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Confusedc

23 and really confused. Some advice would maybe help?

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Hi! I’m a 23 year old female who is really confused about my romantic/sexual orientation. I have a pretty normal life. I have a lot of friends, a loving family, a good social life, a good job everything seems ok on the outside but on the inside I feel broken. I’ve been worrying about my romantic/sexual orientation since I was 17. It’s caused me a lot of distress over the years and I’m currently on anti-depressants with one of the main reasons being my confusion. For a while I was so distressed I completely lost my appetite and couldn’t eat for around a month. I’ve been in counselling and one of the themes that would always come up was the fact that I was scared of being alone and that I was incapable of love (romantic love that is).Ive read so many articles about sexuality and romantic orientations trying to figure out what I am and it’s all just getting a bit to much for me now.

To cut a long story short. I have never experienced a crush. From what I’ve read about it and what you feel like that’s never happened to me before. I’ve never felt the butterflies in my stomach or the heart beating faster when I’m around someone. I spoke to my doctor about this and he said not everyone feels that way but every single thing I’ve read or heard people talk about says that’s how it feels. I’ve only ‘seen/dated’ one person before. We spoke for a few weeks went on a few dates and I got on well with him but I never felt any of that. I was excited to see him but then when I wasn’t getting these feelings it made me feel like there was something wrong with me, that I should be feeling these thing but I’m not? I spoke to my friends about not feeling butterflies or anything like that and they said that it takes time. I thought I liked him, I enjoyed kissing him and I was the one that initiated going further. He never once pressured me into doing anything. I should also mention I’ve never had sex before, I’ve never felt any sexual urges or that I wanted to rip someone’s clothes off or like I’m being pulled to someone like a magnet which I know sounds like I’m asexual but I want to have these feelings, I want to feel that desire for someone simply because I want to know what that feels like, to feel that for someone. I never had sex with this guy because I couldn’t, my body did not react at all. Even reading everything about Asexuality, it’s says that asexuals don’t  feel attraction. This is separate from action. Asexuals bodies work the same as sexuals bodies. They’re nerve endings still work the same and the body functions in the same way. However, mines doesn’t. When he was touching me it felt like nothing. And when it felt like nothing I started to panic like why does this not feel good? Even when I’ve tried myself it still feels like nothing? Which makes me think as a human being I’m broken. Nothing has went further with this guy but I still feel guilty or that I was lying to him or wasting his time because I never felt butterflies in my stomach. I don’t know if that sounds silly or not but I do. Even though he was the one that ended it (ghosted me 40 minutes before a date). I’ve also been told that you when you have a crush on someone that you think about them constantly, which I did but I have an obsessive personality (also something I’m on anti-depressants for to try and help my obsessive thoughts) so the whole time we were talking I was obsessing over why do I not feel butterflies etc etc. Like I don’t understand how I haven’t felt anything like that before, romantic feelings are based off of hormones and a release of hormones in the brain which causes all these emotions, how could it be possible for me not to have this function? Same with sexual attraction, it goes back to caveman days and survival? I don’t understand how I can’t/haven’t felt that and other people can?

Sorry, I know this is a bit all over the place and a bit of a ramble but I don’t know who else to talk to that would maybe understand what I’m going through. I so desperately want to fall in love and be attracted to people but as of yet I’ve never felt anything like that. It makes me feel unnormal. I don’t want to be alone. A lot of aro/aces don’t mind or don’t have a desire for romantic/sexual relationships which I fully respect but it’s not the life I wanted. At this point I don’t know what to do. I’m dreading the rest of my life because if I am aro and ace then there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it and that breaks my heart. I honestly don’t see the point in being here if I am unable to feel these emotions.
 

I just don’t know what to do.

Edited by Confusedc

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54 minutes ago, Confusedc said:

Even reading everything about Asexuality, it’s says that asexuals don’t  feel attraction. This is separate from action. Asexuals bodies work the same as sexuals bodies. They’re nerve endings still work the same and the body functions in the same way. However, mines doesn’t. When he was touching me it felt like nothing. And when it felt like nothing I started to panic like why does this not feel good? Even when I’ve tried myself it still feels like nothing? Which makes me think as a human being I’m broken.

You are not broken. Or then, we both are. Whay they mean by "it is separate from action" is that some asexuals will feel aroused, excited, by touching or imagery. But not all are. Believe me, I tried to feel excited by images that are supposed to be, and it never worked. This is not abnormal. That just the way your body reacts (or, in this case, doesn't react). You are not alone like that.

 

57 minutes ago, Confusedc said:

Like I don’t understand how I haven’t felt anything like that before, romantic feelings are based off of hormones and a release of hormones in the brain which causes all these emotions, how could it be possible for me not to have this function? Same with sexual attraction, it goes back to caveman days and survival? I don’t understand how I can’t/haven’t felt that and other people can?

I'm not an expert but think of it that way. If this is hormones, why bi or pansexuals can be interested in both genres, when straight and gay peopl can? This is the same thing, but straight people are not consider broken for not being attracted to other sexes. Also, even if some others can feel that way, they won't feel it in the same circumstances. Tv shows, society, etc, it treated romantic feeling as something unversal, but in fact, the things that create it or not in are unique for each individual.

I think different bodies function differently. As I see it : romantic and sexual attraction are caused because some specific stimuli leads your brain to create the hormones in question. But for aromantic or asexuals people, there is no stimuli that creates this sensation. And that's ok.

1 hour ago, Confusedc said:

I so desperately want to fall in love and be attracted to people but as of yet I’ve never felt anything like that. It makes me feel unnormal. I don’t want to be alone. A lot of aro/aces don’t mind or don’t have a desire for romantic/sexual relationships which I fully respect but it’s not the life I wanted. At this point I don’t know what to do. I’m dreading the rest of my life because if I am aro and ace then there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it and that breaks my heart. I honestly don’t see the point in being here if I am unable to feel these emotions.

First of all, not feeling romantic love doesn' mean you can't be in a romantic relationship. Some people are. Have you heard of cupioromantic (and I guess there is cupiosexual too?)? It is the orientation for those who are aro or ace, but still want a romantic or sexual relationship. Maybe it would be worth trying to find these people, they may have advices on how to cope with your feelings, and maybe finding a partner if you want to.

I think there are a lot of reasons to be here, even without this emotions. It can be a passion you have (for me its writing), a job, friendships, etc. Personnaly, at a point in my life, I feel like that. The reason was not that I don't feel romantic feelings, but that I didn't have any purpose in my life. Or rather, that I forget these purposes or see them as impossible. So my advice may sound shitty, but here it is : think about what you like to do, and the things you like to do ( apart from feeling romantic feelings). Is there in it something you'd like to make a purpose for your life? Things you perceive as meaningful? As I said, for me it is writing, and my purpose in life is to become a writer, even if for some people it sounds unrealistic. For some other, it is helping other people, or activism. Others will find that in raising children, or having a job they like, or racing, or singing, I don't know. It can be anything, as long as it matters for you. The thing is : us human needs to have an objective, to makes sense in our lives.

However, as I said, that just my advice. I think you should talk about it with a therapist, he will be more useful than me. But it has to be a therapist who is willing to listen to you, and won't confirm yourself that life is not worth living without romantic love. It is easier to heal with people to help you, if they listen to you.

 

I hope you will feel better soon.

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So regarding arousal/physical pleasure: this is something largely connected your headspace, current emotions, mental state, etc. You're not the first person - asexual or otherwise - I've talked to who hasn't really felt anything through sexual simulation. Most of the time, it comes down to underlying anxiety and/or disinterest and/or distress and/or being too much in their head and/or putting too much pressure on themselves to feel a certain way and then panicking and having it be worse when they don't immediately feel that way. Folks can largely address such issues by doing something that I'm going to suggest overall for the issues I hear you discussing in your post:

Coming to terms with your feelings and accepting them instead of trying to force them to be something you think they should be.

For example, for those who were having trouble feeling sexual pleasure or even sexual simulation, that means doing a lot of work on re-connecting with their body and stop forcing sexual situations. Taking the time to get to know their body and what it likes through exercise, meditation, self-massage, and even plain exploration (like taking a shower in the dark and feeling their body with different pressures and movements) helped take pressure off and helped them learn to relax and learn their body. It also helped give them something to focus on and learning what they did feel as opposed what they they thought they should feel. Also often incorporating meditation and other types of mindfulness exercises helped them be able to better deal with their anxiety and unhealthy thoughts when in the moment.

I see a lot of this attitude overall in your post, and I think that's what's really at the root of what's upsetting you and holding you back.

For example, as nonmerci pointed out, you can be aro/ace and still want and even be in a romantic/sexual relationship. Yet, there seems to be something holding you back from allowing yourself to pursue this option, and I think it's possibly because you're fighting your feelings rather than accepting them. I get the feeling you have this idea you aren't allowed to have a romantic relationship because you don't experience attraction or romance like you believe you're supposed to.

Yes, it's true - you may never experience the specific type of attraction you really want to. But this doesn't mean you can't deeply care for and love someone. It doesn't mean you can't be in a committed, romantic relationship. It doesn't mean you can't do romantic things. It'll be a tricky and likely frustrating path to walk to have to contend with being aromantic and wanting a relationship and finding a partner who understands and accepts this, but that doesn't mean it's impossible or out of reach or that you don't deserve to have what you want.

I do really think you would be best served working through this with an aspec friendly therapist moreso than a forum post or two (and definitely not with a doctor who doesn't even know about the aro and ace spectrums!). Unfortunately, I don't know of an aro-focused resource like this, but here's a list of ace-friendly therapists who would hopefully be a good start to finding an aroace-friendly therapist, as well as ace resources to provide to a therapist. And here's a post on how to interview for a therapist who is best for your needs. I'm not sure who you work with for your anti-depressants, but that's all here in case you need! Access to services is really limited right now due to COVID19, but online and remote therapy exists and is available!

Finally, I really do suggest taking stock of even the smallest things that are worth sticking around for. Do you have any plants you water and prune? How about any pets you take care of? How about an unfinished game with a friend you want to finish someday? Or the next season of a show you want to see? Or that music video from an musician you love that you still haven't seen? There is so much to life. Even people in romantic relationships who feel romantic attraction have other things to live for than their romantic partner.

I hope you are able to be patient and kind with yourself and your feelings. < 3

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Hello to you too anon, ok this is from my own personal experience and I think it will help you. First of all, antidepressants can affect your sexual experience and libido in really big way. I know this because I have been on some myself and the ride is not pleasant. Bit of science class: If you are on SSRI, what it's doing is blocking your serotonin receptors in your brain so the molecule can continue along your blood and have more serotonin around. Now this is good for you, but also bad for your sexual drive because now the body will need a lot of stimulation to get aroused, if you even can in some cases. This is because the antidepressant "numbs" you, what is happening is that the signal from a stimulation gets sluggish, and since you need a lot of stimulation to get aroused, it gets harder to achieve. Another thing:

On 3/30/2020 at 7:18 AM, Confusedc said:

 For a while I was so distressed I completely lost my appetite and couldn’t eat for around a month.

Loss of appetite is another side effect from antidepressants, (and weight gain too it annoying).

I understand your struggle of wanting to feel something, desiring something that you cannot attain. Its really frustrating because you want to be "normal". What's more, since you are "forcing" yourself to feel something it leads to stress, which your body rejects and you become more stressed with yourself.

On 3/30/2020 at 7:18 AM, Confusedc said:

I’ve also been told that you when you have a crush on someone that you think about them constantly, which I did but I have an obsessive personality (also something I’m on anti-depressants for to try and help my obsessive thoughts) so the whole time we were talking I was obsessing over why do I not feel butterflies etc etc.

^ Obsessive thoughts here too. Thinking in someone constantly is something we can do with or without having a obsessive personality or disorder. What is important here is the manner of it, since I can be thinking in my best friend obsessively but that doesn't mean I want something from they, just that I am thinking of something specific from they, maybe I want to snuggle, or maybe a test is coming and I know they are bad at that subject and I can't stop wondering how they are doing. Now, the butterfly in the stomach is a sign of more than affection (so they say sorry i don't feel this).

 

On 3/30/2020 at 7:18 AM, Confusedc said:

Sorry, I know this is a bit all over the place and a bit of a ramble but I don’t know who else to talk to that would maybe understand what I’m going through. I so desperately want to fall in love and be attracted to people but as of yet I’ve never felt anything like that. It makes me feel unnormal. I don’t want to be alone. A lot of aro/aces don’t mind or don’t have a desire for romantic/sexual relationships which I fully respect but it’s not the life I wanted. At this point I don’t know what to do. I’m dreading the rest of my life because if I am aro and ace then there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it and that breaks my heart. I honestly don’t see the point in being here if I am unable to feel these emotions.

 

I just don’t know what to do.

^ Ok, now for the finale, you are not rambling ^^. It is enterily fair what you are feeling, that frustration. I understand that you want to fall in love, but there are so much kinds of love, it doesn't have to be romantic, or sexual. It can be platonic, aesthetic, emotional. You can fall in love with the personality of that person, with who they are, it doesn't have to be with their genitalia. Speaking from a pansexual point of view, when I meet someone, I pay attention to every single thing they say and do. And I choose them based on how they present themselves, if I like it then I talk to them or do anyhting else, and if I do not like it I continue on. This is without taking how they look, their birth sex, etc, just how they speak. You voice what you want, or what you want to be, or what youu are insecure and compensate in some way  (at least that's what I think).

You can stay here with us, or you can stay and love your pets! pets give you unconditional love, ^^ when humans fail, choose a pet.

Hope this helps.

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Thank you for your responses.

Just another question more on a personal note if you dont mind me asking. When reading all about aromantisism and reading people stories on how they discovered out that the orientation fit them well. The majority of people said that when the realised it was like something clicked, they were happy and finally knew who they were, they felt less alone and that they felt completely comfortable and ok with this being their orientation. Is this how you all felt when you realised you were aro? 

Also, when I've been reading alot about aro/aces I've had the question bouncing around in my head that if you have not felt any sort of romantic/sexual feelings by a certain age does this mean you never will? I know that may sound naive as I know you cant control your emotions but as a general consensus of people who identify with the orientation? Has their ever been anyone who identified as aro/ace but later on their orientation changed?

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2 hours ago, Confusedc said:

When reading all about aromantisism and reading people stories on how they discovered out that the orientation fit them well. The majority of people said that when the realised it was like something clicked, they were happy and finally knew who they were, they felt less alone and that they felt completely comfortable and ok with this being their orientation. Is this how you all felt when you realised you were aro?

For me it wasn't a click click. I was looking at pinterest boards and there was an aroace comic strip and it mentioned aromantic. Got curious and looked it up and each word of the AUREA definition was a fit. And I said: "ohhhhhhh so I am not broken!, yay". And then found this website and started to read the threads and become more informed. So yeah, it was like the road was foggy and suddenly the fog became thinner and thinner until it dissipated. And yes, I was really happy. I still am, but saying that it is always joy would be false. There are times I long to have a meaningful relationship with someone, even though I have friends who support me 100%. The feeling that your friends will someday go and find a special someone and you will be left behind like a last potato chip in is real. But don't let a single emotion dictate your entire future. Enjoy the present and who you are, first we have to be as whole as possible before even starting to work on the world.

2 hours ago, Confusedc said:

Also, when I've been reading alot about aro/aces I've had the question bouncing around in my head that if you have not felt any sort of romantic/sexual feelings by a certain age does this mean you never will? I know that may sound naive as I know you cant control your emotions but as a general consensus of people who identify with the orientation? Has their ever been anyone who identified as aro/ace but later on their orientation changed?

Everyone grows at their own pace. Comparing a rich boy from California with a middle class boy from Istanbul is hard. The way the both are raised is different. What they eat/do/see is totally different. Maybe the rich boy throws parties each weekday, while the middle class boy barely has time to eat. At age 9, both of those boys will have different experiences, and so will they see things from a different perspective. But to ask your question, yes, there are persons who started with being orientation A and changed to orientation B. The reasons are their own, maybe they felt more identified with B than A and changed. Maybe they are experimenting, but that it can change, it does. Sexuality is fluid, it is not a straight binary, think like it as a painting. A bit of orange here, and touch of gray here and a whole lot of purple over there.

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