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Help! Am I aro?


Guest panickedkai
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Guest panickedkai

Hello! I really, really, really need some help, and I was hoping that you guys could help me.

My eighteen birthday is approaching and, as of now, I have never ever been in a relationship before, and I've never had a "crush" at any of my classmates.(And just a disclaimer, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and I know it! If it turns out that Im aro it would be fine, although it is true that I really want to be in a relationship?) A little bit of background may be necessary: I have been going to the same school and with the same people since I was 5 and, as such, I dont really feel attracted towards them because theyre kind of like family... I guess? At least thats what I used to think, yet all of my classmates have fallen in love with each other, developed relationships etc, so maybe its just that Im incapable of romantic affection... The only three people I think Ive ever had a "crush" on... well those crushes were very short lived? I ended up disliking something about them (one girl I liked in middle school bullied me, I stopped liking a guy in HS because he kept making very sexist and homophobic remarks along with being mean in general (im a bisexual girl) and my third "crush" was a month ago, and finished when i found out the guy was in a happy relationship with another girl)... But arent crushes supposed to make you illogical and see no fault in your crush? Make you pursue them unrelentlessly? Many of my friends have had crushes or even dated pretty nasty people, yet the infatuation didnt end when they found out they were mean so idk. 

I do want to have a romantic relationship, but it feels as though I am simply unable to develop those feelings,,, and as of this last two years, because of my depression, i feel even less? And idk, am i incapable of love or just depressed? I dont understand the concept of falling in love at first sight bc i feel as though I would only be able to fall in love with someone if i knew them you know? Because you cant really fall in love with people you dont know right? Thats why ive never had celebrity crushes, because theyre real people and since I dont know them I feel as though its gross? (I have no problem with fictional characters though). Btw, I do find people attractive sexually speaking, and I guess I do find people pretty and I've sometimes daydreamed about doing romantic things with them, but only with friends. And I've never felt those "butterflies on your stomach" everyone keeps talking about, I think. But I still really want a romantic relationship?

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you can guide me!

 

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There's a lot of "shoulds" here that I don't think are necessarily true!

 

Should you be able to crush on people you consider family? Nah. Just because other people do it doesn't mean you're obligated. Maybe they never thought of each other as family. Maybe they were sitting on those feelings a while. Maybe, maybe, maybe a lot of things!

 

Should having a crush blind you to people's very real (and very harmful) qualities? Nope! Certainly not. In fact, it's very reasonable to notice those qualities and to react to them! Do people (usually in long-term, committed relationships) sometimes downplay those qualities or major relationship disagreements (such as differences in where you want to live, if you want kids, etc.) in a misled belief that "it can't be that bad" or "they'll change their mind"? Yeah! Sadly, all the time. But I strongly believe that's less a quality of "having a crush" than it is of cisheteronormative amatonormativity, like being told overly romanticized messages of how "love means you can work out literally ANY difference: it'll just somehow magically be okay in the end" as seen in so many shows and movies and read in so many books. And sometimes people may use a crush as an excuse to overlook such disgusting qualities such as racism or homophobia - but that says far more about what they actually believe (if they're willing to excuse racism or homophobia, it's likely because they agree with those beliefs, regardless of what they verbally claim) than what a crush is.

 

Should crushes be long-term? Nah! Some might be, but they certainly don't have to be.

 

Should a crush feel like "butterflies in your stomach"? Nope, not at all! For a lot of people, that sensation is actually anxiety and nerves (which definitely can go along with being around a crush for some people!). And people experience emotions in so many different ways. I've experienced and heard crushes described as magnetism, wanting to be with someone often, finding people funny even when they're not, being unable to stop looking at or thinking about the crush, etc. I've actually rarely heard a real life person really describe their crush experience as butterflies.

 

Should you understand "love at first sight" if you're not aromantic? Nope! This is a common media trope, but I've never known any real life couple that would claim love at first sight. Lust at first sight, sure. Crush at first sight - possible. But love? Probably a trope because it seems really romantic and people like being swept up by that, but also because it cuts out a lot of time and character development otherwise needed to explain two characters getting together, lol.

 

Should you not want a romantic relationship if you're aro? Nope! Aromantic means "lack of or low amount of romantic attraction". Many aros don't want a romantic relationship, true. But some do! In fact, enough do that they have a specific term for being aromantic and wanting a romantic relationship regardless: cupioromantic.

 

Now, after all those "shoulds or shouldn'ts" you might find my next piece of advice kind of confusing, but bear with me.

 

You could very well be aromantic (including being somehow aro spectrum)! The thing is, none of us can determine that for you. I can tell you that a lot of your experiences are ones that probably many arospec people can relate to. I can tell you that I think you may be interested in learning more about the aromantic spectrum. You might also be particularly interested in neuro-based identities. For example, there's a cavusgender for someone who's gender is impacted by their depression - you might play around with how you feel about cavusromantic for someone who's romantic attraction is tied up in/impacted by their depression. Demiromantic is also leaping out to me as something you might be interested in judging by many of the things you said. You might start with AUREA or the aromantic wikia just for some 101 intro definitions (and from there, you can decide if there's anything you want to know about more in depth, for which you can search around and also ask here).

 

But the most important questions to ask yourself when debating using a label are the following:

- Do I want to use [label]?

- Does [label] help me communicate how I feel to others?

- Does using [label] make me feel happier? More comfortable? More positive about how I feel?

- Does using [label] help me connect to a community of people with similar experiences?

 

If you answered yes to any single one of those questions, then that's a good reason to use [label]! Remember, identity is not something you have to prove. It's not something that can be tested or diagnosed or calculated. Identity is extremely personal and the labels we use are for personal and social purposes. Identity or even labeling ourselves isn't about solid, well-defined categories that we can be wrong about. It's about exploring and coming to terms with how we feel and what this means for us personally. Humans like labels because it makes it easier for us to process and understand information, but identity labels are not predetermined and you don't need permission to try out or use a label. No one is a better judge of how you feel than you are. If you feel like you don't experience romantic attraction or aren't experiencing it like everyone around you seems to be experiencing it, then you can simply trust those feelings. You don't have to convince anybody else of that.

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