I identify as Asexual and Aromantic. Unlike Asexuality, when I learned about being Aromantic, I didn't have an immediate sense of relief and curiosity. No great sigh escaped my lips, accompanied by the thought: "this all is starting to make sense now." It was a skeptical reaction-- a wary feeling, and I didn't even want to investigate its meaning for almost a year.
Part of that is because of my own thoughts and feelings about the matter. Aromantic people are, as the name would suggest, uninterested in romantic relationships. Or, perhaps-- and this is more where I would fall-- quite uninterested in romantic relationships. I get lonely, and I like human interaction and affection, but romantic relationships are never something I explicitly desire. (This is probably helped enormously by my lack of primary sexual attraction to others)
I'm not against the idea of romantic relationships, I've been in a few, I am just usually in a completely different corner of the universe, mentally speaking, when anyone is interested in me. I am very specific about what I am looking for in a relationship, and as the years go by and I learn more about myself and what I want, I become more specific.
I've been told in the past that my standards are too high, but that doesn't even make logical sense. I don't have many actual standards, and even those are negotiable upon the individual circumstances. There isn't some sort of checklist I keep that eliminates potential candidates. Or is there? I don't feel right calling what I'm looking for standards-- because I feel standards are expectations applied to one's self or others-- the things that matter most and are usually not (very) negotiable are merely things I know to be important in the way I interact with others. They aren't some sort of behavioral or aesthetic guidelines anyone has to follow. The important things/things I have in mind when evaluating the potentiality of success with a possible romantic partner would be as such:
Somewhat relatable or tolerable humor/disposition- it is important that I be able to be with this person alone or in company with some comfort. Bonus if I find them funny or amusing, or if their personal behavior compliments my own in some way.
I must be attracted to them- (the main idea is some form of romantic interest/desire of intimacy) Be it aesthetically, physically, emotionally; I must like something they do or make, the way they speak, their habits, the way they carry themselves, their hobbies, their smile, their voice-- the list could go on indefinitely. I do not have to be attracted in all possible ways at once, and some forms of attraction are much stronger than others (for me, someone's voice and way of carrying themselves trumps their physical appearance, for example), and the more ways I'm attracted to someone, the better chance there is of me wanting a relationship of some sort with that person (not necessarily a romantic relationship, but that possibility also increases with attraction, obviously). I feel like I would be wasting my time and someone else's time if I dated them and was not attracted enough to them to date them. That doesn't make sense to me. A friend a year ago was pursuing me, and we went on a few dates, but I ended it rather abruptly when I realized they weren't attracted to me as a person--they just thought I was pretty and interesting and easy to talk to. That can foster friendship--but there was no attraction that would have fed anything else. It was a passionless tryst, and it was extremely odd.
I must have a decent opinion of them/be able to stomach them- I don't like sexism, racism, ableism, anything that could be taken as, is, or could become abuse, general hatred or cruelty. I dislike, also, willful ignorance and when someone refuses to own up to their own mistakes/ cruelty/blatant horrid behavior. I don't expect people to be perfect, and I don't expect people to be able to immediately understand or be able to accept how and when they hurt others, or that they aren't right all the time about everything-- I have my own issues with these things, I think it comes with the territory of unlearning and continuing to understand yourself and others. If someone does or says something that is not okay in any way (not just as something I dislike, but as something harmful or potentially harmful), they lose any points they may have earned before, so to speak. If someone is interested in me for any reason or vice versa, and they crack a sexist, ableist, or racist joke at any point, I cease any admiration/interest in the person.
It is also possible that I just don't like someone's personality; this would be no particular fault of theirs-- I just don't like it. I don't like small dogs. It's kind of like that. Not all small dogs are bad, and not all of them are loud or hyper or annoying, but I just never have and never will like them or be fond of them. There's nothing appealing about them to me, and it's just a matter of preference and personal taste.
They must be interesting/passionate about something- I don't care if it's something I'm completely uninterested in, like a passion for…the art of hair removal or something (that is literally the only thing I could think of I have absolutely no significant interest in)-- if someone's passionate about something that's good. Part of this is the ability for someone to be independent-- if someone has definite interests and goals, they might be a bit better with the ability to exist independently and therefore may be able to form healthier attachments. Also, I have to be interested in the person in some way. I'm horridly intellectual and need gratuitous amounts of intellectual stimulation to be happy and to function. I can't have a relationship with someone who bores me, it feels like I'm brain dead. It can be pleasant, but in the absence of constant mental engagement, I lost interest very, very quickly.
They must be emotionally/mentally well enough not to cause me serious emotional/mental/physical harm- Most if not all people have some mild form of neuroses. No big deal. A lot of people have a lot of different things going on in their head-- that's fine, as long as I am not in danger if exposed to it. Anyone looking to form codependent relationships, unhealthy attachments, abusive relationships, or who would otherwise cause me harm or danger in any way is not someone I will date or be close to. I won't be happy, and I need to keep myself safe. At this point, I'm most likely to run like all hell if a relationship begins and then starts to show signs of turning into something dangerous or threatening.
I cannot be chemically or synesthetically repulsed by them- I have synesthesia and I'm also really weird about particular things- like the way people smell. I have met three people in life so far whose personal scent was so repulsive to me that I nearly threw up. They didn't smell bad as in needing to shower, or smelling like something disgusting, it was the chemical makeup of their body that elicited such a reaction. I have met two people in life whose smell I have been extremely attracted to, and a couple people whose smell is very pleasant and makes me feel safe. Usually people are neutral, or smell nice, but it doesn't cause any emotional response. As far as the synesthesia goes- and I think the synesthesia is the cause- I have met a couple people who make me violently ill if they touch me. I don't let people touch me often because I'm weird about personal space and I'm used to being by myself more than with others, so I'm weird about the frequency of physical interaction. A friend once offered to give me a massage because I was sore, and I accepted, butz almost threw up when they began. This also happened with my little sister in a store when she tried to give me a shoulder massage. That reaction is very rare, but very strong…so, in the event that someone's smell or physical touch makes me sick, I doubt any sort of intimate relationship is possible, and any sort of physically romantic relationship is impossible.
They cannot have other romantic involvements- I'm not morally opposed to the idea of polyamory, but I've also never seen if I could do it. I do know that if anyone is involved in any capacity with someone else (even if the other person/people don't return their feelings), I will not pursue them in any way. I consider people recently single or still in the stages of recovering from a relationship as romantically involved in some capacity. There is a difference, to me, between liking someone/being attracted to them, and having an emotional attachment to them, and it is the latter that stops me from any pursuit, were I at all interested in pursuing someone. This I've only learned in the last year, and it has been further proven twice since I came to realize it.
And that's it. Those are all the requirements I have. Not high standards, I would say-- just definite, consciously present understandings of my needs. These are the absolute minimum of what would be necessary for me to even entertain the idea of a romantic partner. I don't have a drive or need to be in a romantic relationship, and it is very rare that I find these requirements in someone at the same time, and that they are enduring. Which is a large part of why I don't date. If asked on a date, I usually say yes if I am comfortable with the idea, because I figure if a person is brave enough to ask, I could at least spend an hour or something with them to be certain the requirements aren't fulfilled. But I don't think the requirements are unreasonable or standards that are set too high-- do you?