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Can it work between an allo and an aro?


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I am questioning-identity looking for advice on a specific situation.


The past year, I was in a relationship with an aromantic partner. I used to identify as aromantic before I fell in love with this person, so I already understood right off the bat what kind of unique boundaries an aromantic person needs. I never expected more of their time or space than they were willing to give, and they openly appreciated me for it. They knew I didn't need them to love me romantically, and they were comfortable with my romantic feelings. 


As time went on in the relationship, they started saying that they loved me (non-romantically) more than they loved anyone else, and that they needed me in their life. They would joke about how we complimented each other perfectly as a couple. We talked about future possibilities (anniversaries, living together, how we would raise kids, ect) mutually and positively. I wanted to marry them one day, and assumed they felt the same. I got stupid and reckless; I started talking about future plans as if we had already finalized an engagement. It scared them, and two months ago they broke up with me, saying they couldn't commit to one person for the rest of their life. They've been avoiding me ever since. 


The breakup and their fear of commitment felt very out of the blue. And I'm still in love with them. What advice would relationship-positive aromantics give me about this? Should I accept the fact that I irrevocably messed up by disrespecting their boundaries, and let my ex go? Or do I have a chance, and if so, what should I keep in mind about rebuilding the relationship?

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16 hours ago, Beelithic said:

and two months ago they broke up with me, saying they couldn't commit to one person for the rest of their life.

Is this something you want? 


If yes, that's completely fine and valid, but it's probably not reconcilable with what your ex-partner wants (taking their reason for breaking up with you at face value)


On the other hand, if this isn't a must for you, and you'd be willing to consider open relationships or polyamoury then there might be scope to rebuild the relationship on those terms? Just my thoughts. 

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I am actually polyamorous by nature. This relationship was the first time I was ever wholy interested in one person, but I did offer at the start of the relationship, that if my partner wanted to be open/poly, I'd be down for it. They said they wanted to be exclusive, since at the time, I was the only person they were interested in. However, throughout the relationship, the two of us had absolutely no problem with the other flirting with or being affectionate with other people.

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I wasn't there, and I don't know you or your (former) partner, but from what I'm reading, I don't think you irrevocably messed up or that you need to be so hard on yourself over what happened.


I think possibly you both didn't handle things perfectly, which - you're both human: that happens. It sounds like you got excited about where you were headed with this person and talked about something that you possibly knew was off the table (?) but thought that they may have changed their mind instead of asking them about it and having a conversation. It sounds like your partner could have chosen to talk with you about this at any point about how yes, they wanted to spend their life with you but didn't want that to include marriage. It sounds very possible that your partner was also having other doubts that they chose not to communicate with you and so things compounded and they panicked and chose to withdrawal as a defense mechanism. I think you both didn't have a conversation where a conversation could have really helped clear things up. (To be clear, the conversation still might have lead to a separation but maybe you'd both feel like you had more closure, if not any less hurt, if it had happened this way.)


I do think that the break-up and them avoiding you is a clear sign not to push things with them right now, though. I can think of several possibilities of why this person suddenly broke things off, but all we know for sure is that they decided to break things off and avoid you. That hurts. And I'm so sorry you're experiencing this. I know it can't feel good. One of the great advice columnists I follow has a saying, though: "closure is the gift you give yourself". Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself time to wallow. But don't ignore the boundary they're holding up now. By ignoring you, they're telling you - even if in a very hurtful way - that they don't want to engage with you. And don't hold yourself back from experiencing life by getting too caught up in waiting for them to realize you two can still patch things up. You have no idea if they want to patch things up or if they do, how long that would even take them. So how can you take care of yourself right now? What other relationships in your life (friends, family, other relationships) can you foster right now? What hobbies and passions did you perhaps not give as much time to when you were with this person? What new things are happening in your town that you want to participate in? What self-care habits would feel good right now?


No one can predict what will happen in the future. All you can do is live for the now.


Your former partner has cut off communication. It seems likely that they know you are open to talking and meeting up. If you haven't been contacting them a whole bunch and have been mostly leaving them alone, I do think it would be okay for you to leave them one last message wherever is most reasonable/within boundaries saying that you're open to talking if they want to but that you're going to respect their boundary and back off and let them be the ones to re-open communicate with you if they ever want to do that. As the person who has cut off communication... it's up to them to open it back up and approach you, especially since you're open to that. Which means, yes, I think you need to let your ex go. If they want to talk, they'll let you know.


And to answer the root question asked in your title: yes, I do think it can work between an allo and an aro... but that doesn't mean it will always work between an allo and an aro. ?

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Thank you for the detailed and supportive response. I do have a habit of blaming myself too harshly for things that I do need to be reminded out of from time to time. 


Though, when I said that they're avoiding me, that was a simplification for how I'm perceiving their behavior post-breakup. About a week after the breakup, I asked if they were okay with me contacting them. They said yes, and that whether we developed a friendship or not was entirely up to me. The few times I texted them, they responded quickly and positively, and we would joke around like nothing changed. But over time I noticed that they never texted first, even if I left them alone for weeks at a time. Also they've turned down opportunities to see me in person (which I understand and have not pushed on.) Compared with how quick they were to seek me out during the relationship, it feels like they're putting more space between us. 


Does your advice still stand about letting go and not pushing for any interaction until they seek it out themselves?

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Thanks for the clarification! In that case, I would try not to overly analyze what they're thinking because there could be any number of reasons they respond positively but don't start up the conversations or want to meet in person, but instead focus on what makes you happy and what are healthy decisions for your mental health right now.


Is it making you unhappy to do all the reaching out and not have it returned? Then maybe it's time to turn down how often you contact them! If not, then maybe you want to continue as you have been.


Is it making you exhausted to do all the reaching out and not have it returned? Then maybe it's time to step back and only contact them when you have the energy to do so and really want to. If not, then maybe you want to just keep doing what you're doing.


Is it making you happy to reach out but unhappy once it's over and contact isn't reciprocated? Then maybe it's time to step back and give you both some space to process some more before re-navigating your friendship. If not, then maybe you keep contacting them and keep just talking about whatever with them.


Is it making you unhappy or confusing your feelings to still be entangled in trying to navigate a friendship with this person so soon after breaking up? Then maybe it's time to take your own space - just until you've had more time to process and come to terms with the new state of the relationship! If not, then maybe it's okay to continue to explore what transitioning back to a non-partnered friendship means to the two of you.


Be honest about what you want and need, and let your former partner be honest about what they want and need. Maybe you should have a conversation specifically addressing the break-up and what this transition means between the two of you and set some new expectations for what you each want out of the relationship? I think it makes sense that things are a little awkward and weird, since you're re-exploring an old (yet "new") stage of your relationship to each other and how it will work, so maybe specifically addressing that and talking about it a bit could help you both share expectations and have smoother interactions.

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Thank you again for your continued, well-thought-out advice! It does mean a lot that you're willing to put in this time and energy for a stranger.


Unfortunately on my end, I got my answer. Yesterday morning (before I even received your response, actually) I reached out asking if we could have a conversation about the breakup and how we would like to define things henceforth. They never texted back. And after a year of dating them, I know my ex well enough to know that a lack of response is a full answer in of itself. 


Honestly, my hopes of continuing the relationship, or even building a friendship, was based on the uncertainty I had about how they felt about me now. Now that my uncertainties have been answered, I can move on. It hurt, yeah, but it's also relieving to finally be walking away from all the stress and second-guessing. Plus I have so many friends who have been wonderful, constant support through all of this, and I am happy to spend my life with all of the people who have proven to me multiple times that they will always be there for me.


I think I'm going to leave this thread up, in case anyone else comes by dealing with a similar situation. And like you said, it does all come down to communication. Hopefully if an allo and an aro realize they're in a similar situation that my partner and I found themselves in, they can learn from this how to maturely address it, instead of it turning into a whole messy process like it did for me.

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