Amatonormativity

Sophia Melissa Caraballo Piñeiro
·3 min read

From Cosmopolitan

Amatonormativity is a term used to describe the belief that "everyone is better off in an exclusive, romantic, long-term coupled relationship," according to Elizabeth Brake, a philosophy professor at Arizona State University and Rice University.

Brake coined the term when writing her book Minimizing Marriage in 2012.

According to her website, the belief behind amatonormativity discriminates against those who are asexual, which is the term used to describe anyone who feels little to no sexual attraction to others, and those who are polyamorous, which is the term used to describe someone who has multiple romantic partners.

Amatonormativity also suggests that romantic relationships are more important than other platonic relationships like with your friends, family, and coworkers.

“The belief that marriage and companionate romantic love have special value leads to overlooking the value of other caring relationships,” Brake says on her website. “I call this disproportionate focus on marital and amorous love relationships as special sites of value, and the assumption that romantic love is a universal goal.”

The Difference Between Amatonormativity, Heteronormativity, Mononormativity, and Cisnormativity

One of the terms that people confuse amatonormativity with is heteronormativity, which describes the beliefs that all relationships should be between cisgender, heterosexual people. Though amatonormativity says that romantic relationships are the most important type of relationship out there, “it has no regard of sexual orientations or gender identities,” says Marcos Martinez, founder of the popular blog for black gay men, Men Who Brunch.

Another term that can often be mixed up with amatonormativity is mononormativity. Katherine Winnick, sex coach at LetsTalkSex.net, describes mononormativity as “the assumption that it's normal to love only one person, and to want a monogamous relationship.” The difference is that mononormativity doesn’t put romantic relationships in higher regard than other platonic relationships the way amatonormativity does.

Cisnormativity is another term that’s often confused with amatonormativity. However, cisnormativity “assumes you should be of one gender only,” explains Winnick. But, again, amatonormativity has nothing to do with someone's gender identity, it's more so the belief system behind how you view romantic relationships.

Related Terms

Heteronormativity

Mononormativity

Cisnormativity

What Identifying as Amatonormativity Looks Like

There’s no physical indication you can look for that would show you who believes in amatonormativity. It's more of an idea that you can pick up from how they interact with you.

Kyle Elliot, founder and life coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com, explains that people who believe in amatonormativity might believe that couples need to be married after being engaged for a certain amount of time or that all couples want children. He explains that these types of societal assumptions and pressures on couples can cause issues in their relationships.

Martinez adds that “amatonormativity looks like a person in search of a life long partner and planning to raise a family,” while refusing all other ways of living life and experiencing relationships.

How to Support Your Friends or Partners Who Do Not Experience Amatonormativity

Because we live in a world with a variety of sexual orientations, gender identities, and belief systems, it’s important to remember that you cannot force people to believe something that you do. In most cases, you also can't change that belief either.

Also understand that the belief system behind amatonormativity can exclude people who are asexual and/or in polyamorous relationships, so be open to other people’s way of life and don’t judge.

"Accept that other configurations of relationships can be as happy and satisfying. Don't verbally assert your relationship perspective as the only right way since there are many ways," says sex and relationship expert Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, PhD.

You Might Also Like