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Jameseroo

confused and kinda scared

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Hey guys, 

My name is James and I turned 23 years old today. I'm very new to this whole aromantics thing. I literally just signed up to this site. I am very confused on whether I am aromantic and I am curious if people here can relate to my story. Writing this out for the first time, so bear with me: 

I enjoy seeing rom-coms and romantic stories, but I have never been in love. I've had a few crushes and those feelings always went away after a short time. My crushes were superficial,  I was attracted to somebody's looks or charisma, but as soon as I got to know them on a deep level the crush would fade. I love going out on dates and I started dating a lot of people as a teenager. Girls at first, then I accepted I am gay and started dating guys. I dated a different guy every month, because of how quickly I got tired of them. I am a people person, I have no problem spending lots of time with my friends and family. When it comes to romantic relationships I'm completely different. I have the hardest time being vulnerable with my partner and I also don't enjoy romantic stuff like cuddling. I like giving hugs and kisses, but I see no appeal in cuddling at all. It just bores the hell out of me. This makes relationships very hard for me. I tell the other person I don't want to cuddle (because communication is key and all that) but I can tell my boyfriends are always disappointed. What also happened with three of my boyfriends is that they wanted me to move in with them and that SCARED me so much!! I straight up panicked and broke up with them. Breaking up with people is the worst, it makes me feel like a jerk when I look them in the eye and tell them I don't love them back. After a few months of dating they have often fallen deeply in love and I'm like 'Nah let's be friends'. It's honest but harsh. 

My friends know that for years I never shut up about meeting the man of my dreams and the wedding we would have (and I mean I've even thought out DETAILS of my wedding lmao). Yet commitment has always been an issue with me. I never date a guy for more than a few months, usually no longer than 2/3 months, and then I break up with him. Because I get scared of being vulnerable and committing to something I don't want. I always thought I'm scared because my dad abandoned me as a child (I'm not kidding lol I have some real daddy issues), but lately I have been thinking I am just not capable of romantic love. Platonic relationships can be equally as meaningful and powerful and with the love of my friends I don't feel like I am missing out. It's just my environment expects me to be in a long term relationship with a partner. Everyone I know craves a romantic partner, but I just don't. I went on dates because I like meeting new people and having fun,  not because I was looking for romance. Now I am realizing other people are looking for romance and apparently that's the normal thing to want. And that makes me feel like there is something wrong with me. 

Just last April I broke up with a lovely guy whom I dated for 9 months, my longest relationship yet. My friends and family liked him a lot. I also liked him a lot, he was cute and he made me laugh. During our relationship, however, I was experiencing major anxiety. It was so bad I developed tummy aches. The stress got worse, because I had never been in a relationship this long. So the longer it went on, the more nervous I got. The day I broke up with this guy, I got some texts of men I know who asked me out because I was now single (these people waste no time!).  This time I didn't say go out with them like I usually do. I turned them all down. I am TERRIFIED. I really thought I wanted to be in a relationship and get married even. But now I'm thinking I fell in love with the idea of a romantic relationship, but I don't actually want one. I just get so stressed and scared whenever I am in one. The thought of having a romantic partner gets less and less appealing as I grow older. Am I aromantic?  Is this what it means to be aromantic? I just don't know. Now having my 23rd birthday today, I've made the decision to not date anyone for a while until I have this stuff figured out. 

What do you guys think? Can you relate? Do my feelings make any sense at all?

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Hey there mate! First, hi ^^ hbd and welcome. Ok so you are not alone in this. Your feelings are as valid as mine. I cannot put you a label cuz that is up to you. What I can do is help you understand your situation and what it can mean.

So you may be in the aro-spec. This means that you may be aromantic, lithromantic, demi, etc. In the AUREA website you can find all the terms. From what you told, i would look up lithromantic and cupioromantic to have a north and from there take your ship toward the voyage of self-discovery. That is my tip for you.

Now, another thing that i saw as important is to take a break from dating to get to know yourself better ^^ (woot woot). I know is not very easy to want something but not being able to go get it. You are not alone in this, you now have an entire website full of people who are all over the world and we all have different experiences and we can help each other out however we can. So yeah, like you said, you are not missing out on whatever allos are doing. You are you, and that is what matters. 

Also, cherish you friends, and try to find people who you feel comfy to hang out. They do not have to represent a potential partner, just friends who have your back when you fall down and care for your mental/emotional health as much as physical one ( I say this cuz the ones that wrote you aftsr your breakup didn't sound much as friends but more as piranhas). I have friends and i have friends. The first one are the ones I like, the latter are the ones I would give my liver if they need one. ^^ finding the latter is kinda hard, but it makes you time with them fulfilling and meaningful. Cheers mate and may you find what you are looking for.

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Posted (edited)

I totally agree with @Blake that the most important thing right now is to take that break. Reading around here, especially other people's stories, will definitely help you find things to relate or contrast to. We are not only informed by things we understand and like but also by all the things that we reject.

Blake says some really good stuff, so I will just add two points. You might want to learn the word Amatonormativity which basically means romantic relationships are prioritised above other sorts of relationships. As you have been dating you have probably been butting up against it fairly constantly, but it is also present in more subtle ways that you have been seeing all your life in movies, books, advertisements,  blah blah..basically everything, which informs social expectations and personal aspirations (you don't have to agree with me here, it is just how I see things).

Which brings me to the second point: We do like to make a distinction between fantasy romance and reality romance. When romance is directed at us in our minds or a story many aromantic/a-specs are fine with it (maybe they like it or maybe they are bored, but they are not particuarly negative) but those same people when presented with someone real being romantically interested can cause feelings of revulsion or dislike or anxiety basically all bad stuff. So all of your wedding planning and dream future is a 'safe' fantasy romance and doesn't particularly help you form an idea of what your orientation might be because we are taught from early (because of amatonormativity) that romance is good/universal/life goal. 

So think over what you really (reality) like and what made you anxious or uncomfortable, using this hindsight to work out what your boundaries are. Letting your future partner know you are aromantic-spectrum (or still questioning it) might reduce overall stress and you might find your boundaries shift simply because the underlying romantic expectation is relieved.  

Sorry if I rambled my thoughts too much and I wish you the best of luck @Jameseroo !

Edited by Apathetic Echidna
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@Jameseroo Hey, people question this stuff at any age. I'm not exactly 80, but I'm almost 40 and I'm finally undoing amatonormative brainwashing. 

I'm gonna be honest, I've had four relationships in my life (I'm also asexual, hence low number), two have been long term, three were abusive, three were after a meal ticket as well, ramping it up to U-Haul time real fast so they could siphon free room and board and shopping sprees off me while committing all sorts of usually racially-motivated (I'm part Asian, and yes, it's done to men, too) violence against me. 

I've lost multiple apartments and now live in a place where the best thing I can say about it is"I'm not homeless" and it costs about as much as a mortgage, while all my things are in storage. 

I say this to say that breaking up with people moving fast may have saved you from this fate.

Even if we pretend it's not a giant red flag to move in after two or three months, any relationship, even platonic ones, which are, for me, where all my love is focused (I have some that are like siblings I never had), needs to work for EVERYONE involved. It wasn't working for you, so you called it off instead of painting a smile on, which just would've resulted in a way messier break up later on. 

My "crushes" were always "this person treats me like a human being, isn't Pig Pen, we don't interact like family, and we'd be possibly compatible based on criteria I can consciously list. IT MUST BE LOVE!!"

And only once did any (non-romantic, natch, though I didn't realise that then) fondness on my end intersect with having a relationship. All of my pairings have been based on "they express interest in me and I am lonely and programmed to think AlOnE iS a FaTe WoRsE tHaN dEaTh uwu" and also hadn't really realised living alone means no one can hurt you or force you to only like or do whatever they want you to. I can read and watch TV in my native language if I want, etc. 

There's no one way to be aro, which is why I'm still sorting it out. (Er, not that I've been thinking about it for more than a year or really exploring it for over a month) but whatever it means to you, I've already learned by being 957 other oppressed, ostracised things... Being part of  a demograph is neither good nor bad. It just IS. Not everything has to fall into a "pure and wholesome" / "absolutely bad and wrong" binary. What led me to the phase of actually seeking resources and discussion as I am now was learning about amatonormativity. I actually read up about it on Tumbler. I don't quite have a name for exactly *how* I'm aro yet, but I know there's nothing wrong with being whatever arospec orientation people who feel like me are called. It's no more wrong than me being mixed, or an immigrant,or a non-native English speaker or any of that. Being aro is like that, it's something that just is. 

AND THE SAME GOES FOR YOU. IT'S NOT BAD. IT'S NOT WRONG. IT JUST IS AND IT'S VALID. 

OK?

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7 hours ago, Blake said:

Hey there mate! First, hi ^^ hbd and welcome. Ok so you are not alone in this. Your feelings are as valid as mine. I cannot put you a label cuz that is up to you. What I can do is help you understand your situation and what it can mean.

So you may be in the aro-spec. This means that you may be aromantic, lithromantic, demi, etc. In the AUREA website you can find all the terms. From what you told, i would look up lithromantic and cupioromantic to have a north and from there take your ship toward the voyage of self-discovery. That is my tip for you.

Now, another thing that i saw as important is to take a break from dating to get to know yourself better ^^ (woot woot). I know is not very easy to want something but not being able to go get it. You are not alone in this, you now have an entire website full of people who are all over the world and we all have different experiences and we can help each other out however we can. So yeah, like you said, you are not missing out on whatever allos are doing. You are you, and that is what matters. 

Also, cherish you friends, and try to find people who you feel comfy to hang out. They do not have to represent a potential partner, just friends who have your back when you fall down and care for your mental/emotional health as much as physical one ( I say this cuz the ones that wrote you aftsr your breakup didn't sound much as friends but more as piranhas). I have friends and i have friends. The first one are the ones I like, the latter are the ones I would give my liver if they need one. ^^ finding the latter is kinda hard, but it makes you time with them fulfilling and meaningful. Cheers mate and may you find what you are looking for.

Thank you so much for the advice @Blake I will definitely look up those terms lithromantic and cupioromantic, as I am not familiar with them. Journey of self discovery starts now lmao 

Like you said, focusing on my friends is a great idea. I have two best friends that are like sisters to me, I spend almost all my free time with them. Maybe talking about this topic with them will also help me feel more normal. Seriously thanks, your advice is really helpful! Cheers to you too

7 hours ago, Apathetic Echidna said:

I totally agree with @Blake that the most important thing right now is to take that break. Reading around here, especially other people's stories, will definitely help you find things to relate or contrast to. We are not only informed by things we understand and like but also by all the things that we reject.

Blake says some really good stuff, so I will just add two points. You might want to learn the word Amatonormativity which basically means romantic relationships are prioritised above other sorts of relationships. As you have been dating you have probably been butting up against it fairly constantly, but it is also present in more subtle ways that you have been seeing all your life in movies, books, advertisements,  blah blah..basically everything, which informs social expectations and personal aspirations (you don't have to agree with me here, it is just how I see things).

Which brings me to the second point: We do like to make a distinction between fantasy romance and reality romance. When romance is directed at us in our minds or a story many aromantic/a-specs are fine with it (maybe they like it or maybe they are bored, but they are not particuarly negative) but those same people when presented with someone real being romantically interested can cause feelings of revulsion or dislike or anxiety basically all bad stuff. So all of your wedding planning and dream future is a 'safe' fantasy romance and doesn't particularly help you form an idea of what your orientation might be because we are taught from early (because of amatonormativity) that romance is good/universal/life goal. 

So think over what you really (reality) like and what made you anxious or uncomfortable, using this hindsight to work out what your boundaries are. Letting your future partner know you are aromantic-spectrum (or still questioning it) might reduce overall stress and you might find your boundaries shift simply because the underlying romantic expectation is relieved.  

Sorry if I rambled my thoughts too much and I wish you the best of luck @Jameseroo !

Your fist point about amatonormativity has definitely been a huge part of my life (and everyone else's for that matter) - being constantly shown romantic relationships above all else through different media. It's like every story is about someone finding their romantic partner, and that's it, that's what makes them happy and fulfilled for life. That's why I kept beating myself up about not being happy in a relationship. I kept thinking 'I'm supposed to be happy... why am I not happy?'

And thank you for writing out your second point, it's so nice to know more people have experienced that distinction between fantasy romance and reality romance. I will try to look into what exactly made me so uncomfortable about relationships. Thanks for sharing this info with me @Apathetic Echidna

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5 hours ago, chairdesklamp said:

@Jameseroo Hey, people question this stuff at any age. I'm not exactly 80, but I'm almost 40 and I'm finally undoing amatonormative brainwashing. 

I'm gonna be honest, I've had four relationships in my life (I'm also asexual, hence low number), two have been long term, three were abusive, three were after a meal ticket as well, ramping it up to U-Haul time real fast so they could siphon free room and board and shopping sprees off me while committing all sorts of usually racially-motivated (I'm part Asian, and yes, it's done to men, too) violence against me. 

I've lost multiple apartments and now live in a place where the best thing I can say about it is"I'm not homeless" and it costs about as much as a mortgage, while all my things are in storage. 

I say this to say that breaking up with people moving fast may have saved you from this fate.

Even if we pretend it's not a giant red flag to move in after two or three months, any relationship, even platonic ones, which are, for me, where all my love is focused (I have some that are like siblings I never had), needs to work for EVERYONE involved. It wasn't working for you, so you called it off instead of painting a smile on, which just would've resulted in a way messier break up later on. 

My "crushes" were always "this person treats me like a human being, isn't Pig Pen, we don't interact like family, and we'd be possibly compatible based on criteria I can consciously list. IT MUST BE LOVE!!"

And only once did any (non-romantic, natch, though I didn't realise that then) fondness on my end intersect with having a relationship. All of my pairings have been based on "they express interest in me and I am lonely and programmed to think AlOnE iS a FaTe WoRsE tHaN dEaTh uwu" and also hadn't really realised living alone means no one can hurt you or force you to only like or do whatever they want you to. I can read and watch TV in my native language if I want, etc. 

There's no one way to be aro, which is why I'm still sorting it out. (Er, not that I've been thinking about it for more than a year or really exploring it for over a month) but whatever it means to you, I've already learned by being 957 other oppressed, ostracised things... Being part of  a demograph is neither good nor bad. It just IS. Not everything has to fall into a "pure and wholesome" / "absolutely bad and wrong" binary. What led me to the phase of actually seeking resources and discussion as I am now was learning about amatonormativity. I actually read up about it on Tumbler. I don't quite have a name for exactly *how* I'm aro yet, but I know there's nothing wrong with being whatever arospec orientation people who feel like me are called. It's no more wrong than me being mixed, or an immigrant,or a non-native English speaker or any of that. Being aro is like that, it's something that just is. 

AND THE SAME GOES FOR YOU. IT'S NOT BAD. IT'S NOT WRONG. IT JUST IS AND IT'S VALID. 

OK?

@chairdesklamp Wow, you have been through a lot. Thank you for sharing your story. I admire you, I can tell you are a strong person from your story. Btw I am part Asian too! I am both Indian and Dutch. 

You're probably right, if I had painted on that smile and continued my relationships I would have been far worse off. I was never happy with them, not really. 

It's nice you're figuring out how to deal with being aro and that you have accepted that there is no one way to be aro. I hope I can feel that accepting about myself too. ''It's not bad. It's not wrong. It just is and it's valid.'' Those words meant a lot to me. Thank you. I wish you luck! 

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On 7/10/2020 at 7:17 PM, Jameseroo said:

And thank you for writing out your second point, it's so nice to know more people have experienced that distinction between fantasy romance and reality romance.

It is one point that seems to come up a lot. I think what delayed my own investigation into romantic orientation was the fact I do like some books and movies that have no plot beyond a sickly sweet romance story. It was only when I was early-mid twenties that it became very apparent that I wasn't following a romantic-normative path and started questioning. And when I seriously started questioning what relationship would make me happy in the future, seriously questioning my assumptions, the 'man of my dreams' morphed into a flatmate and a dog as the ideal. 

(I will apologise for some of my grammar in my original post though. I didn't realise my sentences were quite so punctuationless and run-on until I re-read them just now)

On 7/10/2020 at 1:49 PM, chairdesklamp said:

There's no one way to be aro, which is why I'm still sorting it out. (Er, not that I've been thinking about it for more than a year or really exploring it for over a month) but whatever it means to you, I've already learned by being 957 other oppressed, ostracised things... Being part of  a demograph is neither good nor bad. It just IS. Not everything has to fall into a "pure and wholesome" / "absolutely bad and wrong" binary.

Thank you for writing this out. The bad/wrong/broken side of the binary does get internalised by aro-specs quite often (myself included), when it is completely untrue. We are who we are. 

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Posted (edited)

Heyo James! 

I can relate both to liking rom-coms (too damn much) and shallowly dating around. No one has asked me to move in with them, thank god, but I have been in the situation of receiving an "I love you" and then questioning if I'm even the least bit attracted to them. It's an awful feeling and it's so easy to dig yourself deeper into a bad situation because you don't want to hurt their feelings, but of course you end up hurting their feelings even more by stringing them along. Your intense anxiety when being in a longer relationship also sounds a lot like my own aro experience.

I think the thing with romance in media is that it's easy to get swept along into it and apply it to your life in theory while thinking that that is the way it's supposed to be. But as the others have said, there is a large difference between fantasizing about marriage and actually having to be in a relationship.

Best of luck with figuring it out! 

Edited by Oatpunk

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