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I Think I Might Be On The Aromantic Spectrum, But I'm Unsure and Confused


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So, I was tentative about posting in this space, because I'm always weary of utilizing the language of marginalized communities, and especially in cases where I'm uncertain if I have membership in those communities. But recently, I've started to wonder if I might be on the Aro-spectrum, and just needed people to talk to and to work out the ambiguities inherent in my feelings via empathic discussion.

So I am a 30 year old disabled man, and I've never had a real physical relationship, as all of my relationships have been long-distance. I've experienced plenty of sexual attraction, and in fact have impulse control issues as it relates to sex, being a cybersex addict at 17 and recently almost getting hooked on phone sex. So my relationship with sex, while deleterious, has always been affirmative in the sense that I do enjoy it on a certain level. But as I told a woman recently who I've gotten close to, I've always used sex and romance, without ever really appreciating them.

See I have low self-esteem and have a very toxic relationship with myself. I grew up with a loving but emotionally damaged and narcissistic grandmother, and a drug addicted father. The tumultuous nature of my home made me turn to sex as a form of escapism. So my relationship to sex developed on unhealthy ground. Romantic relationships have also always felt like a form of escapism. If I could put all my energies into a partner, I could ignore my toxic relationship with myself. However...

I've come to believe about myself that I like romantic relationships on a purely abstract level, which is why long distance relationships have always seemed so attractive to me. I could have the intense emotional intimacy, without any of the trappings of romantic commitment i.e. dating, living together, etc. Many times with the rare exception of my most recent Ex (More on that later), every time a relationship would intensify or I would seem further removed from my abstractions, I would become anxious, stressed, depressed, and, inexcusably, I would self-sabotage the dynamic to be single again. With my most recent Ex, I actually did try and sabotage it early on, thinking that I was polyamorous (A belief I no longer hold, but we'll get to that), but then a visit with my therapist at the time, made me think that I was fleeing my feelings for her. When we renewed the relationship, I often would have romantic fantasies about living with her and being a step-father to her kids, but our dynamic never went anywhere and, because of the particulars of our dynamic, I left her.

Really looking back on it, I'm relieved that relationship failed and I hate that I'm back in another messy situation. I've really been thinking lately, that I'm my happiest when I'm in a deep, emotionally intimate friendship with someone rather than being their boyfriend. My ideal would be an emotionally intimate friendship with an erotic dimension. Essentially, a friend with benefits, but one of considerable emotional intimacy. I love helping people and being a good friend to them. But I also love and feel my healthiest when I'm single and able to do philosophy (hence my username), unencumbered by my self-loathing and all of the negative emotions that accompany it, that make me use sex and abstracted romantic relationships as a coping mechanism.

My friend who I've become increasingly entangled with, says I won't know how I really feel until I experience an embodied relationship with another woman. She makes salient points I don't wish to deny that, but every time I think about being in a committed relationship with her, as wonderful and amazing as she is, I become horrified and my body just seems to viscerally reject it. She's an astounding woman who is brilliant and beautiful, but I feel my happiest with her in friendship and always seem to become stressed, apprehensive, etc, when conversation shifts to romance. I feel like throughout my life I've confused sex for love, and trusted too much that my abstractions of romance would translate neatly onto reality. I want an emotionally intimate and empowering friendship with her, whereas her ideal is a monogamous relationship.

All in all, I'm just so confused. I feel awful for just being here and feeling like I am unnecessarily taking up space, because this is all so new to me. I'll admit that even I don't have the best understanding of my feelings, but given my history I've just always seemed healthier, happier, etc, when I'm out of relationships rather than in them. I love romance media and shipping wars, but I've never intensely desired that for myself. I just want to be the best friend to someone they've ever had. But I do think I genuinely felt romantic feelings for my Ex? Or maybe I just wanted to believe I had them...

Looking at the spectrum, I felt the strongest affinity with these terms:

Aegoromantic, less commonly known as anegoromantic, also previously known as autochorisromantic, describes those who enjoy the concept of romance but do not have a desire to participate in romantic activities. Aegoromantic individuals may have romantic fantasies, enjoy romantic media, or engage in shipping in fandoms, but they tend to feel little to no romantic attraction in real life and typically do not desire a romantic relationship.

Aroflux is an identity that operates along the aromantic/alloromantic spectrum. People who identify as aroflux may experience their romantic orientation as fluctuating between experiencing and not experiencing romantic attraction, or that attraction is being experienced to alternating or changing degrees.

Lithromantic or lithoromantic, alternatively called akoiromantic or akoineromantic, describes someone who feels romantic attraction but does not want it reciprocated, or loses that attraction when it is reciprocated. They may enjoy romantic relationships in theory, but may stop feeling romantic attraction once in a relationship or stop enjoying it.

Quoiromantic, also known as WTFromantic, describes not being romantically categorizeable, being unable to tell the difference between differing kinds of attraction, being unsure about experiencing romantic attraction or not, and/or not feeling the concept of romantic attraction to be relevant to oneself.

I apologize if this post offended anyone. I'm honestly just trying to engage in genuine and meaningful introspection but I'm all emotionally mixed up. I do genuinely believe I'm on the Aro-spectrum, but then I've been told I need to be in a real relationship because none of my other ones were real, and that physically being with someone makes all the difference. So if all my prior experiences are disregarded (I had an ex-friend once tell me bluntly that I needed to learn to talk to girls) is anything I derive from those experiences meaningful I know I'm not asexual, and have wholly different problems with sex, but is there anyone who sees me and my experiences and can offer me sound rebukes or spirited assurances? Thanks.

TL;DR: I feel like I like the idea of a relationship more than being in a relationship, and my relationship with romance and monogamous culture more broadly being one of avoidance, self-sabotage, etc, makes me wonder if I'm just on the Aro-Spectrum and have been emotionally harming myself participating in amatonormativity?

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 8/22/2022 at 4:20 AM, Philosophile_J said:

TL;DR: I feel like I like the idea of a relationship more than being in a relationship, and my relationship with romance and monogamous culture more broadly being one of avoidance, self-sabotage, etc, makes me wonder if I'm just on the Aro-Spectrum and have been emotionally harming myself participating in amatonormativity?

That's very possible.
I relate to some points you made about yourself and from my perspective, you do sound rather aro.
At the end of the day, only you can know who you are and what you feel/what you want, but I just want to put it out as my first feedback.

Have you ever wondered if you are afraid of intimacy?
Not that your post is giving anything away like that. I want to point it out because you write your grandmother was narcissistic. Well, I was raised by a narc mother and don't have great self-esteem either (I have many years of therapy under my belt). It can also have consequences for the relationships we create or want to have hence why I do think your friend has a point somewhere. BUT. If your feelings and preferences won't change, even if you have a strong and, most importantly, healthy  relationship with someone, yet you still feel like "being friends is better", "being friends with "benefits" would feel better", etc. then you are most likely aro in my opinion.
There is a great difference between actually wanting a romantic relationship in real life but never having your needs met (because of your past, you may attract rather unhealthy individuals) and/or being afraid of relationships and actually not wanting it and feeling comfortable and fulfilled with being friends or having friends you can have sex with.

Edited by NotHeartless
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I think your post definitely belong in this forum. Thanks for sharing. Even if you later decided aromantic label does not fit you it's still good to discuss together.

I would advise to explore what you want first and not feel any pressure to settle on a label if you're still unsure. It's totally fine to desire a sexual friendship rather than a romantic relationship. Our society holds romantic relationship up as superior to others and might make it feel like we have defend ourselves and explain why we don't want one. However we don't actually need to defend that. Try out what you think you might like and see how it feels.

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