Boyfriend/Girlfriend

Boyfriend/Girlfriend
Yahadreas
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Posted Jul 29, 2008 - 2:51 AM:
Subject: Boyfriend/Girlfriend
Recently I've been trying to work out what makes someone a boyfriend or girlfriend. I've come to the conclusion that it is the label itself that defines the relationship as such, and that there is no "real" basis for the distinction between boyfriend/girlfriend and not-boyfriend/-girlfriend.

One of the characteristics that we use to define a relationship is a sexual dynamic. But one can have sex with someone who is not a boyfriend or girlfriend, and one can have a boyfriend or girlfriend without having sex.

Another characteristic that we use to define a relationship is love/care/affection. But one can love/care for/have affection for someone who is not a boyfriend or girlfriend, and one can have a boyfriend or girlfriend with whom one does not have these feelings (especially true for pre-teens).

It is also possible for one to have strong feelings for another, and have those feelings reciprocated, and enagage in sex, but still not be in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. Someone is a boyfriend or girlfriend only when the label is applied to the other. Someone is your girlfriend only if you label her as such, and someone is your boyfriend only if you label him as such.

Instead of, as is true for most (if not all) words, the meaning being prior to the label, the labels "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" are prior to the meaning. So, in real terms, there's no factual difference between someone being a boyfriend or girlfriend and someone being a friend.
unenlightened
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Posted Jul 29, 2008 - 3:41 AM:

Unless you're some kind of stalker, it takes agreement. For me to call her my girlfriend, she has to call me her boyfriend; it's relational. And in my culture it has to be exclusive too - if she has several 'boyfriends', she isn't 'my' girlfriend, or only parttime. I think this agreement is what makes the factual difference, just as the agreement makes a marriage.
Lord Drivel
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Posted Jul 29, 2008 - 5:37 AM:

A relationship is a consensual belief, so the question should be: how do you arrive at this belief? Answer: for all sorts of reasons too many to enumerate. Sometimes the relationship is in itself just a concept, a notion in a man or woman's head that it is time to be in a relationship, and the brain does the rest by building the concept. Can a loving relationship grow out of this? Of course, just as it can out of a marriage of convenience.
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Posted Jul 29, 2008 - 6:32 AM:

I think it is a sort of cultural convention for the time and language. Sometimes "friend"/"girlfriend"/"boyfriend" were used interchangeably, (or depending on how it is said), other times romantically -- but I think in modern times, romanticism and sexuality is very closely tied. I haven't heard the term "Platonic Love" used in a long time. I was just watching a movie from the 1940's in which one man casually refers to another man as his "boyfriend" with apparently no sense of romance, where you would almost *never* hear that today -- especially in Texas ... and yet women are still culturally free to call each other "girlfriend" -- even in Texas.

Consensus refers to courtship rules. Courtship rules tend to be strongly enforced, but ambiguously defined, (maybe as a safety feature). I notice that a lot of people enter into relationships without any explicit agreement or consensus, and maybe there is some merit in being able to do that. I never had to propose to my wife because we just knew each other so well that we could assume it was inevitable.
springmo
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Posted Jul 30, 2008 - 6:30 PM:

Lord Drivel wrote:
A relationship is a consensual belief, so the question should be: how do you arrive at this belief? Answer: for all sorts of reasons too many to enumerate.


A relationship is consensual but not in such a way that both people independently label the other as their boyfriend/girlfriend. I think in a particular situation it would be possible and might even make sense to enumerate the reasons why you are in a relationship. You could do this privately but I can think of instances where it would be useful to communicate such things to a partner.

swetephe wrote:
I think it is a sort of cultural convention for the time and language.


Yes. There are social reasons for declaring that you are in a relationship, which both people are attuned to. The notion of using labels to identify someone's personal relation to another has a rich history which also must be considered.

Yahadreas wrote:
it is the label itself that defines the relationship as such


Ultimately yes but it's a complex process that leads to using this label that we can't fully explain without referring to a specific situation. Even if we wished to explain why a particular couple decided to use those labels, I'm not sure we could fully explain it...for what does "fully" mean here? We use philosophy to try to penetrate these phenomena that seem to just happen, leaving us wondering why.

Mech
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Posted Jul 30, 2008 - 11:58 PM:

Wait.. You discovered that both girlfriend and boyfriend are actual literal meanings?

Boyfriend

Girlfriend

It is simply a friendship with someone of the opposite sex -and same in some cases-. We just label a couple who establish or labeled themselves to be in such a relationship. A so called 'exclusive' friendship to a certain guy or girl.

To be honest I can be a good friend with a girl and not see her as a girlfriend and at the same time she could be 'with' a guy who treats her exactly like I do, within the same group of friends and be called 'boyfriend' simply because they both accepted this labeling.

Now, a fiancée/fiancé is a different story, as this relationship is heading toward marriage and they both agree they have something special between one another greater than a label - hopefully love.

Edited by Mech on Jul 31, 2008 - 12:06 AM
springmo
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Posted Jul 31, 2008 - 12:39 AM:

Mech wrote:
To be honest I can be a good friend with a girl and not see her as a girlfriend and at the same time she could be 'with' a guy who treats her exactly like I do, within the same group of friends and be called 'boyfriend' simply because they both accepted this labeling.


I agree. There's nothing in the relationship itself that makes the label a "real" distinction as you put it. I don't think there's anything simple about them both accepting the label though, except in the sense that they simply start using it without discussing or justifying it.

Mech wrote:
Now, a fiancée/fiancé is a different story, as this relationship is heading toward marriage and they both agree they have something special between one another greater than a label - hopefully love.


This just seems like a value judgment to me. There's nothing intrinsically more "special" about a relationship with a fiancé than with a boyfriend/girlfriend. There isn't necessarily anything inherent in the relationship that allows it to grow into a marriage. Not to belittle such a thing, but couples get married for circumstantial reasons. Saying that a couple has a loving relationship just seems like another case of labeling. I'm not saying that love isn't meaningful. I'm just saying that it's also a label and, free from value judgments, it isn't somehow loftier.
Mech
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Posted Jul 31, 2008 - 4:07 AM:

springmo wrote:

without discussing or justifying it.

Its discussed sometimes - some ask the to be someone's girlfriend/boyfriend. The justification, yeah, I can agree with that.


This just seems like a value judgment to me. There's nothing intrinsically more "special" about a relationship with a fiancé than with a boyfriend/girlfriend. There isn't necessarily anything inherent in the relationship that allows it to grow into a marriage. Not to belittle such a thing, but couples get married for circumstantial reasons. Saying that a couple has a loving relationship just seems like another case of labeling. I'm not saying that love isn't meaningful. I'm just saying that it's also a label and, free from value judgments, it isn't somehow loftier.


I never said one was better than the other, I just said that at that stage in a relationship's development -towards marriage expectedly- that they shouldn't like or love someone because a label says so; it should become a free choice that involves more than a label, like love. I never said circumstantial marriage was wrong or any less than marriage for love, I just said at that stage of a relationship it should be based on more than a label - like in a girlfriend/boyfriend situation where you just pick some random friend and give them pet names.

The Joker
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Posted Jul 31, 2008 - 9:11 AM:

We are social sentient beings/animals. A characteristic of a sentient being to our likeness is the resistance to change, we hold on to the past and save for the future. We have created a situation where we have a social conection with the intention of not changing. It satisfies a function of ours, and whether we have created this function out of nessity or is a sumation of fundamental characteristic that is a prerequisite of a sentient being of our likeness is unclear.
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Posted Jul 31, 2008 - 9:20 AM:

Nothing is hidden? How I despise Wittgenstein. grin
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