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Soulfish

How do you know you're romantic/aromantic?

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Soulfish

I'm seriously stumped. Sexuality/asexuality was comparatively easy for me to get an idea of—no, I do not feel sexual attraction and I don't anticipate feeling it in the near future. Sure, sex sounds nice in theory, but in practice? Not for me. I even have a sort of intuitive idea of what sexual attraction is, although I've never felt it. I don't have that same grasp of what romantic attraction is.

So how do I figure out whether I'm romantic or not? Is it just a matter of feeling romantic attraction? What is romantic attraction? How is it different from friendship? Are there degrees of romantic-ness? Can you be demiromantic?

I want a companion some day, but I think I'd be about as content with a really really really close friend as I would be with a significant other. I'm not sure I see the difference between the two. And the fact that I don't is making me think I must be aromantic, because someone who's romantic would probably know the difference. :(

I don't want to be aromantic. I'm relatively fine with being asexual, I can handle gender issues, but this one I'm struggling with. I want to be able to love somebody!

So how did you guys figure out your romantic inclinations (or lack thereof)? Any advice for someone who's struggling through the process?

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ily

I want a companion some day, but I think I'd be about as content with a really really really close friend as I would be with a significant other.

I can definitely relate to that. The way I see it, being romantic or aromantic is a binary that not everyone fits into, like the gender binary. I don't fit into it, and maybe you don't either. If so, that's okay. There's no perfect set of labels that is going to work for every person. Personally, I do experience romantic attraction, but very rarely. I feel love strongly, even if it's not romantic love. I don't think romantic love is the "best" kind of love, it's just one type among many. Like sexual attraction, I think you'd probably know romantic attraction if you felt it. For me, it was a different feeling than with friends. There wasn't this buzz of excitement with my friends like there was with people I had a crush on. So I'm not really aromantic, but I've never dated or been in a romantic relationship. I find that you can't force yourself to have romantic feelings you don't have-- I think a lot of us have tried. I think that for an asexual, there are some advantages to not experiencing romantic attraction. 99% of the world doesn't separate romantic and sexual attraction, so even if you did "like" someone, it would be hard for them to like you back in the same way. I don't know about you, but I feel pretty uncomfortable if someone is sexually attracted to me (and is obvious about it). So that's another thing...

Hopefully this was halfway coherent. ;)

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Ender

I can relate. I know that I'm asexual. That one is easy. I have no idea about the other stuff. I fantasize about being in a relationship with someone sometimes, but I'm such a loner that it just doesn't seem like it work for me in practice. Besides that, I have no idea if I'd be homo-romantic, hetero-romantic, biromantic...yadda yadda yadda. Still not sure how people know that. I've been in a relationship with a guy and a woman before, and it didn't really clear things up for me. It just made me more confused. <_<

So basically, I've decided to consider myself aromantic until such time that I'm swayed that I'm otherwise.

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Sciatrix

I'm with Ily--I think romantic/affectional orientation is really hard to parse sometimes. It doesn't help that aromanticism is variously defined on AVEN as not wanting to get into a relationship, not forming crushes or infatuations on anyone of any gender, or simply not forming close emotional bonds altogether. It gets very confusing. (I tend to go with the middle definition.)

I tend to identify as aromantic, but I'm essentially in the same place on the continuum you are--would rather like a long-term close relationship, but I don't get crushes on anyone and I'm not really good at distinguishing between "friend" and "SO" either. Part of the issue for me is that I don't get infatuated with people at all--I also don't really understand the concept of hero-worship or squishes, because even when I am extremely fond of someone I am usually very cognizant of their flaws. On the other hand, I'm very good at forming close and extremely long-lasting friendships (I have friends I've known for nearly half my life, now) and to me, that is love. Love doesn't have to be mongamous pair-bonds. It comes in lots of forms, and just because the culture privileges (hetero, sexual) romantic love above all others doesn't mean that the culture is right.

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GardenMeLost

I've always thought that even an inkling of wanting/fantasizing a relationship means one is romantic.

Although, I must admit, I don't know how people figure out the specifics. I sometimes think about being in a relationship but I don't care about the gender. I care more about a person's personality and intellect than anything else. Because of this, I've identified as biromantic (even though I suppose it could be panromantic).

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Blerdivor

I'm in a weird sort of situation. I've never had the desire to have a relationship, but I want to want to have a relationship. I've been in love with someone, but I never imagined it as anything other than romantic attraction; if he'd asked me out, I'd have turned him down no broblem.

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vballcraze21

Same kind of confusion here. There are certain friends that I like to see more than others (sorry that sounds kind of mean), but I can never tell if I have romantic feelings for them or if they are just feelings of friendship. Then again maybe I am still brainwashed with the idea that because I am not sexually attracted to them that means I am not romantically attracted to them either.

Sorry I don't think I answered your question but I may have just had a minor breakthrough...

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Puiseag

I can agree that I have the same kind of confusion too. I do want relationships, quite a bit, but any relationship I've been in has been initiated by the other person and I honestly don't know if I just agreed because I liked them or if I just wanted to be in a relationship... Wow. I think we all need some cake now. :cake: :cake: :cake:

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arisa

This has been a question that's been on my mind as well. I originally considered myself heteroromantic because I do have crushes.

I'm wondering how you even define romantic. Is it just the fact that I desire to have a partner? I can't imagine myself doing the typically romantic things that people do... holding hands, cuddling, gift-giving, or a number of other things I'd consider somewhat sappy. The notion of "romantic" seems rather subjective, anyway. On the same token, I've had the thought that I wouldn't really need a partner if I had a really good, long-term friend I could depend on. I've also had trouble with the friend/partner distinction.

Even if there was a guarantee of no sex, and even if it were with someone I like, I don't think I could deal with what I consider a "romantic" relationship. But I do like people, and I guess like-like people. I don't idealize the (potential) relationship, but I do desire to have one. I guess for those reasons I've considered myself "heteroplatonic".

I've been toying with the notion of "demi-romantic", but I'm not sure if it denotes the same spectrum as the sexual-demisexual-asexual one does. Is the affection I have for a friend just of a lesser degree or intensity than that one has for a lover? I'm not sure if that is a fair or accurate comparison.

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vrazda verlaine

I'm also kind of confused as to whether I'm romantic or not. I have wanted to cuddle, hold hands, and generally be in close proximity to people, and I enjoyed doing all that when I supposedly was in a relationship. I've interpreted that to mean I was experiencing romantic attraction, but when I had a relationship, I don't think I made any effort for our dynamic and the way I talked to him to be any different than that of "normal" friends (which I think confused him a bit). I've never imagined or wanted to have a relationship where we treated each other any different than platonic friends, with the exception of some physical affection like what I already described. I don't think I understand what romantic attraction or romance is in general, so I don't know if I want it or not.

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asexual cake

I used to consider myself heteroromantic, because I'm biologically female and I developed weird obsessive attractions to biological males starting in seventh and continuing through the beginning of tenth grade (the most intense part of puberty, I suppose). At the time, I was sure that it was romantic attraction because it was so wildly different from how I felt about my other friends, but when given the opportunity to couple myself with several of them, I just... couldn't. And I'm not totally sure why, but I think it may have been related to how I didn't really feel that way about them. And when I didn't have a specific "crush," I had absolutely no desire whatsoever to be in a non-platonic relationship with someone, and I have always been sure that I'd be single forever.

When I got these crushes/infatuations/obsessions, it was really, in retrospect, just an especially intense desire for a greater degree of intimacy, mostly emotional (I had, after all, fleeting and then not-so-fleeting and now largely absent interest in things like cuddling and kissing, though I like cuddling as a practice with anyone I feel comfortable around to cuddle with and when I really think about kissing it seems gross and off-putting). The last real crush-like feeling I had (last summer) was really just an intense desire for the other person to like me as a person and want to spend as much time with me as I wanted to spend with him. I didn't want to kiss or do "romantic" things or have sex (well, that one is obvious) - I just wanted to spend time together and talk about books and eat awesome food, and that's all stuff I want to do with people I like platonically.

I think, ultimately, the division between aromantic/romantic is only important when you're actively interested or disinterested in doing anything about it (though that's not, I think, what defines the difference - as difficult (nigh impossible, really) as it is to distinguish between romantic and non-romantic attraction, I do think there's a divide there, however muddled, and that's what determines if you're aromantic or not). I may be oriented towards a certain group with a certain, very rare, super-intense form of platonic attraction, but ultimately I want to be treated by these people are just really good friends. I don't want to get married, or have pet names, or whatever else - I just want to sit around and talk about DW and cuddle with dogs and eat a lot, and you can do that with anyone.

And I also identity as aromantic, rather than romantic, because it's very rare that my feelings towards someone will differ from generic, boring platonic attraction just anyway. It happens maybe once a year, if that, and whenever it isn't happening I cannot fathom the point or appeal of non-generic-platonic relationships at all. I don't want them, I don't understand why I would, and I just feel pleasantly neutral towards people. So even if I did, actually, have a real romantic orientation, it's so infrequent and so pointless as to be entirely irrelevant.

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Oceania

I too am confused about this whole romantic attraction idea. I'm fairly convinced that I am aromantic, but I have felt differently about some of my friends in comparison to other friends over time. Not really sure what to call it. I have slightly considered dating one of my close friends to figure things out, and to have an excuse to get out of the house, but my middle school experiences have caused me to protect myself emotionally with a wall of steel (well, steel isn't the strongest, so maybe diamond would work better, the hard part is affording it :lol: ) and I fear getting hurt. But when I think about the details and about the future, I just don't see that having a partner is of any significance to me when I have my friends. I'm the lone wolf type anyways (go figure), and I usually prefer flying solo.

So I guess it would make sense to just say that each individual relationship I have with my friends is special in their own way, some of them I feel closer to, others not so much, but no one relationship can be compared to another and be expected to feel or be the same. As for romantic or not, I (at this point) don't really care a whole lot.

Sorry if this is kinda rambling, it's late where I am, and I'm tired. Fatigue = me no do good too well with grammatical logic spelling or make sense. :wacko:

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Melorian

I am having this exact same problem. I have no idea whether I am heteroromantic or aromantic. I think men are handsome, or goodlooking, or pretty or beautiful, but then I may also think a horse is beautiful, or a nice picture, and yet I don't want a relationship with them!

I think I want to be heteroromantic, becuase I did have a boyfriend once and parts of it were nice. He told me I was pretty and it was nice being with him in public places. I just hated it when we were alone. I think someone above got it right - I want to want to be heteroromantic but I think I am probably more aromantic.

Honestly who knew that asexuality could be just as confusing as sexuality!?

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asexual Protestant

I think that if you are romantic, you enjoy kissing and cuddling and you enjoy gawking at attractive people. Where as aromantics have no desire for any of that. I am an aromantic and wish I wasn't, just so that I can feel "normal" and so that I can always have someone that truly cares about me, to hang out with and talk to and be in a committed relationship with.

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singinglupines

It is tough to figure out. I consider myself aromantic because I've never had a crush, been in a romantic relationship with cuddling, holding hands, etc, and have no desire to be in one. Though, on the other hand, I have romantic ideals, I want to have a significant other, a lifetime partner, but in a completely nonromantic way. Just like having a best friend who's always around. I want to be able to love someone romantically, but I don't think it's going to happen. I'm left with experiencing love for my friends and family.

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GirlDreamer

I´m definitely aromantic, there´s no doubt in my mind. I´m not interested in being in a relationship, and I don´t want to want it either. I´m perfectly happy being on my own. I guess I´m a bit of a loner too, i need to have some time to be just on my own. I´ve had what some people call squishes, but there´s nothing romantic about it. I don´t mind that people get crushes on me, as long as they respect the fact that I don´t fell the same way.

I´d say that the definition of aromantic would be almost the same as asexual, that you don´t experience the romantic attraction to anyone. I guess since there´s no real definition of it, it´s up to our selves what we would call ourselves...

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Bear

I identify myself as romantic. I've had crushes since I was in kindergarten. I do like being hugged, holding hands, etc. I do fantasize about being in a relationship, hanging out, just being in each others company, other things like that.

I've never been in a relationship, though. Every time I was approached by someone with that intention, I would 'silently' freak out. (In my mind, thinking, "OMFSM WHY?!") Every time I've been hit on was the same thoughts, and I couldn't wait until they went away.

I don't really know, though. Time will tell.

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Platero

I can relate. I know that I'm asexual. That one is easy. I have no idea about the other stuff. I fantasize about being in a relationship with someone sometimes, but I'm such a loner that it just doesn't seem like it work for me in practice. Besides that, I have no idea if I'd be homo-romantic, hetero-romantic, biromantic...yadda yadda yadda. Still not sure how people know that. I've been in a relationship with a guy and a woman before, and it didn't really clear things up for me. It just made me more confused. <_<

So basically, I've decided to consider myself aromantic until such time that I'm swayed that I'm otherwise.

Of all the posts in the thread, this one is closest to my experience. I thought for most of my life that I was hetero because of the large number of crushes I've had. However, over the past few years, those crushes have faded in intensity and frequency, and now a cute guy will occasionally catch my attention. (I'm male.) At the same time, I'm very shy, I've never been in a relationship, and I'm not sure what (if anything) I'd be willing to do if the opportunity came up. So I could be hetero-romantic, bi-romantic, or maybe even aromantic.

In the meantime, I've decided to give up on labels and just let things take their natural course. It's worked well so far.

Interesting how so many of you don't think you experience romantic attraction, but want to. I'm on the fence about this myself...on one hand, I know what rejection feels like, and I think friends can fill any relational void in my life. On the other hand, it would be nice to be very close to somebody "exclusive."

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Samael

I'm struggling to know the answer to the OP's question as well. I guess I can use some basic intuition to some degree in deciphering what it would be like to feel romantic attraction... but really, if it doesn't come naturally to you, why try to force it to come? Afterall, you can't force yourself to feel romantically attracted to someone even if you knew what the emotion would feel like.

In my humble opinion, shows of affection like cuddling, holding hands or kissing feel just so... degrading. I think that if I have a basic level of respect for another person I can't bring myself to even consider doing or receiving such things from them. To me it feels so inhuman to be romantic in the traditional way - in my mind it's a very animal thing to do, like being a slave to some primal courting ritual or something.

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Kalea

I consider myself romantic. I suppose, though, I could be equating the desire for intimacy (of the non-sexual variety) with romanticism. Being the nerd that I am, I had to see what the technical definition of "romantic" is, to see if that's how I've been thinking of it. Romantic means (according to one of its definitions) "characterized by a preoccupation with love or by the idealizing of love or one's beloved." So, I would think if you want to be "in love", you're romantic (or at least closer to that side than the aromantic side). Another definition is "displaying or expressing love or strong affection" which to me is more similar to affectionate than romantic (though do we need to distinguish between the two?).

I agree with previous posters who have mentioned different types of love, with romantic love being only a single type. I'm not sure I see a clear line of demarcation between "romantic" and "platonic" love, especially for asexuals. I think, though I can't be sure as I'm not one, that sexuals would say the difference is some facet of sexual attraction - if there's sexual attraction, it's romantic love, while if there is no sexual attraction, it's platonic love. So where does that leave asexuals? Perhaps we're romantic if we're attracted to the person on an emotional, spiritual, or intellectual level, whereas it's platonic if there's no attraction (we just get along or enjoy being with someone). Perhaps romantic asexuals are those who experience attraction at some level, while aromantic asexuals don't experience any type of attraction? (Pardon if I'm stepping on toes here - I'm purely speculating and would love to hear what individuals who consider themselves aromantic think - do you experience attraction on other-than-sexual levels?)

Interestingly enough, when looking at antonyms of "romantic", "practical" is one, which leads me to think at least part of being romantic is being a dreamer. (I think that ties into the "idealization" component of the definition, too.)

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singinglupines

Perhaps romantic asexuals are those who experience attraction at some level, while aromantic asexuals don't experience any type of attraction? (Pardon if I'm stepping on toes here - I'm purely speculating and would love to hear what individuals who consider themselves aromantic think - do you experience attraction on other-than-sexual levels?)

As an aromantic, that's how I classify the difference between the two. I assumed that romantic asexuals still experience romantic attraction. For me, the friends I meet are just people I run into through classes, and grow to care about, no attraction is involved, and platonic love is all I've known (well, besides the obvious: loving my family)

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Hot_Air_Balloons

I consider myself aromantic. I have never had a crush or wanted to be in a romantic relationship ever. I'm not even sure what romantic attraction feels like! lol

I am totally not into kissing, holding hands etc. I love hugs, but as long as they are not longer than 5 seconds. I don't like being touched much, mostly because I'm so sensitive, it starts to feel more like pain. I am definitely what they call, the highly sensitive person. (I'm not autistic) I like my alone time too, however I will get lonely if I am always on my own. I think being an HSP has more to do with me being aromantic than being asexual. I have read that many HSP's prefer to stay single and just have close friends.

The trouble with being aromantic is that I want to stay single, but not be lonely. I just need to find bunches of friends to hang out with and I will be fine. The trouble is everyone groups off in pairs and you feel like the 3rd, 5th, 7th, wheel. It can feel awkward. I still have to work on feeling ok about this. Anyway my dream would be to find an (asexual aromantic) best friend that maybe I could live with like a roomate, or could live next door to me. We could hang out a lot. Maybe like having a sister or brother around.

Anyway that's my dream. lol

I don't worry about being aromantic. I like it. I will always have freedom in my life to do what I want, and not be tied down. Romantic relationships (even asexual ones) seem too smothering to me because I need alone time and space. I know God made certain people to be single in the world, and I know I'm one of them. Anyway that's my take on the situation.

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singinglupines

The trouble with being aromantic is that I want to stay single, but not be lonely. I just need to find bunches of friends to hang out with and I will be fine. The trouble is everyone groups off in pairs and you feel like the 3rd, 5th, 7th, wheel. It can feel awkward. I still have to work on feeling ok about this. Anyway my dream would be to find an (asexual aromantic) best friend that maybe I could live with like a roomate, or could live next door to me. We could hang out a lot. Maybe like having a sister or brother around.

This is exactly my dream too since I feel the same way!

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Samael

The trouble with being aromantic is that I want to stay single, but not be lonely. I just need to find bunches of friends to hang out with and I will be fine. The trouble is everyone groups off in pairs and you feel like the 3rd, 5th, 7th, wheel. It can feel awkward. I still have to work on feeling ok about this. Anyway my dream would be to find an (asexual aromantic) best friend that maybe I could live with like a roomate, or could live next door to me. We could hang out a lot. Maybe like having a sister or brother around.

This is exactly my dream too since I feel the same way!

Yeah me too. If I were ever to develop a closer relationship with someone, it would practically have to be an asexual aromantic person or at least a person who would sincerely understand, relate to and accept this view. At this time, I can't see any other way for it work out.

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sindi

All I know is that I love my best friend in a very special way (it's probably a "once in a lifetime"-experience, since we've known each other about our whole childhood, which can never recur with anyone), that includes some feelings/thoughts that could be seen as romantic, or possibly a not-exactly-romantic soulmate-thingie... :wacko:

And I've had two pretty stong crushes, but even they could be seen as just "getting very excited, almost obsessive of finding a new, such a good friend" :ph34r:

Anyhow, I've simply decided to call those "more than regular friendship"-feelings romantic, and myself panromantic, to not make things too complicated!

Anyway my dream would be to find an (asexual aromantic) best friend that maybe I could live with like a roomate, or could live next door to me. We could hang out a lot. Maybe like having a sister or brother around.

Anyway that's my dream. lol

That kind of a relationship sounds awesome to me! :) I also need a lot of own space, which is one of the things that make me doubt that I could ever really handle a romantic relationship. :huh:

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GirlDreamer

I think being an HSP has more to do with me being aromantic than being asexual. I have read that many HSP's prefer to stay single and just have close friends.

What is HSP :unsure:

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Puiseag

I think being an HSP has more to do with me being aromantic than being asexual. I have read that many HSP's prefer to stay single and just have close friends.

What is HSP :unsure:

Highly Sensitive Person. I'm a HSP too.

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GirlDreamer

Sounds like something that would fit me... Although I´m not even close to how sensitive I was when I was younger...

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bitterforsweet

I always identified as aromanitc until I met a girl who basically rocked my world. Until then I'd never gotten butterflies in my stomach over someone. People, even people I love, start to annoy me at some point and I don't want to spend too much time with them, but suddenly here was someone I wanted to spend all my time with. She made me feel all giddy and nervous and all that crap, and most importantly I had a strong desire to want to know everything about her and who she was. I'm not really sure how to explain the feeling, but I knew that is was different from any feeling I'd had for people in my life before so I figured it must be romance! It was exciting.

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Soulfish

Thanks for all the responses, guys—it's good to know I'm not the only confused one out there. I still don't know where I fall (although I do think Kalea might be on to something with hir assessment of romance as requiring some kind of attraction), but I guess I'll figure it out when the situation arises. If it never does, finding an aromantic BFF who'll give me my space sounds like fun. :)

(PS: Hello fellow HSPs! I wonder how many of us are HSP.)

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