What it’s like to be Aromantic
We do exist.
I am sharing my personal experience of how it’s like to be aromantic. Yes AROMANTIC, not “a romantic” or “aromatic” (autocorrect made this a lot more difficult to write this than necessary).
I personally don’t like to over identify with any label, however labels can be helpful with connecting to other people with similar experiences and also understanding myself better. According to WebMD, aromantic is a term that means someone experiences little to no romantic attraction towards others. From what I understand about what romantic attraction is, I would say that it is the desire or urge to be with another person in a committed (romantic) relationship. I personally have never experienced that. Aromanticism is not a choice (it is an orientation, though people may argue this).
Dealing with dating (as early as in elementary school):
At my elementary school, people started dating and were boy crazy really early… I did feel pressure to have a crush and date. However, in times where I would be forcing myself to try to have a crush, I do remember often asking myself [in the 3rd grade] what the point of all of it was, and even saying to myself “Why would I date anyone? I am too young to date”. I was always very analytical about how I dated, even as a child. I did think that it would kick in later as I got older, and that I would want to have these types of relationships. I told myself maybe in middle school. Then after middle school, I said maybe in high school. Then maybe in college. Then in college I said hmmm…
I had no idea what was going on.
Choosing who I would have a crush on:
I would choose someone I thought was attractive, then say something along the lines of “I guess I will have a crush on him. He’s cute. Now I have someone to say if my sisters ask me who I have a crush on”. I thought that was how crushes ‘worked’.
It usually stopped at that. I never thought about anyone outside of school, never tried to dress up or actually make an effort to interact with the crush or be noticed. Twas’ always back business as usual- as school was my only real concern. These, what I called “crushes”, would last anywhere from 5 minutes to the length of a semester or school year (depending on how long we had a class together or how long they were in the room). I just learned recently that this is not really how crushes work.
Dealing with Questions from family and friends:
“Don’t you like anyone?”
“Oh she never has a crush on anyone” (aka she’s just weird like that)
“Tell us who you like” (aka your just hiding it or lying)
“Why don’t you date?”
“Why don’t you ever like anyone?” (aka is there something wrong with you)
I was literally answering questions I had no answers too. I generally would just try to avoid conversations about dating, which is almost virtually impossible anywhere. Everybody talks about it all of the time. Even complete strangers make small talk about it. It’s like “Hi how are ya?”, then after 10 seconds “Are you dating?”.
I generally laughed it off and changed the subject or tried to remember one of my chosen crushes to bring up just to get them off my case, which was usually an exercise in futility.
Is not something I have ever enjoyed at all. So I would just avoid it at all costs. Before I understood what was going on, I did this unconsciously. I am really friendly and really love to meet and talk to new people. Anytime I would feel that the other person may be developing a crush or start feeling pressure to date I would get really uncomfortable and repelled in a sense, and then try to avoid it. All I wanted to do is be good friends.
I would say that this is one of the hardest parts for me, especially when I didn’t understand what I was experiencing. When I didn’t understand what was happening, I could not explain it at all.
Thoughts on romantic attraction:
I don’t want to say never, but it’s been over 20 years and it hasn’t happened. I do find people to be attractive in many ways. I have met a lot of great people and have some really great friends, but I naturally just don’t think of my relationships progressing in that way. As I mentioned, this is how I’ve always been. I really don’t think that there is anything wrong with romantic relationships, I do see a lot of beauty in them and I do get really happy seeing people who are really in love and happy.
I am just saying that I personally enjoy and appreciate this aromantic aspect of my own life. I really do enjoy the sense of freedom I personally have because I am not attached to a romantic relationship or the many expectations that generally come with them. I’m pretty sure it’s not a phase, and that it’s not going to kick in later on. I wouldn’t bet on it but if it happens then it happens (it probably would be very specific circumstances), and if it doesn’t then I am truly content and happy with this part of my life. I do desire long term (non romantic) intimate relationships. I naturally find a lot of joy with dedicating myself to cultivating relationships and nurturing my friendships, my family relationships, and myself.
I have a lot of love to give and to share, it just does not appear to be of the romantic variety.
Please feel free to comment and share if you can relate to any of these points, or want to share your own experiences!