I think I’ve known on some level that I am asexual and aromantic from a very young age (let’s say 10 years old), though it’s taken more than a decade to actually start identifying that way.
Identifying as aromantic happened later than identifying as asexual. In fact, I think I’ve only started labelling myself as ‘aromantic’ this year (last year I was still in the questioning phase).
I think it’s because there more discourse around sexual orientation than romantic orientation. There are simply a lot more clearly articulated ideas about sexual orientation that are readily accessible. This makes it much easier to frame my own thoughts and compare with other people’s experiences. The later is quite important – I think having an understanding of people with both different and similar experiences is necessary because orientation is relevant primarily because it affects our interactions with other people.
It’s much easier to find examples of people describing their asexual experiences than their aromantic experiences. So it was harder for me to figure out that I could, for example, enjoy tales of fictional romance and be aromantic.
And now I think my aromantic orientation has a greater impact on my life than my asexual orientation.
Non-romantic sex, as least for white middle-class female adults, is not expected, so the discovery that I don’t have non-romantic-sex doesn’t change the way people behave towards me. However, such adults are expected to pursue romance, so the discovery that I am *not* pursuing romance definitely changes the way most people react to me.
Perhaps if I had been engaging in romance, my asexuality would have affected my relationships to a greater degree, since sex is expected of romantic relationships. But I haven’t gone there.
And I definitely haven’t finished defining myself. Sometimes I think I am more asexual than I am aromantic, sometimes I feel I am more aromantic than asexual (today, for example, I am definitely leaning towards ‘aromantic’). This might because my ratio of fundamental aromanticism vs. fundamental asexuality does change, or maybe it is only my understanding of it which changes.
This post less coherent and more wandering that most posts here. This is a reflection of the fact that I still haven’t come to a conclusion. The lack of discourse around romantic orientation means it takes me more time to arrive at conclusions.
Aromanticism is harder for me to figure out than asexuality.