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Cassiopeia

Internalized arophobia (and how to get rid of it)

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Prompted by a post in another topic, lets discuss how we sabotage ourselves in order to attempt to conform to the norm-and how to find a healthier way of thinking.

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I feel bad for rejecting anyone who I've had feelings for in the past (prior to their reciprocation), so I force myself into romantic relationships with them, trying to figure out ways to cut the relationship short before it gets a chance to turn super serious. Relationship anarchy has helped me a lot--I realize that I shouldn't try to force my connections with people to fit into any mold, and that I should just let connections happen with the ebb and flow of feelings (both mine and theirs), without feeling the need to declare which types of feelings are more important than others.

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It's insidious how much we allow the people around us to control us by telling us to be a certain way. It's like society says:

 

Quote

You must be in a relationship (like me) in order to be happy. See, everyone else is doing it? So, you should too because it works for all those people.

 

It's hard to argue against this point. Even if you are perfectly happy, you have to wonder if you might be even happier in a romantic relationship. A total lack of desire for a romantic relationship is still not proof enough to never try, right?

 

I can say I was locked into that type of thinking for the last 20 years, and I wish I had broken free sooner. I think the difficulty is in accepting you are simply different than most people. Your own desires don't have to line up with everybody else. Knowing that most people really do have a drive towards romance helped me to understand that a lack of that same desire means I shouldn't keep trying to find romance. It would be like learning to become a grandmaster at chess when you derive no pleasure from it.

 

It can be scary too of course. If your life isn't like the lives of everyone around you, then where's the instruction manual? If you are romantic, you have people all around you to ask for advice. But for an aro, who can you turn to? And how do you combat loneliness without a romantic partner, especially when your friends leave you for their romantic partners?

 

The point is, there is hope. Understanding the truth about ourselves is a good portion of the battle. The future is scary enough for many other reasons. It's better not to worry and just do what makes you happy.

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When I was depressed (still am, not as severe), people said it was because I was lonely (implied romantically). I didn't really have a good reason why they were wrong, so I just kinda assumed they were right. I knew you had to have some sort of connection to someone so I just didn't do anything and waitied, nothing happened, I was ok with it but still depressed so I eventually gave trying to date someone a go. As soon as the words "want to go out?" came out of my mouth I knew it was wrong, I felt terrible and broken. Like everyone wants love right? So why dont I? Ended up putting me further down the spiral :T

 

Eventually I was introduced to the word asexual, which was awesome, because I felt that fit perfectly, like hells yes thats me! But when I found out romantic and sexual attraction were seperate, and that there were aces who still wanted a relationship, I realised that once again, I was different. I didn't fit in. I wasn't sex-repulsed or seeking romance. Even when I was introduced to the word aromantic I felt I wasn't a part of that group as they sounded cold and/or uncaring as well as the fact I felt physical contact was still nice, hugs and things. Then I met someone online who was aro, and discovered that sensual attraction was different again from romance, and have finally started Identifying with the term.

 

So basically, it takes ages, and knowing where everything sits on your own personal attraction scale.

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3 hours ago, 46odnetnin said:

When I was depressed (still am, not as severe), people said it was because I was lonely (implied romantically). I didn't really have a good reason why they were wrong, so I just kinda assumed they were right.

Lol, I got that a lot.

 

And I also I wanna thank those well-meaning adults who tell kids that:

"Sex is a thing people do when a couple is really in love with each other."

"You should wait for the special someone with your first time, otherwise you will regret it."

 

Yeah I guess that is society's way of protecting teens from predatory people who do not care about their partners, but in the case of an allosexual aro, it just.... does not work very well?

But I did not know that.

So there was baby aro me, waiting for the feels to arrive.

 

15 years old: ok, so everyone is having the thing, soon it'll be my turn :crickets:

18 years old: so? guys? what's going on? :crickets:

20 years old: houston? we've got a problem? the thing isn't working? am I doing something wrong? :crickets:

23 years old: you know what? I'll do whatever I want (or whomever;)) I don't care how special it is

 

And that was it. I'm from a quite open minded, non-traditional family, so I did get fed up with that crap quickly and did what I wanted, but imagine this if the person in question is a little less rebellious... Still, that was a nice guilt trip.

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7 hours ago, Cassiopeia said:

Prompted by a post in another topic, lets discuss how we sabotage ourselves in order to attempt to conform to the norm-and how to find a healthier way of thinking.

 

When I was younger I just took onboard people saying "there's someone for everyone"; "it'll happen eventually"; "you just need to meet the right person"; etc.
Thus assumed that I'd  somehow magically become "normal".
No websites or social media around thirty odd years ago to show that I wasn't unique in my thinking.

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I never really had the issue of trying to conform behavior-wise--I've never attempted to date or have any sort of romantic-style relationship.  Honestly, it didn't even occur to me to try.  I knew from a very young age that I didn't work like most other people in this regard, so it seemed pointless to try to fake it.  But that didn't stop me from feeling broken.  I knew that my desires and goals in life (no romantic partner or kids) were different than what society told me they should be, and that left me wondering what was wrong with me.  Because I knew that I'd never feel what I was supposed to feel...so what did that mean for my life? Society's message that life isn't worth living without romantic love and all that comes with it definitely got to me and made me wonder if I was capable of being as happy as other people.  It's still difficult sometimes to tune it out, but the more comfortable I am with myself, the easier it is.  Everyone is different, and what I need to be happy and what someone else needs to be happy is different.  This is not a one-size-fits-all situation, despite what society sells. 

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It is such a damaging idea that out of everything we can do - it'll never be as good or make us as happy as a romantic relationship. I want to go to uni, get a good job, have great friends and go on holiday with them, lots of pets, a nice gaming PC... But clearly, I won't ever be truly happy or complete because I'm not gonna date someone.

 

I always thought the reason I wasn't getting crushes is because I haven't found "the one" and it still feels like that sometimes - I spent so long thinking "How can I ever know I'm aro? How do I know that I won't meet "the one" soon?" because society doesn't show happy single people. Even if they are happy single, they're happier when they're dating and married and with kids. It takes a lot to get over the idea that dating won't make everyone really happy, it won't "fix" you.

 

I think spending time with the aromantic community definitely helped me realise that there's nothing wrong with this, we can still be happy without dating.

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Around five years ago I had pretty bad depression, which ended up effecting my personality. Long story short: my personality was terrible. I was always angry, and I remember there was one day in particular that I was happy all day and later I found that scary because I hadn't been happy for such a long time.

 

More to the point though; because I thought that romantic attraction was something everyone needed to be happy I thought that my lack of attraction was because I thought myself to be an awful person.

It makes sense that I would think that honestly. If you look at good characters vs. bad characters in fiction it's rare for a bad character to feel romantic attraction, and when they do they often turn good because of it. 

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1 hour ago, IncrediblyIncompetent said:

Around five years ago I had pretty bad depression, which ended up effecting my personality. Long story short: my personality was terrible. I was always angry, and I remember there was one day in particular that I was happy all day and later I found that scary because I hadn't been happy for such a long time.

 

More to the point though; because I thought that romantic attraction was something everyone needed to be happy I thought that my lack of attraction was because I thought myself to be an awful person.

It makes sense that I would think that honestly. If you look at good characters vs. bad characters in fiction it's rare for a bad character to feel romantic attraction, and when they do they often turn good because of it. 

YES to ALLL OF THIS!!!! I was diagnosed with a personality disorder little over a year ago and a half afo-- shortly after I was beginning to question if I was aro, and I thought "My mental illness must be what's making me aro so it doesn't count." and I always thought that's what kept me from falling in love and I hated myself for it.

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1 hour ago, Courier Six said:

I thought "My mental illness must be what's making me aro so it doesn't count."

 

ive been in this line of thinking before - however!! even if you do discover that your identity is dependent on your mental illness, that doesn't mean that youre any less of a person or that your identity shouldn't count. it does count, and you have value as a person regardless :D

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It's taken me so long to accept I'm aro, and even now sometimes it's hard. Even after I learned about aromanticism, I felt awful about it. There's such a strong cultural narrative of "if you're single, you're alone forever" and it's such a hard mindset to get through. 

3 hours ago, Courier Six said:

YES to ALLL OF THIS!!!! I was diagnosed with a personality disorder little over a year ago and a half afo-- shortly after I was beginning to question if I was aro, and I thought "My mental illness must be what's making me aro so it doesn't count." and I always thought that's what kept me from falling in love and I hated myself for it.

Also this! I've had mental illness almost my whole life and there's times I wonder if I'm not just somehow unable to emotionally connect to people because of whatever crap I have going on in my head.

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Part of me still wonders if it really is just a phase. I'm a teenager, not an adult, in most people's eyes I'm still a child. 

Then I try to remind myself that romantic and sexual orientations are fluid, and even if it is just a phase, I'm still valid.

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Around five years ago I had pretty bad depression, which ended up effecting my personality. Long story short: my personality was terrible. I was always angry, and I remember there was one day in particular that I was happy all day and later I found that scary because I hadn't been happy for such a long time.

 

That... is literally how I felt when I had a romantic relationship. O.o I got diagnosed with Borderline disorder (for the records: I am more or less the least impulsive/ self-destructing person in the world) and even took medication against pathological aggressive behaviour in order to be a "better" girlfriend. In order to safe a romantic relationship I hadn' even want to have in the first place. I guess this could have been some internalized arophobia. How I got rid of it: I kept away from dating, and especially this compulsive "search for a partner" kind of socializing. It sounds silly, but: let loose and embrace who you are. You're okay.

That's not easy, though. Especially since I'm approaching my thirties, I sometimes ask myself: what have I reached in my life? No partner, no shared flat, no engagement, no wedding, no baby. I have grown up in a rather traditional environment, in which, without being very religious, everybody's life is structured along the big christian markers of baptism, confirmation, wedding, children's baptisms, confirmations and weddings, and funeral. Not only am I an atheist, I even lack a secular version of wedding and children-related stuff. This means, I feel pretty invisible sometimes. True, I got a Master's degree, I am getting a PhD, I preset my research on international conferences, but that does not count as long as I have not reached the "true life goals". I cannot help feeling very humble and like a failure at times. 

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I feel like one of the reasons it took me so long to realise I was aromantic was because of the constant subliminal messaging of everyone loves love.

 

I found asexual and quickly embraced it, happy to find something that explained a lot of my feelings and wasn't synonymous with broken. I saw the aromantic community and thought that couldn't possibly be me. I had to be able to have relationsjips. It was really obvious too, like you don't hate relationships as much as I do because you aren't sexually attracted to people, it's because you're not romantically attracted to people. When I started realising I was aromantic I was really sad. The idea of my future happiness was so heavily tied to falling in love; regardless of the fact that relationships make me miserable. It still gets to me sometimes but I know deep down I'm happiest surrounded by friends, family, pets and no romantic interests whatsoever.

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On 16/04/2016 at 4:24 AM, Cassiopeia said:

So there was baby aro me, waiting for the feels to arrive.

 

15 years old: ok, so everyone is having the thing, soon it'll be my turn :crickets:

18 years old: so? guys? what's going on? :crickets:

20 years old: houston? we've got a problem? the thing isn't working? am I doing something wrong? :crickets:

23 years old: you know what? I'll do whatever I want (or whomever;)) I don't care how special it is

 

And that was it. I'm from a quite open minded, non-traditional family, so I did get fed up with that crap quickly and did what I wanted, but imagine this if the person in question is a little less rebellious... Still, that was a nice guilt trip.

This is me. I am turning 23 soon and preparing to come out in the open about my ace/aro status. I have already told my parents, and a couple of friends. The big step will probably be changing my Facebook profile.

xD

 

@EDIT: About "the one", some days I feel like I'm still waiting for it. Maybe I will wait for it ad aeternum. Hope is the last one to die, right?

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Good luck with coming out Chronos. It's a big step but an important one. If people don't believe you, then that's their problem, not yours.

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I think the biggest thing for me is feeling wanted. Like, there's this unspoken rule that if you can't do romantic love then no one will want you in any capacity. This is why I don't openly list my aromantic identity on my dating profiles or social media-I have this paranoia that if potential friends or sexual partners see it, they'll no longer want me or bother to associate with me because I can't give them the love they want/won't be able to relate to them. This is such a terrible thing to internalize I know, and I'm working on it but even on good days the anxiety likes to hang out in the background.

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I agree. Specially because most people would not know what aromanticism is, and probably make their own assumptions instead of researching it...

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I feel, I guess,  completely useless.

I graduated highschool with honours with distinction and 3 awards - ok. I got into my top University - so did all the other students there.  I'm very musically skilled - fine.  I've got lots of great friends and supportive family - so like 70%of the planet?

It's like, none of what I do will ever mean anything because everyone that I can love and make happy already has another, better person, so I'm kinda just here.

It's like, you know those children's toys you wind up and they hop around?  I'm like one of those that's fallen over and its legs are just flailing in the air looking like an idiot.

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So... I have friends that I like and I have people in my life, that are so very important to me (all long distance), but I always feel like I simply have to put myself second or third in everything, because I am aro... because I can't and don't want to be their romantic partner.

I love my friends, but whenever we have a fight, when I consider my future, when I'm hurt or want to talk about something, I do a double take and ask myself if I'm "allowed" to "demand" time from them for my silly little problems. Do I, who is "just" a friend, have any right to ask for anything in a friendship? Because they are working their asses of in university and at their jobs. They already have limited freetime and they have partners. How can someone, who is "just a friend" ask for time to unwind, when they have so little to spare for themselves?

 

Now the two I really care for are awesome and actually make time for me, but I still can't help myself. I feel that, because of how I am, I'm not allowed to have anything for myself. No "home", no person that'd stay by my side, no important objects. Like everything meaningful is just borrowed or rented and could easily break away, if I'm not careful. To make it into something I can have for myself, I'd have to love it "the right way" otherwise I have no right to ask for anything. 

(Does this make sense?)

 

I know this is harmful thinking, but I haven't found a healthier way to rephrase it yet... I'm still pretty much in the process of figuring this one out...

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On 07 July 2016 at 10:42 PM, Kojote said:

I love my friends, but whenever we have a fight, when I consider my future, when I'm hurt or want to talk about something, I do a double take and ask myself if I'm "allowed" to "demand" time from them for my silly little problems. Do I, who is "just" a friend, have any right to ask for anything in a friendship?

Wow, I understand this completely. Also, the few times when I did try to talk to friends about my problems, they either misunderstood me, or just kind of brushed me off. I only have one friend IRL who really tries to understand how important friends are to me, but he just isn't the same way, so I don't think he really gets it.

 

On 27 June 2016 at 11:26 AM, hangryeowyn said:

I think the biggest thing for me is feeling wanted. Like, there's this unspoken rule that if you can't do romantic love then no one will want you in any capacity.

Same here :( I mean I know this shouldn't be true, there have to be people out there who will like me for the right reasons... but what are the odds...

 

I also get scared of physical affection and general touching, because I have no idea where the lines of "appropriateness" are. And I actually like physical affection and touching and hugs... but I'm scared of making it obvious that I like those things, in case people think I'm really after something else entirely. I'm kinda working on this... some of the people I hang out with are very huggy and touchy-feely... (martial artists are weird)... so I enjoy that. I haven't really tried to initiate any hugs or whatever yet... but I guess I can work up to that.

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On 27/06/2016 at 10:26 AM, hangryeowyn said:

I think the biggest thing for me is feeling wanted. Like, there's this unspoken rule that if you can't do romantic love then no one will want you in any capacity. This is why I don't openly list my aromantic identity on my dating profiles or social media-I have this paranoia that if potential friends or sexual partners see it, they'll no longer want me or bother to associate with me because I can't give them the love they want/won't be able to relate to them. This is such a terrible thing to internalize I know, and I'm working on it but even on good days the anxiety likes to hang out in the background.

 

On the other hand if you don't tell them they could expect kinds of behaviour which you simply can't do. Possibly even that you feel repulsed attempting or receiving. Being wanted as a sort of allo-romantic parody of oneself can be horrible, IME.

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On 6.7.2016 at 4:33 PM, Swablu said:

It's like, none of what I do will ever mean anything because everyone that I can love and make happy already has another, better person, so I'm kinda just here.

This is the mentality I already embraced before I heard about aromanticism "I'm kinda just here". My mindset is pretty much to just be there with some friends and enjoy the view. 

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Ooh, lots of good stuff in this old thread :D 

 

Like this:

On 4/16/2016 at 5:11 AM, Blue Phoenix Ace said:

I think the difficulty is in accepting you are simply different than most people. Your own desires don't have to line up with everybody else. Knowing that most people really do have a drive towards romance helped me to understand that a lack of that same desire means I shouldn't keep trying to find romance. It would be like learning to become a grandmaster at chess when you derive no pleasure from it.

 

And this:

On 4/16/2016 at 8:24 AM, Cassiopeia said:

And I also I wanna thank those well-meaning adults who tell kids that:

"Sex is a thing people do when a couple is really in love with each other."

"You should wait for the special someone with your first time, otherwise you will regret it."

 

Yeah I guess that is society's way of protecting teens from predatory people who do not care about their partners, but in the case of an allosexual aro, it just.... does not work very well?

But I did not know that.

So there was baby aro me, waiting for the feels to arrive.

 

15 years old: ok, so everyone is having the thing, soon it'll be my turn :crickets:

18 years old: so? guys? what's going on? :crickets:

20 years old: houston? we've got a problem? the thing isn't working? am I doing something wrong? :crickets:

23 years old: you know what? I'll do whatever I want (or whomever;)) I don't care how special it is

 

And that was it. I'm from a quite open minded, non-traditional family, so I did get fed up with that crap quickly and did what I wanted, but imagine this if the person in question is a little less rebellious... 

 

*puts hand up* Well, my family aren't closed minded, but you could say that they are fairly "traditional" and I'm also not the most naturally rebellious type...

So it was still :crickets: for me until about 30! -_- But hey, there's hope for me yet ;) (y'know, armed with this new self-knowledge :aropride:)

 

Also, everything @Kojote wrote about the romance>friends 'hierarchy' that we can internalise is soooooo relatable. Like, oftentimes I really wanna just hang out with old friends for hours at a time, like we used to do at university, before all of the weddings and kids and careers "stuff" happened... (but that's totally impossible now, right? as a regular and informal thing, that is)

 

On 7/7/2016 at 9:42 PM, Kojote said:

Now the two I really care for are awesome and actually make time for me, but I still can't help myself. I feel that, because of how I am, I'm not allowed to have anything for myself. No "home", no person that'd stay by my side, no important objects. Like everything meaningful is just borrowed or rented and could easily break away, if I'm not careful. To make it into something I can have for myself, I'd have to love it "the right way" otherwise I have no right to ask for anything. 

(Does this make sense?)

 

It does.

I wonder: you wrote that almost a year ago and said you were looking for a 'healthier' way to understand/phrase it. What do you think now?

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