Do you feel like a loser when you are single, and out of place when you're hanging out with friends who all have partners?
You might be suffering from believing in a little thing called "amatonormativity."
Let's rewind for a second, though. What does amatonormativity even mean? It's the idea that people who are in relationships, whether they are healthy or not, are put on a higher pedestal than single people are. Just the idea of "having" someone makes someone more valuable in society. The end result is people who are single thinking they are losers or outcasts. Do you suffer from thinking this way? What gives?
The term, which was coined just a few years ago, is based on the idea of "heteronormativity." This is the idea that a heterosexual couple is considered "normal" in society, and anything otherwise is deviant. The term "amatonormativity" was created by Professor Elizabeth Brake, the author of Minimizing Marriage: Marriage, Morality, and the Law.
She writes that amatonormativity can be defined as:
The assumption that a central, exclusive, amorous relationship is normal for humans, in that it is a universally shared goal, and that such a relationship is normative, in the sense that it should be aimed at in preference to other relationship types.
From a young age we are taught to look for our "Prince Charming," and in certain cultures, women feel forced to marry while they are still in their twenties. This means there is a lot of pressure to sometimes settle with someone just for the sake of settling, over waiting for real love or a healthy relationship.
While it can be fun to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, just choosing someone because you feel like being in a relationship is better than being single isn't always ideal. In fact, it's pretty dangerous.
It sets both women and men up for unhealthy relationships because even those are valued higher than being single, according to the idea of amatonormativity. It also excludes people who genuinely enjoy being single and puts them at the bottom of this "social hierarchy." The same goes for people who really just enjoy sexual relationships and don't want something monogamous or romantic at the moment.
The greatest challenge in having people believe in this concept is that is breeds violence. Intimate partner violence affects thousands each day. About 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will experience some form of intimate partner violence in their lifetime, according to the National Correlation of Domestic Violence.
Choosing to believe that being in a relationship, regardless of its health or how it makes you feel, means more people are willing to put up with abuse over being single. Instead of shaping our perception of who is more valuable in a society based on whether they have a partner or not, we should be happy for those who find genuinely healthy and fulfilling relationships. Until we find them, we should be okay being single, and learn to love ourselves.
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