' that statement with his actions, then he's still almost certainly aromantic. If, in say a month or so, he says he's demiromantic, the his orientation has changed and he's almost certainly demiromantic. 


His romantic actions could be coming from a place of platonic love. Being aromantic doesn't mean he doesn't want to engage with you with these actions. When he says he loves you, he's possibly tapping into that platonic love. To him, love might mean that, and it's genuine. He obviously cares about you a lot, otherwise he wouldn't be saying things like "spending the rest of your lives together". His actions sounds like it might be his true way of expressing himself to you. 


I don't think your relationship is toxic, quite the opposite actually. I think C might be uncomfortable with titles, so perhaps you should discuss with him more the "dos and do nots" of your relationship rather than name it. Specifically ask him what he wants. I wouldn't bring up your relationship by calling it a 'romantic relationship' anymore with him, unless he's happy with calling it such (this isn't to downplay your relationship though, it's simply to make him more comfortable. A relationship can be anything you want it to be). You could simply call it "our relationship" if a title is really necessary.


Also, please please please don't change your behaviour now that he's come out! It's not easy to tell someone that you're aromantic, and to change your behaviour because of it can been extremely hurtful! If you do feel like you've fallen out of feelings for him and truly can't act the same, then at least tell him that. 


Anyway, that's my relatilnship advice from a aromantic who has never been in a serious relationship, so take it all with a grain of salt :D Let us know what you decide to do.

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  • 2 months later...

I agree—he sounds like he’s feeling and expressing platonic love for you.  As an aro who has been in a romantic relationship, myself—while I was questioning/coming to terms with it, no less—it’s difficult to make sense of your feelings and to express them to your partner.  I didn’t want to hurt him, but it was better for both of us when I was honest, and it does sound like he’s sharing his thoughts and feelings with you, just that they could be uncertain.  For me, the idea of doing traditionally romantic things and of my boyfriend being romantically attracted to me complicated it—made me uncomfortable with things I would otherwise have liked or not minded on a platonic or sexual level.  I think it was a good idea to get a bit of distance to sort things out but I don’t think continuing your relationship at some point would be a bad idea.  For now, my best suggestion is to play it by ear, keep talking about it but not forcing anything.  Good luck. 

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