As sexist and misogynistic as it is heteronormative, this inordinate value placed on romance and marriage is consistently used to devalue single and unmarried women, painting us as inherently unworthy and pathetic, too difficult and too picky.Romance is not universal, or necessary. However, due to the way that romance has been heralded as a fundamental part of human experience (and even non-human animal experience in some instances), this is something that many people will disagree with. So, I will say it again. Romance is not universal, or necessary. The idea that it is necessary is one that is deeply embedded among societal expectations and permissions about relationships (and sex), and it is imperative for us to understand that our experiences with romance are not universal and that all orientations are valid. To many people, romance is a necessary part of their lives, and that is fair. For others, however, romance is a foreign and sometimes impossible concept. For some, romantic entanglements easily become toxic. For some, romantic involvements easily trigger many anxieties. For some, romantic situations are traumatic. The term amatonormativity, coined by Elizabeth Blake, refers to the “widespread assumption that everyone is better off in an exclusive, romantic, long-term coupled relationship, and that everyone is seeking such a relationship.” It constructs romantic relationships as inherently superior and more necessary than non-romantic ones. This pervasive idea is damaging for everyone, as Elizabeth Brake details in her scholarships on marriage and policy, but especially so for those on the aromantic spectrum and others who fall outside of the heteronormative monogamous model of romance. Amatonormativity erases the significance of familial, platonic, and queerplatonic friendships/relationships. So much so, that we refer to romantic partners as “significant other.” As a largely heteronormative concept, it is one of the driving forces behind mind-boggling and widely accepted cultural myths like "men and women can't be friends,” because it assumes that romance, and by extension, sex are the default in relationships between men and women. It's also why so many people abandon friendships and neglect other people when they start dating someone new. And why the contemporary concept of marriage is viewed as the end goal of dating, despite the fact that marriage is neither wanted or needed by many people for legitimate reasons.
Related: OUR IDEAS OF ROMANCE ARE ABUSIVE
Dear Virgie, Can you talk about thin women who have fat friends to make themselves feel better? I have suffered those kinds of friendships for years (talk about low self-esteem I didn’t know I had!). Dear Friend, Oh man, girl. I hate to