How I Figured Out I’m Aromantic

On Valentine’s Day, I was browsing Twitter, as one does, when someone reached out to ask what it was like being aromantic, and how I had figured out I was.  Because it was Valentine’s Day and I like a good dose of irony, and also because Aromantic Awareness Week was the 21-26th of this month, that seemed like the perfect topic for this month’s blog post :).  So, without further ado, I present to you the story of how I tried and mostly failed to have a romantic relationship.

(Standard disclaimer that there’s a huge variety in people’s experiences, and this is only mine.) 

I rarely had a crush growing up, and even that’s dependent on how one defines a crush.  Although quite a few guys seemed to be interested in me, ranging from most of my online friends to a guy from my dorm floor freshman year.  (Most of them I didn’t even catch on to until way later.)

The one person I mostly-think I had a (mutual) crush on was a person who was my best friend.  Around the same time we were hanging out, a friend introduced me to the term “demisexual” (only experiencing sexual attraction once an emotional bond is formed), and I figured I was both demisexual and demiromantic, since I was never interested in random people.

The day after my 18th birthday, said person asked me to be his girlfriend.  We lived in different states, so our friendship and pending relationship were long-distance.  Although I liked the idea of us being together, I was hesitant to say yes because when it actually came down to it, I didn’t feel like I experienced very strong affection myself.  After talking to a mutual friend though, I decided to at least give it a try and see what happened.

(Like most people, I didn’t actually know about aromanticism for a long time. I probably picked up the terms “aromantic” and “asexual” around the time I went to university and had to google a bunch of stuff on the demographics section of forms.  Even then, it didn’t really occur to me that the orientations could apply to me personally.)

We dated for a little over a year, which included my flying up to visit him for a couple weeks and deciding we were still good to go after the visit.  My feelings did deepen along the way like I had hoped, although looking back, I feel like I had to “train” them to some degree, as opposed to alloromantics just falling in love naturally as seems to happen.  (Since I’ve never experienced that, I can’t clarify very well how it compares.)

Last year (2021), I lived with him for the summer, and we realized there were some problems.  I really wasn’t into the whole sex thing, while he was hypersexual.  As I had originally wondered about, there was a difference in affection levels; I saw the relationship as a “best friend roommates” situation, and seemed to be missing an emotional element that he had.

Then around the end of the summer I realized I was definitely full-on, sex-repulsed asexual.  He also felt that there was too great an emotional disparity between us – I liked having a person around for the most part, but the romantic feelings just weren’t there for me, and I really didn’t enjoy the typical couple things like sharing a bed.  (Apparently my sleeping self violently elbows people who invade my personal space bubble?)  We decided that we couldn’t continue the relationship, and that it would be better if we just went back to being friends instead.

I started to think I might be aromantic at the time, but that idea took longer to warm up to than being ace.  Since I’d only been in one relationship, I didn’t really have a good, scientific sample size to show that I was aromantic and that it wasn’t just that particular person/relationship.  

I sort of sat on the idea of being aro for a bit without claiming it too publicly; then I found out about QPR’s, and everything clicked into place.  QPR is short for “queer platonic relationship” – according to the LGBTA Wiki, “an intimate, non-romantic committed relationship [that] typically goes beyond what is considered normal or socially acceptable for a platonic relationship but is not romantic in nature or does not fully fit the traditional idea of a romantic relationship.”  Translated, when two (or more) people have a relationship that can function in ways like a romantic one, but doesn’t involve romantic feelings.

I realized immediately that that’s what I’d been looking for all along.  I hadn’t been sure if I had romantic feelings or not, because I did have feelings for my boyfriend that ran deeper than my other friendships, but it was because deep down I saw him as a queer platonic partner, rather than a romantic one.

And yeah, that pretty much brings us to late 2021, and nothing has changed since then regarding my romantic orientation.  I’m definitely aromantic, and maybe sort of seeking QPR.  (“Sort of” as in, being in one sounds kind of nice, but I’m not putting any effort into finding one.)  

Lemme know in the comments if you relate to any of that, or found it interesting :).
(P.S. The aromantic pride flag is the green, white, grey, and black one in the middle of the featured image, and the demiromantic flag is the middle one of the bottom row.)

6 thoughts on “How I Figured Out I’m Aromantic”

  1. Thanks for sharing your journey, Mia! You tried the romantic scene and found it wasn’t for you. Kudos to you for experimenting, for recognizing who you are, and for sharing your experience with others. I consider myself demisexual, and it’s been comforting to know it’s a thing. 😀

  2. I think the variety among people is amazing. I also resent the majority of any group calling their way “normal” – by which they mean the only “right” way. I can see how aromanticism and asexuality would be evolutionarily selected against, since no kids means no more species, but our species is in no danger of fading, and it’s time to change things. As always, I appreciate the insights – and the informative link. You are a great voice for a group that needs advocates!

    1. No kidding – I think we have quite a sufficient number of people on the planet right now :P.
      Ooh, you just gave me a post idea. I have lots of thoughts on using the word “normal”…

  3. Hi there! This was a very interesting read for me! So much so, that I have a lot of questions. I’m gonna go ahead and ask them, but if you feel these are too personal or intrusive, please feel free to ignore me. And if these questions are too complicated to answer in comments, I totally get it (but if these give you ideas for future posts, I’d definitely want to come back and read those)!

    I’m really hung up on the idea that I don’t understand what exactly people mean by “romantic orientation” and “romantic feelings” and this bugs the heck out of me. Based on your post, it seems like the reason you resonate with “aromantic” is because you don’t experience strong affection and you are missing some kind of emotional element. My questions are:

    1. Could you explain what this lack of affection is like? Maybe using a framework like the 5 love languages? And maybe give examples of in what way there were those differences in affection levels?
    2. What do you think that missing emotional element was? You were not feeling something that he was feeling. Do you think you could describe those emotions that he was feeling and you weren’t?
    3. When you say “those romantic feelings weren’t there”, do you mean the affectional element or the emotional element or both? Are the affectional and emotional element the same, or is there a difference?

    Again, if these are too intrusive or too complex, please feel free to ignore me. I just figured I’ll share the questions your post inspired in me, because well, that shows that your post left an impact!

    1. Thanks! I’m glad you liked it :).
      Not too intrusive – “sensitive info” is barely a term in my vocabulary as it refers to my own life :P. I don’t know how well I can describe it though.

      “It seems like the reason you resonate with “aromantic” is because you don’t experience strong affection and you are missing some kind of emotional element.” – Yeah, that’s an accurate description. At least, not strong affection in the way people describe romance.

      1. Could you explain what this lack of affection is like? Maybe using a framework like the 5 love languages? And maybe give examples of in what way there were those differences in affection levels?
      I don’t know. It’s like…the module for romance was just never installed in my brain. Like for sex, I’m actively repulsed, but for romance, I don’t emotionally feel any way at all, either towards people or about it as a concept. I sometimes experience strong platonic and/or alterous attraction, but there’s just an empty void in the romance area.

      2. What do you think that missing emotional element was? You were not feeling something that he was feeling. Do you think you could describe those emotions that he was feeling and you weren’t?
      (Sort of continuing 1’s answer here). Intensity, is the best answer I can come up. I couldn’t read his mind of course, but he seemed to be more emotionally invested and more strongly attached than I was. For example, when we decided we couldn’t continue the relationship, I didn’t experience any of the break-up grief people describe. It stung a little the very first day just because I’m a nostalgic kind of person and it was the closing of a chapter, but other than that, I just mentally shrugged and went on with normal life with no issues. “Formalizing” a return from romance back to regular friendship changed little on an emotional level for me, it just made official what I already felt.

      3. When you say “those romantic feelings weren’t there”, do you mean the affectional element or the emotional element or both? Are the affectional and emotional element the same, or is there a difference?
      Uh…affectional, I guess? I’m using affection to mean like romantic affection couples show each other. I did (do) have an emotional attachment to him as a friend, and until we realized we were too sexually incompatible, alterously. It just, didn’t vibe with what everyone says romance is like.

      I have no idea if that made sense or not. The more I try to describe exactly what different types of attraction are like lately, the more I’m realizing how damn hard it is XD. It’s starting to seem like one of those things where if you know you know, and if you don’t, it’s really hard to communicate in a way that people comprehend on an emotional level.

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