Compulsory heterosexuality (often shortened to "comp het"), is the idea that heterosexuality is enforced upon people through the patriarchy, heteronormativity, and general social pressures. It originated as a lesbian-only experience, but has been expanded to include anyone of any sexual orientation.
Some common ways of experiencing compulsory heterosexuality include, but are not limited to:
- Only liking the idea of being with someone of the opposite gender, not the reality.
- Confusing a strong dependency with someone of the opposite gender for sexual attraction or romantic attraction.
- Only being attracted to unobtainable people of the opposite gender, where they are unable to like you back.
Compulsory heterosexuality, as a term, was first wildly recognized with Adrienne Rich's title, "Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence", which came out in 1980. Since then, the term as been more used. A google doc titled "Am I a Lesbian? Master doc" has been circulating around the internet, popularizing the term more.