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.)