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pls help a questioning gray aro


stegosaurus
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hello. i have read through as much as i can find about aromanticism and gray aromanticism and feel no closer to better understanding myself. i know that no one can tell me what i am, and that i'm the only one who can know for sure, but there is not much available on gray aro experiences specifically, which makes research and understanding more difficult. so i hope that sharing my experience and hearing directly from others will help.

i have identified as biromantic and asexual/gray ace for years, and have only very recently started questioning if i could be gray aro as well. this is because i know that i have experienced romantic attraction in the past, but in the past few years, the experience has significantly dropped. it used to feel relatively easy to fall in love, and now i am not sure if i am even capable of it anymore. i don't feel like i just haven't met anyone in the past few years who interests me, it feels like i genuinely am unable to develop significant romantic feelings. i do still have "crushes", but they are not nearly the same as they used to be - they feel very weak and not the same romantic emotion that i have felt in the past, but they are also not platonic. i wonder if this is the feeling that people call "alterous attraction"? 

i am hesitant to identify as gray romantic because most of the aromantic experiences i've read don't match my own. for example, it seems like most aro people don't care for romance or desire it at all; meanwhile, i feel like i do desire romance, love, and a romantic relationship, but i feel like i can't achieve the feelings necessary for one. however, i think this may be because most aro content is about being totally, completely, 100% aro, and there isn't much on gray a/romanticism. of the little gray romantic content i have been able to find, a lot of it has resonated with me, like "not being sure whether attraction is happening or not, or whether it ever will" or "being able to identify with some aromantic experiences and some alloromantic experiences, but always feeling slightly out of step." 

i guess the bottom line is, i can't tell if i genuinely experience a lack of romantic attraction, or if my emotions are just stunted from something that happened in high school: i fell HARD for my best friend. i can confidently say that i was in love with him, and have never felt the same way about anyone else as i had for him. he didn't feel the same way about me. i don't get into details, but it was extremely painful and difficult to cope with. following that, i ended up in an abusive relationship with someone i didn't even like. it was after this experience that i stopped feeling romantic attraction (for the most part). i've seen some people say that you cannot be aro if you have ever felt romantic attraction. but i've also seen others say that for some, sexuality is fluid, and that some people do experience shifts in their orientations. additionally, i don't think i'm fully aromantic - i think i'm gray. but i am hesitant to label myself that in case i am just emotionally suppressed from the experience. 

 

here are some reasons i think i could be arospec:

- i relate to some aromantic experiences, but not all; i relate to many gray aro experiences.

- i've never really been able to picture myself getting married, or being in a lifelong relationship. (this has been a lifelong experience.)

- many people fantasize about their ideal person, and have an idea of what they'd like a partner to be like. i've never been able to do this. i can't think about a type of person or specific traits that i would be romantically attracted to. (this has been a lifelong experience.)

- i do experience mild crushes, but feel unable to develop those feelings into love. when i date people, i usually lose interest after a short amount of time. this has happened in every relationship i've been in. also important to note, every relationship i've been in has been with someone who was interested in me, but who i was not really interested in. i mostly just agreed because i thought, "well, why not?" i'm not sure whether or not i would lose interest if i had a chance to date someone who i had actually been interested in (but i have a feeling i would). 

- i currently have a boyfriend. throughout our relationship, i have struggled to feel romantic attraction to him. i do love him, really! - but i don't think i can label my feelings as romantic. though our relationship has drastically changed and we are very romantic with each other, and i have mostly been comfortable with being romantic with him, my love for him feels more like that of a close friend. we have not seen each other in three months due to the coronavirus. we talk every single day, but without his physical presence, i feel absolutely incapable of experiencing attraction and i have become very uncomfortable with his romantic affection, compliments, and "i love you"s. i don't know if this is normal or not, or how other couples are faring with quarantine and distance. 

- though i know i have felt romantic attraction and even love in the past, i feel almost incapable of it now. when i do have crushes now, they feel weak, not quite romantic or platonic, and i feel like i would probably lose interest in a short time (a few weeks to a couple of months) if we were to start dating. 

- i know that i experience attraction to other people in some way, but struggle to label it, understand it, or distinguish between platonic/romantic, romantic/alterous, and romantic/aesthetic attraction.

- "experiencing attraction that is only ambiguously romantic" may be an accurate way to describe my experiences over the last few years. 

 

reasons why i am hesitant to identify as arospec:

- i have felt love in the past. i am not sure if i am truly arospec or just emotionally/romantically stunted from my high school experience.

- i LOVE romance in fiction!! romance is so fun to me to read, watch, write, and fantasize about. romance is one of my favorite aspects of any story. romantic fiction makes me want the same thing for myself, though i feel like it's not possible.

- i do desire romance and a relationship, pretty much always, and i would be sad to never be in one again. but i feel like i simply don't experience the attraction required for one - even if i do, it's weak and usually fades quickly. 

 

i have read about arospec microidentities, like demiromantic, frayromantic, WTFromantic, aroflux, etc. as with gray asexual, i am not really interested in attaching myself to any such specific term. however, I do relate to the experiences of several of them, like losing romantic interest soon after starting a relationship (like frayromantic), and feeling confused about distinguishing between or identifying romantic attraction (like WTFromantic). if there were one way to best sum up my current experience, i suppose it would be: being able to experience mild attraction of a romantic nature, but being unable to develop crushes into love. 

if you actually read my long ass post to try and make a helpful reply, thank you! i really appreciate it, as i don't know any aromantic people to actually talk to about this :/

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Ok, first of all hey! and yes I did read all your post. ^^ I like to read long posts. I will try my best to help you and for longetivity sake I am going to take it by paragraphs

24 minutes ago, stegosaurus said:

i have identified as biromantic and asexual/gray ace for years, and have only very recently started questioning if i could be gray aro as well. this is because i know that i have experienced romantic attraction in the past, but in the past few years, the experience has significantly dropped. it used to feel relatively easy to fall in love, and now i am not sure if i am even capable of it anymore. i don't feel like i just haven't met anyone in the past few years who interests me, it feels like i genuinely am unable to develop significant romantic feelings. i do still have "crushes", but they are not nearly the same as they used to be - they feel very weak and not the same romantic emotion that i have felt in the past, but they are also not platonic. i wonder if this is the feeling that people call "alterous attraction"?

That you have experienced romantic attraction before does not mean that you cannot be gray-/aromantic. What I'm saying is that it is a lot more complex than a yes/no, and you said it too. I cannot speak from a gray pov, since I am aromantic, so I will tell you about my experience. When I had 12 years, I got my first "crush" (now I believe it was a squish) and that moment 12 years old me was convinved that I experience "love" because all the signs where there. Now to the present, when I think about that person now I feel nothing at all, and this is because what I understood that it was love, really was me wanting that person to be with me until we die. But it wasn't romantically, it was because of personality (and a bit of aesthethic). The same moment, but from different times yield different results, because we change how we see things. This is why I believe that you can still be aro even if you have experience love, because is how you are perceiving it at that moment, and it is valid.

 

56 minutes ago, stegosaurus said:

i am hesitant to identify as gray romantic because most of the aromantic experiences i've read don't match my own. for example, it seems like most aro people don't care for romance or desire it at all; meanwhile, i feel like i do desire romance, love, and a romantic relationship, but i feel like i can't achieve the feelings necessary for one.

Every experience is different, yes it has similarities, but it is not always 100% the same. I am aro and sometimes I wish I could feel romance, because then I wouldn't think I am broken. There are days that I want nothing more than experience "falling in love" because then I could feel normal. But that won't happen, and even though is a little sad, deep down I am proud of not feeling those things. Because I learned that those things that I am missing out, really are not as important as people make them out to be. Also, your experiences will play a role in how you interact with people.

1 hour ago, stegosaurus said:

i guess the bottom line is, i can't tell if i genuinely experience a lack of romantic attraction, or if my emotions are just stunted from something that happened in high school: i fell HARD for my best friend. i can confidently say that i was in love with him, and have never felt the same way about anyone else as i had for him. he didn't feel the same way about me. i don't get into details, but it was extremely painful and difficult to cope with. following that, i ended up in an abusive relationship with someone i didn't even like. it was after this experience that i stopped feeling romantic attraction (for the most part). i've seen some people say that you cannot be aro if you have ever felt romantic attraction. but i've also seen others say that for some, sexuality is fluid, and that some people do experience shifts in their orientations. additionally, i don't think i'm fully aromantic - i think i'm gray. but i am hesitant to label myself that in case i am just emotionally suppressed from the experience.

Ok ok, here is the part I am interested in explaining (not that I wasn't interested before but this is something I know firsthand). Be it that you lack romantic attraction or that something happened that stunted you, you are not less valid nor can't be grey/aromantic. Now, you experienced, what doctors may call an emotional trauma (your friend who you fell hard rejected you) and then you got into an abusive relationship (which further the damage that you had). Both of these events shaped you, and when you got out of the abusive relationship, what happened is that your body did not like those experiences that you had and started a process of coping. What your brain did was block possible emotions related to the trauma (you fell hard for your friend and now your body won't let you do it again with anyone; you went in an abusive relationship and now your brain is not letting you enjoy your current relationship because it is associating it with the bad one). I am not diagnosing you, since I am not a doctor, but as a survivor of traumatic events I understand a bit of how your body copes with traumatic events (again this is fom my experience). And you ca be aro/greyro if you like that label ^^, it is just that, a label and everyone who is inside it shares some things, but we are not 100% the same. You being emotionally supressed has nothing to do with the fact that you want to call yourself greyro, it is an experience that you had, the same way people don't experience romance the reason behind the action do not make it less that you are doing the action.

 

1 hour ago, stegosaurus said:

here are some reasons i think i could be arospec:

 

 

- i currently have a boyfriend. throughout our relationship, i have struggled to feel romantic attraction to him. i do love him, really! - but i don't think i can label my feelings as romantic. though our relationship has drastically changed and we are very romantic with each other, and i have mostly been comfortable with being romantic with him, my love for him feels more like that of a close friend. we have not seen each other in three months due to the coronavirus. we talk every single day, but without his physical presence, i feel absolutely incapable of experiencing attraction and i have become very uncomfortable with his romantic affection, compliments, and "i love you"s. i don't know if this is normal or not, or how other couples are faring with quarantine and distance. 

- though i know i have felt romantic attraction and even love in the past, i feel almost incapable of it now. when i do have crushes now, they feel weak, not quite romantic or platonic, and i feel like i would probably lose interest in a short time (a few weeks to a couple of months) if we were to start dating. 

- i know that i experience attraction to other people in some way, but struggle to label it, understand it, or distinguish between platonic/romantic, romantic/alterous, and romantic/aesthetic attraction.

- "experiencing attraction that is only ambiguously romantic" may be an accurate way to describe my experiences over the last few years.

All your reasons are valid, but this ones I think I want to tell some things. Firstly, do not force a relationship, this only ends in making the people inside a relationship bad. Do not force something that you are not feeling. I am not saying you are not feeling something, but tell the other person exactly what you think you are feeling. If you think is not romance, tell him. If you think is romance tell him. Whatever you are feeling, make him know how you are feeling it. Your past trauma may play a role in what you are currently feeling (see above) so take it in mind. You do not have to tell your current partner your past if you do not want to, that is up to you. Now if you are uncomfortable with his affection, tell him. You do not have to accept his affection if you do not want to, a relationship is not only affection, it has so much components, that if one cannot be done, then others can be done. Talk to your partner and put rules in the relationship, so both can know the boundaries. Your second point may be because of how your body does not want to go again and have another traumatic experience, so it blocks you from developing emotions toward your current partner. You can work this out, but it will take time and a mental health proffesional to help you navigate your past trauma (That is what it took for me). Another explanation is that you may be grey, and then if you do not have an emotional bond with the person, you do not develop romantic feelings toward them.

For the last points, well I cant help much cuz for me I do not have romantic feelings toward anyone, and I had time to label my types of attraction (I am pansexual so it is a bit easier for me to see someone and say 7/10 aesthetic; 2/10 sensual; etc etc. :3 I see someone and deconstruct the person in my mind and continue doing analysis while speaking to the person until I get satisfied.

1 hour ago, stegosaurus said:

if you actually read my long ass post to try and make a helpful reply, thank you! i really appreciate it, as i don't know any aromantic people to actually talk to about this :/

As an aro, I love to speak about all sort of themes that people have questions. I may not hold all the answers, but thats why we are a community and we can help one another. Here some coffee and a key lime pie made by me (Insert tasty coffee and key lime pie)

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