A love relationship (short: relationship ; also: romantic relationship ) is an emotionally intimate and mostly sexual relationship between two people ( lovers ), which is characterized by mutual love and compassion , interest and care and always includes erotic attraction, which is what it is here does not necessarily have to be about genital eroticism, but - especially with very young people - can also be an eroticism of hugging, touching and kissing. Love can appear in a love relationship as being in love or passion , but also as quiet, intimate affection. Lovers are turned towards each other with mutual empathic attention ( rapport ), a form of interaction that creates well-being, comfort and harmony and, similar to the early parent-child relationship, leads to trust and attachment .
In the narrower sense, a love relationship is understood to be a type of romantic or sexual relationship that is widespread in the western world today, which is conducted for its own sake and is not directly or necessarily aimed at a partnership , life community or marriage . The lovers speak of each other as "my girlfriend" or "my boyfriend", whereby the possessive pronoun "my" indicates that it is not (any) a friend but the love partner that is meant. The usage of the phrase that two people are "together" or "go together" means that they are in love with each other.
Many love relationships develop into solid partnerships - especially when emotional communication also proves to be stable and sustainable outside of the sexual sphere . Is at a love relationship in which no partnership is intended or expected, or that is in parallel to an existing partnership, we also speak of a love affair, a liaison , a fling or a love affair in an extramarital sexual relationship even from one escapade , and in a relationship in which sex is paramount, from a sex relationship . In all these cases, the love partners are referred to as “beloved” or “beloved”.
People who get together without sexual interest in one another may still have romantic feelings for one another or have a romantic relationship. This type of relationship is not the rule, but it does exist (see asexuality , romantic orientation ).
Love relationships are to be differentiated from, among other things, disputes in which the partners are also strongly related to one another in their thinking, acting and feeling, but are not looking for harmony, but rather delimitation and discussion.
The love relationship as a social form
Love relationships, as sexual relationships with no declared intention to marry, only became publicly visible in the German-speaking world - as in many other countries in the Western world - in the second half of the 20th century. The prerequisites for this development were a decriminalization and removal of taboos on premarital and extramarital sexuality as well as the creation of social spaces in which young women and men could come into contact informally and without adult supervision.
At the turn of the 20th century, the wandering bird movement , starting in Berlin , spread, a first wave of the youth movement whose program was aimed at asceticism and chastity , but which for the first time gave bourgeois youth through coeducational hiking activities the opportunity to have informal sexual contact with each other of the opposite sex. The coeducational leagues lost their importance again during the Weimar Republic ; the now blossoming Bündische Jugend again practiced strict gender segregation, a principle that the National Socialist youth organizations also adopted later .
After the end of the Second World War , the GDR was noticeably ahead of the other German-speaking countries in abolishing the systematic educational separation of boys and girls. Your youth organization, the FDJ , founded in exile in 1936 , had been co-educational from the start. The school co-education was introduced in the GDR in 1945, in most countries of Germany 1951-1966, in Switzerland in the 1960s and in Austria in 1975. All these developments brought bourgeois boys and girls everyday contact information, as until then only the Country youth had known.
A general liberalization of premarital sexuality occurred in the German-speaking countries in the late 1960s and 1970s. Until the 1960s, young people had referred to their love partner as “my bride ”, “my fiancé ” and the like. The subsequent decline in the socio-cultural significance of the engagement becomes visible, among other things, in the fact that in the Federal Republic of Germany after 1968 no lawsuit for the payment of wreath money under Section 253 (1) BGB was granted; From then on, the courts argued that this law violated the principle of equality of the Basic Law (Art. 3 GG) because of the changed moral standards and was therefore no longer applicable. In 1998 it was finally deleted. In the GDR this had already happened in 1957.
A milestone in liberalization in the Federal Republic of Germany was the gradually changing judgment of the courts in the 1970s, which until then had repeatedly applied the coupling paragraph § 180 StGB to parents who had tolerated the sexual activities of their growing children; According to the will of the legislature, this law should only have been used to combat prostitution .
Love relationships (without cohabitation or partnership in the narrower sense) thus became the predominant form of sexual life for young people in German-speaking countries at a time when sexual maturation began earlier and earlier, but financial dependency on the parental home became longer and longer.
In parallel with premarital sexuality, extramarital relationships also gained acceptance. In 1969 adultery was decriminalized in the GDR . The Federal Republic (§ 194 StGB ) followed in 1974, Switzerland in 1989 and Austria in 1997.
The love relationship is a social relationship that - even if the lovers are not aware of it - like any other social relationship, follows certain norms , conventions and rules of behavior that can look very different in different cultures and that are partly conveyed through film and television. Breaking these usual practices is seen as a sign of a lack of social skills or as recklessness.
In German-speaking countries, the relevant path to a love affair is flirtation , followed by an exchange of tenderness and possibly also sexual encounters. Very young teenagers who are sexually inexperienced and who are still unsure about flirting sometimes advertise for a potential love partner in the form of a declaration of love or with the direct question: "Do you want to go with me?"
Love relationships are established amicably in an informal agreement . Since there is no generally binding protocol for this in German-speaking countries and even tenderness and sex do not necessarily mean that one is committed to one another, young and inexperienced people in particular are often unsure whether they are in a "relationship" or whether you are Relationship to the love partner, z. B. a pure sex relationship, "just" a fuss or "only" friendship . One then speaks of the relationship being “in the balance”. The indecision of the love partner is just one of many possible causes of lovesickness .
Although the justification of a love relationship does not follow any hard and fast rules, there are - as soon as the love affair once there - numerous conventions and norms that regulate the behavior of the partner. In German-speaking countries, this includes appearing and presenting oneself in front of third parties to whom one reveals oneself as a couple, for example through publicly exhibited physical intimacy such as eg. B. holding hands , but also by using terms such as "my girlfriend", "my boyfriend" etc. Current customs include giving flowers, especially red roses, and hanging love locks on bridges.
The primary convention for love affairs is sexual fidelity. 95% of all women and 90% of all men who live in a partnership state that loyalty is important to them. The deep trust that is nurtured from the partner's empathic attention can be perceived as threatened if the partner also pays empathic attention to third parties , especially if the relationship of trust between the lovers is unstable from the start; the result is jealousy .
United States: Dating
In the United States , in large parts of society - especially in the white middle class - the protocol for love affairs is far stricter than in German-speaking countries. The entry into a love relationship takes place there in a culturally binding manner through a practice called dating , which is more similar to the blind date , also known in German , than an appointment in the European sense. Dating is a highly formalized process through which people looking for a love partner find out whether a particular person will play a role in their life for a long time. Dating is about getting to know a potential partner, finding out whether your intentions (getting to know people, finding a buddy, a real friend, or a partner for life) coincide with those of the other, and to decide whether to spend more time want to spend with the other. Dating means that you can spend one to two hours with the person in question. B. spends at a restaurant meal or other leisure activity. If the match for both sides has worked well, it comes to a second date, etc. In the early phase, it is acceptable to several partners parallel data . Many dates develop into a love affair over the course of the first few weeks. Around half of the couples have sex within the first month after the first date, another 25% within the first three months. Dating, if it has not been canceled by then, usually leads to a marriage proposal after one to three years. Women in the US first marry at age 27 and men at age 29.
Dating in the initial phase, because it can resemble a series of job interviews , is considered exhausting and often even unpleasant, but - if you want to come into contact with a love partner - also unavoidable.
If the relationship of trust is fundamentally disturbed, it can lead to an “on-off relationship”, which is characterized by periodic cycles of separations and reconciliations. Because the trust relationship is still intact in sexual usually while it was run down in other important areas of communication, for reconciliations passionate sex (often English. Makeup sex ) is typical, however, soon gives way to renewed disillusionment. In other cases, the suffering of an insufficiently functioning trusting relationship usually leads to a separation or to leaving the love partner.
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