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GhostyPeppers

Aromantics and Friendships

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I have a very weird question for anybody in the aro-spectrum: Do you think your aromantic orientation impacts your relationship between friends?

I guess I've always had a strong platonic connection with other people, yet it took me many years to realize that a lot of allos don't see friendship that way or feel platonic feelings that strongly (bit of a generalization, though). I mean, I rarely get bummed out over past relationships after a short period of time, but it is really hard for me to get over a loss of a friend, even if it's been 2-3 years since it happened. I also find myself getting an emotional high when a friend says ILY (platonically) or expresses some sort of approval. Alloromantic people?? Don't seem to react the same way as far as I've seen personally?

I don't want to make it sound like I don't think allos experience platonic love at all, but I've been told my dedication to friends is more on the extreme side.

I would like to hear how you think your aromanticism impacts how you see/interact with your friends and non-romantic loved ones.

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Definitely. I'm very loyal to my friends and I don't like the idea that someday I could become second tier just because someone else is willing to kiss them or whatever. To me, a friendship is a commitment, and I'm always willing to go out of my way to support friends if they need it.

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Yes, absolutely.

Coming to terms with not caring for romance has massively changed the demographic of my friends. I am one of two men at my workplace who gets along with most of the women who work here, and given the other guy is gay I think that it has to do with me not making unwanted advances. The lack of romantic expectation frees me to be genuine, to talk openly.

I suppose the other difference is that I place a high value on relying on friends, as in if someone was worried about a something, or someone was dealing with a difficult event in their life I have no expectation of having a partner to comfort me, so I see that as something that a friend just does. I would jump up at two in the morning and travel to the other side of the country to be with a friend in need. I would drop my plans and take care of a friend's child if I knew they were stuck for options. Some alloromantic people do have this idea, and two of the people I am good friends with have a miltary background and are very thorough about doing right by their friends, but I don't think that is a common thing because of the expectation that someone should have a partner to help them with those things.

One last thing for me is realising that my  level of comfort around the idea of sex free of romantic expectations, which is an idea I was open with before I came to terms with the words allo aro, made a fair few people see me as a bad influence. Especially people I got  to know from church in my early teens, I was already on shaky terms through leaving the religion but there was definitely the perception that what was really bad was interacting with someone who felt comfortable living what they saw as a life of sin. I drifted away from people I would have been very happy to be friends with due to that. (sidenote, I was quite happy to not talk about it and for most of those people I never told them those views, it was the fact it was generally known what I felt which was enough for them to push away)

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On 7/31/2020 at 1:24 PM, GhostyPeppers said:

I also find myself getting an emotional high when a friend says ILY (platonically) or expresses some sort of approval. Alloromantic people?? Don't seem to react the same way as far as I've seen personally?

My two best friends and I say we love each other all the time! I honestly think that's probably why I ended up with them as my really close friends - they understand and value platonic relationships just as much as I do, and recognize that my being aromantic and whatever close platonic relationship we have because of it isn't gonna infringe on their romantic relationships. They're also friends who I absolutely trust not to bail on me because of romantic partners because I know we value each other very much.

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On 8/2/2020 at 3:18 PM, emmafriendly said:

My two best friends and I say we love each other all the time! I honestly think that's probably why I ended up with them as my really close friends - they understand and value platonic relationships just as much as I do, and recognize that my being aromantic and whatever close platonic relationship we have because of it isn't gonna infringe on their romantic relationships. They're also friends who I absolutely trust not to bail on me because of romantic partners because I know we value each other very much.

That sounds really nice! One of the struggles of being aro is being left behind because your friends all get partners and completely ignore you.

I would say my aro-ness definitely impacts my friendships. I value them a lot more than an allo would, and with that comes the existential dread I'll one day be replaced by a romantic partner. A book I was reading triggered this in me, since a character in a relationship explicitly said they valued a friend less than their partner.

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Huh, I haven't really thought about this before. I've had a strange personal history with friendships, though. Long story short, when I was younger I had a lot of trouble making and keeping friends because of some unchecked mental stuff. Even now that I'm older and I have good friends and I have some solid skills and coping mechanisms for those mental problems, I still have a skewed perspective when it comes to forming relationships (with a lowercase 'r') with other people. I tend to get nervous that they'll think I'm weird, or too much, or annoying, or I'll worry that they'll find another friend and like them more than me, and cut me out. It basically boils down to really strong and partially unhealthy platonic attraction. I've been working on it pretty heavily, and by now I'm in a place where I can be honest about my worries, both with myself and with the people to whom those worries apply. It's helped a lot. 

I definitely do share the excitement-high whenever a friend tells me they love me or that they like to be around me! It's funny, because usually I have no problem telling my friends and even my acquaintances that I love them, because it makes me feel good! But I do have one friend who's close to me, and I had a frank talk with her about how I don't want a relationship but I really valued her as a friend, and we ended up agreeing on a FWB relationship that's going pretty well. I struggle to tell her I love her, not because it's not true, but because I'm worried it might give off signals that I don't wanna give off. (Even though, yes, I've had MULTIPLE conversations telling her what's up, lol.) So that's a little annoying, I guess.

I think I'm lucky right now because both of my close friends aren't in relationships, and as far as I can tell they're not looking for them anytime soon. That gives me some comfort. I'd hope that if they got into relationships, that would just mean that we got another friend into the circle! (I'm optimistic, sue me)

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I see platonic friendship as being a subset, rather than entirety, of friendship.
I'm very open to doing romantically coed things with friends or having non-platonic friendships.
I don't see romantic relationships as more than. (If I had to rank rank them as less then.)

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4 hours ago, Mark said:

I see platonic friendship as being a subset, rather than entirety, of friendship.
I'm very open to doing romantically coed things with friends or having non-platonic friendships.
I don't see romantic relationships as more than. (If I had to rank rank them as less then.)

Huh, Ive heard of QPRs, but I never considered non-platonic friendships to be a thing. I just assumed friendships were platonic by default?

This is an interesting insight, thanks for sharing :)

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3 hours ago, GhostyPeppers said:

Huh, Ive heard of QPRs, but I never considered non-platonic friendships to be a thing. I just assumed friendships were platonic by default?

Having assumed default for a noun can make it important to use adjective (including prefixing "non-" to the assumed one) in order to avoid that assumption being made.,
It's also the case with "relationship" where "romantic" can be an assumed adjective.

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9 hours ago, Mark said:

I see platonic friendship as being a subset, rather than entirety, of friendship.
I'm very open to doing romantically coed things with friends or having non-platonic friendships.
I don't see romantic relationships as more than. (If I had to rank rank them as less then.)

I never considered this but...wow that's such a good point! There can be non-platonic friendships. I mean. That's basically what me and my ex had haha. 

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On 8/1/2020 at 4:24 AM, GhostyPeppers said:

I have a very weird question for anybody in the aro-spectrum: Do you think your aromantic orientation impacts your relationship between friends?

To be honest, the main impact for me has been that many of my friends are more willing to have sex with me knowing that it won't lead to any kind of romantic attachment.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/31/2020 at 7:27 PM, Jot-Aro Kujo said:

Definitely. I'm very loyal to my friends and I don't like the idea that someday I could become second tier just because someone else is willing to kiss them or whatever. To me, a friendship is a commitment, and I'm always willing to go out of my way to support friends if they need it.

THIS. After learning that I'm aromantic *and* romance repulsed, I have realized that my standards for what makes a person a friend are much higher than my non-aro friends' standards. They have admitted to stuff such as having work "friends" who they actively avoid outside of work or friends who they do not trust. I can't imagine those sorts of conditions in my friendships at all. My squishes and platonic love seem more intense than non-aros too; every one of my non-aro friends considers me a 'best friend'. That term has no use for me though.

Um...  I feel a little bitter that I am so dedicated and eager to be intimate while some of them hold me at arm's length to save space for their romantic partner, current or prospective. I never try to force more bonding than they are comfortable with; however lately I've felt like I'm being fed love/compassion scraps by non-aromantics in exchange for my giving as much as possible in these relationships.  I feel like I am relegated to a lower tier, or the basement in some cases, in their social network while they remain at the top of mine. It feels unfair and hurtful. I'm kind of hoping to make more aro friends because I never feel like our bonds are 'capped' or limited like my friendships with non-aromantic people.

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Yes, I definitely agree with what the others have said about valuing friendships higher and feeling abandoned by friends when they get romantic partners.
I also think my aroness is at least partially responsible for why I'm not super into physical affection. I don't like cuddling even if it's entirely platonic, and I'm averse to certain types of physical contact. This has put me into some awkward situations with friends!

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This changed for me over time. I tend to get super attached to everything, and I care a lot about my friends. In second grade my best friend moved away and I cried for months. I could live without close friends, and I have. However, if my current friends decided to abandon me for a significant other, I would get quite upset.

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Guest brotzman_t

YES, my aro-ness really affects my friendships. As a kid and even into college, I would always be the one who had the hardest time grieving friends who moved away. Way too sentimental:P

I also have this thing where I will get instantly and strongly attached to certain people within days of meeting them for the first time. The best way that I can describe it is that I just *care* so hard about them, for some reason that even I can't always figure out. It's just an instant, undefinable spark. I suppose it's like a platonic version of "love at first sight." The problem is, since the average person is alloromantic, they rarely grow to care about me quite as much as I care about them-- and even if they do, it's never as quickly as I do.

The one friend who actually did match me with intensity and speed of platonic attraction in college is one of my two best friends now. It was a case of "no way, you feel that too?? I'm not the only one!" We were such an iconic pair at college, we could communicate telepathically through a glance, other people would even tell us they were fans of our friendship. When I still assumed I wanted to date and get married, I would write out criteria for the type of partner and relationship that I wanted. Almost every time, I would compare it to my friendship with her, holding that up as the gold standard of relationships, comparing romantic prospects to her (always unfavorably), and realizing that our friendship was so close and so beautiful that I might never come across another relationship like that in my life (and thus stay single forever). Looking back, this is extremely aromantic (and also pretty gay lolol). But I'm not sure if I could have been capable of an intimate friendship like that if I were allo.

I also get slightly possessive and jealous of my close friends. Their romantic relationships are fine as long as I know that I have a unique and irreplaceable spot in their hearts that no one else will ever usurp. (That's why it took me until a month ago to realize I was aromantic, because I interpreted this desire for exclusivity to *have* to be romantic by definition. It's not though, yay!) But I get the most jealous about their other platonic friendships, especially if it looks like I might not be their closest friend anymore. As it is, it's very hard to have an exclusive relationship with an allo person... but I have a couple bffs that I know will never replace me.

I guess, the upshot of all that is that I've just had to get used to the fact that I will always feel more intensely and seriously about my friendships than my friends do. I guess this is a pretty normal thing for aromantic people? It makes so. much. sense. of literally my whole life up to this point, since my super-crazy-intense platonic feelings have been a defining quirk about me for as long as I can remember.

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