I'm aroace but I wanted to specifically highlight aromantic experiences because the stigma around it makes me so sad. It is important to state that I don't think one is more important than the other and I think it's somewhat unproductive to label one's negative stigma as "worse" than the other. That said I've noticed that a lot of the stigma surrounding being asexual comes from outside and being aromantic has a lot of stigma from outside and inside. I see posts all the time of people venting about being sad that they've just realized they're aromantic. I do sometimes see posts like this about being ace and really with a lot of queer identities because unfortunately being queer is hard. I've never seen an aro person who HASN'T gone through a phase of self-hatred toward being aro though, it's just that common. I'm not saying this to be judging or disappointed, I also went through that phase and it totally sucked. A lot of people have a hard time believing that it's possible to stop feeling that way, I thought I'd never feel good about my orientation, but I'm really happy about who I am now. I just kinda wanted to go on a little (not little sorry lol) rant about my thoughts, feelings, and experiences with this identity because I'm really glad that I'm at a point where I can feel this way.
(Also if you have any questions about anything I've said in this blog that may confuse you, so long as you are respectful about it I am happy to answer! Many people don't know a lot about aro/ace identities so I totally get it if something I've said sounds contradictory to you and I'd love to help you understand.)
At first, figuring out that I'm aro was really hard. For one, it's really weird trying to determine the absence of attraction, for two, I was very ingrained with these ideas that are often pushed on us and I really didn't want to be right about being aro. Romance is seen as like one of the most important parts of life to most of the planet. Having your first ever date, first ever partner, first kiss, losing your virginity, getting married, and having a long and successful marriage are all considered major life milestones. Plus people often start to look down on you if they think that you're not meeting these milestones fast enough by their standards. I was always seen as immature and "a late bloomer" by my peers in 5th-9th grade because I hadn't ever had a crush, gone on a date, or kissed someone. From what I've heard from others, once you're an adult you get seen as sad and lonely instead of childish. People have literally been told "you're gonna regret it when you die alone" just for not wanting to be married which is really fucked up. All these ideas are shoved in your face from a pretty young age. That's actually part of why it was so difficult for me to figure out that I was aro. I've always been super obsessed with romance as a genre. Romance books, games, movies, and shows plus making up romantic stories in my head. People made me feel like the only correct way to feel loved and appreciated is to be in love, and I wasn't very loved and appreciated as a kid so I really wanted that. I thought that it was impossible to be aromantic and also want that but it actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it at a deeper level. That's also why I was sad when I realized that I was aro, because I thought that it meant I'd never truly be loved and appreciated if I couldn't fall in love. At the time I was conditioned into a very codependent attachment style by my abuser as well so that didn't help.
More recently I've been feeling a lot better about who I am. I feel good connecting to the community, having the flag in my profile picture and on my back at pride events, telling people when it comes up in conversation, etc. I've been doing a lot of work on myself and that's primarily what helped me. Unlearning all the things forced on me to make me believe that I can't be fulfilled without romance, and also working on how I interact with relationships in general (platonic and romantic) because that's a huge part of my trauma. I wasn't even actually aiming to work on feeling more confident as an aromatic, I was doing trauma work to help with my depression and it just so happened to help. When I reflected on myself I realized that I've always felt much more gratification from friendship anyway (and ig now I know why lol). I feel platonic feelings much deeper than the average person since that's all I got, and that's beautiful in its own different way. I decided to work more on establishing healthy and fulfilling platonic relationships that meet my needs because that's really what's going to satisfy me. I've also been working a lot on feeling satisfied with myself. I've centered my whole life around everyone else for a really long time and I realized I don't know how to just be with myself. I'm getting a lot better at feeling like I'm worthwhile on my own, and that I'm deserving of people who'll treat me like I'm worthwhile. This has not only helped me accept being aro, but being aro has also been helping me accept this. It's a lot easier to feel like I have to prioritize loving myself first when I know that my literal orientation means that it's always gonna be me first. Obviously aros have friends, but aromantics are often characterized as being okay and confident on their own and it kinda motivates me to try and match that. It's helped me a lot. Being aromantic has helped me a lot with learning to love and value myself. It's not a curse or a sad existence. This is the first time in my life that I've stopped feeling lonely when I'm alone and that's not an exaggeration I mean that so seriously.
Just like with a lot of things how I feel about it is usually inconsistent. Sometimes I do start to feel sad about it again. It's not easy to just throw out things you thought you knew for so many years. Sometimes those ideas get back in my head, usually when I'm already feeling sad or lonely because of something completely unrelated, and I start to think about what it would be like if I had a romantic partner to turn to. Sometimes I wish that I wasn't aromantic because it would just be easier that way. It would be one less thing about me that I have to explain and defend because it's not considered the default or the norm. I could just have the experience that the majority has and call it a day. Those feelings are always temporary though, and it doesn't make me feel like being aromantic is truly sad because those feelings aren't exclusive to being aromantic. I feel that way about being trans sometimes, I feel that way about being lesbian sometimes, I feel that way about neurodivergent sometimes, I even feel that way about being black sometimes. If I was given the chance I would never change any of those things about me though. I wouldn't be the same person if I changed any of those things, I'd just be erasing myself. I definitely would never choose to stop being aroace if it was possible, it's a part of me that I've grown familiar with and fond of and it's actually helped me grow more fond of myself as a person. Connecting with the community has also led me to options that I didn't know existed! That's how I learned what queerplatonic attraction is and it was a mind-blowing discovery for me. Having actually been in a romantic relationship once before I knew I was aroace, queerplatonic relationships are definitely a million times more appealing to me personally. I feel like if I knew that was an option as a kid I would've been ecstatic and also figuring things out would've gone a lot faster. If I had the choice to actually make myself feel romantic feelings for someone or get a QPP I would get a QPP. Now granted, finding a partner for a QPR is not a super high likelihood and I know this, so I'm not going to attach my need to be loved to that because then it would be no different from me obsessing over romantic relationships. If I ever get the chance though I'm fucking taking it and the idea excites me so I'm happy that I learned about it. It's also made my interest in romance more comfortable for me. I definitely still love romance as a genre because I always have so it's not so easy to just let go. However, when I was questioning I read Loveless by Alice Oseman (fucking fantastic book) and the main character Georgia pointed out something that I never noticed about myself (me and her are basically the same person lol). I have literally never inserted myself into romantic (or sexual) scenarios. When I play romance games I put in fake names or whatever the character's canon name is if they have one. Lots of romance novels try to make their protagonist really vague and bland so it's easier to imagine yourself as the character, I couldn't stand reading books like that growing up. No hate to them I understand why it's like that I just get uncomfortable imagining myself in the scenario. Even when I made up stories in my head while falling asleep it was usually from fandoms I was in between two canon characters that already had personalities that I could work off of. They were never meant to be like me lol. For the most part, I still do that, but sometimes people like to interact with these stories to escape their loneliness and I do too. I just can't stand it being romantic, so now I imagine it in the context of a QPR instead and it doesn't make me uncomfortable to insert myself into it. Still can't do that with most romance games though because they almost always have kissing and many have sexual themes too. Kissing is really gross I absolutely can't enjoy it. I always imagined it would be nice cuz everyone says it's nice but now that I've done it I can't even see it the same in movies lol. I still like romance movies of course.
K anyway that's my essay, aros I love you! Aces you too! Happy pride month to all my aros/aces/aroaces. The ones that are romance/sex positive, the ones that are romance/sex negative, the ones that don't care, the oriented ones, the angled ones, the ones who feel queerplatonic attraction or any other tertiary attraction, the ones in relationships, the ones that are single, the ones that are aro-spec/ace-spec/aroace-spec, and all the other ones that I may not have listed!