Finding out I’m aromantic

Knowing that being aromantic is a thing would have saved me so many years of confusion.

Aromantic Rachel Whitbeck posing with one hand behind her head outdoors in front of a tree

We were thirteen years-old when Ryan, my long-time crush, asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend. It was surprising, seemingly out of the blue, but it was exactly what I’d been wanting to happen for nearly two years… right? I remember feeling panicked and muttering out a simple “No.”

No? No? I’d had a crush on Ryan since we were eleven, and I would continue to have said crush until we were fourteen, and I just turned down the offer to be his girlfriend! He didn’t ask again.

Why did I do that?

I’ve thought about that moment often since it happened fifteen years ago. I didn’t regret it exactly, but I was confused about it for years; maybe I said no because I thought my parents wouldn’t want me to date so young or that he was joking. Maybe I was just socially awkward and had no idea what to do. All valid considerations knowing who I was and am.

I started doing a lot of reflecting around my 28th birthday in Spring 2021. I hadn’t thought too much about my romantic life since midway through university, but when I was considering what I wanted my future to look like, I noticed that a romantic partner wasn’t in the picture.

Looking back, I was surprised to notice that with each crush I’d had, which had grown increasingly rare and short-lived since Ryan, I never imagined myself dating them. I never thought about holding hands, getting married, kissing, having sex… I just liked being around that person and thought they were the bee’s knees.

Around February 2021, I realized that I’m asexual. Having sex and masturbating just don’t appeal to me. I’d thought the fact that I enjoy sexual media meant I had to be allosexual, but poking around the LGBTA+ Wiki brought me to aegosexual, which applies to asexuals who like thinking about sex but do not want to be part of those or other sexual scenarios. A switch flipped, epiphany had, life changed. I’m asexual.

So, with my new thoughts on how I’ve never wanted a romantic relationship really, I thought, “Could I be aegoromantic? Is that a thing?”

Aegoromantic, aromantic, and romantic identities

Romantic orientations are less known than sexual orientations, but they carry the same patterns. Which genders are you romantically drawn to? Does there need to already be an emotional connection for romantic feelings to blossom? A lot of the time (most of the time?), people’s sexual and romantic orientations align: One is both romantically and sexually attracted to men, for example. Other times, the two don’t match up: One is sexually attracted to men and romantically attracted men and women and nonbinary folks.

I already knew that asexual people often have romantic orientations that don’t ‘match’ their sexual orientation, and I had assumed I was one of them. Asexual, biromantic. After all, I like reading and writing love stories!

But, to answer my question from earlier, yes, aegoromantic is a thing, and I am that thing. As with aegosexuality, aegoromantic people like thinking about romance but do not want to be part of romantic scenarios. In terms of micro identities, then, I am aego/aego. In more general terms—ones which more people will be familiar with—I’m ace/aro, or asexual/aromantic.

As was the case in realizing my sexual identity, figuring out my romantic orientation was a joyous occurrence. Finally, things made sense. Why did I say no when Ryan asked me to be his girlfriend? Well, perhaps it was because of the fact that I didn’t actually want to be his girlfriend. I just thought he was a swell guy.

Why does my imagined future not include a romantic partner? Because I don’t want one. It’s not that I don’t want love in my life, it’s just that I only need friends and family to share my love with. Oh, and my cat Hecate.

Culturally, romantic and sexual love are seen as the end-all, be-all, but that’s just not true for a lot of people. My life, as well as the lives of other people, aromantic or not, can and will be just as full in terms of love and joy without a romantic partner.

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