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Aromantic or just fear of commitment?


ClawedSimian
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I'm 42/m(cis)/hetero, never married, never had a serious relationship. In 20s assumed I'd eventually get married, have kids, had crushes, etc. Whenever I'd be interested in someone, it'd be the typical butterflies in stomach, sexual attraction stuff. (Definitely not asexual) But whenever anyone reciprocated I'd lose interest. Fast forward to mid-30s and the same thing happening over and over, finally decided to just take plunge and get into a relationship just to get into one, get past the losing interest because I wasn't sure if it was just fear of commitment or really a lack of interest.

 

Have had 2-3 of these relationships, each broken off by me or the partner because I didn't want to move the relationship forward for various reasons.

 

I'm currently not sure if I just am not interested in these relationships unless I'm with the right person, or if it has to be 'easy' or... ugh. Not sure what other option that doesn't make me feel like a selfish prick. Is aro the wrong label for me given that I start these relationships with feelings, even though I don't continue with them? How can I know whether this is an 'identity' that  I can embrace vs having one of those attachment types instead (dismissive-avoidant and similar seem applicable)?

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aromantic just means you don't experience romantic attraction, which logically tends to lead to disinterest in romantic relationships, but that's not what defines the orientation.  (some aros enjoy dating, and some are interested in queerplatonic relationships.)  it sounds like you do experience romantic attraction but maybe infrequently or fleetingly.  if you feel that that's accurate, you could go with gray-aromantic.  another possibility is lithromantic, meaning your romantic attraction disappears when it's reciprocated.  otherwise it's certainly possible that you're not on the aro spectrum but you just have a different approach to romantic and/or sexual relationships--nothing wrong with that.  it's not selfish to not want a long-term or very involved relationship; i don't know what would make you think that, to be honest.  you don't owe anyone your time, affection, or anything else--as long as you're honest about what you're looking for in the relationship, if you do enter one, which again, you certainly don't have to.  if the other person doesn't share your feelings or attitudes, it's not your fault any more than it is theirs.  

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I mean, a "fear of commitment" can really just be reworded as "experiences minimal romantic attraction which makes the beginning stages of a relationship manageable, but more serious/longterm aspects of them unbearable." It's not an odd experience in the aromantic community to experience a mild attraction or be tolerant of romantic actions. Other attractions, such as sexual and platonic, can also play a role in making these relationships enjoyable until they hit a "definitely romantic" threshold. 

If the aromantic label and community feels right and feels useful in explaining how you relate to others, then no-one can stop you from using it. You may also find aro-spectrum experiences, such as grey-romantic, to be relatable.

I don't see any reason for you to be feeling selfish about these occurrences. You said that you begin relationships "with feelings" and then these feelings leave - that's how most relationships end, regardless of romantic orientation. There's nothing particularly terrible or news-breaking about losing interest in someone, so please be gentle with yourself. 

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