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Amatonormativity is a term coined by Arizona State University professor of philosophy Elizabeth Brake to capture societal assumptions about romance.[1][2] Brake wanted a word to describe the pressure she received by many to prioritize marriage in her own life when she did not want to. The term does not necessarily only involve social pressures for marriage but general pressures involving romance.[2][3]


The word amatonormativity comes from amatus, which is the Latin word for "beloved".[4] Another word which is similarly related to the word Amatonormativity is amative. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word amative as: strongly moved by love and especially sexual love. Relating to or indicative of love. Amorous is a closely related word also derived from amatus.[5]


Elizabeth Brake describes the term as a pressure or desire for monogamy, romance, and/or marriage. The desire to find relationships that are romantic, sexual, monogamous, and lifelong has many social consequences. People who are asexual, aromantic, and/or nonmonogamous become social oddities. According to researcher Bella DePaulo it puts a stigma on single people as incomplete and re-enforces romantic partners to stay in unhealthy relationships because of a fear the partners may have of being single.[6]

According to Elizabeth Brake, one way in which this stigma is institutionally applied is the law and morality surrounding marriage. Loving friendships and other relationships are not given the same legal protections romantic partners are given through marriage. This legality also de-legitimizes the love and care found in other non-marital relationships.[7]

Brake wrote a book, Minimizing Marriage, in which she defines amatonormativity as "the widespread assumption is that everyone is better off in an exclusive, romantic, long-term coupled relationship, and that everyone is seeking such a relationship."[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Do you feel under pressure to find The One?". BBC. 2020. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b Bonos, Lisa (6 July 2017). "Bugging your friend to get into a relationship? How amatonormative of you". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  3. ^ Brake, Elizabeth. "Amatonormativity". Elizabeth Drake. Elizabeth Drake. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  4. ^ Baer, Drake (31 March 2017). "There's a word for the assumption that everybody should be in a relationship". The Week Publications Inc. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  5. ^ "Amative". merriam-webster. Merriam-Webster dictionaries. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  6. ^ "There's a Word for the Assumption That Everybody Should Be in a Relationship". The Cut. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  7. ^ "Should Marriage Be Abolished, Minimized, or Left Alone?". Psychology Today. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  8. ^ Sharpe, Brianna (12 February 2020). "Why These Families Want To Queer Valentine's Day". Huffington Post. Retrieved 14 July 2020.