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Explaining aromanticism

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We've already got a lot of threads with resources for trying to understand the experience of being on the aromantic spectrum. This thread is for things that/ways to explain to other people what being aromantic means. 

AKA, links to send people when you tell them you're aro and they say "huh?".

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I don't think alloromantic people will ever fully understand what it feels like to be aro. Just like how cis people won't fully understand what it feels like to be trans. When I'm explaining that I'm lithromantic, I just say, "I'm romantically attracted to people up until the point they reciprocate. After that, I usually get repulsed." If they feel the need to question "why" I feel like that, then that's their problem. Because there is no why. It just is. It's not my obligation to justify my existence to other people. 

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Usually, when people are getting too insistant on the "why" of aromanticism, I question them about romanticism until they realize than they don't even know what romance really is. How am I suppose to explain why I don't feel something that can't be properly explained by those who feel it? And then they realize how pointless trying to argue over romantic feelings with me is, and they leave.

 

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It is hard to explain aromanticism to people. I usually just say that whereas most people have an intrinsic desire to be in a relationship with someone, I just don't. I'm learning more and more that it's like a language I don't speak, just like asexuality. 

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I usually try to explain it as a personal experience, what it feels like... This way it's less clinical, and more easy to emphatise with. If I would quote Latin at them like some medieval priest, I would just alienate them, because they don't really get the concept so the labels would just be like pretentious white noise. Instead I would try to make it simple and relatable. It usually goes like this: imagine that you find lots of people hot. They are also lovely persons, maybe you want to be friends with them, maybe not really, but the spark just isn't there. Would you date someone who you have no feelings for? Imagine that you are paired up with someone randomly, like an arranged marriage. You are lucky, they are a decent human being but there is no chemistry at all. It's not something you would want for yourself, right? And imagine that this person is actually into you. A lot. They would want to be with you all the time, totally in love with you, follow you like a puppy. And you are just not into them. The attention is nice but in the long run its a bit suffocating. Sounds crap isn't it? Well, that is what's it for me with everyone. I can't help it, it's not like you can force yourself to develop feelings for someone. 

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On 27/07/2016 at 2:20 AM, omitef said:

I don't think alloromantic people will ever fully understand what it feels like to be aro. Just like how cis people won't fully understand what it feels like to be trans. When I'm explaining that I'm lithromantic, I just say, "I'm romantically attracted to people up until the point they reciprocate. After that, I usually get repulsed." If they feel the need to question "why" I feel like that, then that's their problem. Because there is no why. It just is. It's not my obligation to justify my existence to other people. 

 

Your explanation of "lithromantic" sounds quite clear.

I'm had a similar response to saying I'm uninterested in marriage. Where being asked "why?" does not even make much sense.
 

On 28/07/2016 at 5:12 AM, Quinoa said:

It is hard to explain aromanticism to people. I usually just say that whereas most people have an intrinsic desire to be in a relationship with someone, I just don't.

For me it's more tricky because I do desire relating to people in various ways, which dosn't include romance, exclusivity or "bundling".

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This is one of the videos from my YouTube channel that explains some of the things an aromantic person might feel. I think it helps to bring up how you feel in relationships (if you've had one) or why you avoid relationships (if you haven't). For most people, it's natural to desire a long term romantic relationship, so they have a hard time understanding otherwise. I think in order to help them understand you, it can help to understand how they feel and then point out the differences. (Maybe my next video except I wouldn't be an expert on that!)

 

 

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Hello! I'm rather late on this but I wanted to talk a bit on how to explain it if you're allosexual and aromantic. I often have a hard time explaining how I wouldn't want to be in a romantic relationship even though I'd be okay or maybe even happy with a lot of the things that happen in romantic relationships (kissing, sex, cuddling). I usually end up talking about how I don't want to spend that much time with one person or place that much importance on the relationship and value it above friendships but I'm not sure if that really helps them understand how I'm actually repulsed by the idea of being in a relationship. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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I don't think it's intrinsically a bad thing if people ask "why". I actually like that, since it means that people are curious and want to learn. I mean, there's a huge difference between curiosity and devaluation and I always like to welcome the former =D

 

I'm like Cas, I usually try to find similar experiences they can relate to. Most people have had their fair share of one sided crushes or had someone crush on them one sidedly, so that's always a good start. Another approach is sexuality. Like, just f.exp., if I'm talking to a hetero guy or girl, I can draw comparisons to their same-sex friends/same-sex people in general. They are great right? You really love and cherish them, u might even kiss them, but there sure is a difference between them and your romantic interests. No matter how much they mean to you or how close you are, you just can't see them in that way at all. Now imagine them being in love with you, while knowing you can't reciprocate. Not a nice thought, right? Now imagine that being the case with everyone, not only the sex you're not attracted to. 
I also like to use the "foreign language" metaphor. The kind of comparison I draw usually depends on the kind of person I'm talking to. The key is to realize that every person on earth had their fair share of aromantic scenarios in life. Not everybody falls in love with everybody. You just have to find them and generalize. 
 

Once they get the idea of aromanticism, it's easier to separate sexuality from this. Most people also experience sexual attraction towards people they are not in love with. If they get aromanticism, it's usually enough to tell them that, even though you don't fall in love, you've still got a sex drive.

 

 

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On 8/6/2016 at 8:34 PM, Blue Phoenix Ace said:

This is one of the videos from my YouTube channel that explains some of the things an aromantic person might feel. I think it helps to bring up how you feel in relationships (if you've had one) or why you avoid relationships (if you haven't). For most people, it's natural to desire a long term romantic relationship, so they have a hard time understanding otherwise. I think in order to help them understand you, it can help to understand how they feel and then point out the differences. (Maybe my next video except I wouldn't be an expert on that!)

 

 

#3 and #11 can also apply to polyamorous people. And your description doesn't really capture the experience of aromantics who aren't romance-repulsed. (I'm assuming that this is because you are romance-repulsed yourself?) But still, that's a pretty good list.  

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On 09/01/2017 at 8:19 AM, Kojote said:

I don't think it's intrinsically a bad thing if people ask "why". I actually like that, since it means that people are curious and want to learn. I mean, there's a huge difference between curiosity and devaluation and I always like to welcome the former =D

It can rather depend on their reactions to how you answer "Why?".
As well as what happens if you ask them why they are alloromantic or what their, personal, motivations for wanting romance are.

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2 hours ago, Mark said:

It can rather depend on their reactions to how you answer "Why?".
As well as what happens if you ask them why they are alloromantic or what their, personal, motivations for wanting romance are.

 

Yeah that's true, it always depends on the person you're talking to. But, like, I won't deny there are assholes out there, but I always try to presume ignorance over malevolence. Most people just never thought about it and have no idea how to react. That being said, if a person won't stop spouting hurtful nonsense I won't mince my words either.

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I have this exact problem with telling people about my polytheism. I want them to have the relevant info about me, but I've run into so much "witnessing" from evangelist Christians, it's burnt me down on answering "honest questions" from "just curious" people. Especially the Christ dudes who sea lion an argument into the core of the earth. 

 

AAAANNND this is why I'm in the closet about being aro. Shit's exhausting.

 

 

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7 hours ago, Mark said:

It can rather depend on their reactions to how you answer "Why?".
As well as what happens if you ask them why they are alloromantic or what their, personal, motivations for wanting romance are.

Some people think like this and by asking “why?” they attempt being an amateur therapist to cure you.

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12 minutes ago, DeltaV said:

Some people think like this and by asking “why?” they attempt being an amateur therapist to cure you.

The most obvious problem with this person's argument is the idea that romance is somehow "turbocharged friendship".
Whereas I'd say it is a different kind of relationship from friendship. It would make more sense to claim that QP friendships are "more than", "further than" (neo) platonic friendships.
Many allos could even be considered "handicapped" when it comes to relationships. Not only do they typically appear only capable of one romantic relationship at once when they are "in a relationship" they can struggle to maintain friendships. Sometimes even family relationships.
You could even look at it as some allos being incapable of non platonic friendships, so they have to do the romantic thing in order to be able to have sensual and sexual interactions :)

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7 hours ago, DeltaV said:

Some people think like this and by asking “why?” they attempt being an amateur therapist to cure you.

 

I clicked through that link and read the comments and the OP actually seemed very reasonable. His wording originally wasn't very good, but he was willing to express his thoughts and invite people to educate him on a subject that can be difficult to relate to if you aren't a direct part of it. He was worried about mental illness, and simply wanted to make sure that people are getting the care they need, even if he was completely wrong. In addition, he actually changed his mind when confronted with a well laid out and logical explanation. His "why?" was a legitimate, if ill worded and heavy handed, "why?"

 

If everyone could have an open mind and a willingness to put their thoughts out on the table and the humility to admit they were wrong, life would be a lot easier. I think it's important that we remember to be patient with people who are questioning us, even if they are insensitive or mean, because there are a lot of people out there who legitimately have our best interests in mind and just have a warped sense of how we can be happy. We have an opportunity help those people understand and broaden their horizons.

 

Of course, some of them are just mean, and if you ever need backup with one of them I learned how to punch someone yesterday.

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I didn't want to imply that the OP in the linked post was unreasonable or mean.

17 hours ago, Kickaxe said:

He was worried about mental illness, and simply wanted to make sure that people are getting the care they need, even if he was completely wrong.

Yes, but aside from zir good intentions, the OP still believed that aromanticism is something that should and can be therapeutically treated (no moral condemnation, this is just a fact).

 

That's something we really have to consider when we encounter “why?” question.
 

Now, what could we answer in such a case? Some obvious truths:

  1. There is no way to turn an aro into a romantic.
  2. Even if this was possible, the ex-aro might be worse off! Some romantics are chronically not able to engage in a romantic relationship and can suffer a lot because of this. And there is no reliable, successful method to help people with this problem.
  3. Aromanticism is not by any measure a “condition” which would justify compulsory admission.
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18 hours ago, Kickaxe said:

Of course, some of them are just mean, and if you ever need backup with one of them I learned how to punch someone yesterday.

Cool, I can also give out punching tips. :evilgrin:

 

For people IRL who I can't give links to (and also because I suck at long complicated explanations) I would give short answers like "because I have no reason to" if they ask me why I don't date or fall in love or whatever. Some added bonus lines I might use:

"It doesn't appeal to me and never has"

"I tried it anyway and figured out it isn't for me"

"I prefer friendship"

 

I have more conversations in my head than with other humans. :rofl: 

 

I suppose it's easier to explain the aro/ace combo than seperating them? I'd imagine that talking about a lack of romantic attraction is OK with most people, but explaining sexual attraction to strangers just seems kind of TMI and none of their business...

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I'd just say I'd prefer to have my life for myself right now and be my own boss. Rarely finding people romantically attractive doesn't stop me having other meaningful relationships, nor does it stop my life being fulfilling in general. There's also the fact that I struggle for no reason in romantic relationships anyway, and they just seem like a lot of hassle for little reward to me. I might change my mind one day, but that hinges on a statistically unlikely chance of me meeting someone truly compatible. Maybe I have already met someone like that, but "something" inside me flipped the switch to abort the bonding process? Who knows?!

Spoiler

 

Regarding the Reddit post... (possibly slightly incoherent ranty thing incoming :P

1. Love can make one really irrational, so, would that be considered someone having mental health issues if their quality of life was impacted to some degree, by being madly in love? 

2. If nobody has a definitive explanation for how the mechanism of romantic attraction works, how can anyone conclude lack of romantic attraction, by itself, is a mental illness - particularly when it doesn't cause undue distress for that person? If it's slightly different for everyone (due to the differences in brain/neuron structure between individuals/life experience etc), it doesn't necessarily mean there's something wrong with a person whose mechanism is dormant or even missing.

 

Yeah, I probably overthought this... xD I know he said he changed his mind anyway but if I'd been able to comment that's basically what I would have replied with.

 

 

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14 hours ago, SoulWolf said:

I suppose it's easier to explain the aro/ace combo than seperating them? I'd imagine that talking about a lack of romantic attraction is OK with most people, but explaining sexual attraction to strangers just seems kind of TMI and none of their business...


It does appear that there are socially acceptable ways to be uninterested in sexual relationships which do not have romantic equivalents.
IME talking about lack of romantic attraction is not at all OK with most people. There are also plenty of ways in which the world is specifically set up with the assumption that everyone is (or wants to be) in a couple.

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What about all those middle schoolers and high schoolers who are hit with “who do u have a crush on?” when with friends? The whole “You’re blushing! Who is it?!” thing, you know? How do they explain it to their friends?

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