Felt broken over how I feel about romance

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.

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7 thoughts on “Felt broken over how I feel about romance

  1. elio504

    No need to say “I love you” if you don’t feel it, and no need to feel broken about it, it’s normal, that is how some people roll. If your partner can’t take that, then leave him, simple as that.

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    1. Aqua Post author

      I didn’t want to say “I love you” unless I was absolutely sure that I meant it, because it’s not a phrase to be taken lightly. Fear of the consequences held me back from giving a definitive answer. I feared that he’d never talk to me again if I said no, and he strongly hinted that would likely happen. This situation has been resolved, but it didn’t get resolved until earlier this year, and that was because he and I were both well past our breaking points.

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  2. luvtheheaven

    I have pretty much all of the same confusion and questions as you over what is healthy romance vs. non-healthy romance vs. platonic love. Lately I’ve been slowly leaning more towards just saying I’m aromantic myself, actually. And I’m so sorry you’ve felt broken over all of this, even when reading about words like quoiromantic existing… I think it’s fairly common for people on the ace and aro spectrums to still feel broken for these feelings they can’t control even after learning they’re not the only one. It takes time to get over that.

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    1. Aqua Post author

      I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who feels that way, questioning what is romantic vs. platonic love. Do you feel like you may actually be aromantic instead? Sometimes I wonder if that is possible for me too, but I’d still feel dishonest if I identified as aromantic. There were two stretches of time after I found the asexual community that I felt broken over my romantic orientation. The first was before I knew of the gray-romantic label, and I felt pressured to choose from one of the known romantic orientation labels. That was shortly after I first found the asexual community up until some time at the end of 2012 or in early 2013. The second was last year, because of this issue. It’s bad that the second time I ended up feeling broken when I had already known of the asexual community for more than a year. 😦

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      1. luvtheheaven

        Yes I do think I may just be aromantic instead of wtfromantic. That’s why lately I’ve been leaning toward it. I mean… it’s all so confusing for me. I could write so much on the subject and most of it would just be me repeating what I’ve already written elsewhere. If aromantic is supposed to be the parallel to asexual, how can I be both aro and ace yet it not be clear if I’m really not capable of feeling romantic attraction? It’s so obvious to me now that yeah, I’ve never in my life felt sexual attraction and never will. I wish it was that obvious when it came to romance for me.

        When I first entered a real relationship with a guy, for the first and only time in my life when I was 23 and he was 22, I knew I didn’t feel everything toward him that he felt toward me. But his sexual attraction for me and my aversion to even that clouded everything. How can I know if I’m really capable or not of experiencing the sex-free romance side of things, especially when there is no clear dividing line between what it would feel like as romance vs. what it’d feel like if it was just the love for a friend?

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      2. luvtheheaven

        The things that are making me feel more comfortable with the idea of the “aromantic” label lately are complex. I don’t want to write too much so I’ll just leave it at the idea that I’m now okay with never having another romantic relationship for the rest of my life. I’ve sort of made up my mind that I’m never going to be going on a date. I like the idea of a queerplatonic partner more. So practically speaking, I’ll probably be living like an aro ace. And I’m not even sure if I experience romantic attraction, which means I most likely don’t. I mean. Idk, to me it’s become more and more clear that maybe I have a lot more in common with aromantic aces than romantic aces. And idk.

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  3. Pingback: One-sided relationships: in relationship limbo? | Cake at the Fortress

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