I’ve had a string of somewhat disastrous relationships in which I always felt more emotionally detached from the person I was with than I should have been - like I couldn’t properly be in love. I’ve been single for a little while now, and I feel like I don’t really want to live with anyone or give up enough control over my life to share it with someone. This is starting to bother me a bit - everyone else I know is in some big important Smug Married style relationship already. Is there something wrong with me? Am I incapable of being in love with people? I have the occasional one night stand and a couple of friends with benefits and I never really feel the lack of anything else. Should I look into counselling?
Forever Without a Bond
The Lament of the Emotionally Unavailable:
The way you feel about traditional escalator-style relationships is very likely, I suspect, to be down to one of three things.
Online communities and the social justice movement have led to a radical overhaul of the ways we define orientation. This has in turn meant that a whole load of groups of people who have always existed suddenly have the vocabulary to describe themselves and the ability to connect with each other. One of these emergent concepts is aromanticism: the idea that there are some people who simply don’t “fall in love”. I’m reasonably convinced that this group, while they clearly exist, are quite rare. It’s worth considering whether or not you might be one of them, though.
Aromanticism is not the same as asexuality (lots and lots of people who identify as aromantic are sexual), but the communities have some links. If you’d like to find out more about the concept, a good place to start is the Aromanticism page of AVENwiki, which has links to relevant community resources.
If you have a lot of interest in falling in love. If you’re sure you’re capable of it and wish you found it easier, or if you’ve been in love in the past, or if you daydream about it a lot - it may be worth considering the psychological factors behind the fact that you currently don’t seem to be able to. Are there experiences in your past that might be causing you to shy away from letting yourself feel those feelings now?
This is one time when maybe some kind of counselling could be of use, and as you mentioned it yourself I wonder if you don’t agree with me. A good place to start looking for a therapist is PinkTherapy.com, who “aim to promote high quality therapy and training services for people who [...] identify as being gender or sexual diversities” and have an excellent directory of queer-friendly therapists worldwide.
If you’ve talked about this with friends and partners before, I can almost guarantee that what they said was something along the lines of “oh, you just haven’t found the right person yet!”. I can equally almost guarantee that this was really, really irritating - so I’m not going to say it. What I am going to say, though, is this:
I felt like that too, until I realised I’d been misclassifying my sexuality all along.
There are numerous combinations of sexual orientations, romantic orientations and relationship styles. It’s easy to conflate them with each other if you’ve never really had cause to think about this too hard. (See here for more of my thoughts on this.) I am clearly bisexual, which is why it took my own “string of somewhat disastrous relationships” for me to realise that I appear also to be homoromantic.
Honestly, you sound a lot like I do when I think about what my relationships with men are like. I’m not saying you’re wrong about whatever you think your orientation is, of course - I know nothing about that side of you - but it’s worth giving this some thought.
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