The thing that put my self-acceptance into motion was an email I sent to the podcast The Struggle Bus. It’s a kind of intersectional audio problem page with two women answering listener questions in a way that is sensitive about sexuality and all of the ‘isms’, and I was desperate to get an answer to a question.
But I didn’t dare say it in real life.
What I wanted to know was whether aromanticism was something I should be trying to fix in myself, or whether it was just who I was and nothing to worry about.
The email I sent to them, which was read out on the show, said this:
Subject line: Help! Aromantic – do I need to be fixed?
Hi Sally and Kate!
I’m a long-time listener to the show and wanted to get in touch about something I’ve not felt able to talk to anyone about.
I’m a lesbian and when I was a teenager, I pretended to be straight (to myself as well as the world). I pretended to fancy boys and I assumed that all my friends were also pretending to fancy boys. I dated, felt nothing, finished with them, dated more, ended it, you get the picture.
This left me with a weird feeling that all relationships were fake. We all just made it up and pretended it was real.
In my late teens I left home and came out as a lesbian. I fell in love with a woman, let’s call her Penny. We dated for a few years and when it ended, it broke my heart. I was in so much pain, but I was also in shock – I had no idea that heartbreak was a real thing until then, because of my theory that every relationship was faked!
Over the next few years I dated a few women but never felt much so the relationships never ended up lasting. I was fine with that. I was dating because I felt I should, and it was just what people did. Later, in my late twenties, I fell in love again. Let’s call her Julia. We were together for several years and since we broke up, I have been single. I have hook-ups for sex but am not interested in anything more in-depth.
Over the last few years, as I’ve been single, it has been clear to me that other than the two times I was truly in love, with Penny and Julia, I have had no interest in romantic relationships at all. I’m fine with being single. I don’t seek out a girlfriend. I periodically have sex, which is fine, but I don’t want more than that.
Then I came across the term aromantic – or aro – and realised that that was what I was. I’m definitely not asexual, but where romance is concerned, it’s like you could attach me to any number of machines and it would show zero response. I feel like if I met someone as a friend and fell in love with them, like with Penny and Julia, I could have a relationship again, but I’m not seeking this out and I don’t really care if this happens.
The thing is the people around me think I must be sad or lonely being single. Also, all the single people I know are desperate to meet their other half! It really is just me in all the lesbian social groups who’s not looking for a spouse.
I haven’t mentioned the word aromantic to anyone, I feel like I’d need to explain something that I don’t fully understand myself.
My question for you is this: is this something that is wrong with me? Is this something I should be trying to fix? Or is it just a different state of being that is fine and good?
If I hadn’t written to them and had such a thoughtful and sensitive answer, I’d have probably tried to forget about the whole aromantic thing and carry on denying it was an issue. But, thanks to them, I didn’t, and so they are partly responsible for this site existing at all.