The Stability of Being Aro/Ace

The aspec community has a couple regular writing events, the Carnival of Aces and the Carnival of Aros, where a host blogger gets to pick a theme for the month, and other people who wish to participate all write posts around that theme.  This month’s Carnival of Aros’ theme is “Stability,” and something the host said in the explanation prompted some thoughts, so I decided to participate this month. (That’s why I posted this on the 30th instead of April 1st, for those paying attention to the dates in the archives :P.)

Specifically, this line got me thinking: “One of the things I have heard argued about romance and about marriage in particular is that it has benefits for stability, both for the relationship as well as for society, raising children, etc.” (roboticanary).  I found this fact interesting, because I feel like the opposite is true in some ways.

Relationships are messy.  You have to find the right person, which may mean dating around a bit first depending on you and your life, and breaking up with people along the way.  Interpersonal conflict in your relationship can cause high levels of stress.  If a relationship is toxic but you insist on staying together for the sake of kids you’ve already had, maintaining that relationship may inflict more instability on the kids than if you ended it.  Tons of people cheat on their partners (possibly a result of polyamorous people being pressured into monogamous relationships).

In contrast, as a non-dating aro, and also an ace who avoids sex – I can’t separate being aro and being ace in this context – I avoid all that mess.  I don’t have to deal with the awkwardness and emotional roller coaster of dating; I don’t worry about getting STDs or whether taking my birth control 4 hours late one day will put me at risk of pregnancy; I don’t have to figure out where the line being doing my share of relationship work and disrespecting my own boundaries is; I don’t have to put up with having another person in my business all the time.

(I was in a relationship before realizing I was ace/aro, by the way, so that is written with some personal experience of the alloromantic (and allosexual) world.) 

Many aros don’t like getting “I wish I was aro, life would be so much easier” from their alloromantic friends, because it often dismisses or ignores the arophobia people have to put up with; which is a completely valid perspective of course.  However, I personally agree with that sentiment: my life is way easier for being aro (and ace).  While everyone else is trying to negotiate awkwardness and emotional roller coasters and relationship-related stress, I’m just always over here vibin’ with my homework, my writing, and probably a slice of cake if it’s the weekend :).  My relationship-related stress is more along the lines of “How much can I bug my flatmates about cleaning the communal kitchen without just pissing them off?”  I feel quite stable on my own, and trying to force romance into it would only serve to destabilize my life.

Of course, like many things I write, this is my own experience and story.  I’m writing this as a middle-class, white woman with a fantastic, supportive family, AND I have an unusual degree of emotional stability compared to a lot of people, due to personality traits or my being autistic or something.  I can’t in good faith say being aspec is THE cause of my stability.  But all the same, I can’t separate being aspec from my mental stability either.  To whatever degree, being free of that whole dating (and sex) aspect of life does make everything easier for me.

Thoughts, opinions, disagreements? Feel free to drop them in the comments!

9 thoughts on “The Stability of Being Aro/Ace”

  1. Hey Mia,

    I’ve gotten into quite a messy confusion myself, lol. I’ve never dated anyone in my life, and at first, I was perfectly content. But then the pandemic hit and my feelings changed…So I explored trying to find a queerplatonic relationship. But that didn’t go well, and it’s such a pain trying to find someone who is aro, interested in sexual intimacy, and open to a QPR. (I’m a demisexual with a high sex drive…Rip.)

    So now I’ve given up on the labels and go by “no labels” when it comes to relationships. I’m still very uncomfortable with romantic labels, especially the words “dating” and “boyfriend.” (I’m gay and transmasc too, which makes things more complicated.) Yet it seems like I’m interested in a lot of things my alloromantic friends are interested in, and I realize a lot of them don’t even want some of the conventional romantic stuff…Some alloromantic friends told me that they don’t experience butterflies or “crushes,” either, but I do…So my conclusion now is that maybe a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, lol.

    And it’s possible that I’m demiromantic. I wouldn’t know, because I still don’t understand what “romantic attraction” means. The only thing I’m sure of is, that I’m quoiromantic, LOL. I elaborate on my story in my submission to the Carnival of Aros prompt here, if I may share: https://wildandstormymind.com/2022/03/31/an-aromantics-quest-to-find-a-stable-loving-relationship/

    A part of me misses how simple my life was before the pandemic, when I was okay being alone. Another part of me is excited by whatever this new adventure means. I may crash and burn, but at least I’ll have entertaining stories to tell my friends, lol.

    1. “I’m still very uncomfortable with romantic labels, especially the words “dating” and “boyfriend.”” – relatable. I’m starting to have a hard time explaining aspec relationship stuff to people lately because of how amatonormative our language is. For example, I’ll try to explain to allo friends what a QPR is and how it’s different from just being good friends, and I’ll have to go on a tangent about how types of relationships shouldn’t be ranked as inherently more special than other types but I’m saying “It goes deeper than a friendship in some ways” anyway because I just can’t think of any way to phrase it that will make sense to them if they haven’t experienced it, which then requires another tangent to explain what “amatonormativity” is and why it makes explaining difficult, and by that point, *they’re* completely lost because I just threw the entirety of aspec discourse at them in a ten minute span, and *I’ve* forgotten that I was originally trying to explain about my relationships, and yeah XD.

      Anyway, there really should be an app for that – aspec peeps who are seeking QPR’s or various other types of relationships that are hard to get across to people on dating apps.
      But hey, entertaining stories are always an upside :P.

      I’ll check out your story!

      1. Hey Mia,

        Thanks for your reply! I spent more time thinking about my reactions to different labels. To my surprise, I’m not bothered by the labels spouse, husband, fiancée, mate, or lover. “Partner”, “significant other”, and “romance” make me nervous. “Relationship” I have mixed feelings about. “Dating” and “boyfriend” I still hate the most, lol. I talked to my therapist about this yesterday, and she also thought it was interesting how husband/spouse/fiancée don’t bother me. (I forgot to tell her that I’m okay with lover and mate.)

        Hmm…I wonder if it’s because I see marriage as so far and improbable for me, that I don’t see them as realistic threats? “Lover” and “mate” could be seen as more sexual than romantic, at least to me. And “mate” sounds very animal kingdom to me, which makes me feel more reassured, because I often feel more comfortable with animals than with humans, if that makes sense?

        Ugh yeah I hate how lacking in terminology we are. It’s similar to how it’s hard to explain my nonbinary gender feelings to people, because I have to borrow binary terms to explain them since not many people know about identities beyond the binary. Yeah I find it challenging to explain QPRs, too. I recently saw a couple of posts by other aros who are in a happy relationship, but didn’t feel like QPR was the right term, though they don’t think they feel romantic about it. One of them said they’re not sure if it’s platonic/sexual/alterous or whatnot, and maybe it doesn’t even matter what the label is; it just is what it is.

        I’ll share the links to their articles in case you’re interested:

        “Steady as a Rock in an Earthquake” https://mesotablar.dreamwidth.org/27712.html (This was also a part of the March 2022 Stability prompt Carnival of Aros event)

        “I’m Gay, Aromantic, and In Love”
        https://medium.com/prismnpen/im-gay-aromantic-and-in-love-bae0a0d9b8ab

        It’s additionally hard because yes, I can use whatever label makes me comfortable (or use no labels). But if I want to explain how I feel to friends, because I want them to understand, then I can’t just think about my definitions of labels. I have to think about theirs, too. And I try hard to navigate language while defining terms, even though definitions can vary depending on the person’s memories attached to the term.

        Wow yeah an app for QPRs (or other non-romantic emotionally intimate relationships) would be helpful. I hope they won’t use the term “dating” app, though. Maybe they can call it a “social app” or a “connection app”.

        1. That kind of makes sense with the labels, seeing them as a threat or not. Also, “mate” fits quite nicely with the wolf vibe on your post.

          Ooh, interesting, I’ll check out their articles. Thanks!

          I feel like that’s an area where the aspec and neurodivergent communities overlap – (in experiences, not necessarily sharing the identity, although there is an overlap to my understanding). You (you being a generic individual, not you specifically) have the way you think about and view things, which may be different from others, but it’s hard to convey that difference because even if you don’t take something X way, there’s the awareness that *other* people will interpret it as X and you may not always have time to discuss underlying assumptions, so you use it their way and then on the outside it looks like you personally interpret it as X as well.

  2. One reaction that I’ve gotten as an atheist is that I am obviously incomplete without a pet deity, and I am pining away for someone who can “fix” me (e.g., with a Bible verse or inspirational book to lead me to a “real” relationship with Christ). The reality is that I’m much more stable and happy without that fictional deity to worry about. I see so many parallels between that and your comments. Maybe the majority of us have hormones that drive us to seek romantic and sexual relationships, but as you say, it can get messy. Those of you who don’t have that drive are undoubtedly more level and can focus on other aspects of life better than the “normal” folks. This is an advantage, not something to be “fixed”. Maybe someday we as a species can get past the desire to “fix” anyone who isn’t like us individually.

    1. Oh yeah, I can definitely relate to that.
      That’s another thing I like about being aspec, or (and) an Atheist – although different people’s precise experiences will differ, I feel like it’s much easier to empathize with all kinds of people when you’re in one of the “different, to be fixed” demographics, because you understand the more general experiences and ideas, like microagressions, that people talk about.

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