One of the things that I struggle the most as an aromantic man is to constantly be told by others that I must be confused or mistaken. Surely, I also strive to find a romantic partner, but for some reason I am not there yet. That is really frustrating to hear. It takes a lot of effort to:
- Discover your identity
- Understand your identity
- Develop words and vocabulary around your experiences
- Share your experiences about your identity
- Educate others on what it means to be aromantic.
In my case, this process took years of therapy. In other words, I had to invest considerable time, energy, and money into getting to that point; it is a very taxing process. As a result, it is rather painful when in a matter of seconds someone can easily discredit my entire identity development process and choose not to believe me.
Many others tell me that I just have to suck it up, because otherwise I will be incredibly lonely for the rest of my life. While I certainly agree that society, in its current state, does not allow for the creation of emotionally salient bonds outside of romantic relationships easily, I also would like others to see how impossible that is. Being aromantic is part of who I am. It is my romantic identity. If a homosexual person were to live on an island as the only heterosexual individuals, it would probably be true to say that they would be incredibly lonely if they choose not to partake in heterosexual relationships. At the same time, would it really be a true choice? The larger issue is that you would not really expect someone to live against their sexual orientation long-term and remain sane. It is the same for individuals that do not subscribe to amatonormativity (at least that has been my own experience). Asking me to engage in romantic relationships feels the same as going against my sexual orientation in every imaginable way.
In an ideal world, I would love to see a society where it is possible to engage in emotionally salient bonds that are not romantic (as opposed to having others force aromantics into romantic relationships as the only acceptable way to build meaningful bonds).
Aromantics should not be treated like they are diseased and should not be told they need to change who they are to be happy. The conversations should be about how others can adapt their practices to be more inclusive of individuals of all romantic orientations. That starts with believing aromantics when they explain their identity instead of dismissing it.