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How did you discover you are aro-spec?


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I'm actually amazed that a thread like this hasn't been made yet. So how did you discover you were aro-spec? Everyone's discovery process is bound to be different I'm interested in what made you realise you were aro-spec :).

 

For me, I'm not entirely sure how I came to the conclusion that I am aromantic.  I mean, I know now that it's correct, but I'm not entirely sure what it was that made me say for sure that I was. There was no big, "ahah!" moment for me. For a long while I assumed I was heteromantic just because. It doesn't help that I am aesthically attracted to people, but didn't know what type of attraction it was before I reaised I was aro. I know now that it's aesthetic attraction and nothing else, but still. When you have no basis for comparison, it's difficult to tell what something like that is. I identified as grey-romantic for a while, mainly because amatonormavity and the fact that while I was attracted to people (obviously mistaking it for romantic attraction), that was exceedingly rare. I think I've only ever been attracted to about 10 people in my life.


I guess what finally made me identify as aro was the fact that I just can't imagine myself in a romantic relationship. I don't even know what I'd do with a romantic partner. There's also the fact that I just don't really care that I'm not with someone in that way. To be honest, it was quite strange hearing that actively looking for romantic relationships was normal (apparently).  I was quite oblivious to other people doing that sort of stuff during high school, to the point where I didn't know that people were doing it unless I was explicitly told. Seriously, I think I heard of about 3 or 4 different romantic relationships that occured during my entire school life which looking back seems to only represent a small pproportion of the actual number. I think what took me so ong to realise is that I didn't really have much pressure to do anything about my single status. The only person who pushed me towards a romantic relationship was my mum, and that was only her giving me simple suggestions infrequently. Most of my friends were single pretty much all through high school (or I just didn't notice they were in a romantic relationship).

 

I think this whole questioning process took a few months. Something tells me that I started fully identifying as aro in September of last year although I'm unsure. I distinctly remember that I identified as aro before coming here. I mean if I didn't, I wouldn't have made an account when I did xD. After coming here though, it has just reinforced the fact that I'm aro in my mind. People actually make sense here. All you people are awesome and for once in my life I actually feel like I belong.

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For a really long time, I thought I was bisexual because I had equal attraction to anyone and everyone I met, that being none whatsoever (that's not the definition of bisexuality, but as you can tell I wasn't really informed about any sexuality back then). I actually got to AVEN by searching some convoluted mess of 'bisexual but not interested in anyone ever'. I discovered aromanticism there too, and a year or something later when Arocalypse was founded I jumped over here, where I feel much more at home!

 

Though fun fact, I actually came out to some of my closest friends in England before I even knew I was in one. They were asking about who they wanted to marry and how many kids they wanted and I just straight out said no. And they actually remembered it and took me seriously... I miss them :arolovepapo:

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I feel like the thread hasn't been made because people usually post about how they realised they were aro in their intro post (at least I remember doing so in mine.)

 

Long story, trigger warning for depression and suicide, will collapse.

Spoiler

 

As a misinformed person who'd been struggling with depression for years, I was under the false impression that falling in love with someone would "fix" me. I tended to like people who were great friends with me, but unavailable--usually because they were interested in someone else. I always took rejection personally because of depression, but later I realised it was also because I wasn't able to differentiate between romantic and platonic affection (I still struggle with this today, to an extent).

 

Because I was always liking unavailable people, yet still obsessed with finding a romantic relationship to "fix" my depression, I decided to serial date for awhile. My first relationship was with someone I used to like, who later developed feelings for me, and made me fall for them again. But even though we both liked each other, I constantly felt like I was trapped throughout the entire relationship. I told myself it was because she wasn't the right person. So I dated two more people, whom I had passing crushes on. I remember being disgusted when they told me they loved me, and I remember wanting to break up at the exact moment we got into our relationships, but I persisted through the relationships anyway, because I didn't want to hurt their feelings. Eventually we broke up because I couldn't fake it with them anymore.

 

After that, I was about to swear off relationships forever. Then I met a girl--let's call her L. L and I got really close, and I swore she did like me romantically at one point, and I was convinced that I'd finally found The One™. But then it turned out she didn't like me romantically, and it messed me up really badly. At this point, I decided that I was sick of letting my emotions depend on other people, and that I would no longer rely on romance to "fix" me. I started to work on self-improvement, but it wasn't enough to help me cope with depression, and I ended up attempting suicide one week before I was supposed to go to a summer camp for teaching English. Needless to say, I failed.

 

What happened at the summer camp was like a really fucked-up romantic comedy, without any of the romance. I met another girl--let's call her A--who I quickly developed a crush on, much to my distress. I was in no mental condition to start any intimate relationship, platonic or otherwise, and I did my best to kill my feelings--except it was really hard to, because A and I ended up getting paired together as teaching partners. We ended up becoming friends, despite all my off-behaviour from depression, and I thought she actually liked me back because she'd be physically intimate with only me, and she got jealous when she saw me spending lots of one-on-one time with other people. So I asked her out at the end of the camp via letter, feeling absolutely sick to my stomach while writing. I felt like I had done something incredibly wrong to our friendship, but at the time I attributed this to fear of rejection. To my relief, she ended up rejecting me--but not simply because she didn't like me. She said that she'd never liked anyone romantically before, and that she wasn't ready to explore romantic relationships now. I expected her to avoid me after the rejection, since I assumed my romantic feelings for her probably made her uncomfortable--but she didn't. Oddly enough, we got closer after the rejection, both physically and platonically, which made me completely reexamine my ideas about intimacy. I realised that being with her made me feel more fulfilled and happier than any romantic relationship, or any friendship, that I had ever experienced. I asked others about this, and someone told me that it sounded like A and I had a queerplatonic relationship, even though we never formally agreed to anything.

 

But the labels didn't really matter to me. She was happy. I was happy. Happier too, now that I'd finally gotten into therapy for my depression. After months of being friends with her, romance stopped becoming a possibility. Until later I developed a crush on a person...who also happened to like me back. Being the uneducated walnut that I was, I thought this meant I had an obligation to get into a romantic relationship with the person. However, I was anxious about getting into a romantic relationship, because I didn't want the romantic relationship to take away any intimacy I had with A. So I told my crush about A. And I told A about my crush. Then I introduced both of them to each other. The meeting went alright, and I thought my anxieties about the romantic relationship would be over. But the more romantic my crush and I got with each other, the more uncomfortable I felt around them. I noticed that before, we used to be friends, but whatever "friendship" we had was changing into something weird, where they seemed to only talk to me when they felt like flirting. After some research, I realised I was romance-repulsed and lithromantic, and ended my budding relationship with my crush.

 

Since then, I've been trying to explore what intimacy means for me, outside of a romantic context. I realised that I would like to have more companionships like the one I have with A, which is why I added polyplatonic to my romantic orientation label. I find that I can relate to lots of people in the polyamorous community, even though most of them tend to be talking about romantic love. I also discovered that I experience alterous attraction, where I swing between liking someone romantically and platonically. I'm currently trying to figure out how to navigate boundaries when it comes to being with multiple people, all of whom have different expectations for being with me. In a way, it feels like I'm making my own map, since there aren't many guides specific to polyplatonic relationships out there. 

 

 

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Took me quite a long time to work it out.


Since I'm interested (and enjoy) many things which are romantic coded. My position can be more "I'd like to do this, but not exactly like that", rather than "I don't want to do that."
As well as being able to feel sexual, sensual and aesthetic towards people, often several people at once.


I've always felt quite an oddity in never finding concepts like monogamy and marriage remotely interesting. Together with having no interest in being in a couple or riding the relationship escalator. However the difficulty I had with polyamory (including solo poly) was that everyone else appeared to have a history of embracing regular monogamous relationships then changing their mind.

 

What got me onto the right track was reading an article critical of amantonormativity.

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Well, for me it's completly boring: I just found the word on AVEN, read what it meant and thought it fit and still do~

I can't say that I was confused before I found out about aromanticism or anything. I realized that others started dating and that I wasn't interessted, but I had never really thought about it much~

So yeah, that's that :3

 

 

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Took me another 6 months or so after I found AVEN and realised I was asexual. At that time, I was extremely surprised to find that crushes stemmed from actual real legitimate feelings, so you would think I would have realised. But at that time I had the notion that to be without a romantic partner was to be not happy nor fulfilled so I kind of denied it for a time. Those thoughts came from growing up around a bunch of romantic centred/obsessed girls... I always thought they were saying it because it was cool/popular, but I guess somewhere it stuck. I guess somewhere I realised that I was perfectly happy without romance in my life and so that previous logic (or lack thereof lol) wasn't very valid.

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Being heterosexual, it took me for-fucking-ever to figure it out. xP 

 

I basically thought I was somehow immature for not wanting to find my forever guy and not being bothered by casual sex or FWB. I found out about aro-spec from an ace friend on tumblr. Even then (and now), I questioned it, because so much affection/sensuality/sexuality gets wrapped in the same paper as romance in culture, so I'm still...untangling it all. 

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14 hours ago, Zemaddog said:

People actually make sense here.

This. So much this.

 

I assumed I was just regular straight for most of my life, even though I didn't really understand what that meant. I always thought that relationships were just like really strong friendships where you do other things as well, like cuddle a lot, kiss and apparently most people have sex as well, although I wasn't really that interested in that unless it's like a really really super duper extra strong friendship... I could never understand why people 'date' to get to know people... why act so close to someone you don't even know yet? It boggles the mind... but I just thought other people were dumb at this point, didn't think there was something different about me, other than my amazing intellect... 9_9

 

Basically what drove me to research aro and ace stuff was a friendship with a guy that kinda... well, didn't really work out. Or something. I could never figure out if my feelings were romantic or platonic, and then I figured out that I don't even know what the difference is. It confused the hell out of me because I think I'm pretty smart, and if I can't figure out what the difference is, how come everyone else seems to know what they're doing? So I realized I don't understand relationships at all, and apparently not friendship either. I found the description of 'wtfromantic', and was like "yeah, that's me!" ... and then I found you lovely people, all talking about the importance of friendship and other sensible things. :arolove:

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I spent a good chunk of my life convinced that I was a straight girl "by default" or until proven otherwise, but I was still strangely astute to my aromanticism. I never understood songs that claimed that falling in love was easy and kept turning to various romantic tropes to explain why I just wasn't feeling what others were. The whole "you were in love the whole time, but just didn't realize it" trope really got me, but I took it a step further by saying that because I "had no definition of love," then there was no way to define anything I experienced as love. I still dated out of fear of friendzoning people and secretly hoping that "fake it until you make it" was a reasonable romance strategy.

 

In college, discovering asexuality made me shatter that "by default" notion, but I had to contemplate my romantic identity for about a month or so before slowly realizing that I'm aromantic. It certainly made my teen years make a lot more sense in hindsight.

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I used to imagine having a partner, and it was this wonderfully blurry image of another person similar to me, neither of us talking but this sense of complete understanding and trust flowing through our hands which held each other.

 

Once I realized I was asexual, I kept rolling with the assumption that I didn't want to date anyone because I'd expected touch-heavy activities to go along with it. I didn't really think too hard about not wanting sex, just kind of expecting that I'd meet someone and try dating. Fast-forward to when people started expressing romantic interest in me (18 years old? 19?): the repulsion was so visceral, I didn't have a doubt until I was out of the moment. It took a while, but I finally realized that I can enjoy any material with a romantic overtone as long as it isn't extended to me.

 

The only doubt in my mind now is whether allo-people I explain this to really understand or if they just think I'm faking.

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18 hours ago, Nakaez said:

Well, for me it's completly boring: I just found the word on AVEN, read what it meant and thought it fit and still do~

I can't say that I was confused before I found out about aromanticism or anything. I realized that others started dating and that I wasn't interessted, but I had never really thought about it much~

So yeah, that's that :3

 

 

My story is similar: After I found I was ace (which took a while), I found the term aromantic on AVEN and reasoned that if asexual fit me, then maybe aromantic did too. It does. 

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On 17/09/2016 at 2:51 PM, omitef said:

I feel like the thread hasn't been made because people usually post about how they realised they were aro in their intro post (at least I remember doing so in mine.)

Ah, see I don't go in the welcome forum that often. By which I mean basically never.

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6 hours ago, Mezzo Forte said:

I still dated out of fear of friendzoning people and secretly hoping that "fake it until you make it" was a reasonable romance strategy.

 

6 hours ago, Tumblrweed said:

Fast-forward to when people started expressing romantic interest in me (18 years old? 19?): the repulsion was so visceral, I didn't have a doubt until I was out of the moment. It took a while, but I finally realized that I can enjoy any material with a romantic overtone as long as it isn't extended to me.

 

Some very relatable quotes about my experience with romantic relationships.

 

A couple of months after I had broken up with my second boyfriend (2 years ago) I was reflecting on why my relationships felt so gross and forced. I googled something, it might have been that I didn't like kissing and was directed to AVEN where I knew straight away that I was asexual but I of course assumed I was heteroromantic.

 

Aromanticism was this vague "other" where I didn't understand what a crush was but I couldn't possibly be aromantic. I think I was in denial because of the notion that I couldn't be happy without falling in love. Whatever I did feel was rare, so I went with greyro for a while too.

 

Once I had realised the difference between romantic, platonic and sensual attraction (it only took 6 months!) I could no longer deny that I had never had a crush. I was hurt at first but I feel like only good things have come out of that discovery since, especially Arocalypse. As @Zemaddog said, people actually make sense here and I no longer feel alone.

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4 hours ago, aussiekirkland said:

As @Zemaddog said, people actually make sense here and I no longer feel alone

This is basically my experience with this place - when I was playing CAH with what @NagromMorgzy calls the Aronauts (basically the Discord regulars), we did this card

HzvZ59f.jpg

and this card

VNckR48.jpg

 

It felt so natural. I'VE FOUND MY PEOPLE!

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10 hours ago, aussiekirkland said:

A couple of months after I had broken up with my second boyfriend (2 years ago) I was reflecting on why my relationships felt so gross and forced. I googled something, it might have been that I didn't like kissing and was directed to AVEN where I knew straight away that I was asexual but I of course assumed I was heteroromantic.

 

Yooooo, same! I never dated, but I did try some physical stuff with a friend whenever I was back from college. Mainly it was just wrestling to submission, but we tried some romantic-coded stuff, too. Kissing was the worst. I don't know if it was because we sucked at it or what--he kept pushing for it, so maybe not?--but I never want to relive that particular experience again.

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I think my story is kind of interesting? Maybe?

 

I had heard about aromanticism and asexuality beforehand, but I didn't really make the connection. I don't think there was actually a distinct moment where I realized I was aro. I didn't really think about my own sexuality because since I didn't really have feelings for anyone I assumed it would become clear later.

 

When I was a freshman, a guy in my grade had a very obvious crush on me but I was oblivious and stupid so I didn't really notice. On Valentine's Day, he was texting me about how bummed he was that he was alone, and in true aro fashion I starting going on and on about how nobody needs a relationship to be happy and then I went on playing video games with my best friend. A couple days later I was with my other best friend and her then boyfriend for her birthday dinner and they told me he actually had a crush on me and I felt really stupid. But then I blew it off and kind of forgot about it.

 

Then a few months later he texted me asking if I had a crush on anyone, and when I told him no, I never did, he starting saying things like "everyone is attracted to someone" and "maybe if you tried liking someone it'd make you happy" and needless to say I did not take that well and we didn't talk much after that. I think that was when I first started tossing the word "asexual" around (I'm aware that this doesn't really relate to asexuality, but for me they were both basically the same realization so I kind of treated them as one at the time), but I don't think it really stuck yet?

 

We were both forced to take this "future planning" class which had very little to do with planning your future. It was honestly a useless class; but it had a "relationships" unit which, of course, was primarily about romantic relationships since high school is when a lot of people start having serious relationships. It culminated in what was called "the relationship game" in which they split the room into male and female (which is screwed up in its own special ways!) and we had to do a bunch of grossly heteronormative activities. First we had two collages, one of cis men and one of cis women, and basically we were told to pick which one we found most attractive based on looks alone, and I was hopelessly confused. So I wrote down a random one and then passed when it was my turn to share. Then we had to fill out mock dating profiles, where basically we had to fill in "I am a (adjective) (adjective) (gender) looking for a (adjective) (adjective) (gender). Then we put them in the bucket for whatever gender we were looking for (which was all around heteronormative and cisnormative, and erased the identities of non-binary people and anybody attracted to multiple genders but you know at the time I was primarily focused on my own increasing awareness of my non-heterosexuality. So I wrote down some random stuff I thought the average straight girl would say and prayed nobody would guess it was me. I don't think what I wrote made any sense because everybody guessed it was me right away and to this day I am embarrassed about it. That piece of paper has become kind of a haunting memory for me; I feel like I lied to myself in a desire to conform to the rest of the class when deep down I knew I was clearly not straight.

 

After that, I just kind of embraced the idea of being aro/ace. I don't know when the exact moment was that I realized I wasn't straight, it just kind of slowly but surely happened? I didn't even come out to my one friend (the one from the birthday dinner), she just kinda knew because I knew and it just kind of happened.

 

It was just kind of this series of really strange events that just kind of forced me to say, "hey, those aro/ace words? Yeah that's you. Get it together."

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13 hours ago, Pufflehugs04 said:

This is basically my experience with this place - when I was playing CAH with what @NagromMorgzy calls the Aronauts (basically the Discord regulars), we did this card

 

  Hide contents

HzvZ59f.jpg

 

and this card

 

  Hide contents

VNckR48.jpg

 

It felt so natural. I'VE FOUND MY PEOPLE!

That game of CAH was so much fun.

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I had been on AVEN for years, still thinking that I was heteroromantic since the two relationships I had in my university days were with guys, but I found that the posts from people who identified as aromantic made so much sense and felt much more natural to me.  I did a bit of research and deep thinking and realized that aromantic was a better fit for me than heteroromantic.

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It took me a while. I had heard about aromanticism before, but I didn't want to believe I was aro. I just wanted to be happy and in love like everyone else! So I forced myself to try online dating and I went on a few dates. They were nice people, and I guess I felt some aesthetic attraction as well. But anything romantic (them flirting with me or touching me) made me SO uncomfortable. I (unfortunately) remember getting my first kiss at this party and when it (finally) was over I just kinda freaked out and hid in the bathroom for a while, lol. After that I started to realize that maybe romance isn't for me.

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  • 11 months later...

So I had known about asexuality for quite some time, it sort of floated at the periphery of my conscious acknowledgement for a while,  but I didn't click with the definitions I heard. Then there was the few attractions I did have for other people taking me further from what I knew of asexuality. 

The first time I tried researching asexuality things were still fairly basic, amoeba was still a common term, and I wasn't invested enough to seek out books. It was the second time (many years later aka recently) I tried researching asexuality that I discovered gray-asexuality and the split model which brought in the word aromantic. Once I found and knew what aro meant I felt yes! this is me! I've found my people! 

And to be honest I feel much more relaxed in sharing opinions and experiences, and even reading hardships, where the common factor is aromanticism rather than asexuality. 

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