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A boyfriend is a regular male companion in a romantic and/or sexual relationship. This is normally a short-term committed relationship, where other titles (e.g. husband, partner) are more commonly used for long-term committed relationships. A boyfriend can also be called an admirer, beau, suitor and sweetheart.
Boyfriend and partner mean different things to different people; the distinctions between the terms are subjective. How the term is used will ultimately be determined by personal preference.
A 2005 study of 115 people ages 21 to 35 who were either living with or had lived with a romantic partner notes that the lack of proper terms often leads to awkward situations, such as someone upset over not being introduced in social situations to avoid the question.
There is a significant difference between girlfriend and boyfriend, and girl friend and boy friend. In a strictly grammatical sense, a girlfriend or boyfriend is an 'individual of significance' with whom one shares a relationship.
The word dating entered the American language during the Roaring Twenties. Prior to that, courtship was a matter of family and community interest. Starting around the time of the American Civil War, courtship became a private matter for couples. In the early to mid 20th century in the US, women were often visited by "gentleman callers", single men who would arrive at the home of a young woman with the hopes of beginning a courtship. The era of the gentleman caller ended in the early 20th century and the modern idea of dating developed.
In literature, the term is discussed in July 1988 in Neil Bartlett's, Who Was That Man? A Present for Mr Oscar Wilde. On pages 108-110, Bartlett quotes from an issue of The Artist and Journal of Home Culture, which refers to Alectryon as "a boyfriend of Mars".
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