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Aro and Various Mental Health Issues


Tylore
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Anyone else ever experienced dismissal of their orientation based off of trauma, depression, attachment avoidance issues, etc.?

Anyway, this is partially an excuse to rant, so here we go:

I’ve been told I’m arospec because of my suspected depression (Several people in my life firmly believed I have depression, but I honestly don’t know, which is why I put suspected in front of it). It really sucked, because I was trying to open up to them, and they just dismissed it as dangerously low hormone levels. Even if that’s true, why does that matter? Why can’t it be both? Why is this something you think must be fixed? (Sorry, got a little ranty there)

Edited by Tylore
idrk I’m on no sleep help
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  • 3 weeks later...

I feel you. Aromanticism (and a lot of other queer identities) are often pathologized, thought to be illness or dysfunction. I've experienced similar so you're not alone.

On 9/18/2020 at 10:41 AM, Tylore said:

Even if that’s true, why does that matter?

Exactly that. :) I couldn't agree with you more. Emotions are tricky things and if others can't understand and accept that then that's their closed-mindedness and ignorance.

I hope that with more education about aromanticism, and even about how the brain and experiences and identity are tied together, people will be more tactful when they speak to aros.

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Trigger Warning: Mental Illness, Childhood Trauma


Three years ago I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I went through two years of therapy with some short term dialectal behaviour therapy. I worked really hard to learn skills to become more emotionally stable and to have healthier interpersonal relationships. 

There is stigma about people who have bpd being manipulative and toxic. I had really horrible friends before I started therapy that pushed all the responsibility of our (interpersonal) problems onto me. So in the beginning of treatment I isolated for a good six months in order not to hurt anyone and work on myself. I felt that I had "fully" recovered a year ago and since have no longer been in therapy and would consider myself emotionally healthy. 

Since learning I am aromantic it has made me question my experience with bpd. First, from my understanding and personal opinion I look at bpd as an extension of childhood neglect (or abuse). This meaning that what a child had to learn or use to cope and survive with neglect (or abuse) has not been unlearned, let go, and healed as an adult.

There are two criteria that revolve around interpersonal relationships. 1. Paranoia of abandonment and debilitating action to stop it from happening 2. Patterns of intense and unstable interpersonal relationships that lead to idealization and devaluation. Since recovering I no longer consider having these symptoms BUT I can say my interpersonal relationships have continued to be intense and unstable.

I truly believe this is because I am aromantic and have always been. I would get too emotionally close for society (others and even sometimes myself) to consider my friendship "nonromantic." There were long periods of time I learned pacing in which I took a very long and steady time to get to know someone to avoid the concept of ideation and devaluation and would still get "too close" with a friend that I positively knew I was not romantically attracted too but it would ruin our friendship nonetheless. (We can consider being young and not knowing how to effectively communicate another big problem here.) There have been times where I thought with the emotional intimacy celing that I was falling in love with my friends even though I never wanted to date them. There were times my affection for them were "too intense." Many times my friendships have ended due to neglect or abandonment when a romantic partner comes along or when my own friends would get romantic with me and I felt the need to detach from them by ending it. All I know is that these patterns keep happening no matter what I do or try.

So for a long time, I have been extracausious. I been trying to have healthy long term committed friendships with no avail. I am now at a moment in my life where now I know that I am aro and I know my own interpersonal needs. So hopefully I can break these patterns now and I feel relieved in many ways that it is not my bpd that has kept me in the pattern like I once believed. 

I'm sorry this is so long! It's just been something I been processing and hopefully it can give someone another perspective. 

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I think the question here is "Is it okay if you mistake aromanticism for x/identify as aromantic because of y?". The same question could be asked about being too young, many people in the forum have expressed their worries about identifying as arospec only because they're kids or teens and haven't had the time to experience romantic attraction yet. Arospecs and many other members of the queer community feel the need to constantly prove themselves to the world, prove that they aren't just confused, too young to know for sure, mentally ill, etc. But I think that you can identify as arospec no matter what your reasons are, as long as it makes you feel better, it's okay; and even if later on you decide that the label doesn't suit you, the time that you spent identifying as aro still matters, because at the time that was what was TRUE TO YOU. 

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On 9/18/2020 at 3:41 PM, Tylore said:

Anyone else ever experienced dismissal of their orientation based off of trauma, depression, attachment avoidance issues, etc.?

I wonder if it's more likely that minority stress is a factor here. Especially given that aros are, typically, an invisible/unrecognised minority group.
A big flaw in attachment theory is the assumption of a "dyadic model" which isn't always applicable even to children. When it comes to adults the majority of "relationship research" is about romantic relationships. The typical attachment style test assumes some kind of "primary relationship".

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  • 2 months later...
On 9/18/2020 at 9:41 AM, Tylore said:

Anyone else ever experienced dismissal of their orientation based off of trauma, depression, attachment avoidance issues, etc.?

Anyway, this is partially an excuse to rant, so here we go:

I’ve been told I’m arospec because of my suspected depression (Several people in my life firmly believed I have depression, but I honestly don’t know, which is why I put suspected in front of it). It really sucked, because I was trying to open up to them, and they just dismissed it as dangerously low hormone levels. Even if that’s true, why does that matter? Why can’t it be both? Why is this something you think must be fixed? (Sorry, got a little ranty there)

For me, I suppose it's the notion that autistic people lack self awareness? I guess some people conflate my inability to understand social cues (like how certain types of emotional closeness, mainly in the form of disclosing personal details between a male presenting person and a female can be perceived as romantic intent, not to mention that due to my cultural background and despite being read as "female" by society, many people are threatened by me for no good reason) to mean that I couldn't possibly know if I'm feeling romantic attraction to someone or not, because autistic people are only good for being robots that are good at math and not an interpersonal skills.

I also have a hard time understanding why someone would be friendly to me, and close to me, and then just disappear from my life. Sure, I could have done something wrong socially or said something that made someone uncomfortable, but I wish they would have at least told me what I did if we were so "tight" and "comfortable with each other". I don't normally get close to people easily, but if someone tells me all their life stories and struggles on the first two days of meeting, I'm going to assume that they wanna be close to me. Due to some of my autistic traits, I didn't understand if someone told me a white lie about not wanting to be close to me (either in a QPR or a friendship way) by saying they were "busy", "didn't have enough time", and so on and so forth.

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  • 2 weeks later...

yup, i've had mental health professionals try to tell me i'm depressed because i don't have romantic relationships, even after i explain that being aro and romance repulsed meant that the romantic relationship i did have caused one of the most terrible periods of depression and unease of my life and i've felt so much happier and freer since accepting who i am and living in a way which is fulfilling for me.  i really can't see how i could go on with life if i had to enter a lifelong romantic relationship/marriage, especially with kids--just imagining the horrible dread of knowing that was my eventual fate, and when i met it, the absolutely soul-crushing depression into which i would fall, never to escape...no, i couldn't bear it.  thank goodness i love and trust myself enough to disregard their advice on that matter.  i know i'll always have depression (and probably trichotillomania, another very trying mental disorder with which i've been struggling for several years), but i whole-heartedly believe my life will be beautiful all the same, certainly no less so because of my aromanticism.

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On 1/20/2021 at 11:53 AM, aro_elise said:

i've had mental health professionals try to tell me i'm depressed because i don't have romantic relationships

ouch, and multiple as well. I guess a therapist who doesn't get that you are aro might try to look for relationship problems but after you say its not the cause to keep going just sounds horrible.

hope you found a better therapist

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