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How did you figure out your romantic/sexual orientation? I need help!


Max_Ali
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It’s as the title says, I’ve recently realized a lot of things about myself.

Even though I’ve been in three long term monogamous sexual-romantic relationships I now understand that I was never romantically in love with any of them.

I’m also finally aware that the best relationship I ever had was with my best friend and we were never romantically or sexually attracted to each other. I fell like I may be platonically in love with her.

I crave that type of intimacy and affection I had with her but not romance. I can feel sexual attraction but never both for the same person. 

I read the tread here about romantic orientations and felt some related to me but overall it was very overwhelming and my medication makes it impossible for me to retain information or keep focused. 

So I wish you could tell me a little about your own experiences, how you figured it out, how you experience relationships, how your feelings are right now. And if you have any insight or thoughts about my own case and how can I navigate it I would also really appreciate the help.

Thank you all so much for your time! (also English is not my first language so I’m sorry if I spelled anything wrong or weird)

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In my experience, I had heard of aromanticism before but didn't start considering I could be aro until I had an a-spec (aromantic and/or asexual spectrum) friend who would make educational posts on social media about a-spec identifies and experiences. By then I had been in two relationships that didn't work out well for several reasons but looking back I'm not sure I was ever actually romantically attracted to them. I thought about it for a while, tried several different labels, now I just describe myself as aromantic because I'm really not sure I experience romantic attraction at all, and if I do it's very weakly and rarely. I don't really desire a romantic relationship, when I think about it as a possibility I just feel meh about it.

I'm still kinda in the process of figuring things out to be honest, but I have come a long way since I've started. Give yourself some time to think about it, for many people it can take a while to figure yourself out, and that's completely ok.

I also think the kind of relationship you might be desiring is a queerplatonic relationship, basically a close and intimate relationship but not romantic, so I would suggest looking into that and seeing if that makes sense to you.

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I am still a bit confused about if I am on the asexual spectrum, but as for romantic and platonic preference I might be able to help with.  When I was questioning I found it helpful to think of different types of relationships with different genders and see what I felt. Hope this helps 

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Something that helped me a lot was completely accepting that even if my orientation hasn't actually changed, my understanding of it is continually evolving, and I shouldn't beat myself up for finding different labels that fit me better. Another thing that helped me personally was avoiding microlabels (nothing wrong with them! but I found I became briefly too obsessive with labelling every single part of my experience, in a way that was wholly unhelpful for me). 

This is a personal philosophy, and not something i wish to impose on others, but i see my previous labels as something that was true of me then, of my understanding of myself. So when I understood myself as a girl, that was true, in a way. When i understood myself as pan-ace, that was true. This has also helped me: it's a kind of live and let go view? Or even kind of how Marie Kondo operates: I say thank you to the label, it was useful to me when it was useful to me, but it is no longer now and so I let it go. If that makes sense? 

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Figuring out I was aro really happened because i met a couple of friends who were ace and they introduced me to the term. Before then I had not really considered sex and romance as something that you could keep separate for life, rather than sex without romance as a sort of acceptable second or something a young lad might do before growing up and settling down.

I started looking at aro forums and blogs and saw experiences which fitted with the sort of things I was experiencing.

Theres a lot more to it than that, I wrote a whole blog post a while back on how I found aromanticism. https://roboticanary.wordpress.com/2021/02/03/my-journey-to-aromanticism/

As for insights, take your time. I think a lot of advice tends to mention the idea of figuring out your identity but it is rare to remind people that this goes along with keeping your life moving. You don't get to stop life for a few months to sort out who you are or how you feel.

With that in mind, it isn't a problem if you don't make any progress on working out your identity for a while. It isn't a problem if it takes a few years to sort things out to your satisfaction.

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I heard about asexuality when I was a teenager and thought it was interesting but not for me, it didn't feel 'right'. Then I ignored everything for 10 years ? 

Going back to actively questioning was hard. I am a very wordy person, so I needed a label for myself. It was an obsessive compulsion. I read all sorts of other people's experiences trying to find something that sounded familiar. I happened to stumble upon a link in a forum to this place and I instantly felt at home. Most everything here was relatable or understandable. 

BUT

my sexuality wasn't as easy to work out. Again, being a wordy person I went through every list I could find, and so many blogs until I found a very obscure MOGAI/micro label that I felt fit. I finally had a label. Then I researched to find others and came to the conclusion there were only 2 of us at the time.

Then a label didn't seem to matter so much anymore.

It didn't unlock anything new, it didn't draw me to a community. The only thing I got from picking a label more specific than Grey-A was a nicely coloured pride flag (that no one will recognise because there were only 2 of us!). Now I just use greysexual because I don't see the point in being specific.

Now I think having a supportive community is more important than a label, especially as you can use a general term like grey- or queer. The most important thing is knowing your limitations and what you are comfortable with, but I do understand your pain if you are seeking a specific label for yourself.

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