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Please help, crushing on an aromantic girl and getting mixed messages


Guest CajunFrog
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Hello,

I've developed a crush on a girl I met late last year. When I recently confessed my feelings to her, she told me she was aromantic and that she's simply not able to reciprocate my feelings. But ever since we have grown even closer and we're exchanging a lot of affectionate messages. She keeps acting like I'm special to her. It's getting confusing.

I tend to get "friendzoned" a lot. For some reason, girls I fall for see me as their shoulder to cry on but want to keep me at a distance when it comes to love and intimacy. I'm a very caring person who just gets used a lot and, frankly, I'm really sick and tired of it.

I'm reaching out to you because the concept of being aromantic is completely foreign to me. I want to believe my crush, but what I get from her seems so much like mixed messages. If she's not able to love me, why does she send me such affectionate texts? Why does she spend so much time with me? It just looks and sounds a lot like romance to me. Is there any chance she's mistaken about her orientation?

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Hey there, I understand that this can be confusing if aromanticism is foreign to you. Being aromantic does not necessarily mean that someone can't be affectionate or that someone can't love (although there are aromantics who do not experience affection or love aka loveless). There are different ways to love someone that is not romantic and sometimes it can look like romance if someone is unaware of this. Being intimate, affectionate, or emotionally (even physically) close to someone is not inherently romantic. An important distinction to make is that there is a difference between attraction and behavior. Someone can engage in "romantically-coded" behaviors while not experiencing romantic attraction and not desiring a romantic relationship. There are also many behaviors that have simply been co-opted by romance (made to be romantic) even though they are not inherently romantic. I can't speak for your friend, but I imagine that she spends a lot of time with you because she values you and likes to hang out with you. So if she says she is aromantic, then she is aromantic even if she's acting in a way that is confusing to you.

Aromantics can vary a lot and have varying experiences and do relationships differently, so I cannot speak for everyone and my experience is not the same for all aromantics, but I can use myself as an example because I behave in a similar way as your friend. I experience no romantic attraction at all, but I am affectionate with my friends. I like to be spend a lot of time with them, and they mean a lot to me- they are very special to me and I love them a lot. It is in no way romantic, and I don't consider any of these things romantic. So it is very possible to be aromantic and behave in this way.

If you want to learn more about aromanticism, you can check out AUREA: https://www.aromanticism.org/en/resources-1

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Are you not affectionate with your friends? Do you not enjoy spending time around them?? I'm sorry to hear that... Romance is not a prerequisite to companionship or kindness. It might be worth examining your ideas about friendship and why you think x things have to be romantic.

Also, speaking as an aromantic girl myself, there's so little information about aromanticism and it's such a highly stigmatized identity that like... It's not really something people identify with on a whim, you know? It takes a lot of research and a lot of self-reflection and a lot of courage for someone to say "Yes, I'm aromantic". So I highly doubt she's "mistaken" about her identity.

Furthermore, is she asexual? If not, she may be expressing sexual interest in you. But it sounds to me more like she's just being an affectionate friend.

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Hi,

I think it's great that you're reaching out to an aro community about this! 

I'm also someone who's very affectionate in texts; how does she act when you see each other in person? That may vary greatly, if my own behavior is anything to go by.
And I agree with Jot-Aro Kujo: Why not be affectionate with your friends and spend tons of time with them?

I don't think anybody would use being aromantic as an excuse to friendzone anyone - assuming you go by the negative assumption that someone's playing games with you when you use that term. I've been accused of friendzoning and have since been very careful to mention my identity early on when getting to know somebody new, just to make sure.

If I may ask, what was your immediate reaction when she came out to you?

And is there a reason you can't bring up your confusion with her directly, given that she's probably aware you didn't know about aromanticism before?

Your friend may very well love you dearly and value you as a very special person in her life without feeling romantically attracted to you. That means you can have a very deep and emotionally intimate relationship, but you may have to go without kissing or holding hands or, if she's on the ace (asexual) spectrum as well, sex. It's not for everybody, and if you feel like commiting to such a relationship would mean you'd have to limit yourself too much, you should probably bring that up with her and distance yourself a bit for a while. 

But, despite the limitations when compared to a "typical" romantic relationship, an aromantic's affection is still valid and heartfelt and sincere. That's love, too!

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I am willing to bet those are not mixed signals at all. You just have different ideas on how affectionate friends are supposed to be. I have heard that this is sometimes a problem that occurs between men and women even when no one is aromantic, because (allegedly) women tend to me more affectionate with friends than men, and so men sometimes interpret women's "we're close friends" behaviors as flirting. Being aromantic makes this even more likely, she has specifically told you that she doesn't feel that way about you or anyone.

Sometimes, as an aromantic woman, one has to be a little on guard about being affectionate with straight male friends, because they might get the wrong idea. But perhaps, having come out to you, she figures you know where she's at. And so, feels she can be as affectionate as she wants to be without fear of misunderstanding. I know I often wish I could just love my friends in a way that makes sense to me, without having that love misconstrued into something it isn't. That she's acting like you're special to her is not contradictory to her being aromantic. Close friendships is the most special we have!

And calling that "friendzoning" is a little like saying "if you don't love me in this specific way, then your company is not worth anything." and that just feels a little harsh. Especially since she clearly keeps you in high regard! She's affectionate, she thinks you're special to her, she likes to spend a lot of time with you, all those things are still true, you're not wrong about them. You are wrong thinking that these things are necessarily romantic. Like, shit, can't I spend time with my friends and think they're special to me? Those are my favourite people!

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I think she sees you as a close friends, that's why she shows affection. Aromantic tends to valueire friendship than others and so put mire affection into it. However it can be true for anyone. If someone is your friend, it is natural that they want to spend time with you. It had nothing to do with romance.

That's why I don't like the concept of friendzoning, by the way. It sounds like the only reason people spend time with each other is a potential romance and then the relationship has no value if it doesn't evolve that way. This is not true. People can spend time with each other for friendship too.

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I'm going to be a little more blunt here, as someone who has lost straight male friends because of this:

She does love you - just not romantically. TBH you're lucky to be in the 'friendzone' of someone who cares about you and wants to spend time with you (which, by the way, is what friends do.) Maybe look inwards and consider why you devalue that form of love in girls you like?

What I'm hearing is that these girls trust you and want to talk to you, but you see that as a bad thing, which is not a healthy mindset. 

It also seems that she was very clear at the start re: her orientation

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Hey,
thank you all for your input. This is an entirely new perspective for me and I'm really grateful.

Of course I'm affectionate with my friends and want to spend time with them, but this is on another level. We talk every day for hours on end and our texts, frankly, are more cheesy than a greeting card (and sometimes they're just outright screenshots of greeting cards). We go out of our ways to tell each other how amazing we think the other is.

The reason why I'm hesitating to bring it up with her directly is because it's been an issue before. I thought it was a line I was being fed so I wouldn't get my hopes up and it was frustrating me for a bit. I apologized and that's when she started to grow more affectionate.
Now, the last thing I want to do is make her uncomfortable, but I'm struggling to see where her boundaries may be and, knowing her the way I do, I think she's probably too shy to take over and go as far as she'd be comfortable with. It's just awkward between us when we meet right now. And it's even more awkward for me because I don't know if I can deal with just being friends with her. I'd really, really like to kiss her, and be close to her, and it stings to know she wouldn't want that.

As for the whole "friendzoning" issue, I do see how that word can come across as hurtful and I apologize. I suppose it's just hard for me that girls who make me feel like I'm special to them still invariably end up liking somebody else way more and then leave me by the wayside unless they need me to do something for them. I've been asking myself what I'm doing wrong and - cocky as that might sound - I can't see what it might be.
I also don't think I should have to repress the desire to have my own emotional needs met. I can imagine a life without sex, if I have to, though I still think something would be missing, but without intimacy and romantic acts, that's just not for me.

I guess what it boils down to is that I can't remember ever "clicking" with anybody the way I do with her. It's like we share a brain, honestly. I want her in my life; I think I need her in my life.
But she's kinda in her own world that ends at being friends while I'm in another where it would just be the most natural thing for two people who like each other as much as we do to want to be as close, physically, as possible.

How do other aromantic persons' partners cope?

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1 hour ago, Guest CajunFrog said:

 

Of course I'm affectionate with my friends and want to spend time with them, but this is on another level. We talk every day for hours on end and our texts, frankly, are more cheesy than a greeting card (and sometimes they're just outright screenshots of greeting cards). We go out of our ways to tell each other how amazing we think the other is.

 

Yeah, um... That's pretty much how my friends and I act around each other. That's not necessarily a romantic signal, especially when aros are involved.

If your relationship with this girl is not fulfilling your desires, that's understandable, but it's also not her problem. There are an endless amount of alloromantic fish in the sea, so to speak. If you seek a romantic partnership- And ESPECIALLY if you respect this girl as much as you claim to- Then the thing to do is to get to know someone who also desires a romantic partnership. NOT to project one onto someone who has explicitly told you she has no interest in romance. You ask how aromantic people's partners cope- Without even having asked this girl whether she wants to be your partner- But if I can be frank? The question you need to be thinking about is, how do aromantic people cope with being treated the way we are?

Do you know what it's like to be always seen as an expectation to be fulfilled? To give someone your all and be told it's not enough? To grow close to someone, to think you've finally found someone who understands you and doesn't see you as half a person, only to learn they lament the fact that you cannot feel something they want you to feel? Do you know what it's like to live your life suspicious of men who are nice to you, because most of the time they only do so in the hopes that you'll give them something you cannot give? Do you know what it's like to tell someone up front that you don't feel certain feelings, only to have them insist that you do and that they know you better than you do, because they cannot accept that you, as a person, are not the same as the person they have made up in their heads? Do you know what it's like to live in a world where other people's desire for something you cannot give comes before your autonomy as a person? To never have a relationship where you can truly feel comfortable, because you're always afraid of the day your friends say "Actually, this relationship isn't good enough for me. Make it one you're not comfortable with. Give me that which you cannot give. I'm not your friend anymore, I'm someone who wants you to change who you are for me."

Do you know what that's like?

Think about that, and then ask yourself, how does one cope?

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If you think her boundaries are not clear then you should discuss together about what you are both comfortable with. That would benefit to both of you.

And that's okay if you can't have a life without sex or romance. However I think you should admit that the sex and romance doesn't have to be with her and will not be with her. As at @Jot-Aro Kujosays, there is a lit of alloromantic people out there. There is the myth of "the one" but you will find other people you will "click" with in your life. But you won't if you don't let her go because you expect something she can't give you.

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I like to call myself 'unromanceable' which is a videogame term often applied to characters in bioware-rpgs. Relating to, specifically, npcs that you can have in your party and interact with, but who do not have a romance path. You can max out my approval but there just is no romance to unlocked. I can understand that this might seem strange to someone who thinks of relationships as hierarchical. Feeling like there should be a next step. And to be perfectly honest, I am not much a fan of that philosophy, and think that even regular, sexual and romantic people could befit from a looser view of that hierarchy.

2 hours ago, Guest CajunFrog said:

I also don't think I should have to repress the desire to have my own emotional needs met. I can imagine a life without sex, if I have to, though I still think something would be missing, but without intimacy and romantic acts, that's just not for me.

Indeed you should not. I think there is a bit of a miscommunication here. No one is saying that you should give up on finding a romantic partner, or give up on sex. We are saying that, from the sound of everything you said, and based on our own experiences, this friend is not going to be that person. You are going to have to find someone else for that.

2 hours ago, Guest CajunFrog said:

I want her in my life; I think I need her in my life.

My interpretation here is that you need her, but you also need something more than she has to give you. And that is fine. That is what I mean about loosening that view of a strict relationship hierarchy, where only romantic relationships really matter. You can still have her in your life while you search for more. Not every need you have needs to be met by one singular person.

I see that you are trying to understand, and I appreciate that. You have heard the word aromantic, and now you are seeking out advice from aromantics. That is the right thing to do. And I also appreciate your continued good manners even when the answer is not what you want to hear. And no, your explanation does not change my read on the situation at all. It is about what I already gathered. I'm sorry.

3 hours ago, Guest CajunFrog said:

And it's even more awkward for me because I don't know if I can deal with just being friends with her.

Well, that is unfortunate. If you really think that you can't be friends with her, because you are deep in love and always wanting more and hurting for it, then you might have to take some space until you are over it. It is the flip side of the "friendzone" that you're talking about, called the "girlfriend-zone" or sometimes "the bone-zone". Both hurt, but nothing to be done about. It hurts you when someone you liked romantically didn't love you back, and only saw you as a friend. It also hurts when someone you thought was a friend drops you like a moldy potato because if you can't be 'girlfriend' then you're nothing to them. But it is not your friends' fault they were not in love with you. And it is not your fault that you're in love with your friend. I do hope you find some way to manage those feelings without having to take the moldy potato option though. I think the world will be a better place for people valuing their friendships along side their romantic partners, and not seeing them as in competition, but that is a bit of a tangent.

3 hours ago, Guest CajunFrog said:

How do other aromantic persons' partners cope?

This might be another point of confusion. Aromantic people don't generally have romantic partners. So, what partners are we talking about here?

3 hours ago, Guest CajunFrog said:

I suppose it's just hard for me that girls who make me feel like I'm special to them still invariably end up liking somebody else way more and then leave me by the wayside unless they need me to do something for them. I've been asking myself what I'm doing wrong and - cocky as that might sound - I can't see what it might be.

You don't have to be doing anything wrong. Sometimes people are not in love with their friends. Love is not a game of doing everything right and get the reward. There is another person on the other end with feelings that you have no control over. And sometimes we have friends that we're not in love with. And that's why the 'friendzone' tends to sound like such bullshit to our ears. I am sorry that you have been feeling used though.

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It's foolish to project your expectations onto any object over which you have no control. Same pattern goes for fantasies.

If you really care, you need to express yourself - clearly.

Should the reply be a no, there is nothing you can do but accept it. Consent is paramount.

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On 4/7/2021 at 9:34 PM, Guest CajunFrog said:

I'm reaching out to you because the concept of being aromantic is completely foreign to me. I want to believe my crush, but what I get from her seems so much like mixed messages.

"I am aromantic and simply not able to reciprocate your feelings" is in no way a mixed message.

The way she behaves around you is not necessarily a secret "message" to be decoded, and the actual message she gave you was explicitly clear about her identity and her intentions towards you. You need to respect the messages she gives you using actual words, not look for imagined "messages" that you think say something you want to hear instead.

What you're doing - secretly doubting her understanding of herself, and secretly doubting whether she's been honest with you - is not good for any kind of relationship, friendships included. If you're genuinely uncertain about her feelings and intentions then you always have the option of asking her with actual words to clarify them. But you need to either do that, or genuinely accept that what she's told you directly is the truth.

On 4/9/2021 at 10:47 PM, Guest CajunFrog said:

And it's even more awkward for me because I don't know if I can deal with just being friends with her. I'd really, really like to kiss her, and be close to her, and it stings to know she wouldn't want that.

This is a sad situation to be in, but it's also a you-problem that you need to figure out for yourself. You need to be explicitly, brutally honest with yourself and ask: Do I still want to be friends with this girl even if we never get romantically involved? What value does this friendship have to me in and of itself? Does that value outweigh the pain of being so close to something I will never have?

On 4/9/2021 at 10:47 PM, Guest CajunFrog said:

I suppose it's just hard for me that girls who make me feel like I'm special to them still invariably end up liking somebody else way more and then leave me by the wayside unless they need me to do something for them. I've been asking myself what I'm doing wrong and - cocky as that might sound - I can't see what it might be.

One thing you're definitely doing wrong is assuming that if you feel like a relationship is special, there must be a possibility it could become romantic. Others have already commented on different expectations of levels of affection between friends, and the difference between how you feel and what someone else wants.

On 4/9/2021 at 10:47 PM, Guest CajunFrog said:

I guess what it boils down to is that I can't remember ever "clicking" with anybody the way I do with her. It's like we share a brain, honestly. I want her in my life; I think I need her in my life.
But she's kinda in her own world that ends at being friends while I'm in another where it would just be the most natural thing for two people who like each other as much as we do to want to be as close, physically, as possible.

This is again unfortunate, but you can't unilaterally decide the type or extent of relationship the two of you have. No matter how much you click, if she doesn't want to be romantically involved with you, it's not gonna happen. So again the questions you need to ask yourself are: What value does this friendship have to me in and of itself? Does that value outweigh the pain of being so close to something I will never have?

Edited by eatingcroutons
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Hey,

sorry for the radio silence, this has been a lot to take in. Thank you! Some of it has been tough to hear (well, read) but thank you for that as well.
Also, if any of this has been hurtful to you, I'm really sorry, that wasn't my intention.

I'm not sure how to approach all of this with my friend (not gonna call her "my crush" anymore) but I will.

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You're not hurting anyone by asking questions^^ We're just being blunt. If these thoughts and experiences shared in this thread has given you something to think about, or made you understand a new point of view a little better, that is all I was hoping for. Take care.

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