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Hello.  This is going to be a really long post so I am sorry. I am seamonster and I have just started learning about different romantic orientations. I am not asexual but I think I might be aromantic. I am forty years old. I have never been married, have never lived with anyone and have never had a strong desire to do either of those things. I experience other forms of attraction (sexual, intellectual, etc) but don't know if I experience romantic attraction. 

I grew up in a very religious and conservative family where I was taught that getting married and being a wife was the "job" a woman was supposed to do. And that is largely how I have always viewed dating: As a job and a chore that I feel pressured into doing and am not really into for its own sake. I was also taught that someday I would meet "the one" and the feelings I would have for that person would be the greatest thing I could ever experience or have happen to me.

So I spent years dating on and off. Some people I liked, others I didn't and I was much more attracted to some of them than I was to others. But I never met "the one". Meanwhile all of my cousins got married one by one and they all had families and I started to become more and more of the odd one out. By my late twenties I started to think that something was just wrong with me and that I was doing something wrong. So I started ordering books off Amazon about how to meet people, how to attract people, how to have the right kind of relationship.

Finally I decided that maybe my standards were just too high and I should just be with someone. (This is not something I recommend for anyone.) I got into a relationship with the next guy who showed interest in me and it was the worst experience of my life. I was not sexually attracted to this person and could not stand to be intimate with him. I actually hated it when he would make the typical romantic gestures because I would find them cringey and they would make me feel really uncomfortable. I spent all of my time around him feeling bored, uncomfortable or grossed out. I did that for probably too long before I just couldn't take it any more and broke up with him.

After that I met someone else who I did feel sexually attracted to and we had a much better relationship for a while. Unfortunately he had issues of his own and we had a cycle of breaking up and getting back together and I knew he wasn't "the one" that I was supposed to be looking for. Around this time I started to come more to terms with being bisexual and with being attracted to women as well. So I decided that maybe that was the problem. 

I changed my tactics, started dating women instead and kept looking for this person I was supposed to find. I stopped hoping for someone I loved the same way I love music and dogs and started settling for people I could stand instead. I still did not find "the one" and one of the ex-girlfriends I did have turned out to be a really toxic person in the end. 

This all came to a head when I turned forty. Our culture stigmatizes being forty and alone and I went through a terrible period of self hate because of it. That is when you really start to look for explanations for what is wrong with you. I never knew it was possible to be aromantic until recently and even then I didn't think it described me because I have other types of attraction and feelings for people. But when I started watching YouTube videos and reading the accounts of other people I was shocked at how well I could relate to them. So now I am more open to the idea I might just be aro.

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Hi, welcome to Arocalypse!! 

I'm sorry that your experience with dating and ur identity has been so tumultuous and painful :( That sounds really difficult. And a lot of what u said, based on what I've seen, resonates with a lot of aromantic people. You ain't alone in this.

Obviously, only u can decide what label is best for u. Based on what u described tho, it sounds like u do not feel romantic attraction. Which is the only qualifier for being aromantic! It sounds like some things making u hesitate to adopt the label are those remaining expectations of how u should live and feel. That can be really difficult to let go of, especially if ur family emphasized these expectations about dating and love and marriage from a young age. Some things I'd suggest are talking to other aros (and here you are!), surrounding urself with aro positivity and acceptance (maybe get a pride flag, read a book with an aromantic character, listen to music that might reflect how u feel, find friends who are accepting), and envisioning a romance-free life for urself (this can be extremely fulfilling. Maybe throw ur energy into other areas of life, like hobbies or career or friends. List the other things that are important to you). Overcoming internalized arophobia and accepting urself can be so so hard. (Ik when I started questioning, i was filled with dread about what my life would be like if romance wasn't in the cards for me.) But it's so fuckin worth it.  

You got this, seamonster! It sounds like this might be a long time coming. Remembah, ur not broken if u don't feel romance, ur just like the other people on here :) Also be patient with yoself, it can take awhile to figure out ur identity and become comfy with it. Take care o yoself!

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Hi, welcome

man that sounds rough. One of the first things I noticed in this forum was that being in my late twenties was old compared to most here and feeling kind of sad that so many people had found their identity with less blind staggering around in hopeless relationships. To realise that after turning 40 and having that self hate is a pain I cannot begin to imagine. 

Hope you are in a better place now, and in agreement with hermi1e, surround yourself with aro acceptance and those who understand. Have a good time here.

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I am actually feeling a lot more optimistic since I have gotten some more perspective on who I am and why I behave the way I do. And it opens up more options that I would not have thought about when I was younger. I am now hoping that the second half of my life will be better than the first!

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