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I don’t want to be aro or anything like it.


maor
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While I sympathize with your confusion, you're really the only one who can answer any question about what you are and what you want.  A lot of the experiences you have shared sound like some kind of attraction or another, but us aromantics are notoriously poor judges of that sort of thing.  It's still possible to get married and have children as an aromantic, as long as you and your partner communicate about your feelings and desires.  I've certainly known people who got married and had children together because they wanted to raise a family, but weren't attracted to each other.  It also sounds like you're into more than just the mainstream model of marriage, so that's something to consider.  Polyamorous people, for example, can still get married to only one person and have children exclusively with that person if that's what they want, and have other intimate relationships as well.  I know a lot of poly people who essentially live the television suburban life with their cohabiting partner, white picket fence, big house, SUV to take the kids to soccer practice, and then pursue their other desires in other relationships.

 

It's also possible to engage in romantic relationships as an aromantic.  For me, romantic relationships get better with time, if my partner is understanding about how attraction and intimacy work for me.  But it takes lots of time.  I always start off feeling very awkward and uncertain, and I mostly just ride my partner's enthusiasm and interest vicariously.  As long as I'm enjoying our conversation (food helps) and our values are compatible, I can usually have a good time.  Eventually (after months or even a year), I start feeling attached to them, and then I feel like I'm actually engaging in the relationship, even if I don't feel romantic attraction.  Also, I've worked really hard at cultivating strong communication skills so I can contribute to building the relationship.  I guess that's always been the big difference between me and alloromantics.   Alloromantics "fall in love", I build attachment.  It's not for everyone, but it has worked for me a few times.

 

But whatever the case may be for you, it sounds like you'd benefit from exploring yourself.  Have you considered counseling?  I've found that trained therapists are really good at guiding this sort of thing.  A therapist who focuses on queer identities might be a good fit.

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It's ok to be confused. Hell knows we've all been there at some point - frustrated and angry at ourselves and the world for not "just picking a box!." I might be saying things you already know, but I do want to remind you that people and identities can be complex and can even change over time and circumstances. You will figure this out, and try not to be too hard on yourself along the journey.

 

With regards to romantic attraction, now that's an enigma. @Eklinaar said it well. We may not be the best people to understand it. But I do know that one thing I've found common in a lot of our advice is Communication. Building relationships takes time and effort, and sometimes our expectations of what something will be like will be shattered, making us feel empty or wrong. That doesn't mean your relationships are doomed to fail, or that you don't actually have attraction for someone necessarily, but it does mean that you need to work with the other person to define your relationship as you want it. You might not fit the 'traditional movie mould,' but I've found that a lot of people don't. It's ok if you don't like some parts of what is traditionally viewed as part of romance (e.g., kissing). It's ok to not feel a 'spark' and be instantly in love or romantically attracted to someone but still marry them and raise a family. The cool thing about life is that you get to define what your behaviours mean and what your labels are. If you're finding that you don't quite fit anywhere, maybe you haven't found the right description yet. That can be incredibly frustrating but you are under no time constraints, I assure you. If you communicate openly with your partner (e.g., "I'm not really sure about this whole romantic orientation thing but I do know I want to do x, y, and z with you") I think that you can have the space to think on things while still enjoying benefits of a relationship or multiple relationships. Your identity is yours and doesn't necessarily dictate your behaviour. Your behaviour is what other people are most concerned about, so as long as you know what you want in that domain, you can have successful relationships.

 

Thank you for coming by and sharing with us, even when you're confused and in crisis. Vulnerability is hard, and you're awesome for talking to us about it. I know that the internet has things like masterlists of romantic orientations (we do as well, in the Welcome section of these forums). I have found that those are sometimes a good place to start, because they include subtleties you might not get in the bigger umbrella terms. Maybe there is something there close to your experience, or something that can point you to what part of your experience is the most significant factor to you and your identity. And feel free to talk more with us or with a counsellor to bounce off ideas and find out what makes all of your past experiences and feelings similar. What's in common, you know? I wish you luck and send enormous virtual hugs and comfort. Please take care.

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I'm really glad this is helpful for you.  Stick around in the community and chat with people.  This is a good place.

 

51 minutes ago, maor said:

I wish I could jump into the mind of someone who experiences romance and feel what they feel to be able to compare it to my feelings.

 

I think a lot of us wish that.

 

51 minutes ago, maor said:

I’ve been scared that if I’m honest with myself and others it would drive people away from me.

 

Hoo boy.  I denied who I was for 10 years of my adult life because of this fear, and it was very, very bad.  Not only was I miserable and ill much of that time, but I also hurt a lot of people who cared about me both by doing what I thought I was "supposed" to and by just lashing out because I was dying inside.  While denial can be a self-preservation mechanism for some people, for me it was just a tempest of destruction, and I deeply regret it.

 

51 minutes ago, maor said:

I also cut people out of my life maybe too(?) easily. I personally don’t think this is a problem but if I were to ever try to pursue a partnership with someone I could imagine being impatient and giving up before a bond could be formed. I feel if I have to try and exert myself too much it isn’t worth it. Thats why the idea of falling in love is ideal to me. There’s no trying. It just happens. I don’t fancy the idea of building something with someone.

 

Honestly, this never happens, even for the most perfectly cis straight allos.  It may appear to happen, but it's all a house of cards that'll come tumbling down eventually.  No relationship is effortless, and if it seems that way, it's an illusion.  The best relationships take effort, but you're glad to make the effort, because the relationship and that person are delightful.

 

51 minutes ago, maor said:

When dating approaches me irl I turn it down no hesitation or if I get the sense someone likes me I’ll stop talking to them. I KNOOW THAT MAKES ME SOUND LIKE A TERRIBLE PERSON!!!

 

No, this is a real thing.  Some people experience attraction but it disappears as soon as there's even a hint that it could become actualized.  There's even a word for it.  Hopefully else someone will chime in.

 

51 minutes ago, maor said:

But i actually have been honest with one person about how I dont like relationships and told him I could never like him but he turned out to be a giant manipulator. He lied when he said he understood. And he wouldn’t stop making me uncomfortable. He’d call us hanging out dates. I said they weren’t and then he’d play victim. Then he took advantage of me when I was drunk. I don’t trust people to understand. So instead I get rid of them before they go too far. 

 

What he did is terrible.  It's okay to have and enforce personal boundaries, and you don't need excuses to do so.

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AKOIROMANTICISM !!! Akoiromanticisms... I'm sorry I'm coming in this thread like that but I've read all this thread and all the time I just wanted to skip everything to answer because damn there is so many damn things I want to say to you but I wanted to be sure to have all the information and be sure things weren't already said. 

So first thing first, like @Eklinaar said there's a thing for people that experience romantic attraction fantasize about the idea of relationships, marriage and all these type of traditional romantics things...but stop when it's becoming real. I'm pretty sure that's called akoiromanticism (before lithro but lithro was re-appropriated by lesbian community I think). I am not akoi so don't get your hopes up of me being like that and explaining it to you clearly because I am aro but I've found that term out some times ago when my friend shared to me a queerinclusive story with a character being akoi in it. I was really confused as to "What is that thing?" and by searching on the web I've found out that it is feeling attraction but from afar I guess because it's more of an idea than anything. I've actually got a character that is like that so I've remembered the term. You should probably check it out because I think it's that.

Second thing...Yes to the shrink. My dad is a psychiatrist, I'm actually seeing two therapists right now and I'm pushing everyone around me to see someone because it does help so much. Especially if you're lost because their job isn't really to give you an answer but to help you find the answer in yourself. Don't think you're seeing a shrink because you failed to find it all by yourself because it's a lie. For starter from what I've understood you came from a really traditional family so it's already really really brave of you to have come this far and to be so open-minded about yourself and about everything. You made a lot of progress and that's really great so seeing a shrink is in no way a step back or a plan B it's a move forward actually and a way to complete your plan A because you're not giving up and letting someone control things for you or making the decision about who you are. You are doing the work, they're helping me but you get all the credits. 

What you said about ticking boxes actually made me think a lot about a song from my favourite show ever (that everyone should see because honestly it's so good and realistic and a great criticism of relationship and it's queer positive and anyway awesome) about mental illness. I think you should listen to it because that's pretty much the same thing it's just about mental illness and not about attraction. 
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Which is a great thing is that Rebecca (the character) like you really hate the diagnosis that someone gave her because yeah it's true and it's the closest she's ever got to something real but there's a lot of stigma about it and a lot of things don't apply to her even if some do. And it doesn't mean that it's wrong it just means that things are more nuanced than boxes. Nobody lives thing the same way. Even in the aromantic community, well there's grey area for starter. You don't have to be alloromantic or aromantic but even in aromanticism a lot of people on here are romance repulsed or thing romance are toxic for people when me on the other hand could be consider as a sucker for romance. I can see the benefits of romance. It's just not for me. Mostly because we're all nuanced because we've lived different things and have been educated in different ways. And there's also other things and that's what I wanted to talk to you about next.

On the subject of mental illness and trauma and all that. Have you thought about questioning about that too? Maybe your experience is really difficult and frustrating to you because of other things. I for example I'm precocious and have hypersensibility which make me more sensible about well everything because my emotions are at the center of everything. It also makes me really empathic and perceptive so there isn't only downsides to it but it could be a reason for your confusion. My parents both have that too and my dad just like me suffers from userpator syndrom. When you constantly doubt about everything about yourself even if you rationally know that you're like that or you like that but you can't stop questioning yourself and have these phases where you're "Do I actually like this music or do I force myself to think that I like this music because I want to be hip and trendy or maybe it's because I don't want to be hip and trendy and I want to convince myself that I don't like it and that's why I'm doubting about my taste in music in the first place". When of course when you get through that you understand afterward that it is absolutely ridiculous to overanalyse that this much because you actually like this music because the beat is good and that's just it. Anyway, check into that maybe too? Because if there's a slight chance that you are precocious it would help you understand yourself more and it would also make you understand why you always felt different even before really questioning your sexuality, romance attraction or gender.

Also I relate to a ton of things you said but I'm not gonna talk more because this post is already long enough. Feel free to message me tho if you want to know more about my experience and learn from that (I personally love hearing other experiences it helps me figure myself out that's why I'm proposing that it's not because I have some magical answers).

P.S: Hypersensibility and all that is related to IQ (having a higher IQ than average) it's just that it's honestly another way of functioning and I'm afraid bluntly say it's related to that will make you think it's related to intelligence and don't put that much thought into it because it's really not about intelligence but more about emotions and sensibility. 

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So glad that what we've said helped you even a little, @maor! Figuring out identity and then coming to terms with it is such a whirlwind sometimes, and again you're honestly doing great by reaching out and letting us ramble with you about these things. They deserve a good rambling because the ultimate goal is for you to feel content with yourself.

 

I think you definitely said it well yourself. You seem to have some ideas about what your attraction is like, but you're having a hard time accepting it and you're not entirely sure why (though you've pointed to a few things like traditional upbringing, self-esteem, and expectations you have as possible factors). Talking things over with a specialist will definitely help narrow things down, and I'm glad you're looking into that!

 

I totally get wanting to be alone. I hate roommates. But for me, I know I'm this way because everyone I've lived with has been sort of crappy in some way. I think that it is possible to live with someone and raise a family and still set up boundaries for alone time that are healthy. I know some couples that sleep separately and are perfectly happy, for example, whether to help unwind with alone time or to accommodate differing sleep schedules. There are tonnes of options and I want to reiterate that you can have a successful relationship apart from the standard marriage model. I even know some aros who are in relationships with romantic people, even married and cohabiting, and their romantic partners don't mind that their orientation is the way it is. You've pointed this out as well: it sounds like what you are struggling with is internal and self-directed, like feeling anxious and guilty that you might be different from the traditional mould, even if your close others don't mind.

 

Cultivating patience and compassion/kindness for yourself is difficult (I don't pretend I'm an expert at that either, hahaha), but that may be a good step to take to being more comfortable with yourself and finding a person or people with which you can be happy. :)

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When I was younger I always assumed I would one day marry and have children. We all know the steps to this expected dance of life: you meet The Love of or life, you move in together, marry, have children, move to a house, spend all your time together. This is supposed to happen in sync with the climb of education and career ladder. 

 

To me the realization that I was aro made me question all the other expected steps. Like if I skip one can I still even do the other? Do I want to? In that order or another? 

How do I want to live? Right now and in the future? How much time of my life do I want to spend at work. It's like almost nothing is a fixed thing. It can be quiet exhausting and it would be easier to just go the standars route. The Normal Life But it would probably good for everyone to question these things an

 

 

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