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am i aromantic or do i have a fear of intimacy??

Guest syd


ive been putting off really thinking deeply about this because maybe i dont want it to be true?? but i cant seem to answer my own questions so i was wondering if actual aromantic ppl or maybe even ppl who are having the same struggles as me could help.

i never even considered i was aro before the last few months because i would always be crushing on someone, but it was never an actual crush. i would keep myself from being bored by obsessing over a guy who i knew had no interest in me. i enjoyed doing this because i got to have those happy feelings of "liking" someone without having to worry abt it going anywhere serious. but after i eventually stopped talking to those ppl, i realized i never liked them in the slightest and i really was just obsessing. i would search for guys constantly just so i could obsess and not be bored with my life. when i realized ive never really liked a guy, i started thinking maybe i was a lesbian?

anytime one of my girl friends gets a s/o, i get super angry or jealous because ik eventually their attention towards me will decrease and go to their partner. my friend who usually dates only guys just told me she has a girlfriend and i exploded on her. although it seems like im acting like that bc i like them, i dont actually. i never thought of them romantically before they announce a relationship so why do i get jealous now? when i really dwell on it, it just seems to be very strong platonic feelings and the fear of being abandoned by them. ive never really liked a girl either. i had a girlfriend a few years ago and i would avoid her anytime she got close to me bc i was uncomfortable with touching her. even just holding her hand in a game we played made me sick. im fine with holding a girl's hand platonically, but not romantically.

i oversexualized myself from a young age so ive kind of become immune to the topic of it so im not even sure if i would be comfy doing it or not. i cant imagine myself doing it w anyone. i think abt it constantly while also never wanting it for myself??? same thing w romantic feelings. i think abt them constantly, but i can never seem to genuinely feel them like all my other friends seem to so easily do.

when i think of relationships in general, regardless of sex and gender, i can never imagine myself in that position. even when i find someone genuinely attractive, i have no interest in making a move on them even if they do seem like the hottest person on this planet to me. i dont think it's bc of fear of rejection bc i'm content w never making a move. when i read on fear of intimacy i related to it. i self sabotage if a relationship starts getting too intimate, i have trust issues, im not fully comfy with showing my emotions or touching ppl. but i feel like some of those could also apply to aro ppl? ik aro ppl aren't going thru a phase of some sort, but im scared that i am and i dont want to start identifying w an identity that im actually not. i kind of feel like i would be ??missing out?? on relationships and such. even if i am aro, how can i come to terms with that? sorry for this being so long, but ive been grappling w this for months. taking stupid online tests, reading articles upon articles, etc. and yet i still don't know. can someone help me identify what i might be feeling even if it's just from ur experiences?

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Hi lovely, all of this research can be overwhelming, so thank you so much for putting your experiences in words - You don’t have be alone with your thoughts.

Your words here remind me of this article: https://www.tumblr.com/117-opossum-teeth/669161588213907456/limerence-obsession-and-escapism-my-submission. I don’t know if you’ll relate with this after reading it, if you wish to do so, yet I think this writer could have been on a similar wavelength to you.

(The above article also comes from a fantastic monthly blogging event, Carnival of Aros, which is a mind-blowingly good time to explore, if you’re curious for more.)

On fear on intimacy, I still find this a tricky conundrum. In discussions here, others have mentioned that, even with this fear, any kind of attraction may also be present. So, this might be a consideration for you. If you could imagine feeling safe with someone, do you think that a romantic draw/attraction towards them, or any other kind of attraction, could co-exist? I still have to let go of many fears myself, so perhaps I may not be the wisest person to answer this one, yet I wanted to offer a little, just in case another can throw in some more thoughts on this puzzler.

A lot of bright minds on this forum have a wonderful way of phrasing the following, to help us relax us about whether we might be aro, or anything else for that matter, or otherwise. It’s a-okay to explore who you are and find out that something else might be true later. Reading about the experiences of others, and asking these great questions, can be so wonderful, and there’s no rush to hand in our final papers on who we are. 

Please take so much care of yourself, and all the best for finding answers or any further questions! We wish you the best!

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There was recently another topic on here about how to come to terms with being aro and feeling better about it. You might get something out of reading through that thread!

I think this concept you're grappling with of "What is my self and what is societal pressure?" is one that is extremely common in the queer community.

  • Am I bisexual or do I just think I like men because of heteronormativity?
  • Am I nonbinary/a trans man or am I just too turned off and hurt by misogyny?
  • Am I asexual or is it religious trauma?
  • Am I aromantic or is it intimacy/commitment issues?
  • Am I gay or do I like them in a friend-way and am confused because I seem to value friendship more than society does?

And the truth is that I absolutely think identity and these confounding factors can interplay. You can 100% be aro and have a fear of intimacy. The fear of intimacy may even be related to your aro identity (eg. romance repulsion) or it may be separate but confounding to your identity (eg. experienced a chaotic childhood with caregivers who modeled a dysfunctional relationship that gave you a negative view on intimate relationships).

I like to encourage people a lot of the time to follow what they want and what makes them happy, but even this can be difficult and not the best model. Amatonormativity means that many of us can struggle to accept not wanting a relationship as valid when we feel so pressured to be in an intimate relationship and are told the only way we can achieve happiness and satisfaction is by finding that relationship.

But I do still think the best model of choosing how you want to identify is by you respecting your own feelings. And this may be a process! You might decide for a long time that identifying as straight is what makes you most comfortable. And it may be through doing that for years that you realize that you simply don't connect with the identity and it doesn't actually make you happy - you just wanted it to make you happy because it's what society presented as being the best and most acceptable option. Unfortunately, there's no quick, simple, or magic way to cut through figuring out how you feel and what is propaganda that society floods us all with. A lot of that comes with time and experience.

I also want to confirm that there is nothing inherently wrong with something being a phase. Life is full of phases! Hell, life itself is a phase. This isn't a bad thing!!! It's pure cishetallonormativity that we've been taught to believe this. Being a teenager is a phase. Liking specific music artists or TV shows can be a phase. Working in [x] career can be a phase. A phase is not a bad thing. It's just a period of time. It doesn't mean you've done wrong or bad. It means that, since that time, you've learned/grown/changed and now your feelings/interests/goals/desires are different. There is never any point in time where you can confidently identify as something and know for 100% confidence that it will never change. There is always a possibility that things will change. Humans are a product of nurture and nature. Even if nothing internally changes, outside forces can crash into you and create change. Identifying as one thing at some point in your life and another thing at a different point in your life isn't bad. It's just life! It means you learned more about yourself. And that, to me, seems like a good thing. Not a bad one.

Also, also: labels are a tool. They are not a definitive and rigid organizational system for humans. They are a tool to help us find community, communicate with others, etc. They are a vast simplification of a complex set of human feelings and experiences. Humans process information by finding patterns. That's why we like labels. They help us to organize and sort complicated information into bite-sized pieces that are easier to digest. If you experience romantic attraction but have a fear of intimacy/don't want to act on this attraction in such a way that you relate more to the aro community than the alloro community or find it more useful to communicate your desires to others if you adopt the aro label, those are 100% valid reasons to identify as aro. Identity is all self-determined. You don't have to have some subjective level of a "good enough" reason to identify any one way. Your identity isn't something you're defending in a court. Your identity is how you feel, and you get to label it based on what you want to communicate with others. "Aromantic" doesn't need to convey the vast depths of the entirety of your feelings. It can just convey "I don't experience romance like most people do".

Besides that, a huge part of figuring out if a label is for you or not is using the label. It's like clothes at the store. Sure, you can hold the clothes up to your body. You can ask for opinions. But the best way to know if you're going to like wearing those clothes and seeing them on yourself is by trying them on. And just because you try them on at the store doesn't mean you'll like them out of the store (where your mirrors and lighting will be different). Sometimes you gotta do a whole trial run to figure out if clothes fit you right. Same with labels. Best way to know how you truly feel about the label is to immerse yourself in the label and try it on for a while. I always suggest at least a couple of months at minimum. I am confidently nonbinary and genderqueer now, but it took me years of experimenting with the labels to come to terms with that. And a large part of that was a byproduct of self-gaslighting due to cisnormativity convincing me there was only one way to be trans and that I didn't meet it. It was only by actively fighting against those beliefs and giving myself a chance to use those labels that I was able to cut through all the crap and honor my own feelings.

And now I'm gonna go try and comment in the thread I linked about coming to terms with being aro because I've been meaning to add my thoughts there.

Edited by hemogoblin
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