“My daughter told me she has no interest in ever being in a relationship. Did I do something wrong while raising her that is making her shy away from others? Will she end up alone forever?”
Question Submitted Anonymously
Answered by Beck Paterson
First of all, it’s great that you’ve reached out for advice on this! It shows your concern for your daughter’s happiness and well-being. It’s clear that you care very much about her.
I want to start by saying that your daughter’s lack of interest in relationships is not necessarily a result of anything you’ve done as a parent. Your daughter expressing that she doesn’t ever want to be in a relationship may be her way of telling you she identifies somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, although there are certainly other possibilities.
Just like there are many varying sexual orientations, there are just as many romantic orientations. What this means is that just as people can be sexually attracted to members of the same gender, different gender(s), or no one at all, people can be romantically attracted to people of the same gender, different gender(s), or no one at all. A romantic orientation just describes romantic attraction, or who a person is interested in forming a romantic relationship with (think cuddling, deep and close emotional bonds, sometimes kissing, etc.). When a person does not experience romantic attraction, that person is usually referred to as aromantic.
Similar to the asexual spectrum, the aromantic spectrum has on one end aromanticism (no romantic attraction) and on the other end romanticism (romantic attraction), with gray-romantic and demiromantic identities (rare romantic attraction; romantic attraction only after a very close bond is formed) in the middle. There is also what is often referred to as aroflux, which means a person’s romantic attraction level fluctuates, moving through different levels of romantic attraction and desires (also called allromanticism) and aromanticism. Often, people’s sexual and romantic orientations line up—or someone sexually interested in the same gender is often romantically interested in the same gender also—but that isn’t always the case, so recently there’s been a distinction between sexual and romantic orientations.
If your daughter does identify somewhere along this aromantic spectrum, it can’t really be attributed to one event in her life or the way she was raised, as many people tend to believe. Consider other LGBTQ+ identities. We wouldn’t say that a person identifies as a lesbian because of a traumatic life event or the way they were raised. If that were the case, we probably wouldn’t see gay youth coming out of extremely religiously conservative homes the way they sometimes do now. The same is true for those identifying on the aromantic spectrum. It’s just a part of who that person is—just as much as identifying as gay or trans is for those who identify as such.
I can understand your concern that you don’t want your daughter to be alone forever—companionship is a huge part of life for many people! That said, I don’t think that your daughter will necessarily interpret and experience her lack of romantic relationships as being “alone.”
For starters, while many of us strive for romantic relationships, and put a lot of time and energy into finding one, romantic relationships aren’t the only type of emotional connection a person can feel. Friendships or familial relationships, for example, can be just as deep and full of love, care, and support as a romantic relationship. Many people depend on their parents or siblings for emotional support just as much as their romantic partner, and while some people don’t consider friendships to be as valuable as romantic relationships, I would argue that the opposite is true. It’s true what they say—friends are family that you get to choose! Just because your daughter might identify as aromantic or somewhere along that spectrum, it doesn’t mean that she will have to navigate the entirety of her life experience on her own. If she decides that she is most comfortable putting her time and energy into forming deep familial or friendly bonds, those are the relationships that will be the most comforting and satisfying to her.
The most important thing you can do for your daughter is support her. While it is entirely possible that later in life, your daughter might change (remember, sexuality is fluid and can change, and so can romantic orientations, and that’s okay!), the fact is that only she can know for sure what she is and isn’t comfortable with. If she isn’t interested in a relationship now and for the foreseeable future, that’s what is going to make her the most comfortable and satisfied. The best thing you can do for your daughter is to accept that maybe she won’t ever be in a relationship, and just go on loving her like you already do.
Things are slowly changing, but we live in a society where people who are not interested in relationships as we typically understand them (romantic and sexual, having those two orientations line up perfectly, etc.) are often portrayed as “broken,” as if something went wrong along the way that needs fixing. I can assure you that isn’t the case. As a parent, it was nothing you did; aromanticism may just be a part of who your daughter is, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
Related reading: Defining: Asexuality
Beck Paterson just finished their Honours English degree at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. They look forward to getting into a Social Work program and working to make lives better. Now that they aren’t in school, Beck spends their time reading comics and marathoning 90s TV shows on Netflix. They also enjoy naps. If you’re so inclined, you can visit their website at www.beckpaterson.ca
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