Behind the term „amatonormativity“ lies the idea that romantic relationships are the social standard and thus at the same time the highest form of human commitment. According to „amatonormativity“, relationships should be exclusive, monogamous and long-term. The underlying concept is firmly integrated into our social norms and expectations. For centuries, romantic love, covered in literature and the media, has been a central theme of our society.
The „amatonormativity“ indirectly leads to discrimination or even exclusion of people who do not live according to its beliefs. The following article will therefore provide a comprehensive definition of the term „amatonormativity“ and the concept behind it. It will also look at the characteristics of amatonormative relationships, the social background and critiques of „amatonormativity“.
What is amatonormativity? Explanation, meaning, definition
The term „amatonormativity“ is composed of the Latin noun „Amor“ (meaning „love“) and the German noun „Normativität“ (also called „standard“ or „normal mode“). Accordingly, „amatonormativity“ refers to a state in terms of love that is regarded as the general standard. This refers to a society’s expectations of romantic relationships, the idea of which goes back several hundred years. The ideas, concepts and values that contributed to „amatonormativity“ then manifested themselves in the views of the society in question.
Amatonormativity“ can thus be understood as a comparatively unknown concept that is lived in Western societies despite ignorance. It describes the usual course of a love relationship. It is not essential whether it is a matter of mixed or same-sex love relationships. Rather, it matters that the partners in question are faithful, loyal, long-term and monogamous.
Characteristics of „amatonormativity“
The concept of „amatonormativity“ has some specific characteristics that will be examined in more detail in the following subsections. These are the following characteristics:
- Romantic relationships
- Norms manifested in society
- Monogamous exclusivity
Romantic relationships are a central theme in the context of „amatonormativity“. According to „amatonormativity“, romantic relationships are considered the most fulfilling aspect of life. Romantic relationships are thus indispensable, bringing happiness and satisfaction. Amatonormativity“ also places great importance on individuals having this indispensable life experience in any case. Those who do not do so miss out on an important part of life. People who have never been allowed to experience romantic love are indirectly excluded or socially discriminated against according to the concept of „amatonormativity“. Emotional intimacy, physical attraction and monogamy are considered the main pillars of romantic love, which is considered the highest good by „amatonormativity“.
„Amatonormativity“ is seen as a societal standard and therefore taken for granted. People in certain age groups are therefore expected by society to enter into romantic relationships or at least to seek romantic relationships. In many areas of life and subcultures – such as pop culture – romantic love is seen as the ultimate proof of success and happiness in life in the context of „amatonormativity“. Thus, an indirect compulsion arises to pursue this social construct (partly unreflectively). Alternative forms of love, such as „polyamory“, on the other hand, are seen as immoral.
Another aspect of „amatonormativity“ is monogamous exclusivity. This means that love can only take place between two partners in a romantic relationship. This refers primarily to physical intimacy, such as sex. Also, partners in a romantic relationship should only feel love for each other, not for outsiders (apart from platonic love for friends or love for other family members).
Monogamous exclusivity is thus considered a fixed rule of the romantic relationship and thus of „amatonormativity“. Anyone who disregards this violates this supreme rule and is usually abandoned by the betrayed partner. A violation can manifest itself, for example, through cheating. According to „amatonormativity“, this is condemned as a breach of social norms.
Historical background of „amatonormativity“
The concept of „amatonormativity“ is still comparatively young and is considered a concept of academic discussion. Historically, „amatonormativity“ goes back to the ideas of romantic relationships. These have existed for centuries, but have constantly changed or adapted over time. The still idealised form of romantic love and thus of „amatonormativity“ has existed since the 18th century. From that time onwards, „amatonormativity“ was increasingly promoted as a social standard in literature, music and later films, as well as today on the internet.
Whereas romantic relationships in the form of marriages were previously often entered into for political or even financial reasons, the romantic relationship was the first time the idea of entering into a love relationship with the free will of both partners emerged. Over the past decades, however, society’s ideas about love and intimacy have evolved once again.
Impact on society & criticisms
The effects of „amatonormativity“ on society are quite complex. On the one hand, there are positive consequences in the form of encouraging marriages and thus potentially securing offspring. The concept of „amatonormativity“ is also accompanied by a certain social morality and normality, according to which love relationships must always follow a certain pattern.
However, „amatonormativity“ also has some negative consequences (especially for the individual). Intimacy with people other than one’s own partner is devalued and discriminated against. Individual desires, demands and views are undermined, which can lead to dissatisfaction and unhappiness in the long run.
At the same time, romantic relationships are subject to too much pressure, which is mainly caused by too high expectations. Polyamory and individuality, on the other hand, are frowned upon. Thus, „amatonormativity“ increasingly contributes to unhappy and unhealthy relationships.
In summary, then, the term „amatonormativity“ stands for the concept of the romantic, monogamous relationship that has been established in Western cultures since the 18th century. „Amatonormativity“ means that a relationship can only exist on two partners, whose emotional and physical intimacy is exclusive to both partners. „Amatonormativity“ thus reflects societal expectations and ideas about a love relationship.
The terms „polyamory“ or „heteronormativity“, for example, are related to the term „amatonormativity“. While „polyamory“ is a concept that is opposite to „amatonormativity“, in which people can have love relationships with several partners, „heteronormativity“ indicates a concept according to which only mixed love relationships (in the form of woman and man) are considered normal.