Originally Posted by ColorsWolf
The question is in the title.~
This is some thing that has been bothering me for awhile ever since I learned how to speak, read, and write English growing up and English is my first language as a born & raised American.~
Why use these terms of "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" when referring to "lovers"?~
Let's break it down:
"girl" means a pre-pubescent Human female who has not yet reached sexual maturity and is not yet capable of producing offspring,
"boy" means a pre-pubescent Human male who has not yet reached sexual maturity and is not yet capable of producing offspring,
"friend" means close associate or "companion",
"lover" means "one who loves" who can be involved in a relationship of a romantic nature.~
The words "girl", "boy" and "friend" aren't the same when they are paired up with each other, e.g. "girl/boyfriend".
Girlfriend ---> a girl or young woman with whom a man is romantically involved.
Boyfriend ---> a man who is the lover of a young girl or woman.
And also consider the gender attraction or relationships involved, e.g. homosexual.
What we have to remember is that definitions are not concretely fixed or unchanging. How language is used is very important to consider. When we think about relationships, we have to think about how these words are generally used without getting too caught up in a rigid dictionary meaning. That means looking for evidence of current, popular usage, e.g. Relationship problem pages.
"How do I make myself love my husband and not my lover?"
"I ditched my husband, but my lover's still with his wife!"
"Husband hit me so hard I told him where my lover lives."
How the words are used socially is more useful in many ways than a strict definition.
Wouldn't it logically follow then that referring to one whom you love and are in a romantic relationship with as your "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" is both demeaning of their sexual maturity and their relationship to you?
That largely depends on context, status of relationship, etc. A lot of variables, in other words. It's not automatically demeaning and if those involved don't feel it's demeaning, it isn't for them.
There are so many words we can use if we wish to, e.g. beau, swan, duck, chuck, etc. Anything can be used in a demeaning way as well. I'm aware the in America "boy" can be a highly charged, very offensive term for a man, especially towards a Black man. In the UK, it's less highly charged, but can be demeaning depending on context.
But that's not to say that "boyfriend" automatically becomes demeaning or even takes on a racist slant simply due to the "boy" part. Not that I'm aware of anyway.
I don't necessarily view "girl" as being offensive towards women, but it can also depend on context too. "Come on, girls...let's have fun!" is clearly different to "you're just a silly girl!".
How we pronounce a word and emote it is a highly relevant variable to consider. It's simply not clear cut and people will have personal feelings about whichever word we use as an example.