Why Are We Relationship Obsessed?
Romance is in the air, everyday, everywhere. The movies we watch, the music we hear, the stories we read; they all include, or are often even centered around, a romantic relationship. We see couples all over the news and in advertisements, painted as the pillar of happiness. Society has instilled in us this idea that we are not complete without a partner, and that everyone has a “better half.” Why exactly are we so obsessed with relationships?
Once you hit a certain age, you are expected to find someone and settle down. Being single is no longer acceptable. This is especially true for women, considering we are burdened with the “biological clock.” If you want a family, you better get to work. If you don’t want a family, something must be wrong with you. That becomes obvious with constant questions like “aren’t you lonely?” or “how are you still single?” and “oh, she just hasn’t found the right one yet.” Phrases like this suggest that we are incomplete without a romantic partner. We center the human experience around romantic love by pressuring anyone over 30 to get married. Elizabeth Brake coined the term amatonormativity to describe this very assumption, that everyone is seeking and better off being in a romantic relationship.
Amatonormativity exists because heteronormativity exists. They are essentially two peas in a pod. Not only do we expect adults to couple up, we expect them to do so in a heterosexual and monogamous way. Anything outside of that is devious and is likely to be frowned upon or not taken seriously. Amatonormativity causes a lot of people to stay in relationships they aren’t necessarily happy in. Many stay in toxic, and potentially dangerous situations, fearing that being single will be worse than whatever they have now. There is a universal fear that alone, as individuals, we are not enough.
We see it all the time, and we tell ourselves that love is work and sacrifice. We convince ourselves that anything worth having will be difficult. But is that really the case, or are we just scared to be single? While love can be intoxicating, and being with someone you love can be an incredible experience, it just simply is not the only way to find satisfaction. Self-fulfilment can oftentimes be more rewarding than the fulfilment we may get from a partner. Getting the opportunity to learn about yourself, and make decisions solely for your own life can be an empowering journey.