“Normalize” is a common recommendation in the community of professionals who work with the topics of sexuality, intimacy, and relationships. We are especially encouraged to normalize desires and preferences. This recommendation is well-intentioned and works well in most cases, but I want to point out a reason why it’s not always the best thing to do.
I believe the benefit of normalizing is that it can lead to greater acceptance. People are more likely to be able to accept themselves if they believe they are “normal.” Normalizing is a means to an end. The ultimate objective is acceptance.
The problem with normalizing is that it reinforces the importance of being “normal”. It supports the belief that I need to be “normal” to be acceptable. This belief can actually interfere with self-acceptance. I believe it’s more important for someone to be able to accept themselves whether or not they are “normal.”
One way around this is to expand the meaning of the word “normal” to include everything. After all, nobody really knows what “normal” means. It’s completely subjective, which is why I keep putting the word in quotes. But doesn’t calling everything normal devalue uniqueness? And anyway, if we do that people will just come up with other ways to ask if they are “normal.”
I do not believe that the goal is to answer the question, “Am I normal?” with an unconditional “yes,” no matter what the context. I believe a better response is “Who cares? You are unique and special and deserve to be accepted and cherished, regardless of whether or not you are ’normal.’”
Rather than normalizing to encourage the idea that everything is “normal,” I promote the idea that everything is acceptable. Ultimately the objective is for everyone to be able to accept themselves as they are, regardless of whether or not they are “normal.“ Please join me in this endeavor by practicing acceptance rather than normalizing. Thank you.