Amatonormativity is the set of societal assumptions that everyone prospers with an exclusive romantic relationship. Elizabeth Brake coined the neologism to capture societal assumptions about romance.[1][2] Brake wanted to describe the pressure she received by many to prioritize marriage in her own life when she did not want to. Amatonormativity extends beyond social pressures for marriage to include general pressures involving romance.[2][3]


The word amatonormativity comes from amatus, which is the Latin word for "loved", and normativity, referring to societal norms.[4][1] 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][original research?] Related terms include allonormativity, which means a worldview that assumes all people experience sexual and romantic attraction, and compulsory sexuality, which means social norms and practices that marginalizes non-sexuality.[6]

The term was modeled after the term heteronormativity, the belief that heterosexuality is the default for sexual orientation.[2] Normative bias against ethical non-monogamy in particular is instead known as mononormativity.[7]


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 pushes romantic partners to stay in unhealthy relationships because of a fear the partners may have of being single.[8][1]

According to Brake, one way in which amatonormativity is institutionally applied is the law and morality surrounding marriage. Loving friendships, queerplatonic, and other relationships are not given the same legal protections romantic partners are given through marriage.[9]

Brake wrote a book, Minimizing Marriage, in which she defines amatonormativity as "the widespread assumption that everyone is better off in an exclusive, romantic, long-term coupled relationship, and that everyone is seeking such a relationship."[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Do you feel under pressure to find The One?". BBC. 2020. Archived from the original on 15 July 2020. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Bonos, Lisa (6 July 2017). "Bugging your friend to get into a relationship? How amatonormative of you". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 14 October 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  3. ^ Brake, Elizabeth (29 August 2017). "Amatonormativity". Elizabeth Drake. Archived from the original on 22 April 2018. 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. Archived from the original on 15 July 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  5. ^ "Amative". merriam-webster. Merriam-Webster dictionaries. Archived from the original on 15 July 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  6. ^ Mollet, Amanda L.; Lackman, Brian (24 January 2021). "Allonormativity and Compulsory Sexuality". Encyclopedia of Queer Studies in Education. Brill. doi:10.1163/9789004506725_006. ISBN 978-90-04-50672-5. Archived from the original on 21 March 2023. Retrieved 4 July 2023.
  7. ^ Keese, Christian (2016). "Marriage, Law and Polyamory. Rebutting Mononormativity with Sexual Orientation Discourse?". Oñati Socio-legal Series. 6 (6): 1348. Archived from the original on April 22, 2018. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  8. ^ "There's a Word for the Assumption That Everybody Should Be in a Relationship". The Cut. 8 March 2017. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  9. ^ "Should Marriage Be Abolished, Minimized, or Left Alone?". Psychology Today. Archived from the original on 4 July 2023. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  10. ^ Sharpe, Brianna (12 February 2020). "Why These Families Want To Queer Valentine's Day". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 14 July 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2020.