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Amatonormativity is the assumption or belief that all human beings aim to find love or form romantic relationships. The kind of relationships an amatonormative view considers humans want to attain are typically monogamous and long-lasting.
Elizabeth Brake, an associate professor of philosophy based in Arizona, coined the term amatonormativity around 2012. She modeled the term on the term heteronormativity, or the persistent belief that heterosexuality is the default sexual orientation. Her term incorporates the Latin word amatus, meaning love.
Brake developed the term amatonormativity to capture the common societal beliefs that people who aren’t in a monogamous romantic relationship want to be in such a relationship and that people who are not in monogamous romantic relationships would be happier if they were. Despite coining the term, Brake is critical of amatonormativity.
We live in an amatonormative society. It’s common to bring a romantic partner to a function, but not a close friend or sibling. Legally married couples can claim tax benefits that cohabitating friends or family members cannot.
In an amatonormative society, being single seems to be viewed as a problem that must be solved. However, many people who are single are happy with their status. They might enjoy the freedom and independence that being single brings, and have no desire to change their status. Perhaps they would like to be in a good romantic partnership but have not found one they enjoy as much as being single. They might not feel ready to prioritize a relationship over other desires like pursuing their career or traveling. These people can become frustrated by the advice of their partnered friends which often comes from an amatonormative perspective.
In an amatonormative society, pursuing and enjoying non-monogamous relationships is also frowned upon. For this reason, polyamorous people and others practicing non-monogamy can become frustrated with amatonormative attitudes. Living in a world where amatonormativity is the persistent view also makes it difficult for people to understand individuals who identify as asexual or aromantic. Brake feels amatonormativity can make people feel pressured to form or stay in monogamous romantic relationships, even if these relationships do not make them happy.
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