I’ve found a lot of affirmation in knowing that there are others who also feel uncertain over whether they experience romantic feelings or not. I’ve found many posts published last year that helped me be sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. In particular, it’s difficult for me to discern what is romantic vs. platonic, and what constitutes a (non-codependent) romantic relationship exactly. I was also happy to see that there were specific terms for it: Wtfromantic or quoiromantic. I was also happy to find out that romance-repulsion exists as a concept.
However, during that time, I still felt broken for both my romantic orientation and repulsion towards romance, because I was in a relationship with someone who wanted a conventional monogamous romantic-sexual relationship, while I was repulsed by the idea. I also didn’t freely agree to it, but that’s a different issue. He had romantic feelings for me, but I wasn’t sure if I had romantic feelings for him, or if what I was feeling was just codependency, manifesting as a strong sense of obligation to do what he wanted, to make him happy no matter how much I didn’t want to do what he wanted to.
Admittedly, my understanding of what romance is, may be skewed because of my experiences, though over the past few years, I’ve developed much more nuanced understandings of romance and different relationship models, so I could question what is a romantic relationship like without codependency.
I’ve taken other peoples’ word for it that they can experience healthy, non-codependent romantic relationships, but that is something I’ve never experienced for myself. Is that desire to make someone happy, to the extent of self-sacrifice, a natural part of romantic love, or is it just a symptom of codependency?
I also questioned what sets romance apart from a platonic relationship, if there are no such thing as inherently romantic behaviors that define a romantic relationship, if there’s no inherent difference in level of commitment between the two, or no inherent difference in openness or exclusivity. I don’t know if I’ve asked these questions because of my romantic orientation, or simply because I’ve gained a more nuanced understanding of both romantic and platonic relationships, but was wanting to know what the inherent differences are.
There were several times that my “partner” demanded a yes/no answer to the question of whether I love him, by which he meant do I romantically love him, and want to be in a traditional monogamous relationship with him. I was afraid to answer either yes or no.
My answer was that there are different kinds of love, that I don’t see love as being just the one kind he had in mind. I also told him that I had a strong sense of obligation towards him, and that I care about him, but he said those answers were a cop-out, and they only frustrated him more and more, as he kept pressing the question, which also made me feel guilty and broken. From his perspective, I was completely missing the point, and trying to dodge the question with non-answers. From my perspective, the answer I gave counted as a form of love, though a different kind than what he may have had in mind, and he was disregarding other forms of love.
I knew I was quoiromantic, but began to hate it over this issue. I wished I could’ve given him a definitive answer either way, but also the thought of being sure I didn’t have romantic feelings for him also made me feel broken. Even if I were sure that I didn’t have any romantic feelings, I may have still been afraid to answer no.
I also felt bad about not being honest so much sooner, because not only would that have prevented so much stress for me, he could’ve spent that time finding someone he was much more compatible with instead of putting his hopes into a relationship that wasn’t going to work. It felt like we were holding each other hostage, which ironically is how I used to perceive romantic relationships.
What also made me feel broken is that I didn’t overcome the past. I thought I was past this, but I had this same issue with the same person 4 years earlier! It was after I found the asexual community that I began to develop a nuanced understanding of what romance was, but that still wasn’t enough to save me from falling into this situation again!
I’m free of this situation now, but I regret that it had happened again, and took so long to break free of, but when it ended, it was for the best for both of us.