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Kharina

Dealing with loneliness as a (questioning) aro

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Hello,

I'm wondering if any of you have any experiences to share around dealing with loneliness and/or developing positive fulfilling relationships (with a small r!) as aros?  I'm wondering whether I'm aromantic (certainly haven't yet experienced romantic attraction to anyone unless it's a LOT milder than I've been led to believe by others!).  This gives me two worries about the future, both linked together - firstly loneliness and not having people to spend time with regularly, especially as friends get into relationships, married etc. and have less time for friendships (doesn't help that I've moved around a lot so my friends are scattered across the country, though I'm lucky to have good friends who do make time for me, especially my closest friend!), and secondly I do feel I'd like to have kids and while I'm thinking about doing this on my own I know social support networks are going to be crucial even if I'm not in a relationship with someone.  I think I'm a bit socially anxious too and worry a lot about what others think of me and whether I've said something wrong etc.!

Just wondering really if anyone else has had the same worries/concerns or had any success in addressing them?  Kind of like the idea of a QPR too potentially but have no idea where to look for one, not sure dating sites are the best place.  Or even just developing a network of friends in a similar situation (not that I don't enjoy friendships with non-aros too, just would be nice to know some people in similar situations as well).

Thanks in advance for any experiences/thoughts you can share, really helps to hear others' experiences :) 

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This is a very common thing I've heard a lot of us deal with, so you're definitely not alone!

For me, perhaps because I'm an honest person who sometimes overshares and gets really deep within the first few conversations I have with new people I vibe with, I've found that many of my friends have been very receptive to being called friend-family or chosen family. We've agreed that we want to stay close to each other and help with each other's lives, with babysitting the children of those who want them, and just in general treat each other like cousins or siblings. Not all my friends are like this, of course, and it takes time to develop something like this. It also doesn't always work, as much as you may like and appreciate someone. But, in general, I've found most people (including alloromantic people who intend to marry) very receptive. A lot of people are scared to want to have such close relationships because they feel society doesn't allow them. By making the first move and telling my friends that I would like to have meaningful lifelong friendships, I have found success.

As for raising kids, I did read a story a while back about two friends legally co-parenting HERE. Although their situation was rocky, it shows that it is possible to raise children with willing friends. I also know of other co-parenting options that aren't necessarily legally recognized but are experiences friends of mine have had. One of my good friends was parented by her mom and godmother, who didn't live together. Another friend of mine was parented a lot by many people in their community - neighbours, friends of their parents, parents of their friends, etc. There are people out there who would be willing to do it; the work is finding them.

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That sounds very familiar, I have the same worries as well.

Not sure if I have had much success in solving that but one thing I did find is that throwing myself into organiations or societies really helps with the feeling of loneliness. Try something that works for you but in my case I got involved in scouting and joined a local astronomy club (both free in my case which was useful). People seem far more receptive to the idea of spending time with friends when that time is organised for some reason.

Even when I had few close friends around there were always a couple of days a week where I was talking to people I liked which helped keep off the loneliness.

 

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Personally, basically all of my closest friendships developed during college. I try to maintain those relationships long-distance through video calls and texting, and I make an effort to be honest with them when I feel sad. Asking for help or attention is still really hard for me, but I think it's a good skill to develop. 

I've experienced a lot of loneliness while living in this new town far away from my friends and family. I think that of course getting out (if possible) and trying to find people is a good idea. Also, it can be helpful to remember that your current situation isn't going to last forever. Thinking about being "forever alone" is super depressing, and it's also unrealistic. Situations change, and you have at least some degree of control over where you go and whom you meet. So when I feel lonely I try not to think gloomy things like "Because I'm aro I'll never have a partner and I'll always be alone." Instead, I try to think "I'm feeling lonely right now. This isn't going to last. What can I do to feel better right now?" I take notes on things that work to make me feel better, and things that don't work. It's a long process... 

I also wonder about dating sites and QPRs. I'm considering mentioning the concept on my profile when I try dating again. Let me know if you have any luck with that!

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I have worried about loneliness/building friendships, not so much due to being aromantic, but due to being a socially anxious adult who has moved around a lot over the years. It's hard to maintain friendships when moving from country to country every year. It was the main reason I chose to settle in the UK. For all I loved travelling, I wanted to be able to form some really close friendships and put down roots with them.

What I've learnt is that thinking about the future (what will happen when they get married, have kids etc.) is pointless, it just gets in the way of enjoying your relationships now. Some friends drift apart without big life events to get in the way, simply because everyone changes over time, that's just how life works. The same is true for romantic relationships. I wouldn't still be friends with the people I new at 20 even if I did still live in the same country as them, simply because at 30 I am a different person, with different interests and values. The friends I have now, who I have closer relationships with than I could have ever imagined 10 years ago, I wouldn't have wasted 10 minutes on when I was 20. Practicing Relationship Anarchy has taken away a lot of my concerns about being abandoned for a girl/boyfriend and the need define and overthink my relationships.

Make friends, enjoy their company, love them without expectation, and be prepared to let them go if that time ever comes.

On a more practical note, I made my friends in 2 ways, via Meetup.com (especially a meetup group for people with mental illness, there's no one more understanding of social anxiety than other people with social anxiety), and via munches.

 

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