What do young girls find romantic?

Youth, romantic love and the good life


In this text I will develop two theses: First, that romantic love is part of a good youth. Love as part of good youth has several components: Young people should be able to experience romantic love if they want to. You should acquire the knowledge and skills to understand romantic love and to be able to deal adequately with the positive potentials and also the risks. Young people should learn to deal adequately with the possible disappointments that can be associated with romantic love and, if necessary, receive support. Young people should be empowered to reflect and question the social and cultural norms and practices that shape the ideas of romantic love. Second, it must be clarified what moral rights and duties parents and state institutions have. I advocate understanding these in such a way that they support young people in attaining and adequately living out romantic love and should provide them with the necessary resources to develop these skills.


Romantic love is shaped in many ways by cultural and social norms and practices. So it would be wrong to assume that people, especially children and teenagers, simply know what romantic love is and how to behave when you love someone. Romantic love is at the same time a great good and a value that is valued - not only in subjective feelings and private life, but also in its public function.

So far, philosophical research has mainly dealt with what love is, what different types of love there are and what value they have (Grau and Smuts 2017; Maurer, Milligan, and Pacovská 2014). In philosophy, unlike in psychology - for example prominently in Erich Fromm (Fromm 2012) - and the adjacent advisory literature, however, so far little attention has been paid to how the ability to love can be developed and what value romantic love is for good youth Has. Youth as a distinct phase of life between childhood and adulthood is the phase in which the first attempts at romantic love are made, knowledge of romantic love, the norms and practices that shape it, and the foundations for later, long-term and successful love relationships are established.

However, adolescent romantic love is often not seen in society primarily as an opportunity and stage of development, on the one hand it is perceived as a deficit ("that is not yet real love"), on the other hand there is a discourse of dangers that especially the sexuality associated with romantic love as potentially dangerous, Understanding guilty and immoral (especially the sexual desire of girls is judged negatively) (Best and Bogle 2014). The aim of this article is to sound out what role romantic love plays as part of a good life for young people, what value it has, to what extent young people can have a moral claim to romantic love and what role parents and the state and its institutions should play in this .

A good youth

A concept of good youth is normative and not socio-theoretical; it does not describe forms of youth in this or that society, nor what young people themselves understand by good youth. Rather, the concept of a good youth should outline how youth should be shaped by the institutions that determine them. Young people have a right to good youth in the sense that social conditions should be arranged in such a way that they have opportunities to develop good youth. A concept of good youth is thus an open ideal and enables specific questions about the rights and obligations of individual actors and young people to be asked. What is detrimental to good youth, what harms it, what support do young people need in order to find good youth as an opportunity?

Youth as a distinct phase of life is fuzzy at the edges and the transitions are fluid. It is a biological phase that goes hand in hand with physical and psychological changes, but also a social phase, i.e. a phase in which the world of these young people changes, new social norms and practices are brought to them and a whole series of new ones Make experiences with yourself and others.

A possible differentiation from childhood, which is relevant in biology and medicine as well as in the social sciences, can be seen in reaching puberty. Puberty is a highly complex physical and psychological process that is socially framed in various ways (Stronski 2018). Puberty does not start at the same age for everyone, and it does not run the same for all young people either; there are, for example, significant differences between girls, who tend to go through puberty earlier, and boys. The fact that puberty is not simply a physical event that is independent of social factors is shown by the fact that in modern countries, for reasons that have not yet been fully clarified (food security probably has an influence), puberty begins earlier and earlier (Drury and Bukowski 2013), and how How puberty is dealt with varies from culture to culture. Puberty is only one possibility to set the beginning of adolescence, it is also possible to define adolescents through age limits, as is done in law (in youth law one is a teenager from the age of 14) or in the context of social science studies, where often all teenagers - as people from the age of 13 - are considered adolescents. These age limits correlate more or less well with the physical and psychological changes and the changes in the youthful environment.

While at the beginning of adolescence, insofar as puberty is set as the beginning, there are physical and psychological changes that are socially framed, at its end there is above all the social convention of an age limit. Puberty leads to the clearly visible and noticeable development of physical gender-specific characteristics, while the transition to adulthood is much less noticeable. Whether the youth therefore ends at the age of eighteen, as is often assumed and is also reflected in the law, can in any case be doubted on the basis of medical knowledge, even if the physical and psychological changes take place less drastically and noticeably (Sawyer et al. 2018). According to the social norms and practices that shape the image of childhood, adolescence and adulthood, the end of adolescence is achieved above all when these people become independent, can take care of themselves, enjoy all the rights and duties of adults, but just also have to take responsibility for their actions.

A good youth will therefore be understood in such a way that they take into account these changes that mark their beginning and take place during them, and also focus on what comes after their end, when the young person has become an adult (or a such has been declared). The step into adult life is to be understood as a transition, despite partly fixed legal limits - for example in the right to vote, but more differentiated in criminal law, which tries to take into account the stage of development. Many things that are typical of adult life and are understood there as normatively valuable, such as work, starting a family, independence from parents, etc., do not occur suddenly, but are gradually realized in the course of adult life. The youth often lay the foundations for this.

This strong developmental component paired with an outlook on adult life shares the youth with the phase of childhood. Much more than during childhood - here understood as a phase before adolescence - for adolescents, however, the autonomy of adolescents must also be taken into account and the expansion of their living environment through the creation of their own social spaces and relationships. During adolescence, these are already similar to the social spaces and relationships of adults - they are more shaped by self-determined actions and reflected preferences. Therefore, young people can - better and more competently than children - enter into instrumental relationships and assume social roles and differentiate between them (how do I behave as a schoolgirl, as a friend, as a child, as a lover). Of course, all of these things do not just fall from the sky, to put it colloquially, but are the result of physical and thus also psychological development processes and social learning processes that do not occur alone but in already existing social relationships (van de Bongardt et al. 2015). In any case, a good youth is shaped much more strongly than a good childhood by the tension between protection and autonomy, by the willfulness of the youth and the limitation of his freedom in order to guarantee his current well-being and his well-being. Although young children show signs of autonomy, their autonomy is typically less pronounced than that of adolescents. In some areas it can be assumed that adolescents achieve the same level of autonomy as adults, but that their actions are still limited (for paternalistic or other reasons) (Franklin-Hall 2013; J. Anderson and Claassen 2012). In any case, the conflicts in youth are of a different quality than in childhood, since youthful resistance can fall back on considerably more power to act. It would be a worthwhile philosophical project to develop a (normative) theory of good youth on the basis of psychological and sociological knowledge, which I unfortunately cannot do here. But I would like to outline a few key points.

Almost all normatively relevant properties that children and adults exhibit are present during adolescence, but in a different form and in the process of change. I just want to mention two here: vulnerability and autonomy. Adolescents are, typically, more vulnerable than adults but less vulnerable than children. Of course, within the groups of children, adolescents and adults there are subgroups of people who are more vulnerable because they are chronically ill, demented or disabled. There are very strong children and very weak adults, but there are typical physical, mental and also social differences that each cause specific vulnerabilities. Adolescents have stronger bodies than children and are less dependent on care, but because of the changes in puberty they are in a particularly emotionally and physically vulnerable situation. They have to cope with serious changes in themselves and learn to understand and position themselves as individuals. As adolescents, they are (even more) exposed to the social norms that are attached to their bodies and gender roles (Jewell and Brown 2013). This harbors new vulnerabilities, both inherent as well as situational and possibly pathogenic (Mackenzie, Rogers, and Dodds 2014), which are generated by the social structuring of the adolescent environment. The expansion of the scope for action harbors both opportunities and dangers - adolescents can move more safely in road traffic than children, but they also have numerous opportunities to endanger themselves and others especially here (drunk cycling, tests of courage, the legal option of using a moped or even driving a car etc.). Young people have qualitatively and quantitatively more opportunities than children to consciously hurt themselves and others. Vulnerability and autonomy are therefore closely linked (Schweiger and Graf 2017). While in children the lack of autonomy is often identified as a source of vulnerability, for example also the vulnerability to the power of their parents (Macleod 2017), in the case of adolescents, the ever-expanding autonomy is both protection from certain vulnerabilities and their source. This is normatively interesting because it leads to weighing-up questions, for example to what extent young people's autonomy is authoritative when it comes to risks and dangers that young people want or should take in order to achieve other goods. About the risk of having an operation to get well. Or the risk of leaving school early and going to work instead. What is needed here is the development of criteria as to when juvenile autonomy can be considered mature enough to correspond to that of adults and then also the development of criteria as to when juvenile autonomy, both those that are equal to adults and those that are still Immature autonomy is one in which one can claim authority in deciding on the admissibility of an action. By immature autonomy it is meant here that children and young people have some characteristics that characterize autonomy, but not all of them. For example, you can formulate wishes, but not yet sufficiently consider the consequences. In some cases, this immature autonomy is sufficient because the decisions at stake are not complex or momentous. A young person can make good choices about which movie she wants to watch, but she is not yet in a position to make well-considered decisions as Federal Chancellor.

Not only are cases conceivable in which a paternalistic decision is to be made against the existing and adult equal youthful autonomy, but also those in which the decision should be left to them in spite of the lack of or immature youthful autonomy. The latter case is also interesting for children, as it aims at the fact that in some cases the will should be given authority, even when there is no or immature autonomy. Monika Betzler, for example, advocated that education for autonomy requires children to be able to exercise autonomy, which means leaving them to make (safe) decisions over and over again, even if they are not yet fully competent (Betzler 2011). One could also think here of the case of a right to vote for very young children, since for democratic reasons no specific skills are required for exercising it. For these reasons, the arbitrary age limit of the voting age seems unfair, as it is not justified objectively - with a view to autonomous competencies (Merk 2009; critical of this: Giesinger 2017).

A good youth will move between these poles of protection and the enabling of autonomy and will value the development opportunities of young people, which allow them to develop their own identity and to realize themselves in many areas of life. A good childhood is also stretched between these two poles (Betzler 2011), but autonomy, self-realization and the question of identity will increasingly come to the fore in youth. There are limits to this self-realization, which result from different sources. A limit is marked by the danger to oneself and others. The self-endangerment is to be defined more narrowly than in adults, not only for reasons of limited autonomy, but also for reasons of establishing a shelter for young people, as described by Joel Anderson and Rutger Claassen (J. Anderson and Claassen 2012). Such a shelter is also constituted for social reasons; it should give young people the opportunity to find themselves and try things out without having to bear the full burden of the consequences. In this respect, this limit of young people's autonomy serves not only to protect against danger, but also to create spaces for experience and learning. To speak of a shelter is useful here for two reasons. Young people are protected from external dangers by not being allowed to do certain things, for example consuming media that damage their development or making long-term decisions that they cannot yet assess, such as getting married or getting a high loan. They should also be protected from adults who take advantage of their youthful vulnerability. The shelter is also designed so that young people do not have to look after themselves and are supported in their development by others. The shelter is of course idealized and in many countries, and in exceptional situations also in Germany and Austria, young people are alone on the street and live a life like adults. Ultimately, this protective space also serves to grant all young people, who can be very different in their abilities despite being of the same age, the same rights and obligations without having to resort to individual tests of autonomy (age limits are often structured according to them, for example the ban on alcoholic beverages to consume).

A number of things now play a role for good youth. It is about the development of skills in order to be able to act as a young person and in later life as an adult, the acquisition of knowledge and how to deal with it productively.It's about gaining experience and being able to try out yourself, to deal with yourself and to begin, to write your own biography and slowly take life into your own hands, to build relationships and to make decisions with wider implications. It is the task of psychological and social scientific youth research to elucidate the worlds of life and the underlying physical, psychological and social processes, while normatively it is about filtering out which of these has such a moral value that it is on the one hand with parents, the state and other actors creates obligations and responsibilities and, on the other hand, can justify specific rights of young people. One could try here to develop a list of goods or skills that make up good youth and to which young people have moral rights. But I don't want to try that here, but rather concentrate on romantic love as a good of good youth. But why should romantic love be understood as a normatively important part of good youth?

A good youth and romantic love

For such a concept of good youth, which is only loosely outlined here, romantic love has three meanings: as experienced romantic love, as romantic love to be learned and as the basis for future romantic love in adult life. It is about whether and how romantic love is present in a good youth, which learning processes are necessary for it to succeed and what role romantic love during youth plays for future romantic love in adulthood. In order to clarify these three aspects below, I would like to make four preliminary remarks.

First, the question arises, what is romantic love anyway? There is no consensus on this in the philosophical literature (Kühler 2019), rather I think that romantic love is and will remain an “essentially contested concept” (Gallie 1956), i.e. a consensus on it cannot be reached, and the clarification of this question is neither is my interest in this essay. In the broadest possible understanding, which is sufficient for my purposes, romantic love is first of all an emotion that is expressed in strong feelings for one or more other people and includes attitudes of appreciation, concern and sexual desire. If you love someone romantically, you usually want to be in a relationship with that person and be loved by that person too. An exact demarcation between romantic love and other emotions and close relationships such as friendship is conceptually and empirically difficult. Friendship seems to lack exclusivity, intensity and sexual desire. Another distinction must be made between parental and brotherly love. The term love is also controversial because it is strongly socio-cultural (Lindholm 2006), but even if romantic love, as it is understood in the western world, were a contingent socio-cultural product, that does not mean that it is for the people who pursue and affirm this ideal or concept of romantic love is not relevant to a good life.

Secondly, it seems to me that, as it is obvious, it is not necessary to cite relevant youth studies in detail to show that young people value romantic love and that many of them would like to experience it (Calmbach et al. 2016). That is trivial to assume in a world in which media depictions of love by young people are everywhere and young people very often enter into love relationships. The fact that young people appreciate and want to experience romantic love alone is an important reason to view romantic love as part of a good youth. I would like to use an argument by Angelika Krebs for this (Krebs 2001). The question arises why gainful employment cannot be substituted by a basic income and why there should be a right to work. Their core argument is that the right to work is based on the fact that we live in a working society, that is, work and recognition are closely linked and as long as this is the case, people have a right to be able to participate in gainful employment, including that To be able to experience goods like recognition. Outside of a working society, a basic income would be a sufficient alternative. In this sense, I assume that romantic love is an important part of a good youth, even a good life, as long as we live in a society in which romantic love is as important as ours. So it may be conceivable that there exist societies in which romantic love is given no value, yes in which the concept is more or less unknown and then it may not become part of a good youth or a good life as an adult in this very society be.

In addition to this argument, which understands romantic love as valuable on the basis of shared social values ​​and norms, arguments could also be put forward that ascribe a universal normative value to romantic love. To explain them in detail here would, however, go beyond the scope. It is plausible to assume an overlapping consensus that romantic love is part of a good youth that is shared for different ethical, religious, or cultural reasons. There are, in fact, good reasons for this. Not only is love valued in many cultures, it has many positive qualities - and harbors some dangers to physical and psychological well-being - that are well explored in the psychology of love and that also apply to adolescents and their development (Collins 2003; Collins ua 2009): romantic love can trigger feelings of happiness, satisfaction, security and trust. Romantic love makes experiences with oneself and others possible, namely deep and close relationships that would not exist without them. This is where romantic love differs from other emotions, desires, and actions. Not everything young people want is to be allowed or even made possible for them, but romantic love seems to me to be qualified to be such a good that it cannot be restricted without good reasons and that their experience is so important and positive is that adolescents have certain moral rights in relation to them - although I will explain below exactly what adolescents have rights to here, for which it is important to differentiate between different aspects of romantic love. These and other positive characteristics of romantic love have been accentuated in various philosophical theories, but their core remains based on the fact that people have these experiences and have these feelings and perceive them as valuable.

Third, the fact that adolescents are capable of romantic love is important. If only adults could have romantic love, it would not be part of good youth. Recognizing that young people can experience love and live it out has at least the consequence that the parents or the state have to react to it. This opens up the question of how they should react, for example by doing nothing, supporting the young people or reacting with sanctions. Forbidding acts of love and controlling young people accordingly requires at least justification, especially insofar as one assumes that romantic love between adults is legitimate, which nobody seems to me to seriously deny. I don't see any convincing reasons to forbid young people prima facie from falling in love, being loved or entering into a love affair. Certain acts of love can and should be forbidden if they lead to serious threats to the well-being of young people, but romantic love per se is not included here. From this it can at least be concluded that adolescents have a right to have any restrictions on their romantic love towards them justified. So even if one assumes, although this does not seem plausible, that romantic love is not part of a good youth, one will have to acknowledge that it is part of the youth lived, and in this case too many of the reflections below are important, because adolescents also need to learn to deal with things they may not be able to deal with, but do, for whatever reason.

Fourth, it makes sense to differentiate romantic love into the dimensions I have mentioned, since different normative questions are connected with it. When talking about love as an emotion, for example, the question of value and regulation arises differently than when talking about romantic love as a lived relationship. Romantic love as an emotion cannot be forbidden, you can only learn to deal with it and reflect on it. Romantic love as a lived relationship with other people, on the other hand, is open to interference from third parties, e.g. parents or the state. It would therefore also be conceivable that it is part of a good youth to be able to feel love but not live it out - that seems implausible to me as long as reasons are not put forward for why living out romantic love is good for the well-being of young people or other people or others violates important rights and obligations. Then of course there are also different things to learn here: Learning how to deal with your own emotions is important, including how to express them and how to relate to them and how to translate them into action (or not). Acting in love in a relationship, on the other hand, is much more complex than dealing only with one's own emotions, which can already be seen from the fact that a second person - or several people - are directly involved. So it is these different dimensions of romantic love as part of a good youth that I want to illuminate in the following sections.

Youth and the experience of romantic love

With the experience dimension of romantic love, I want to say that it is part of a good youth to be able to experience romantic love when you want it. It may be that not all young people are in love in their youth, and certainly not all are happily in love or enjoy happy relationships. It is no different in the case of adults. There may also be people, both young people and adults, who do not experience this as a deficiency, be it because they voluntarily want to do without it or because they are unable to feel love or other emotions due to existing mental illnesses. It would be unfair to these people to be told that their life is less good because it is devoid of romantic love, although help should of course be offered to them if they so wish. That is why it is so important to understand the experience dimension as an option. So good youth consists in having the opportunity to experience romantic love if one so chooses, and it makes that youth worse when it is involuntarily absent. It does not follow that adolescents or adults have a right to be loved or that their love is reciprocated. The experience dimension is linked to a wide range of emotions, preferences and actions. Romantic love can be experienced in a quiet little room while writing romantic poems, at a candlelight dinner for two or when sending romantic or erotic text messages.

The experience dimension must therefore be split into at least two components: on the one hand, the inside, i.e. the experience of romantic love as an inside experience, which is often understood as the experience of an emotion, on the other hand, the outside, i.e. the experience of romantic love as complex relationship events and actions, which are linked to a whole range of symbols and material things. Often the two coincide, but of course they can also exist separately from each other. One can feel romantic love without making love acts, and one can make love acts without experiencing this feeling. Both may be deficient, but for different reasons. The experience dimension of romantic love in youth is strongly influenced by culture, it also follows individual preferences and is also restricted by the situation of the youth. This applies above all to the experience dimension as a set of actions.

The latter, i.e. the specific (social) situation of youth, seems to me to be normatively important again, because it marks the decisive difference to romantic love in adulthood. Teenagers can do a lot of things that adults can do, but also many things can't. For many adults, romantic love includes getting married, living together, or starting a family. These things are for the most part denied or made difficult for young people and they are actively encouraged not to do them, even if they could. It is of course not the case that most of the young people here have to be kept from a wedding, moving in together or having children against their will, but many do not want this at all, even if it is difficult to determine to what extent these preferences are not themselves the result of social issues Norms and practices and their learning are - but this also applies to adults. Not to allow adolescents to do these things, which can be understood as acts of love (although the prohibitions are handled differently here), is based on considerations regarding the protection of their well-being as well as their well-being to enable a future that is as open as possible (Mills 2003). Marriage early or even having children of their own can create path dependencies that are difficult to correct. Above all, however, they place burdens on life during adolescence that adolescents cannot easily cope with alone without the support of adults or institutions. This also has to do with the establishment of modern societies: because in knowledge societies educational qualifications are so important for the socio-economic position (and these in turn are so important for the well-being in a capitalist society), training during adolescence and afterwards is important . Young people who forego training in favor of early parenting are therefore at a disadvantage for their entire life, especially if there are no state structures or personal networks (Cook and Cameron 2015).

The dimension of experience of romantic love in youth is therefore different from that of adults. One could put it simply, it is less strongly influenced by social obligations that arise, for example, in coexistence, consideration for important life decisions (for example, when choosing where to work and live), family planning or financial interdependence in many adult romantic groups Express love relationships. The state, which privileges and supports certain forms of relationships such as marriage, is doing something here to stabilize such bonds in romantic partnerships, but it can also be assumed that many adults want to bond closely with one another. Of course, adults can also be in love and live in relationships where there are very few such obligations (separate household, no children, separate coffers). But that doesn't change the fact that one would expect that some obligations are still stronger than during youth. In adulthood it will be part of a love relationship that you not only support your partner emotionally in the event of illness, but also, if possible, take on financial and caring responsibility, as Philipp Pettit describes as a robust concern (Pettit 2015). In many cases, because in the case of adults this care is no longer provided by their own parents, while in the case of adolescents one would not expect the other adolescent love partner to take on such responsibility, in fact, it would even be morally excessive if that were necessary. Adolescent lovers should also be there for each other when the going gets tough, but those commitments are severely weakened.

Learning processes of romantic love

Romantic love should not only be experienced during youth, it should also be learned and practiced first. A distinction must be made here between several interwoven dimensions. The complex emotional dimension of romantic love requires that one can relate to it. They are not only felt, but also reflected. However, this is not simply a given, but is based on learning processes and requires the achievement of a certain mental level. Children can feel and express affection, but the complex emotion of romantic love is alien to them, although they can probably already experience pre-forms of it and early childhood experiences can have an influence on the later experience of romantic love - this becomes both neurobiological and attachment theory and from a psychoanalytic point of view (Walter 2004; Neumann 2002).The importance of early childhood love experience for the further development of identity was prominently introduced into philosophy by Axel Honneth as part of his theory of recognition (Honneth 1992). From this perspective of the interwoven experiences of recognition, it is clear that early childhood experiences of parental love have a great influence on the later romantic love that breaks out in adolescence and how it is dealt with. For me, it doesn't make any significant difference whether romantic love is understood as an emotion or a syndrome (Pismenny and Prinz 2017). These are important psychological and ontological questions that change very little in terms of the experience dimension and the learning dimension. Dealing with romantic love, whether understood as an emotion or as a syndrome, is always a challenge for the lover that he must learn to deal with, and its expression in actions and symbols is always socially shaped.

For the learning dimension of love, at least two important dimensions can be distinguished: On the one hand, there is the learning process of understanding and dealing with the inner side of romantic love, which is located in oneself. The concept of epistemic justice can help here, especially that of hermeneutic justice, which Miranda Fricker describes in such a way that people are put in a position to understand themselves and their inner workings and to give others to understand about it (Fricker 2007 ). Your example of a hermeneutic injustice is that of a homosexual person who lives in a society that strongly condemns homosexuality and regards it as a sin, and thus does not get the means to adequately treat himself, his own emotional world and his own sexual preferences understand. But that is also part of learning romantic love, namely learning to adequately understand sexual preferences and inclinations, which play an important role in romantic love, to find the means of communication and a space in which you can find them for yourself and for yourself others can articulate.

On the other side of the learning dimension is the outside of romantic love, which is expressed in actions, relationships, symbols and things. Eva Illouz has impressively shown that love acts in capitalism are not only conventionally bound, but are also strongly linked to things and symbols (Illouz 2009; 2007). Examples of this are the red roses that you send each other, the candle light dinner that you go to together or the lingerie that you wear for the other. This outside is highly complex, culturally differentiated and, in the course of historical changes, can change the acts of love even within a few generations. This is not only due to changed social norms, but also to new technologies; just think of the possibilities of making love over the Internet with its dating portals, messenger services and social media (Ben-Ze’ev 2004). Dealing with it has to be learned and to a certain extent always tried out. After all, the actions should not only be set according to conventions, but also incorporated, for which one must understand their symbolic content. The goal is not that the partners give each other red roses and feel nothing or do not understand it, but that they do this and thereby express their romantic love and generate or reinforce feelings. The outer side of romantic love is of such great importance because it is through it that the inner side can only become a social event and from mere love for another person to a love relationship, which is usually striven for. It can also be assumed that the outside bends back onto the inside and influences this in turn. On the outside of romantic love, i.e. its dimension of action, there are also the risks and dangers that are often in the foreground of parental and state attention.

On the one hand, acts of love are restricted, as already mentioned above. Adolescents should (and may not, from the point of view of their parents or legal rules) do all the loving acts that adults are allowed to do. Or they may only perform some love acts, such as sex, with other young people, but not with adults. This is also to be learned and these limits should be made understandable, why they exist and what use they have for the young person. There are also acts of love that can be classified as harmful for both adults and young people and that justify intervention by third parties, even morally dictate them, such as self-harm due to heartache. Goethe's Werther is a literary example of the tragic consequences that lovesickness can have.

On the other hand, acts of love that are allowed for young people and that are sometimes viewed as positive are also associated with risks. The focus here is often on the sexuality associated with romantic love, which can sometimes take on the extent of moral panic, as the discourse on teenage pregnancies in the USA and England shows (Selman 2003). So it is about the risk of sexual violence in romantic love relationships, the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, the risk of an (unwanted) pregnancy or the risk of engaging in sexual acts that are later regretted. In the age of the internet and smartphones, activities such as sexting, i.e. the sending of erotic photos and videos, or the (undesired) uploading of such material on porn websites are new risks (Dekker and Thula Koops 2017). Risks are real and romantic acts of love are embedded in power relationships (Gregoratto 2017) and young people should learn to deal with them. Sexuality in particular, but certainly not only it, is closely linked to gender roles and is strongly shaped by social, moral and cultural norms (Gill 2012).

So far, I have not yet examined the relationship between romantic love and autonomy in terms of its potential for conflict. For love can not only mean the realization of autonomy, but also a restriction (Lehrer 1997). On the one hand by tendencies to own the other person and want to bind them to oneself - this can be legitimized by social and cultural norms even in extreme form such as the legal power of disposal of men over women. On the other hand, love can also lead to self-abandonment, i.e. to the restriction of one's own autonomy, because one loves the other. This restriction out of love can be intentional, fulfilling and morally correct, but it can also be distorted, out of fear of loneliness, wrong motives or learned role models.

So there is a whole range of knowledge here that young people should acquire in order to be able to set romantic acts of love at all and, above all, to be able to reflect them and relate them to their own identity, their own wishes and ideas. After all, that is what counts for a good life (in youth and as an adult), namely not just knowing about social norms and practices, but also being able to authentically self-actualize according to your own reflected wishes and ideas. It can be doubted that a large majority (of adults and young people alike) actually succeed in this and it is difficult to develop meaningful normative standards of how much self-realization is necessary for a good life and when this will also be achieved (Fenner 2015 ; Abad 2014). The critical instruments for distinguishing real from fake self-actualization, such as the concept of alienation (Jaeggi 2005) or adaptive preferences (Khader 2011), are afflicted with difficulties in their analytical application; in their empirical application to such phenomena as romantic love anyway. Nevertheless, it will remain a task to at least try to provide young people and adults with the means and to support them in finding out for themselves what they really want, why they want this and also how they want to implement it. In the midst of the paradoxes of modern societies, in which all emotions, feelings and values ​​are also in danger of being commercialized and alienated (Honneth 2002). For such critical learning processes, there are also a number of meaningful pedagogical concepts of effectiveness that cannot be discussed here (Helmer et al. 2015).

Love during adolescence and adult life

Both the inside and the outside of romantic love, which I have already addressed above in the two dimensions of experience, in turn have an aspect of the now and one of the future. That brings me to the third dimension of romantic love in youth, namely the prospect of future love in adulthood. With this outlook on love in adult life, romantic love should not be devalued during adolescence, but above all it should point out that love is changing. Both their inside and outside change. The inside changes in the context of longer love relationships, through new experiences and living conditions and in love relationships that become families with children, completely new emotions also come into play. The outside is also subject to change. Some of these have already been mentioned as acts of love that are reserved for adults or typically only occur then and not yet in adolescence: a common household, common care for a child, financial and legal interdependence (Burkart 2018). The external conditions also change and have an influence on the inside and outside of romantic love. The stressors of poverty and unemployment often only appear when the young people have left the shelter, greater personal responsibility in professional life, new expectations from third parties, new patterns of recognition that are based on success and performance and their material and symbolic things, such as a promotion , Power, income, home or car. These things are already present in youth and do not suddenly appear in human life in capitalist monetary societies. Sometimes there is an extension of a quasi-youthful shelter for the periods of study, during which the material security is still provided by the parents or the young adult still lives at home.

With the prospect of a future possible romantic love in adult life, two things are said. First, there is a connection between what was experienced and learned as adolescents and what happens in adult life (both on the inside and outside) (Shulman and Kipnis 2001). So if one is of the well-founded opinion that romantic love is part of a good life during adult life, then one cannot avoid considering its sources in adolescence, even if one questions that romantic love is part of a good one Youth is. Which experiences and learning processes make it more likely to be able to experience, reflect and live such mature love in adult life? These are psychological and social science questions and research shows that there is such a connection (Larson et al. 2002; Collins 2003). The question of how romantic love relationships during adolescence influence later life is not easy to answer for methodological reasons. A meta-study summarizes the reasons for this (Manning et al. 2008): From the point of view of psychological attachment theory, which is quite widespread, it is obvious that previous attachment experiences influence later ones. In romantic love relationships, certain skills are trained and practiced that can be used or adapted in the context of later relationships. Adolescents not only develop a number of skills, but also ideals and expectations of adult relationships and how these should be designed, and they use them to approach their own love relationships. This means that no strong causality is required, nor is it excluded that there are uncontrollable factors that play an important role in the romantic love life. It is sufficient if one can assume with good reason that adolescent learning processes or experiences have an influence on whether and how one can realize romantic love as an adult.

Second, even if there were no such connection between adolescent and adult love, that is, if the former did not affect the latter, it is plausible to assume that adolescents should be prepared for this mature romantic love, just as they should be prepared for other essential things in adult life should be prepared to handle it well. Of course, there are limits to this preparation and these learning processes, as can be found everywhere. How long-term relationships feel and how joint life planning with children can be achieved cannot simply be learned, but also requires experiencing and growing into new circumstances and phases of life. Nevertheless, knowledge and information as well as emotional and cognitive learning processes, which can be supported and guided, play an important role. A perhaps somewhat worn example are patriarchal role models or communicative resources in order to understand and communicate one's own feelings. Anyone who believes that this robs romantic love of its magic and that this is simply an overwhelming, natural occurrence that must be allowed to happen, fails to recognize the great influence of social norms and practices and well-trained behavioral patterns. It is just as clear, of course, that such learning processes in adolescence cannot guarantee that romantic love will succeed in adult life, if only because, in the vast majority of cases, it includes a second or perhaps even more person who has their own wishes and ideas , Bring skills and limitations. What is to be understood here as the success of romantic love in adult life - as well as during adolescence - can be assessed according to different standards: there are social and cultural standards (e.g. marriage, starting a family) as well as individual preferences. A normative understanding of what constitutes good romantic love would also be conceivable, with different answers being given in philosophy.

The enabling and regulation of youthful love by parents and the state

So if the experience and learning of romantic love in youth have an important function for a good life as a youth and then later as an adult, then the question can now be asked which normative implications in terms of rights and obligations can be derived from it. The rights and obligations of young people always affect several actors, as they are integrated into state institutions and subject to special legal regulations and mostly still live in a family in which adult legal guardians have special rights and obligations towards young people. Youthful romantic love is therefore more closely controlled and regulated in many respects than love in adult life, which is justified by the protective function of parents and the state, but this regulation and control must be weighed against the legitimate interests of the young people. In this section, I limit myself to the rights and obligations of parents and the state and ignore other important actors, such as the media, which have an influence on what young people know about romantic love and how they act in romantic relationships.

So what can legitimately be asked of parents and the state and its institutions? What rights and duties do you have towards romantic love during adolescence? I can only try to structure the discussion around the finding of concrete answers and to name important points of view. Concrete answers can then only be given to specific questions (e.g. whether and when young people have a right to marry; whether parents [for cultural or religious reasons] have a right to influence the choice of partner; or whether the state has a right prohibiting certain forms of youth sexuality such as sexting). I make six points to structure the complex field.

First, it is plausible to assume that if romantic love in youth is such an important part of good youth that young people have a fundamental right to experience it, unless there are higher-value goods to the contrary. This applies to the inside as well as the outside of romantic love. These higher value goods have to be specifically explicated and justified. The assumption that adolescents should not put themselves and others at excessive risk and that this risk must be assessed with regard to their current and future well-being seems plausible here. Acting in love, and indeed the entire youthful world, will not be available entirely without risk. The risk of unfulfilled and unrequited love alone is great and lovesickness creates real pain and can lead to self-harming behavior (Price et al. 2016). This should not be lightly dismissed or downplayed. A value of romantic love arises from the fact that there is a close relationship between this and autonomy.Who you love belongs to your very own private sphere of life. It is difficult to choose who to love, but it is part of your freedom to let actions follow this love, to start a relationship and to shape it. This concrete embodiment of romantic love, i.e. the type and manner of the love relationship that one leads, can then certainly again take place in a way that promotes or limits autonomy. There is also empirical evidence that autonomy is important for the success of a romantic love relationship (J. R. Anderson 2020).

Secondly, if it can be assumed that youth autonomy has to be taken into account more than it is with children, then this is certainly carried over to such an intimate and private area as one's own romantic love life. This results in certain claims to a young person's privacy that must be respected. For the parents and the state, the value and the limits of romantic love are to be seen from their own perspective, since they take on different roles towards the individual young people. It cannot be the task of the state to take on parenthood in the sense of close personal relationships and micromanagement of family life, nor do parents have to take on the tasks of the state to establish generally binding rules for all young people and to distribute opportunities equally. Parents and the state are different actors with different motivations, resources and obligations. Parents are responsible for immediate care, love, understanding, trust and support towards their children, which can only be partially substituted by the state, its institutions and representatives. As a rule, parents also know their children better than the state, because living and living together gave them a wide range of experiences. In the case of developing, learning and experiencing romantic love, it is precisely these goods that can only be cultivated in close relationships that are particularly relevant, although one probably does not need to cite empirical research in order to know that parent-child relationships are in puberty and right now are not always ideally positioned with regard to such emotional and intimate matters as romantic love (Weymouth and Buehler 2016). It is also part of the fact that many young people want to create their own experience spaces here, which the parents are not made aware of. However, there are also scientifically sound concepts for the successful parent-child relationship during puberty that remain unknown to many parents, as the state makes very few efforts to support parents in their parenting role in this regard and to provide them with knowledge ( Ponzetti 2016).

Thirdly, in addition to respect for the privacy of adolescents, i.e. enabling them to perform acts of love in a wide variety of ways, the role of parents is particularly important for the learning and reflection processes - although this right to privacy of adolescents does not apply without restriction, but within limits. that parents have to meet based on maturity and other factors. It is true that it is not easy for many parents themselves to talk about romantic love, desire, eroticism or sex with their teenage children and need support in developing this ability (Pariera and Brody 2018; Martino et al. 2008), nevertheless are they an important interlocutor and a relevant source of information for their children; even if they do not communicate about it, it sends a message and the young people see how their parents shape their love life. Successful communication between parents and young people is something that parents should acquire if they want to be good parents and the state can support this by providing information material, but also training, etc. In particular, parents are responsible for being there for their children in phases of grief, insecurity and injury that are experienced in many youthful romantic love experiences.

Fourth, the state is responsible for ensuring that the framework conditions are successful and, unlike parents, it is equally committed to all young people. These obligations can be spelled out in child- or youth-specific theories of justice (Schweiger and Graf 2015). Romantic love during adolescence is not directly amenable to distribution by the state, as it is not a corresponding material good, but the state still has several options for intervention that influence whether and how romantic love during adolescence is possible and from this then he has to set these interventions fairly. Anca Gheaus, for example, has argued that love is a good of justice insofar as it is important for a good life and the state can influence its distribution (Gheaus 2017). This also applies to young people. A social order that only gives certain young people the opportunity to have a romantic love relationship or that distributes important partial goods unfairly, such as access to knowledge about romantic love or access to contraceptives, cannot be legitimized. Equally problematic are social arrangements that destroy romantic love for young people, such as a rape culture in which girls are massively and structurally victims of sexual violence and thereby traumatized.