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I was in Elementary school when I questioned the difference between romantic and platonic love. I asked friends, but their answers weren’t useful. I don’t even remember what it was, only that they told me there’s a difference. I thought that I’ll want it in the future, when we’ll be able to do more things, like living together.
Elementary school was also the time when we had Sex Ed classes. People seemed interested to learn about having sex, while I found the thought that I’ll have sex in the future to be weird.
Some students from my class kept asking me who did I like. They didn’t believe me when I told them I didn’t like anyone. Sometimes, I had crushes, and I caved in and told them to I had a crush on. They kept asking questions like if I held hands with the person I had a crush on, which seemed very irrelevant to me, wanted to give me advice and to tell them, which felt very unnecessary for me. My friends also wanted to give me advice on how to become their girlfriend.
There was a guy I had liked for years. When he had a girlfriend, I was jealous. It happened a long time after I’ve realized I had a crush on him. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to be in a romantic relationship with him. A friend told me that having a crush on someone for 4 years is desperate. But… I didn’t feel desperate about my crush on him. I had a long time to confess to him about my crush on him before he started dating his girlfriend, but I didn’t want to do anything about it. At the time, I thought it was because I am shy. I am very shy, but looking back, I realize that I knew I didn’t want to date him; I wanted him to love me as much as he’d have loved me if I was his girlfriend, but not as one. I didn’t feel like I was giving up on something, as that requires the desire having that things in the first place.
My friends were much more important to me. I referred to my closest ones as my sisters, even though only one was biologically my sister, and they felt like sisters to me. In high school, they had their first boyfriends. I was happy for them, but I was jealous, much more than I was for the person I’d crushed on for years. I saw how happy being in romantic relationships made them, and was surprised, because that’s how I felt about them. It was the time I learnt people tend to value romantic partners higher than their friends and to spend more time with them. I felt jealous and hurt, even though nothing changed between us.
After I graduated I met a new friend. We grew very close on a short time. I realized I had a crush on her. I’ve already suspected that I’m bi, but romantic relationships didn’t interest me, so I thought about it for a little while in high school, but I pushed the thought for a later time. In retrospective, I think a part of me knew I wasn’t bi, but that was the name I knew for people who had crushes on both boys and girls (I wasn’t aware of other genders at the time). She had a boyfriend at the beginning of our friendship, and she’s heterosexual, so I knew we won’t be together.
I was sad and jealous, but after a long time, I realized that even if she would’ve wanted a sexual or romantic relationship with me, I didn’t want to have a sexual or romantic relationship with her. I realized that I feel ok about living forever with a friend that I love as much as romantic partners love each other.
That thought scared me, because I always thought I’ll want it later, in the future. But the future has arrived, and I realized I didn’t want it and that I didn’t see it as a part of my future. Society keeps saying that you should want to have sex and romance and that if you don’t want it, you’re cold, wrong, broken, loveless and cruel.
I told some friends. I received surprised reactions. They thought I was giving up on something I haven’t even tried. It surprised me, because giving up on something means you wanted it, but I never did. Another one was surprised because I have crushes, am obsessed with romantic stories and I find people hot.
Now I know that crushes aren’t always romantic, that romantic attraction isn’t always experienced along with sexual attraction and that finding people hot doesn’t necessarily means being sexually attracted to them, but, at the time, like her, I didn’t think of those things that can be experienced separately. Those thought added to my confusion.
I was so confused and scared about my future that I started to open up about it to more friends. Some mentioned asexuality, and, after a while, someone mentioned aromanticism. But I hadn’t known that sexual and romantic attractions were a separate thing, at the time, and I didn’t realize that my crushes were platonic and that my “sexual” attraction was just finding people hot, since people make it seem like every crush is romantic and every physical attraction (other than aesthetic attraction) equals sexual attraction.
I thought that reading about asexuality or aromanticism would be a waste of time, since I doubted I could be asexual/aromantic, but it was the only clue I had to what was different about me. It took me a few years to start identifying this way, since I was so sure I can’t be asexual/aromantic. I spent a lot of time crying at late hours, thinking that I will be alone and that something is wrong with me, before I finally read more about asexuality and aromanticism and realized that I truly am asexual and aromantic and that nothing is wrong with me.
I came out to people slowly, at first. I was told that aromanticism doesn’t exist and that if I am a loving person, want to live with someone I love, have crushes and want to do things that are considered romantic, it is romantic love. I knew it wasn’t true, but hearing people say it hurts, and it hurts the most when it comes from friends.
I also told my parents. At this point, I have already said I could have a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend, and later that I want to live with a friend forever. At first, my mother didn’t want to believe that I want something other than having a sexual and romantic relationship with a man. We fought about it a lot, but every time, after the fight, she behaved like nothing happened, and I believe she truly forgot, because her will that I will be heterosexual and heteroromantic was so strong. It took her time to take me more seriously, and when she did, our fights got worse. She said that I’m a waste and wanted me to go to therapy. She keeps trying to tell me that I’m sexually and romantically interested in men.
One time, she refused to leave my room, or to let me leave it, while I cried when she said awful things to me. On another time, I wished I could sleep over at my sister’s apartment instead of my house, where my mother is. She said that I make my grandfather roll in his grave. She also said that if my grandmother hears about it, she will have a heart attack, but, also, insisted on telling her and told her against my will. On our last fight, she said that if I live with a friend forever, she won’t love me. Things calmed down afterwards, and we behave like nothing happened, until our next fight.
I was so afraid of never living with loved ones and having my friends move on to invest more time in their future partners and children, that I signed up to a dating website. I described my orientations and the relationship that I was looking for. I received messages telling me to go to therapy, asking me if I ever felt love, questions about my sex life and my body parts, and some other awful messages. I didn’t know the people who wrote them, but it hurt. Nevertheless, it made me more determined to talk about it and raise awareness of aromanticism and asexuality.