In a world full of romantics, it is extremely rare to come across a person who self identifies as an Aromantic (or Aro for short). I am one of those very few people who so happens to identify as an aromantic. Aro what now ? The general definition of aromantic is a person who experiences little to no romantic attraction to others. What ? People can actually not be attracted to any gender ? I know ... sounds crazy but is 100% true.
Let’s go back in time to year 7. A young 12-year-old boy who was eager to make friends and play with others. Other students (mainly boys) in my class would rather talk about their crushes and speak sexually about others. This was every day. Let me remind you we were 11- and 12-year-olds. These conversations became more detailed and in-depth after learning about ‘puberty blues’ in PDHPE (Personal Development, Health and Physical Education).
I was very disgusted at the content and found it repulsive. Other males in my class joked about having sex and spoke about their private parts literally every chance they had. It was crazy. Whenever the boys in my class would have sexual conversations (which was everyday), I would avoid joining in and back up a bit as they would sometimes degrade and objectify girls. It made me feel uncomfortable and disgusted. This may have hinted at me being asexual (which I am), but this article needs to be more about my story as an aromantic, not an asexual.
During sport lessons, I would talk more to girls than I did with boys. I would talk in a very friendly way, make jokes, compete and laugh with the girls. We were once playing handball, I decided to serve the ball to *Kelly and after that many students started saying I ‘liked’ her. I was getting very annoyed. We had another sport session and a girl in my class asked if I ‘liked’ *Kelly. I said no to her but she just replied “stop lying”. This made me even more angry. One girl in my class told her, “he said no, leave him alone.” That made me feel better. Anytime I would speak a lot to a girl, students would just assume I ‘liked’ them. It was hard being myself. I spoke to girls the same way I spoke to boys. A boy in my year asked if I ‘liked’ *Melissa. I would talk to her a lot. I told him no and he just kept continuing to harass me by saying stop lying. At that moment, tears filled my eyes and I started to cry. I hated whenever someone would assume I ‘liked’ a girl. It’s like they wanted me to join their ‘straight’ community.
Later that term, I opened one of my books. What I found on the front cover was something that is unforgivable, disrespectful and absolutely appalling. Someone wrote on the front page of my book ‘I love (image of a big love heart) *Melissa. This was an invasion of privacy and completely disrespectful and uncalled for. Reading this just fueled my anger. I was extremely mad and started to cry. This situation was very difficult for me to deal with. I didn’t tell a single soul.
I was in a different class in year 8. This class was much more welcoming and caring. There were always still those assumptions that popped up every now and then but not as much. During my time in year 8,9 and 10, many people in my year would start to develop crushes and some would even start dating. To my surprise, I thought there were at least some students in my year who were like me. I would get surprised anytime my friends would tell me they ‘liked’ a girl. I know, I was pretty stupid. Even in year 10, I actually thought there were some people who that didn’t have any interest in romance at all. I was living in my own world. My mindset changed but I still believed there were a few people who were like me.
During year 12, it was crystal clear that people had crushes, dated and even romantic and sexual attraction towards a specific gender. During year 12, I would tell my friends I would never date, marry, have kids or have a crush. I actually didn’t recognize beauty in someone’s face. I couldn’t tell if a person was attractive until mid-year 12. Whenever a friend would ask me if a girl was pretty, I would shrug my shoulders and say I don’t know. I genuinely had no clue. It would shock my friends but it was 100% true. My eyes didn’t recognize the beauty in people’s faces. The reality, that almost every boy in the year had at least experienced having a crush, had previously dated or at least knew their romantic orientation made me feel weird and secluded. I would ask myself why I don’t have crushes. I thought I was weird.
Throughout the year, I had a mission to have a crush. I would try to tell myself several girls were pretty, but I knew I was lying to myself. There was this one girl who I thought I could actually like. She was one of my best friends. We had been friends for over 9 years. I still knew I didn’t ‘like’ her but she was the first girl I found pretty. It felt nicer to being a step closer to having a crush. I wanted to ‘like’ her but it would have felt awkward because of our friendship. I was still trying to tell myself I ‘like’ her, but I still didn’t. On that same day, I received a phone call from one of my friends. We were talking and somehow, we brought up *Ruby, and he was talking bad about her. He was saying all kinds of disrespectful things about her. I started to tear up. I was extremely angry at him as she was one of my best friends. I felt I actually ‘liked’ her and I wasn’t lying to myself.
The next day I accepted I had a crush on her. That same day, he gave me a call to apologize for all the things he had said, and told me he was joking and was very sorry. Those words gave me more tears. I embraced the fact I ‘liked’ her and told multiple friends. I never had any sexual thoughts or urges to kiss her. I knew it was a crush because I felt a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, thought of her all the time and wanted to always see her. I would sleep with a photo of her under my pillow. The feeling lasted for 5 months until I stopped ‘liking’ her. All my feelings for her in a ‘crush’ way completely disappeared. I told myself I would sleep it off. The next day I woke up and the feelings were still gone
During 2019, I was motivated to search about myself. I would google ‘I don’t have crushes’ and ‘I don’t like any genders.’ This allowed me to read stories of others who had a similar situation as me. I stumbled across the term aromantic. After investing in the aromantic articles and facts, I started to self-identify as an aromantic. It felt right. It felt as if they were describing me and talking straight to me from out of the computer screen. I felt like I found my true identity. I had a connection with other people who shared similar stories and experiences as I did. I had a true answer to the questions why I don’t have crushes and what gender do I like. The answer was neither gender. I read about platonic love and squishes. The so called ‘crush’ I had was actually a squish which is an aromantic version of a crush. It felt amazing and I was excited and ecstatic to find out about aromanticism.
I told almost all my friends I was aromantic and explained to them I liked her in a platonic way. Ever since then, I have purchased aromantic shirts, educated people about aromanticism and joined aromantic Facebook page groups. I talk about aromanticism every day and read about it at least once a week. I eventually told my former squish, I am aromantic and what it feels like to be aromantic. Ever since then, the comments don’t bother me. A few things I can personally tell you from my experience is to stay true to yourself, ignore what others think about you, avoid negativity and listen to yourself as you are the only one who truly knows how you feel and what you want. Be happy and embrace who you are and love yourself as you are valid just like everyone else and special in your own way whether you are aromantic or not.
* Names were changed due to privacy protection reasons