The Pangs of Amatonormativity

Graphic by Priyadharshan

Are you being bugged by your peers to get into a relationship? Does the thought of finding “Love” makes you feel pressured? Well, you might have been smitten by “Amatonormativity”, a term that has been coined by the Arizona State University professor of philosophy Elizabeth Brake to put a label on societal assumptions about romance. It’s a combination of 2 words ‘Amato’, an Italian word for romantic love and ‘normativity’ meaning what’s seen as culturally normal worldwide. Conceptually it takes the veil off a long running belief which is being practised widely without questioning its implications. I’m quite sure that most of us have been groomed with the notion of having a single partner, or a soulmate (as you may say) for life, failing to do which can earn you relentless social ostracism. You might face several questions from society regarding the indifference, but there’s a pretty good chance that whatever the current problem of adulthood you are in ,pursuit of a romantic relationship or marriage preferably will be the answer by society for the same.

It does affect a lot of people say teenagers, polyamorous folks, aromantics and the ones into amatonormativity as well. Before addressing them, let’s ask ourselves: Is it extremely necessary to put the idea of romanticism above all? Isn’t it a part of life as everything like friendships, careers, parental relationships and ambitions, etc. The entire hierarchy of relationships is often strained because of undue stress on one. The younger generation is intensely affected when the world of movies, magazines and stories speak of the message to chase the one true love as the only chapter in their lives. When the world all around you is consumed with such beliefs, it can be hard to be passionate about anything else. Even if some try to do so there’s a fair chance of being shamed by peers for their uniqueness, sometimes being categorised as weird and unreal. Aromantics and asexuals who do not find their life centred around romance find this specifically hard, because explaining their identity and perceptions is often outcasted by the society which prefers its own terms.

There’s no question about the pressure when one has to go through while living the idea that he/she has to be perfect in every sense to his/her partner because seemingly everyone including them expects it to be that way. Often this leads to bad relationships & heartbreaks. Sometimes a person can go through a cycle of such unhealthy relationships in the search of a perfect partner which is traumatising for both parties involved.

There’s a hope for change only when we can be ready to step out of societal dictatomy of rights and wrongs. While acceptance of one’s beliefs and right to living life as they wish would be a start, doing so in a stubborn world would require support at every turn. One may seek to find groups of similar interests offline and online to rest the thought or idea of being the only one going through this. Recently there have been some instances of movies and TV shows that highlight love other than romantics which indicates a slow dawn in change of mindset of people all around. While this can be positive, pausing once in a while to look at the other aspects of life can provide insights into a better living outside amatonormativity.

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